Jim Smart
December 1, 2002

For years, one of our favorite shows was Home Improvement, starring comedian/actor Tim Allen as Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor. Tim's philosophy was always "More Power!" followed by his hilarious growl. But when we put the laughter aside, life begged the question, "Just what do I need to work on my Mustang?"

If you're just getting started and want to grow as a hobbyist, we will help you with basic hand-tool information necessary to perform driveway auto repair. Then we'll show you what you'll need to advance to the more complex world of extensive automotive repair and restoration.

Because we'll address classic and late-model Mustangs alike, you may need both SAE and metric sizes. SAE stands for the Society of Automotive Engineers. When we speak of SAE sizes, we're talking American dimen-sions, such as 31/48 inch, 71/416 inch, and so on. Metric, of course, is in millimeters, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, and so on. We find SAE sizes with classic Mustangs prior to 1974. We tend to find a mix of SAE and metric from 1974 on. If you own a classic Mustang, your tool focus should be SAE sizes. Later model Mustangs from 1974 need a solid 50/50 mix of SAE and metric tool sizes.

Growing Up Growing your tool arsenal is something that takes years and a lot of different projects with individual needs. We buy tools to handle specific jobs. Any time you buy tools, you're making an important investment. If you are very young, the tools you buy today should serve you a lifetime and remain something you can pass along to your children. This means you should invest wisely. Don't buy the bargain basement stuff found at swap meets and discount houses. Purchase Craftsman, Snap-On, MAC, or Husky tools for best results. Most have a lifetime warranty, which means if they fail for any reason, the company will replace them, with no ques-tions asked.

Any Sears store will replace Craftsman tools with the lifetime warranty. We're talking sockets cracked with an air impact tool, extensions used as punches, screwdrivers used as prying devices, anything . . . Sears doesn't hesitate to replace a failed Craftsman tool, even if abuse was apparent. This is what we mean by "investment." Go the extra mile. Spend more. And get the lifetime warranty.

Another important factor is ease of tool use. Hold a screwdriver in your hand before laying the money down. Does it fit in your hand? Is it easy to turn? Is the blade tip durable? The same rule applies to socket sets. Does the ratchet or breaker bar feel good to hold and use?

* Basic wrench set (open at one end, closed at the other)31/48, 71/416, 11/42, 91/416, 51/48, 111/416, 31/44, 131/416, 71/48, and 151/416 inch10mm, 11mm, 12mm, 13mm, 14mm, 15mm,16mm, 17mm, 18mm, 19mm* Set of crescent wrenches (small, medium, large)* Channel locks (small, medium, large)* Pliers (small, medium, large)* Needle-nose pliers* Vice grips (small, medium, large)* Needle-nose vice grips* C-clamps (various sizes)* Screwdrivers-common and Phillips headAll sizes, ranging from very small to very large.* Torx drivers (complete set-all sizes)* Allen wrenches* Socket set (11/44-inch drive) (shallow- and deep-well sockets)* Socket set (31/48-inch drive) (shallow- and deep-well sockets)31/48, 71/416, 11/42, 91/416, 51/48, 111/416 inch, short and medium extensions10mm, 11mm, 12mm, 13mm, 14mm, 15mm, 16mm, 17mm, 18mm, 19mm* Socket set (11/42-inch drive) (shallow and deep-well sockets)11/42, 91/416, 51/48, 111/416, 31/44, 131/416, 71/48, 151/416, 1, 111/416, 111/48 inch13mm, 14mm, 15mm, 16mm, 17mm, 18mm, 19mm, 20mm, 22mm. Should include short, medium and long extensions, plus a breaker bar.* Gasket scraper* Putty knives* Brake tools* Hammer (ball-peen, not a claw hammer)* 5-pound sledge hammer* Mallet (various sizes)* Drop hammer* Ball joint/tie-rod splitter fork* Test light* Volt/Ohmmeter (digital) * Thickness gauges* Spark-plug gap gauges* Drop light (fluorescent, impact resistant)* Creeper* Roll-around seat