Project '66 - How I Restored My Mustang
We take a glimpse inside the how, what, why, and where of restoring a vintage Mustang
For your first restoration, pick a car that's easy to restore. Find one that doesn't need major sheetmetal or body repairs and pay a little more for it. Look for a '65-'68 hardtop. There are plenty out there and they're easy to restore.
Don't buy a rare Mustang (such as a Boss 302) that's missing a lot of its exclusive parts. Just about any part for a '66 hardtop can be ordered from a catalog. Not so for emissions, induction, ultra-high-performance, and other rare components.
If you want to change wheels or do something different, by all means, it's your Mustang. Just know what you're getting into and don't expect everyone to like it.
Get the family involved in the restoration. My son helped me with the hardtop at home. The preteen and teen years are great for garage bonding and getting some free labor out of those freeloading kids (just kidding).
If you're restoring a Mustang as an investment or purely to sell and make a profit, you can stop reading now and move on to another venture. Except for the rare Boss or Shelby, a Mustang's value is usually exceeded by its restoration cost. You can easily put $12,000 into a hardtop valued at $8,000. A Mustang should be restored for the love of the car or for what it stands for, not to turn a profit.
Pick up a Mustang Recognition Guide and learn the various Mustang years, options, and features. I built a '66 hardtop because I used to have one, but if I were restoring a Mustang as a driver for my child, I would have picked a '68 with its collapsible steering column and available power disc brakes as a safer alternative. If it was for my wife, it would have been a '67-'68 convertible or a '69 SportsRoof.
Join a club! The Mustang Club of America is a great place to start, of course, but more important is a local or regional group/club. The MCA Web site (www.mustang.org) can direct you to a local chapter or you can ask around. Getting involved with a local club will be the beginnings of great friendships with knowledgeable Mustang enthusiasts who can help with your project. Besides, once your Mustang is completed, you can enjoy it with your club at local shows, cruise nights, and other club activities.
Read this magazine. I know it sounds like a shameless plug, but every month in Mustang Monthly you can find basic stories on interior replacement, suspension and brake repairs, concours detailing, and much more. In 25 years of Mustang Monthly magazine, just about every topic has been covered at least once, if not half a dozen times, with each iteration bringing new tools, concepts, and procedures to light. And finding back issues is often a big part of a restoration project. I dug up old issues just to read Bob Perkins' Resto Roundup column for detailing tips and other advice on conversions I knew I'd be doing.
The following companies were instrumental in the restoration of our '66 Mustang hardtop: