Jeff Ford
September 1, 2002
Photos By: The Mustang Monthly Archives

There is a difference between buying a Mustang and buying it right. We hope this article helps you to know what you're getting into and helps you catch things that may end up costing you a lot more money than the investment in tools and time that they will require. We'll also go into what it takes to make a good buy. For the new folks, this is vital information. For the long-time reader, this is a nice refresher course in how not to get taken.

We also include info beneficial to Shelby owners as well as those who are looking to buy into a '67-'73 Mustang.

An Informed Buyer
Information is your best ally in buying a Mustang. Some things are "must haves." The following items are broken into two groups: One is information you'll want prior to the buy. The other is stuff you'll want to have with you at the buy.

Sounds Simple,But...
Below is a list of things that we keep socked away in the cracked corners of our minds when looking at a Mustang.

Four-Lug Wheels
The '65-'73 Mustang V-8s never came with four-lug wheels, no way, no how. The four-lug thing started in 1975 and ran to the end of Fox production in 1993. The Mustangs that break that '65-'93 mold are listed below.
* '84-'86 SVO * '93 Cobra "R"

Shock Tower Bracing
With the advent of the heavier engines in 1967, Ford ran into some problems with shock tower cracking. Starting with the '6811/42 428 Cobra Jet, Ford installed shock tower braces in its performance model Mustangs. Cars like the Boss 302, 428 Cobra Jet-powered Mach 1s, and 351 V-8s almost always had these braces. As of 1971, with its chassis redesigned specifically for the 429 V-8, Ford did away with the bracing.

Rust Never Sleeps
We'll have a complete section on what areas of the Mustang are most prone to rust and what can be done about it. But it never hurts to mention (over and over) that rust is pervasive and mean. It hides behind fresh paint; it lurks under dashes. It is out to cost you money. Look for it and negotiate accordingly.

Big Rear Endsv
If you are looking at a big-block car, they always have a 9-inch rear axle. In 1969, the 351-powered Mach 1s also received this upgraded rearend for added strength. Remember, too, when looking at a '65-'66 Hi-Po, that they came with a 9-inch rear gear.

As for the late-model, the '79-'85 V-8 used a 7.5 rear axle, but in 1986 they went to the more beefy 8.8. If you are looking into a late-model and it has the 8.8 axle, you're OK. If it has the 7.5, you're either buying a conversion car or a pre-'86 V-8.

Body Codes
In 1969 the Mach 1 didn't have a code in the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) denoting that it is a Mach 1, making it an easier one to fake. That is where knowing your codes is important. Or you can place the call that we talk about later in Smarti Marti. Also know that the GT was an option package from 1965-'69 and had no special VIN number either.

Originality
We always like to find cars that are relatively unmolested. Why? Generally, they are better starting points for a restoration or even a mod job. All the parts are there, allowing you to save money right from the beginning. And if you are not into restoration, it gives you parts to either barter with or sweeten the pot when and if you sell the car.

Tools Of The Trade
We recommend you bring the following things with you when you go to look at a vintage Mustang.

Shelby Helper
With the price of Shelbys going higher and higher, the likelihood of getting taken grows every year. Prices right now are averaging in the mid-30s for excellent examples. Top-end cars like the GT500KR convertible and the '65 GT350 are in the mid $70K and $60K range, respectively. This makes the Shelby arguably the most collectable Mustang on the market; and thereby the most profitable to copy for profit.

So how do you avoid the costly mistake? The folks at the Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) can contact the SAAC Registers who can be found on the SAAC Web site, www.saac.com. Click on the photo and then on the name of the Registrar of the year car in question. The '65, '66, and '67 Shelbys will need the Ford serial number in addition to the Shelby serial number. If both are present and correct then the Registrar will send a free verification form or ask for additional information.

If more information is wanted on a car, then the Registrar will tell them what factory paperwork is available, if any, and what the charge will be for copies. If someone is looking to purchase a car then they should be familiar with what is in the Shelby American World Registry. The book is for sale on the Web site under SAAC STUFF.

What does this mean for you, the buyer? Well, let's say you're looking at a '65 GT350 priced at a healthy $67,500. Princely sum to be sure. The owner has no documentation but his word that the car is real. SAAC can substantiate the validity of the car for you.

The list of Registrars and their e-mail addresses:

260/289/427 Cobra Ned Scudder cobraregistrar@saac.com
'65 & '66 Shelby Howard Pardee 65-66registrar@saac.com
'67 Shelby Dave Mathews 67registrar@saac.com
'68 Shelby Vincent Liska 68registrar@saac.com
'69 & '70 Shelby Vincent Liska 69-70registrar@saac.com
GT40 Greg Kolasa gt40registrar@saac.com
CSX 4000 Kevin Rogers 4000registrar@saac.com
AC Mark IV SAAC HQ mkivregistrar@saac.com
Trans Am Paul Parslow transamregistrar@saac.com

If someone doesn't have access to e-mail or the Web site, they should contact:
SAAC HQ
P.O. Box 788
Sharon, CT 06069
(860) 364-0449 phone
(860) 364-0762 fax

Getting To Know Rusty
Below are the top rusty spots on all the vintage and late-model Mustangs. Note how little these change year to year. Also note that we have included whether repair parts are available.

1965- 66
AreaRepair PanelCost
Cowl vents (1)yesexpensive
Floors (2)yesmoderate
Lower door edge (3)yes, full and skinmoderate to expensive
Battery area (4)yesmoderate to cheap
Trunk floor (5)yesexpensive
Rear fenders (6)yes, patch and skinmoderate to expensive
Fastback front of rear fenders (7)yes, full skinexpensive
Lower rear of front fenders (8)yes, full fendersmoderate
Tops of fender aprons (9)yesexpensive
Fastback rear window lip (10)nomoderate
1967-'68
AreaRepair PanelCost
Cowl vents (1)yesexpensive
Floors (2)yesmoderate
Lower door edge (3)yes, skinsmoderate to expensive
Battery area (4)yesmoderate to cheap
Trunk floor (5)yesexpensive
Rear fenders (6)yes, patch and skinmoderate to expensive
Lower rear of front fenders (7)yes, full fendersmoderate
Tops of fender aprons (8)yesexpensive
Fastback rear window lip (9)nomoderate
1969-'70
AreaRepair PanelCost
Cowl vents (1)noexpensive
Floors (2)yesmoderate
Lower door edge (3)yes, skinmoderate to expensive
Battery area (4)yesmoderate to cheap
Trunk floor (5)yesexpensive
Rear fenders (6)yes, patch and skinmoderate to expensive
Lower rear of front fenders (7)yes, full fendersmoderate
Tops of fender aprons (8)yesexpensive
Fastback rear window lip (9)nomoderate
1971-'73
AreaRepair PanelCost
Cowl vents (1)noexpensive
Floors (2)yesmoderate
Battery area (3)yesmoderate to cheap
Trunk floor (4)yesexpensive
Rear fenders (5)yes, patch and skinmoderate to expensive
Lower rear of front fenders (6)nomoderate
Area under windshield (7)nomoderate
Decklid (8)nomoderate to expensive
Taillight panel (9)yesmoderate
1979-'93
AreaRepair PanelCost
Hatch (1)noexpensive