Saturday, August 16, 2014

Don't do it. Do your homework instead. When I first thought about an early Mustang I didn't know how much they cost, except that certain models were crazy expensive. I really had no idea what a starter car would go for. I started checking on Craigslist for available cars and asking prices.I saw an ad for a builder 65 coupe for a grand and the seed was planted.  Unfortunately I also started considering wrecked and stripped cars. These cars were going for around a grand.

 It was a really bad idea to consider these wrecked and stripped cars. I mean really bad. A cheap project car is going to have a lot of problems and take a lot of time to get into running condition. Even if you pass on bodywork. paint and interior there will usually be problems with the running gear and brakes. Trying to figure out how to reassemble a something that was just torn apart is maddening. Unless you have a lot of prior experience with this particular model it will be a Herculean task. Just  trying to figure out which screws and nuts and bolts to use (out of a big coffee can)  will eat up endless hours. There are  lots of better cars out there, you only have to wait awhile. Be patient. If you are looking for a common model like a Mustang coupe you will be surprised how many will show up for sale at some surprisingly good prices. There are rust buckets and basket cases of all types offered at temptingly low prices,

I had started doing my homework by reading up my past issues of Car craft and Mustang collector books, looking at the different years and models. I checked out  Mustang Monthly and became more familiar with the different engine, drivetrains, and brake systems. For example, I learned that six cylinder  Mustangs had a much different  (and disrespected) four lug axles with smaller brakes and lighter rear end, The most common body style is the hardtop (coupe). Because there were so many sold when new there are a lot of survivors.  These are available for really reasonable prices. The fastback and convertible models are much more expensive. These are well out of my price range. There are rust buckets and basket case fastbacks and convertibles offered at temptingly low prices. Unless you are a pro bodyman don't even consider them. Heartbreak and despair are sure to follow..

So I decided on a hardtop. Like everyone else, I wanted a Boss 302 so I figured a 69 or 70 coupe was the closest I was probably  ever going to get. I rationalized that a coupe was about two thirds as cool as a fastback. You can't see the roof when you're driving right?

My pricepoint was 1,000 to1,500 dollars. After a lot of looking I realized there were complete running (somewhat) cars for 1,500 and up to 2,500 bucks. I had decided that I really preferred the 69/70 models the best. I looked and found my project 70 coupe at a good price. (1,400.00) It was straight,complete, with no major body damage  and almost no rust. The front subframe  was in very good condition as was the rear frame rails .  It was also currently registered. Well something had to be wrong with it or it wouldn't be so cheap,  It possessed the trifecta of undesireability. 1) It's a coupe 2) It's a six cylinder (but a 250 cuber! ) and 3) It's a salvage title.  Another problem was that it had some electrical issues. Some previous owner had butchered the wiring loom trying to fix an electrical problem with the instrument panel. Of course nothing was repaired, it was just messed up. It appears that the car sustained some collision damage to the rear end.  From inside the trunk I can see that the tail light panel and rear trunk crossmember  had been damaged and crudely repaired. The rest of the body looked pretty good and it was painted in twotone primer. My guess is that the car was wrecked some time in the 80s and was totalled  because it's value had dropped to it's lowest point. It may have sat unrepaired for years before it was repaired and returned to use. I may do a registration history check to determine when it was actually salvaged out.

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