Wayne Cook
February 2, 2010
Photos By: The Manufacturer

Budget Minded Improvements
Classic Ford Upgrades

I know we all can agree that the price of everything we deal with in our hobby has gone up a lot. When you're on a tight budget we know it can be difficult to make meaningful improvements to your classic Ford project. We wanted to know just what's out there that we can buy to upgrade our cars while operating on a limited budget. To answer this question we talked to some of the classic Mustang and Ford parts vendors out there we deal with to see what they would recommend. Some of their suggestions are perennial best sellers or important first additions, such as a tachometer or electronic ignition. Other things we came across were more of a surprise and indeed there are a whole host of interesting upgrades you can make to your classic Ford automobile while on a tight budget.

We talked things over and decided to set our budget limit at $150. While this amount won't buy you a four-barrel carburetor or a set of headers anymore, the truth is that there is a whole host of interesting improvements you can make to your classic Mustang or other special interest Ford for that $150, or less. From the interior of your car, right down to the wheels, we found a lot to like. For example, just one cool item we found for less than $150 for your classic interior was a great-looking three spoke wood rimmed steering wheel. Down on the ground, the tire pressure monitoring valve stems caught our eye. Most classic Ford enthusiasts are detail freaks and they know that sometimes the little things can make a great deal of difference in the way their car drives, looks, and performs. Indeed the array of goodies contained herein is wide and interesting. You might find one or two entries that came in just north of our price ceiling, but we felt that these things were just too cool to eliminate from our survey over $9. Take a few moments and look at this interesting collection of budget-minded upgrades perfect for your classic Ford project.

Por-15 Caliper Painting Kit
Beautiful Brakes

Restomotive Laboratories now offers this POR-15 Caliper Painting Kit. Dress up those cast iron or aluminum disc brake calipers with this handy kit that comes with everything you'll need. Included is a super-tough paint coating that will stand up to just about anything while making your calipers look terrific. Typical enamel paints can't survive the temperature extremes, road debris, and brake dust cleaning solvents that hit your calipers regularly. However POR-15 is famous for tough and beautiful colors in all of its different products so it's no surprise that this new kit hits the mark as well. The MSRP for the complete kit is $39.50.
(800) 725-0682
www.por15.com

Stainless Steel Thermostat Housing
Handsome Housing

Performance Stainless Steel is proud to offer this new Stainless Steel Thermostat Housing for small-block Ford engines. The housing is available with either a 15- or 45-degree hose port exit angle. Part number 1066 is for the 15-degree version while 1069 is for the 45-degree exit angle housing. This part is very resistant to rust, corrosion and discoloration. The beauty of stainless steel outlasts both chrome plate and aluminum. Precision machined from 304 stainless steel, the housings are available in a natural or polished finish to add a final touch of class to your small-block Ford engine. A high-quality Cometic gasket is included with each thermostat housing, as is stainless steel mounting hardware. The natural finish housing costs $144.95, while the polished version is $164.95.
(831) 335-7901
www.performancesst.com

Trunk-Mount Battery Cable Kit
It's In The Trunk

If you're interested in mounting your battery in the trunk to improve traction and balance, or to simply clean up the engine compartment's looks, then the Ron Francis Trunk Mount Battery Cable Kit is for you. The included cables are quality rated to a 255-degree performance standard and specifically designed to safely carry the start-up voltage for the required distance without allowing the voltage to drop as it travels along the length of the car. The cables have factory installed battery ends you so don't have to attach them yourself and they feature red and black protective boots. The kit includes 15-feet of black and 20-feet of red cable. Extra red cable is supplied to incorporate a remote battery disconnect switch. Specify top- or side-post battery. The cost is $157.95.
(800) 292-1940
www.ronfrancis.com

Big-Block Fe
Valve Covers Power By Ford

Tony D. Branda Performance now offers a wide selection of valve cover choices for your classic Ford engine. Now an exact reproduction of the original equipment big-block FE valve covers is available. These stamped steel covers were used on '67-'69 Mustangs and Fairlanes. They are correct in every detail and have brilliant triple chrome plating with raised "PAOWER BY FORD" lettering. They fit all FE engines. These valve covers have limited availability and a list price of $149.95 for the pair.
(814) 942-1869
www.cobranda.com

