Tech Editor Mark Houlahan checks the door tag on the 1966 hardtop. Amazingly, the door doesnt come completely off its hinges when opened.
It’s interesting how you can look at one car and memories come flooding back. My 1966 had rust damage in the exact same locations on both doors. As you’ll see, skins won’t be enough.
The bottom of both doors are rust-perforated. This happens from years of dirt and leaves accumulating at the bottom of the door, allowing moisture to eat away from the inside. All new door shells must be used, along with a dose of antirust coating inside.
Another argument for a full door shell is that the driver-side latch assembly has pulled through the inner skin. Repair patches for this problem are available, but the rest of the door is too far gone.
The front wheels were missing and these aluminum mags were holding up the front end of the car. We were about to add them to our list of sale items when Lindsey informed us he wanted the wheels back for his 1965 convertible.
The cowl had primer all over it and the rest of the car had partial restoration work performed (more on that in a minute), so we hoped the cowl might have been repaired already.
The person who sold the Mustang to Lindsey had installed lower quarter patches himself. The work wasn’t too bad, but the metal was never primed and the rust that ensued tells us the work must be performed again.
Though the lower quarter patch was a stamped part, the trunk drop-off and outer wheelhouse patch were nothing more than scraps of galvanized sheet. This work would have to be redone.
The trunk lid looked as though it had been sanded down to bare metal and then left to rust away with the rest of the car. There are numerous pinholes along the top of the trunk. We’d better add a trunk lid to the list of things to do.
The radiator core support appeared to be in good shape and the framerails and torque boxes didn’t look too bad either. The worst we could see was the corroded inner fender where the battery resides. The shock towers were never torched, and they weren’t cracked either.
Another area that resembled rust on my old 1966--common on northern cars (my 1966 was from New York and this 1966 came from Pennsylvania). If the outer wheelhouse warrants replacement, we’ll probably install full quarter skins.
Arrgh! Shackles! As a kid too young to know about shackles and air shocks, I’m glad I missed the 1970s.
We were told the 200 six will run. We’ll verify that just before we pull it out. The C4 is supposedly toast, though. Editor Ford’s soon-to-be-modified 1966 Ranchero will give us a 289, C4, and V-8 front suspension and brakes to make way for a 351, AOD, and dropped spindles wearing Granada discs. Half our V-8 conversion battle is already accomplished!
Except for the previously mentioned battery area, the rest of the underhood metal seems to be in good shape. These dimples help deform the front of the Mustang in an accident. They all appeared to be fine, indicating the wasn’t involved in any serious accidents.
After inspecting the outside damage, it was time to venture inside and see what was waiting for us there.
The driver-side door hinges were surprisingly quiet and supported the door. We may get away with a new bushing and pivot pin; cleaning and beadblasting will tell. The cowl sides and inner rockers seemed solid as well.
Scratch the idea of having a decent cowl. A half inch of water was found in the front floor area. It’s really spooky--I had the exact floor mats in my 1966 when I bought it!
The headlight buckets were both in the back seat. We’ll consider keeping them since we have budgetary concerns.
Most of the exterior brightwork had been removed and thrown inside the car, including the outer door handles (good thing the vent windows weren’t locked). Next to the sheetmetal, the chrome and brightwork will be the biggest ticket items.
The Grant GT wheel is another throwback to the 1970s. It might clean up and make for good swap meet fodder because we’ll have to hunt down a Deluxe interior wheel sooner or later.
The original Ford AM radio was still at home in the center of the dash. This was a home run for us, as this meant the dash was uncut. We have the correct radio if we decide to install it, or it would make a good saleable part if we decide to go with a more modern tuner.
While we will still have to gut the complete interior to really get the lowdown on the potential problems lurking under the 80/20 loop pile, a quick look found the majority of the pans in good shape with just one or two small repairs made from galvanized sheet, and Pop-riveted in place. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.
Moving on to the trunk, we found a horde of old parts. There was even an extra gas tank shoved in with the mess. I am a firm believer in a new clean tank as a sound investment in any restoration.
The original hubcaps were underneath fuel tank No. 2 in the trunk. Since we will be going with the timeless look of Styled Steel wheels, we can hopefully clean and detail these for the next swap meet.
The previous, unfinished restoration left us a few good parts. A new rear valance, some small brightwork, trim screws, and more were found new in their packages, presumably from Mustangs Unlimited (we found a sale flyer and this card among the parts strewn throughout the interior).
There were several duplicate used items such as these extra quarter-panel extensions. This will give us a nice selection from which to pick two good ones.
The two front wheels were in the trunk as well. Perhaps we can find a good home for these four-lug wheels after we have converted to the V-8’s five-lug affair.
I recall buying the correct fuel filler cap as my first new part for my 1966 when I was in high school. My car came with a 1965 cap and as soon as I found out it was incorrect, I visited a local Mustang shop to get the correct cap. I think I will detail this one and hang it in my office as a reminder.
We even found a box of 1969-70 parts in the trunk. We were hoping to sell these for some "resto money," but Editor Ford wants to go through them first to see if there is anything of value for our 1970 SportsRoof project. I suppose that’s fair.
In the next installment, we hope to have the car gutted and accomplish a more thorough evaluation of the sheetmetal repairs, which will be handled by Classic Creations of Central Florida (941) 665-2322. The owners, Merv and Pat Rego, recently moved to Florida after closing up Central Jersey Mustang. We are lucky to have such an enthusiastic Mustang facility in our backyard that is willing to work with us. Stay tuned.
Blame it on Charlotte or blame it on the photos of my first 1966 hardtop in my office, but my wanton desire for another vintage car has grown stronger in the past few months. I believe I am even having separation anxiety from our now 99.999-percent complete Project 1968. I know I can visit Project 1968 anytime and I'll see it at local shows, but the car still isn't mine after four tough years of scraped knuckles and ups and downs. Come to think of it, I will blame it on Charlotte (and Editor Ford's foray into my previous 1966 possible rareness). When we had the 1968 on display in our vendor tent in Charlotte, people went gaga over it. Comments such as "I've been following this project with my own 1968" and "Your 1968 fastback came out really nice" made me feel good about the long hours I spent on the car. I wasn't standing there with the keys in my pocket, though--the owner of Project 1968, Bill Currie Ford's Frank Cossota was. I had to have another vintage car. Cancel the cable TV, sell all my die-cast cars on Ebay, and let's go find another 1966!
Over lunch, Editor Ford and I hatched a plan. Let's find a 1966 hardtop and restore it to match my first Mustang. Kind of like paying homage to "the one that got away." Everyone has a favorite Mustang story about their first Mustang or the one they wished they hadn't sold. Well, what's preventing us from restoring another Mustang to look and feel like that remembered car? I coined the term "resticate" since we are restoring the Mustang and we want to replicate a long lost Mustang.
I put the word out with some friends and with the local Mustang club of which I'm a member. John Lindsey, the club's membership director and past president, told me I was in luck. He had a 1966 hardtop--a six-cylinder with standard interior. It was real rough, but all there. He said I was welcome to buy it for what he paid for it a year and a half ago--a total sum of $300! I talked it over with Editor Ford and we thought (sight unseen) that the hardtop would be perfect (short of the car being rusted in half). Since it had a six-cylinder, our mountain of reader letters inquiring about converting a six to an eight and from standard interior to Deluxe could finally be answered with some great tech articles, not to mention the vast amount of 1965-66 tech we could get from the car. Here we will present our initial findings. Oh, and one last thing. Can anyone think of a better name than Project 1966?