Jim Smart
April 8, 2011
Photos By: Mustang Monthly Archives

It would be easy to envision ourselves on the open road in a classic Mustang, basking in the glow of raw nostalgia, if only it weren't for those miserably hard bucket seats, school bus sized steering wheel, stumble off idle at the light, road boom over rough surfaces, sloppy steering, lap belts instead of three-point, and absence of a good sound system. All of the features we enjoy in today's new cars and trucks seem completely lost to time in a classic Mustang.

But, why do you drive a classic Mustang? When you drive a '65-'73 Mustang, you're taking a trip back in time to an age when you were more intimate with your automobile and the road. You could feel every imperfection in the pavement. And you had to stay way ahead of the car to feel any measure of safety. It's not a good idea to be text messaging in one of these guys.

In order for a classic Mustang to be enjoyable to drive, modern modifications can make the drive more pleasurable and safe. Yet you don't want to lose the car's original character and charm. So how to get there?

Technology andshear necessity have brought us so many stealthy ways to build a good-looking classic that also delivers a better than average driving experience. We're going to show you 25 ideas you can weave into your classic Mustang without losing the point of driving a vintage car. We're interested in your ideas, by the way. What have you done to your Mustang that has improved the driving experience without being visible?

1 Can You Hear The Quiet?

One of the biggest issues with an old Mustang is road noise and slipstream roar. With convertibles, it's the slipstream roaring over the top. With all of them, it's the absence of sound deadening, with little more than carpeting, paper backing, and padding insulating you from the road. Quiet Ride Solutions, available from Mustangs Plus, has come up with space shuttle technology for your classic Mustang. AcoustiShield consists of a firewall insulator, roof kit, cowl kit, floor kit, trunk floor kit, body panel kit, and a door kit all designed to work in concert so you can hear the concert from your Mustang's sound system. What's more, conversation can be held at normal speaking levels.

AcoustiShield works two ways. The goal is to shut out all unwanted noise and heat. There are three basic types of noise-airborne, road noise, and vehicle structure noise. There is also unwanted heat, which comes from the engine, driveline, and the sun. AcoustiShield is a fancy name for sound dampening and heat deflecting materials that come from space age technology. These materials can be found in jetliners as well as spacecraft. Installation begins with self-adhesive rubberized asphalt strips that dampen all sound. Just peel and stick. Then, lay a thick material over those asphalt strips with a foil backing designed to keep heat out.

2 See The Light...

Better headlights are an upgrade you can install in 15 minutes. Classic Mustangs with old sealed beam headlights barely illuminate the road ahead so you have to wonder how we survived them. When Halogen headlights came along in the 1980s, they were a refreshing improvement in lighting technology. What's more, when Halogen headlights get dinged by a stray rock, they don't fog up and flame out like a conventional sealed beam. They also outlast sealed beam lamps. The Halogen headlight is a sealed, high-pressure bulb envelope inside the sealed beam lamp, which is why they remain lit if damaged. What makes the Halogen lamp better is a smaller tungsten filament that burns brighter and whiter instead of the brown tone of older sealed beams. Halogen lamps also look more like the old sealed beams, which makes them ideal for classic drivers.

3 Hardened Exhaust Valve Seats

Frequent drivers need internal modifications that make them reliable. Hardened exhaust valve seats installed during a rebuild have been mandatory ever since tetraethyl lead was removed from gasoline in the 1980s. Mustang cylinder heads prior to 1971 have integral cast-iron valve seats, which erode with the absence of lead in fuel. Hardened steel valve seats stand up to unleaded fuels and harsh additives, which means longevity for your expensive engine rebuild.