Sport ST Tachometer
Tach It Up

Sunpro now offers the Sport ST Tachometer featuring a 10,000-rev scale and modern styling. With its "soft touch" outer bezel, smooth finish and curved amber shift light the Sport ST Tach is a good-looking unit. An rpm set-point control is easily accessed on the front dial. The Sport ST tach has a 5-inch diameter metal housing with a vibration-proof air-core meter movement. An illuminated pointer and through-the-dial lighting make the tachometer easy to read at night. The shift light can be repositioned around the body for best view and an adjustable swivel foot allows for mounting at any angle. Part number CP7900 is the Sport ST tach, which costs $92.25. It is also available in a 3 3/8-inch diameter. The Sunpro Sport ST Tach can be purchased from leading automotive performance suppliers including Auto Zone, Advance Auto Parts, and Pep Boys.
www.sunpro.com

Braided Steel Flexible Brake Hose
Stopping Science

Now the tubing experts at Classic Tube offer the Stop Flex braided steel flexible brake hose. While most automotive brake lines have a 1,500 psi bursting strength, the Stop Flex hoses have a 5,000 psi rating. These stainless braided hoses prevent volumetric expansion, a major culprit in a spongy brake pedal. The very high burst pressure produces a firmer and more responsive brake pedal feel. Stop Flex brake lines are available for almost all cars, and a complete kit for a '65 Mustang consisting of three hoses costs $119.85.
(800) 882-3711
www.classictube.com

Polished Stainless Steel Fastner Kit
Nuts And Bolts

Watch the surprised expressions on their faces when they peak under the hood of your '65 or '66 classic Mustang and see the all new 132-piece polished stainless steel fastener kit now offered by K.A.R. Auto Group. The head of every polished stainless steel bolt in K.A.R.'s underhood fastener kit is embossed with your choice of either the Mustang running horse or a GT insignia. Of course, washers and flange nuts are also polished stainless steel. Each 132-piece kit contains fasteners for the hood hinges, catch bar, horns, latch bracket, fender tops, and more. The retail price is $158.95. K.A.R. Auto Group offers an exciting array of styling, and technology upgrades for classic Mustangs.
(800) 341-5949
www.karmustang.com

Transmission Conversion Crossmember
Get Overdrive

Everyone we know who has added overdrive to their classic Ford loves it. For manual transmission applications Ron Morris Performance now offers T5, Tremec, and AOD transmission conversion crossmembers for '65-'73 Mustangs and Cougars. These crossmembers offer lots of exhaust clearance and come with new mounting hardware. Using this part you'll have easy access to all four transmission mount bolt holes. Also included is a replacement parking brake bracket (on '65-'66 versions) which fits between the transmission and transmission mount. The Ron Morris conversion crossmembers are available in several part numbers, and they come in a black powdercoated finish. The cost is $150.
(209) 605-1590
www.ronmorrisperformance.com

'71-'73 Mustang Led Sequential Taillights
In Sequence

Now enjoy improved visibility and safety with these LED sequential taillights for '71-'73 Mustangs. Available from Mustang Project as PN MP-6012, the lamps come as a complete kit with everything you need included. Use your existing taillight housings, lenses, and all other components. Light Emitting Diodes are cool running and won't melt your lenses like incandescent bulbs can. The kit is fast and simple to install and the LED lamps are more than twice as bright as the OE bulbs. LED light sources last virtually forever and are undetectable with this invisible installation. The protected circuit flasher modules are guaranteed for the life of your car. The kit costs $159.95.
(800) 631-0507
www.mustangproject.com

Vortex Classic Muffler
It's The Bomb

Cherry Bomb was famous for glass packed mufflers back in the 1960's and it now has the new Cherry Bomb Vortex muffler. The Vortex is its premium brand of performance muffler and it is both high-flowing and quiet. Its ingenious patented flow divider design works in tandem with a perforated wall layered with fiberglass filler to maximize flow and deliver both performance and the unique Cherry Bomb sound. Made of 100 percent aluminized steel, the Cherry Bomb Vortex is made to last and is available in standard body sizes with reversible ends for easy installation. The Vortex Classic muffler with a 2 1/4-inch inlet and outlet size is PN 88100 and costs $68.36.
(866) 869-9704
www.cherrybomb.com

Cruiser Bench Seat Console
Console Your Classic

Tired of not having anywhere to put your drink while driving your classic car? This problem is particularly troublesome for drivers with bench-seat cars due to the lack of available consoles. For those drivers, The Paddock has a new console that is specifically designed for bench-seat cars. The Cruiser Bench Seat Console features two cup holders for large sized drinks, a fully lined interior compartment with a plastic sleeve on the flip up lid to hold important documents, and an armrest pad. The console also features a long strap that loops around the bottom cushion of your bench seat in order to keep it from going anywhere while you drive. The console comes in a variety of colors including black, bright red, maroon, light blue, bright blue, dark blue, aqua, parchment, and white. The price is $99.95.
(800) 428-4319
www.paddockparts.com

