Jim Smart
September 1, 2003
Photos By: Mustang Monthly Archives

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If you're seriously considering a '67-'73 Mustang, contact Kevin Marti of Marti Auto Works (12007 W. Peoria, El Mirage, AZ 85335; 623/935-2558), and spend approximately $50 for Kevin's production report on the Mustang. His vast Ford database will yield all factory information about the vehicle you are considering, including color, interior, options, original delivery location, and more. Kevin's research will tell you if it was originally a Mach 1, GT, or Grabber, for example. It will also tell you if it was a Drag Pak car or a freeway cruiser, if it had air conditioning, and whether it was rolling on Magnum 500s or on steel wheels with dog-dish hubcaps.

Build It!

If you've never built a Mustang before, don't be intimidated by the experience; this is going to be fun. It will also be a source of great frustration, so be prepared. Our advice is to take the good with the bad, and make the most of it.

All car-building experiences must begin with a plan, without which you can count on excess spending and wasted time. With your new purchase parked in the driveway or garage, evaluate the car as it sits. Then decide what you want the car to be. Do you want the car factory stock or tastefully modified? Are you going to drive it, or will it be the weekend trailer car? The car's use determines how it should be built.

A Mustang driven occasionally can tolerate less engine, driveline, suspension, and brakes than one driven all the time. By this, we mean you can forego the heavy expense of a roller camshaft and hardened exhaust valve seats if you're building an occasional driver or trailered car. You can opt for stock springs, shocks, and brakes if you're building a trailered car, because handling won't matter.

With this in mind, we suggest if you're building a Mustang to be trailered or occasionally weekend driven, go the extra mile and do the things that make it a more reliable, fun to drive automobile, because you never know when the urge to drive is going to hit. For example, what happens when your Mustang buddies invite you to drive with them to Nashville to celebrate the Mustang's 40th anniversary next April? If you restore your Mustang on the cheap, will it be up for the drive? Build a Mustang as though you were going to drive it daily, even if you aren't.

Building your first Mustang isn't just about having a nice car to show and drive; it's about gaining self confidence because you've taken on challenges you've never dared to attempt before. For example, did you know you can rebuild your own engine? All you need is the help and advice of a seasoned machine shop. What about building a new suspension system and brakes? How about bodywork and paint? Did you know you can do these things yourself?

Building your Mustang begins with disassembly, photo documentation, and carefully cataloging all parts in containers. Even parts you expect to throw away should be retained until the car is reassembled. This enables you to recall how things go together.

Bodywork and paint should always be handled first because it is the messiest job in a restoration. While the bodywork is being performed, tackle other important elements, like the engine, transmission, and rear axle. Rebuild these components while the car is away at the body shop. If you're doing the bodywork yourself, separate and organize each area, keeping the dust and filth from the bodywork away from the component rebuilding.

When it's time to tackle the engine and driveline, think about what you want the car to do. If you're seeking good low-end torque from a stealthy Mustang, consider a stroker kit, which will increase your engine's displacement without changing its external size. Pump a 289 or 302ci small-block up to 347 ci. If you're building a 351 Windsor or Cleveland, you can increase displacement to as high as 427 ci. Your engine doesn't have to be radical, either. Even in mild street-driven condition, your stroker small-block can make the torque of a big-block.

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