This page is dedicated to the saga of the 1969 Mustang that I bought in 1991 at the age of 19. I originally picked it up for $900, thinking all I would need was a nice paint job, and I would have a cruising car to end all cars. Approximately $16,000 and 11 years later, I have a story to end all stories, and a car that is fun to drive, but only if it decides it wants to run. I reluctantly sold the Mustang when I decided to travel for a couple years and could not find anywhere to keep it.
Thus begins the saga of the mustang......
This is what it looked like when I brought it home.
The first thing I noticed about the car when trying to get my state inspection (as the current one was 8 years expired)
was that mechanics would look under the car and quickly jump out for fear that it would fall on them. Yes, the floor was
rusted so bad that they feared it would cave in. None the less, the law in PA allowed a newly purchased car to be driven for 2 weeks before
it was required to have an inspection. At least someone told me that. So for 2 weeks, I drove a car that frightened mechanics to even be under. I drove it a lot, and
I drove it fast. Chalk it up to one of those things you do when you're young, I guess.
(If you look closely, you'll see that you can see THROUGH 60% of the floor)
So, I ended up having my first big expense within a couple of weeks of owning the car. That was $2200 for new frame rails, floors, torque boxes, and inner fenders. Then I thought all I need is my paint, and I'm ready to go. I was soon to find out there was much more to that inspection.
The brakes needed to be re-done. This I tried myself. Well, it didnt go as easy as planned, and I ended up having a local mechanic do the job.
(Note the primer on the door in anticipation of the paint job).
The car had originally come with a straight 6 250cid motor. Supposedly one of the most reliable motors Ford
has ever made. A newbie to the world of cars will quickly learn that the "clunking" in the motor
means its time to check the oil. I blew my first engine in this car about 8 months after owning it and
never checking the oil. Luckily, I had a friend that had a 69 hardtop he was willing to sell for parts with a perfect 250cid motor.
I had a local mechanic make the swap. Shortly thereafter, the head went bad on that motor, and I had to replace it. This was the first repair that I decided to do
myself. I needed to learn how to do repairs on the car or I would have to sell it. Plain as that.
This picture is me after completing my first repair. I successfully removed and installed a new head on the car. Yes, the car is actually running in this picture. I'm giving the 'ol "victory" sign here after not letting this car defeat me.
From then until about 1 and 1/2 years later when I finally got my car painted, the car was (and remained for years) the butt of many a joke. Things seemed to break on it
all the time. In that short year and a half, I replaced suspension, steering components, fidgeted with the windows, and electrics and so on and so on. I did spend a lot of time on
the interior. I wanted to resto-mod the interior with a beige color scheme. I scoured junkyards on and off, until I changed my mind when I found some grey seats (mint condition) out of 91 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS that
I i liked for $50 for the pair. So, as the rest of my interior was trashed, I began replacing parts slowly. I re-skinned the rear seat with factory covers taken from a 1991 Nissan Altima. I think I was the only one who liked those seats - they didnt fit with the style of the car, but ?I thoughth they looked cool and they were quite comfy. The door
panels were warped and spotted, so I used the old ones as templates to build custom ones. I had done some interior work previously, so this was the one
area I knew somewhat well. I found some nice door handles out of an Accord, and fitted them to the inside, using turnbuckles and coat hanger pieces. I never thought
it would last, but it worked flawless for 8 years. I added a steering wheel from an 86 Escort GT which had the Ford logo in the center.
Then I added industrial grade carpet that I found being discarded at my dads office building (I was in college and broke).
I also recovered the rear inside quarters with the same material as the doors, and added speakers. The car had every type of stereo imaginable. It started with an Alpine deck. That was stolen.
Then I had a Sony CD changer with the controls to the changer mounted INSIDE the sunvisor. This was fun to install,
but it required a great deal of patience. Enough so that I dont think I'd attempt it again. I took that out for a Poineer CD with a bazooka subwoofer tube run off of A/D/S amps.
Then I built a custom subwoofer box, which I later took out. I replaced that with a Denon tape deck, and then
another Alpine hooked to a Rockford Fosgate amp running JBL speakers, and then a Sony single CD.