Quad System Gauges
Auto Meter Quad

Auto Meter is proud to announce its popular Quad System Technology in a new and smaller 3 3/8-inch size. They're perfectly suited to custom applications with limited dash space. The Quad System gauge monitors fuel level, water temp, oil pressure, and electrical voltage and is available in a matched kit box (all senders included) with a matching Auto Meter programmable electric speedometer. Quad System kit boxes are available in these highly popular vintage-look Street Rod designs. The 3 3/8-inch Quad System gauges are also available separately. We found the Auto Meter Quad gauge with oil pressure, water temperature, volts, and fuel level for $159.
(815) 895-8147
www.autometer.com

Automatic Transmission Cooler
Remote Radiator

Prevent overheating in your Ford automatic transmission with this Fluidyne 20mm multi-flow automatic transmission cooler. It's a valuable asset to your automatic-equipped car, and with a high-performance engine, the heat exchanger inside your car's radiator is likely to be overloaded. Cycling your transmission fluid through a remotely mounted cooler is a great help in the battle against excess transmission heat, and you'll enjoy smoother shifting and greatly extended service life with this Fluidyne cooler. With a cost of only $35.05 it's one of the great high-performance bargains out there.
(704) 662-8119
www.fluidyne.com

Small-Block Aluminum Water Pump
Pump You Up

In the never-ending quest to save weight and keep cool we use an Edelbrock aluminum water pump when a replacement is called for. The Edelbrock pump is good at cooling and is flow-bench tested for balanced flow and maximum cooling capacity. Of course, its aluminum construction saves weight over that factory cast-iron pump, and every little bit helps. An Edelbrock aluminum water pump for your small block Ford costs $159.95.
(310) 781-2222
www.edelbrock.com

Six-Blade Clutch-Controlled Fan
Fan Club Membership

The more you use your car for summer road trips and hot weather, the more you need this six-blade clutch-controlled fan. The four-blade direct drive unit can't move as much air as the big six-blade unit, and even at 70 mph it's still hooked directly to the engine. At that speed it's just wasting your fuel and power which could be going to the rear wheels. Another great benefit that you get from a clutch-operated fan is that howling sound that comes out from under the hood at high speeds since to the stock fixed-mount, belt-driven fan will be gone. All of these benefits aren't expensive with the six-blade fan costing $49.95 and the clutch $32.50.
(800) 235-3445
www.nationalpartsdepot.com

Front Sway Bar Kit
No Sway

Another great suggestion from the experts at Mustangs Plus is this 1-inch diameter front antisway bar. You'll keep body roll to a minimum with this heavy-duty upgrade. The Grab-A-Trak front sway bar kit comes complete with an American-made front sway bar, plus polyurethane frame bushings and endlink kit. All-metal frame brackets, and endlink hardware are top-quality gold zinc chromate-plated for longer life. Sold as a kit, the '65-'66 part number is 10200. For '67-'70 cars order PN 10202. Big-bodied cars from '71-'73 use PN 10204. The price for any of the kits is only $99.
(800) 999-4289
www.mustangsplus.com

Tire-Pressure Monitors
Smart Valve Stems

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an under-inflated tire is a major cause of traffic accidents. Now Precision Safety Innovations (PSI) announces the availability of Tire Wise Tire Pressure Monitors. There's no need to get on your knees with a tire gauge because the pressure monitors tell at a glance whether or not a tire is properly inflated. Installed onto the tire valve stem in place of the cap they indicate red for a low inflation condition and green when the tire is properly inflated. A set of four costs just $19.95 so they are inexpensive insurance.
(866) 417-4977
www.tirewise.com

Sound Insulation
Quiet Down

Insulate your vehicle interior against unwanted engine and road noise to provide improved audio acoustics and a more comfortable driving environment at the same time. Boom Mat from Design Engineering is an effective solution for interior noise problems and it's easy to install. Used underneath carpeting and behind door panels, no surface preparation is required. Simply trim the mat to the desired size, peel the backing and apply. A six-pack of Boom Mat 12X23-inch pads costs $110.93.
(800) 264-9472
www.designengineering.com

