Huw Evans
November 1, 2008
'64-'66 Ford Mustang Hardtop
Price Range: $2,500-$3,500
Pros: The ultimate '60s American automotive icon, tons of reproduction and performance parts available
Cons: Everybody has one, not as affordable as they used to be

Admittedly, finding a decent early Mustang that fits within our budget is getting a little tougher these days. Considering that over a million of these cars were built between April 1964 and September 1966, with almost 500,000 hardtops built in 1966 alone, there are still a lot of them out there. However, according to our findings, the best bargains seem to be on the West Coast, where quite a few of these cars are still in regular, daily driven use. We're talking about cars equipped with the 200ci straight-six or two-barrel V-8 that will need work to bring them up to snuff, whether it be mechanical, interior, or exterior (most often all three). Still, if you want to get into a classic Mustang, the '64-'66 hardtops are among the most affordable. If you're not too concerned about finding a running car, then examples can be had for much cheaper, as little as $700-800. Quite a few of the project cars have been featured in the old Mustang & Fords issues. Some of our Young Owners club members started out with cars that cost as little as $800, but at that price expect to find a Mustang that needs sheetmetal, interior restoration, and an engine transplant or rebuild. Today, more than ever, it is possible to build and customize your early Mustang any way you want.

'67-'68 Mustang Hardtop
Price Range: $2,800-$3,500
Pros: Considered the ultimate Mustang by many, bigger engine bays allow for more performance options, tons of repro parts available
Cons: Strong demand is pushing up prices

Compared to their predecessors, the '67-'68 cars looked more muscular and slightly more integrated. They were launched at a time when the muscle and ponycar wars were just starting to hit their stride. The '67-'68 Mustangs have long been considered to be a high point among the enthusiast communities, which is part of the reason that they generally command the highest prices. For our guide, you can't really even consider a fastback or convertible--even rough examples tend to go for $6,000-plus. For $3,500, your choices are likely to revolve around base, garden-variety hardtops, since any special editions such as the High Country or California Specials are going to command more. You might be able to find a running car for just over three-grand, most likely a six-cylinder, but it will likely need extensive renovation. We've found non-running cars for as little as $800, but factor in the cost of getting the Mustang up and running again. As it is with the early '64-'66 cars, the best bargains still seem to be out on the Left Coast, particularly in Central and Northern California, Oregon, and Washington State, where we've spotted quite a few examples still being driven on a regular basis that are still largely rot free. Eastern and Northern cars tend to be priced higher as supply is more limited, especially for original rust-free examples. However, the higher price of entry for a '67-'68 Mustang hardtop project car, compared to a number of other entries on our list, is offset by generous aftermarket support.

'69-'70 Mustang Hardtop/Convertible
Price Range: $2,000-$3,500
Pros: Aggressive styling turns heads, lots of performance options available, and healthy aftermarket support
Cons: Not as popular as the fastback, getting harder to find solid project cars

By 1969, the Mustang's popularity was starting to wane. But with 302,971 built that year (more than 200,000 were hardtops), it was still a popular car. As is the case with the '67-'68 models, the fastback is by far the preferred body style--good luck finding one for under $5,000 in our current climate. Convertibles in the '69-'70 era are not as desirable as the earlier cars and it is still possible to find rough examples for sale within our price range, though in most cases these cars will be non-running. The hardtops are cheaper still, but as a general rule of thumb you'll be looking at between $1,500 and $3,500 for something that is more than just a parts car. Nicely restified '69-'70 coupes and convertibles can draw a fistful of attention, even among the classic Mustang crowd. The best bargains, again, tend to be out on the West Coast, where salt and extensive humidity hasn't rusted them to oblivion, so if you're serious and budget conscious, Central California or Oregon is a very good place to start.