Miles Cook
December 9, 2003

It's evident that many of our readers have fully restored vintage Mustangs that have made the rounds on the judged show-and-shine circuit. That's all well and good, and we don't want it to change for a number of reasons, two of which are the preservation of Mustang history and retention of the core readership of this magazine.

This '69 fastback has several of our favorite restomod tricks: a T5five-speed, 16-inch wheels with 50-series radial tires, a PerTronixignition, and basic, but sound, suspension upgrades. With a littledetail work, it'll be an ideal and fun daily driven street car.

But what if you own such a car and want to do something different with it, like take it on a road trip or hit a string of weekend summer cruise nights? If you're thinking what we are, you're thinking about the best restomod ideas to turn your car into a more enjoyable driver. Most of what's presented here is well known. Enthusiasts have been installing better brakes, wheels, tires, transmissions, and lots of other bits since Hot Rod magazine began back in 1948. But, as applied to a classic Mustang, a review is in order for veterans and those who are relatively new to the Mustang hobby.

Many Mustangs are ideal candidates for modern upgrades, such as overdrive transmissions and safer disc brakes, the two most significant upgrades on the list. Of course, we don't advocate taking, for example, an all-original Boss 429 or a '67 K-code convertible and restomodding it to the max. But why not make improvements to a more pedestrian coupe, fastback, or convertible you'd like to drive to work more than once a month? Or even one that's been extensively restored? After showing a restored car on the judged show circuit for many years, what would be the harm in swapping in an AOD or a T5 trans and adding a set of front disc brakes so you can enjoy the car on the open road? We think, absolutely nothing.

In the final analysis, it's up to you. These ideas are presented to get your mind churning in case you want to take your car off the trailer and show field and put it on the road. We've tried to think of ideas that can be reversed easily or are nearly invisible on the outside, such as an overdrive trans. We don't think you should hot-rod a rare show car just for fun. But why not install a set of 16-inch Vintage 45 wheels and modern radial tires on your show-quality Boss 302 when you can go back to the original Magnum 500s and repop bias-ply tires in a matter of minutes? If you can change it back again, all the better.

In fact, the first five upgrades we mention are essentially invisible to the show judge's eye. A judge will never know you have an AOD trans, a PerTronix ignition, and a set of 3.50 gears in your '65 GT convertible unless he looks under the car or removes the distributor cap. Since this doesn't usually happen, you'd have the ideal dual-purpose car. We don't think you should trick show judges, but if the update is invisible and the car is more enjoyable to drive, there's certainly nothing wrong with that.