Classic Wood Steering Wheel
Top Tiller

Bring a touch of class to your classic Ford interior. Mustangs Unlimited carries this nostalgic classic wood wheel available for any '67-'73 model Cougar and any '65 and up Mustang without tilt steering. We've also seen this wheel installed on Falcons, Fairlanes, and other Fords. Features include an all-walnut rim with a 15-inch diameter and a 4 5/8-inch dish. The wheel has brushed stainless spokes and classic rivets highlighting the handgrip. Year and model specific mounting kits are available. The cost is $134.88. Mustangs Unlimited offers this great steering wheel as well as the whole Grant Products line.
(888) 229-2929
www.mustangsunlimited.com

Electronic Fuel Pump
Pump Power

A fuel pump is one of those parts that doesn't get a lot of attention until it fails and leaves you stranded. This is why it's a good idea to replace your tired old pump with a new Power Flow electronic fuel pump from Professional Products. There are two models, but the only one you need to be concerned with is the one for conventional carburetors requiring 4 to 7 psi (PN 10700). Installation couldn't be easier. The Power Flow Electronic Fuel Pump is a simple two-wire connection and is equipped with a plated stamped-steel housing, sturdy mounting tabs and inlet and outlet fittings suitable for 5/16-inch fuel lines. Professional Products Power Flow electronic fuel pump retails for approximately $35 at high-performance retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada.
(323) 779-2020
www.professionalproducts.com

Replacement Horns
Honking Horns

You can stop the search for suitable replacement horns for your classic Mustang now because Virginia Classic Mustang now offers the proper replacement horns for '65-'73 Mustangs. They feature the correct mounting brackets for all early Mustang groups: '65-'66, '67-'68, '69-'70, and '71-'73. Both high and low pitch tones are available. For a '65 Mustang PN EG912 is the high-pitched horn while the low is PN EG911. The horns cost just $29.95 each, have a great fit, and sound like a Ford horn should sound.
(540) 896-2695
www.virginiaclassicmustang.com

90/10 Drag Shocks
Shocking Development

Any high-performance Ford can benefit from weight transfer to the rear axle when launch time comes. Calvert Racing Suspensions now has a 90/10 drag shock specifically designed to help get your car mov-ing. These shocks have a lightweight design and offer lightning quick separation for maximum weight transfer. Dual-stage valving on compression allows the car to settle on the top end. Calvert 90/10 drag shocks are available for most classic Ford applications. They have an MSRP of $59 each.
(661) 728-9600
www.calvertracing.com

Under Rider Traction Bars
Traction Action

The folks at Mustangs Plus were full of great suggestions for budget-minded upgrades. One of their best suggestions were these Grab-A-Trak under rider traction bars. A must for any performance-oriented Mustang, these bars help you put the power where you need to-on the ground. They help prevent axle windup and wheelhop and are easy to install. Just bolt them underneath the spring plate and weld the fronts into position and you're ready to go. Unlike slapper bars, Mustangs Plus under riders provide extra traction and control whether you're accelerating or decelerating. For '65-'66 Mustangs order PN 00646, for '67-'68 ask for PN 00647. The price is $99 per pair.
(800) 999-4289
www.mustangsplus.com

Ignition Control Unit
High-Energy Solution

ACCEL's new 275+ CD Ignition Control Unit utilizes the latest generation of micro- controller to provide high-speed processing and maximum energy output. This ignition will enhance efficiency and allow for more complete coil saturation. The ACCEL 275+ unit provides several multi-strike spark events up to 2,500 rpm for easier starting, greater burn efficiency, and enhanced performance. This will benefit modified engines with increased cylinder pressures resulting from performance upgrades such as higher compression pistons or bigger camshafts. The compact design allows easy mounting in limited spaces. It can be used with a factory coil, but it is recommended that you upgrade to a high-performance coil or a CD-type coil. The universal kit for distributor-equipped engines is PN 49275 and we found it for $149.95 at a national high-performance retailer.
www.accel-ignition.com

Billet Aluminum Spacers
Spaced Out

Wilson Manifolds offers this carb spacer with race-proven technology at a budget-friendly price. The new SE-Series open spacers use the exact same design as Wilson's high-end racing spacers, which increase plenum volume and move the throttle blades away from the roof of the runners. This allows the air/fuel mixture to turn more easily into the runners for improved distribution and mixture quality, adding mid-range and top-end power. Wilson SE-Series spacers are CNC machined from billet 6061 aluminum, and are available in 1/2-inch, 1-inch, 1 1/2-inch, and 2-inch heights for 4150 and 4500 series Holley carburetors. Part number 000090 is an open spacer for a 4150 series carb and it has a list price of $108.65.
(954)-771-6216
www.wilsonmanifolds.com