This was awesome (a Sony RMX2 controller), the changer unit went on the fritz and the controller didnt work with the new models.
The final stereo the car had was a Kenwood flip face. The "flip face" allowed you to either remove the faceplate, or to simply flip it over to reveal a black flat front. When you flipped it over to reveal the controls, there was about 1/8 of an inch of space behind the faceplate (between the blank face and the CD unit itself). I used this 1/8 inch to create the look of an older AM/FM radio which would be shown when the face flipped back. I used the plastic numbered faceplate piece from an old AM/FM radio from a 77 Corvette, which I got for $5 (Ford parts would not work, I tried). I put a sliver of red electrical tape on the back of it to simulate an indicator. Then I bought 2 black jacket buttons from a craft store ($3) and filed off the back. I used clear marine sealant to put all 3 pieces on the front of the black face. So when you flipped it over, it looked like an older radio instead of a blank face. Here is a series of shots of what it looked like off, halfway, and on. Click for larger views.
But enough about the stereos....
Preparing for the long awaited paint job. Doing the door sills......
I tried to bondo a dent in the front fender, it didnt work and I bought a used one.
And finally bringing it home....
in this last picture above you can see the trunk re-done in carpet, with the changer in the side. Notice that there is no chrome or locks installed. I was too eager to take photos.
Of course the car couldnt just run fine for me. Contrary to popular belief, a new paint job doenst make a car run better. The second engine died, and It was time to build one that would last. My freind, Kurt, without who's help this car would never have made it past its first year, insisted that I needed a V8. I disagreed to the end, but now I'm glad he convinced me. The original motor was sitting in a junk year somewhere with a huge hole in the side of the block, so the numbers would never match anyway.
I got a 302 from a 67 Mustang parts car, but the motor was originally from a 72 truck. We ordered everything from Summit. New pistons, pins, rings, bearings,
Holley 650cfm 4bbl carb, a 262/272 cam, new lifters, pushrods, low-rise aluminium intake, distributor, water pump, oil pump, fuel pump, hoses, belts, wires, plugs. Everything but the block and crank were new. And those were
bored and turned to be new. No expense was spared in building the motor right and making it have a little kick to it. Then with some red paint to match the car we put it in.
The only trouble we had was getting the wrong lifters from Summit. That set us back about a month. I had to take the motor back out and to a shop to have it diagnosed. This, after trying 4 different oil pumps to cure the curious lack in pressure.
Later, I put new chrome around the front and added some 5.0 badges which most people didn't seem to like, but I was in college and they were less expensive than the originals and gave it the moded look I was after. I also found some ncie spoke mags at a yard sale.
The photo below might illustrate about how 'daily' the car was really treated. I drove it in the snow, rain, or down dirt roads. For all intents and purposes it was built to be (and was used like) a true daily driver. I take excellent care of
my cars, but it was never pampered to the point that I didn't sit on the hood while tail-gating at concerts, or mind my friends jumping the over the doors to get in.
These photos below were taken in about 1997 at a time when I was using the car as my daily driver.
Then I bought the Lotus right around the time the Mustang starting acting up and the love affair died. The Mustang sat in the driveway for 2 years and never made more than its monthly trip around the block to keep it going. The steering had gotten so bad and I just didn't have the desire to fix it. The "steering problem" turned out to be rusted shock towers. That wasn't good. It took about $3000 in work to get it back on the road, which I did in 2001.
About 2-3 weeks after I got it back on the road, one of my friends got married at the beaches of North Carolina, 6 hours away. I had to take the Mustang. I had just installed a new top to replace the old one which lasted 33 years.
That was a fun trip. I made the whole drive with the top down, and it was the clearest, most starry night I'd seen in a long time. I ended up getting my directions wrong, and drove to the end of the island and ended up actually on the beach. I just reclined the seat, looked up at the stars, and enjoyed the sound of the V8 and the waves.
I sold the Mustand when I left to go traveling. I made a list of modifications, which I sent to people who were interested in buying it.