Tuesday, May 13, 2008
What's this all about?
I've always wanted a classic Mustang convertible. I researched prices and realized that these classic cars are becoming rarer and higher priced every year not to mention that they are being exported out of the USA at an alarming rate. I decided that it was time to act before it was too late and they became out of reach (like the early Corvettes have become). I found this one in NY. Promises of it's originality and good condition prompted me to pull the trigger and purchase it.
Body Style: Convertible
Engine: 289 V8 2V (C Code)
Trans: C4 automatic
Interior: Standard burgundy (dark red)
Exterior: Wimbledon White
Options: Power Top, drum (non-power) brakes, manual steering
The seller indicated that it had "minor" rust and that the passenger floor pan had been fiberglass patched. After about a month of negotiating and waiting, I received the car and inspected it in person. My heart sank as I crawled beneath and discovered the extensive rust damage under the vehicle. It wasn't in as bad shape as other salt belt cars I've seen but far worse than I was led to believe. The car wasn't sagging or anything but it needed attention ASAP. It's in need of new torque boxes, inner rockers, floor pans, and some minor frame rail repairs. I set out to find a restorer to do the rust repair for me since I felt squeamish about molesting the structural members of classic convertible since I didn't want to make the car worse than it already was.
Long story short, I found a guy at $55 an hour to do the work. I disassembled the car's interior and removed the drive train, fuel system, heater box, and brake lines. In short, removed everything I could think of from under the floor where the work would need to be done. Upon dissection, I found some new rust. Under the battery tray, both upper inner fender aprons, and I knocked out a chunk of rusted outer front frame rail where the bumper brackets attach to the frame rail.
A friend graciously agreed to haul the car to the shop on his massive flat bed trailer. After a day at the shop, the repair guy called and requoted the task including the newly found engine compartment rust and disassembly of the following items: Fenders, convertible top power assembly, firewall pad, doors, and rocker panel moldings. I felt the need to finish the disassembly myself but allow him to make the additional rust repairs. So, I considered how to get the car back from the shop without requiring the help of my very busy friend who runs a successful construction company. I decided that an engineless shell of a Mustang can't weight that much. I looked up some 68 convertible facts and decided that a stripped mustang probably doesn't weigh more than 1800 pounds and that it would likely be safe to haul it with my Honda Pilot via car dolly. The next Saturday, my brother and I rented a UHaul dolly and hauled the car back to my garage where I finished the disassembly.
The following Wednesday, I called the shop to arrange delivery when the restorer told me that his shop was involved in a fire and would be out of commission for 6 months. Wow... my car could have been "involved" in that fire. What was somebody trying to tell me?
I called around looking for another restorer and was quoted rates between $75 and $95 an hour (if I could get them to call me back at all) at which time I started to hear a little voice shouting at me: Do it yourself you lazy bastage!
It didn't take a genius to realize that I'd save literally thousands of dollars by doing it myself. Money that could be better utilized for the purchase of parts and improvements for the car... and tools!
Here's the car as it was advertised:
So, it's an okay car. Not special other than being a convertible, but also not horrible. I felt I did just okay on the purchase and, even with the problems, am generally happy with the initial $8500 purchase price. Technically, the car COULD be driven as is but I wouldn't put my family in it in the condition of which it was delivered. So, this blog will journalize my "adventures" in the restoration of this car to a safe, daily driver.