Project '66 - How I Restored My Mustang
We take a glimpse inside the how, what, why, and where of restoring a vintage Mustang
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Because I was planning to upgrade or change much of the car, I knew I was going to need multiple parts sources. A basic restoration project might only require one vendor, but I had several conversions with this project. Many of the top parts' vendors were called upon for the items I needed, including National Parts Depot, Virginia Mustang, The Paddock, CJ Pony Parts, and others. For some of the specialty items, I went right to the suppliers, such as Specialty Wheel for the Styled Steel wheels, Classic Auto Air for the A/C system, and Custom Autosound for the stereo and speakers. I also chose to order the parts myself and deliver them to Classic Creations. This gave me a chance to see the progress of the car and discuss the project face-to-face several times a month. You may want to ship the big, truck-freight parts directly to your restoration shop.
Depending upon your project plans and finances, you'll sometimes need additional parts. For starters, the '66 was missing much of its front sheetmetal, and I would be converting to a V-8 from a six-cylinder and from a standard interior to a Deluxe (Pony) interior, so I purchased AMK Products' fastener kits for much of the project. I bought some directly from AMK and others from major vendors. These kits helped immensely because I didn't have to clean and repair the old fasteners. Plus, in many instances we didn't have the correct original fasteners, as they were either missing or required for a conversion project.
With a project of this scope, using N.O.S. parts isn't really worth the cash outlay. But we did have to purchase some used parts, either as cores or because it's the only way you can buy them today. Items such as power-steering brackets, power-steering control valve and center link, pulleys, Deluxe steering wheel (before the repros were available), V-8 front spindles and brakes, and others were all purchased, mostly from Metro Mustang's used-parts inventory. We did, however, make a few N.O.S. purchases from AMK Products, such as the parking-brake warning-light kit, lights-on warning buzzer, and vanity mirror to dress up our deluxe interior a bit.
Just like a restoration needs parts for the project to succeed, it will also require tools. For the most part, the 120-piece Craftsman tool set my wife gave me for Christmas got the job done. The Mustang was stubborn at times. For example, the rear leaf-spring eyebolts had to be cut out with a reciprocating saw, but these problems creep up in any restoration. Some cars will have a problem area and others won't. If you do any specialty work, such as recovering the seat upholstery yourself, you'll need the proper tools to do the job. Hog-ring pliers and upholstery pliers can be purchased from many tool catalogs and can also be found in most of the larger Mustang catalogs. I already had many of these tools from years of project Mustangs, but it might be better to rent or borrow the expensive ones. Also consider having the work done by a shop with the right tools (such as the vent-window rivet installation tool). Big shop tools, such as an engine lift, can be rented for one-time use.
Lastly, don't be afraid to do the work yourself. Sure, you may not be a wiz at headliner installations (I certainly am not), but when you look at the completed headliner, wrinkles and all, you can have the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself. You learn by doing, and sometimes those lessons can be expensive (I purchased two additional sets of driprail moldings before I got a set installed without damaging them), but you can still say, "Yep, I put those darned driprail moldings on myself!"