Mustang

After starting to strip it down I found that the factory sunroof was completely rotten and unrepairable, the only answer was a new roof. So a new roof was sourced from a scrap yard and the delicate process of cutting off the old one was started. The photo’s also show just how little room I had in my garage at the old house, the car only fitted if the nose went under the workbench.

 

 

Before cutting the old roof the car was supported on two thick wooden beams running the length of the car on each side, some careful measuring was necessary to ensure that the new roof fitted in exactly the same position as the old.

 

 

Most of these pictures were taken with an old polaroid camera which I had lying around, or a small 35mm Canon compact, so the quality is not that good and they are all quite small format. Here are a couple of close ups of the roof work.

 

 

The pillars are all braced behind the weld with pieces cut from the profile from the old roof giving some extra strength and also something to weld against. Shame there are no Photo’s to show it. After welding the centre pillars the beams were removed from under the car to put it back on it’s wheels. This pushed the front and rear pillar halves together so they could also be welded, this recreated the structural integrity of the roof.

 

That completed I moved on to the front end which was completely stripped out and all surface rust removed. If you look carefully you can see that it is sitting on the modified lower section of an old damaged shopping trolley. The reasonably sized caster wheels made it possible to push the shell in and out of the garage to work on it.

 

 

Again no pictures of any of the work after this until I’d finished the front end and was just about ready for the engine to be refitted.

 

 

It is still sitting on the trolley but the struts have been re-installed.

 

 

Having made plans to get much more power out of the engine than it had ex factory (would you believe that 140hp was all it produced!!), I had sourced a totalled ’87 Mustang GT at a breakers and got a good deal on the transmission (Borg Warner T5), rear axle, springs and brakes (bigger than my originals). The shocks were changed to Koni’s all round and all suspension rubbers were replaced with polygraphite bushes which give much better stability at the sacrifice of ride comfort. Goodridge brake lines all round as well. Another leap in time to the rear axle which was done in a similar fashion with the front wheels back on and the trolley supporting the rear.

 

 

The original rear suspension arms were replaced with Southside Machine Lift Bars to get that bite necessary for drag racing. Yes by this time the project had started to snowball into a near full blown drag car, at least as far as it was possible within the law in the Netherlands for a road going car. These bars have NO rubber bushings but instead steel bearings giving incredible straight line stability but again sacrificing ride comfort.

 

Next: Mustang – Part 2

Plastic nose masked up whilst the primer was applied. Did all this work in the covered area just outside my garage box until the Environmental Police paid me a visit – OOPS!

 

Black mist coat applied to aid with wet sanding of the primer. We needed a nice flat base for the colour.

 

Plastic nose had been primed earlier with a special flexible paint and then the black applied to the grill and bumper areas. The areas with the beige colour would be later sprayed blue with a flex agent when the car went to the paint shop across the road.

 

The car after the paint shop had finished with it and I had done the final interior build. The hood scoop is not original and was fabricated by me. Here it was running on a set of cheap Chrome Steel rims.

 

The under hood aluminium construction was also fabricated by me and gives a better flow of cooler air to the intake. The hot air generated by the headers and the larger radiator efficiency is not good for developing horsepower as the air is less dense, contains less oxygen and therefore can burn less fuel.

 

View of the interior. Originally all the plastic panels were a baby blue with fake wood dashboard panels, here they have been spray coated with a special plastic paint in a blue/grey colour. The fake wood panels were replaced with anodised aluminium and the original multi instrument block was replaced with separate gauges. On the top of the dash is an Auto Gage Shift-lite tachometer, when you reach the optimum r.p.m. a red light goes on telling you shift up. The original front seats were replaced by a pair out of a Saab 99 sourced at a local breakers. They were recovered in black leather by my wife who was working at a local upholsterer’s at the time. The original rear seat was recovered in the same leather. A set of 3 point racing harnesses were fitted in the front making use of the rear seat difficult to say the least. I also installed a cassette radio and some decent speakers but this turned out to be a bit pointless as it was difficult to hear the music above the sound of the engine.

 

This picture was taken a couple of years later when I had saved enough to order a set of Centerline alloy wheels from the USA.

It was a bit of a puzzle to get everything to fit in the garage after I had stripped the car. Here you can see the block stripped down on the engine stand with rear axle and front subframe on the floor under the bench.

 

 

I eventually found a machine shop in Heemstede who knew what I was talking about when I told him that I wanted the block not only bored but align honed. He also individually honed each new piston to match each cylinder bore plus he had a contact who dynamically balanced the crank, rods and pistons. I took the heads with me when we went on a visit to friends and family in Northampton, England as one of my old mates worked at a good machine shop where the heads were skimmed, the valve seats equalised and a three angle valve job was machined. He also had an “old school” contact who specialised in head work and gasket matched the intake manifold and heads, and did some porting to improve the gas flow. Unfortunately no pictures of any of this early work, the following picture is of the block during assembly.

 

 

The next step was to fit the timing chain and degree the cam. I used a digital caliper to measure the lift at the cam lifters and a timing disk (the blue thing) on the crank nose. The cam was a 272 degree Crane Energizer, standard hydraulic lifters.

 

Again gaps in the photo story but the following shows the engine complete with an Accel dual point performance distributor, an Edelbrock manifold and a Holley 4-barrel carb. Keep it simple.

 

A set of Hooker headers took care of the exhaust gases. A new water pump, recon alternator and a set of Edelbrock valve covers. This was as close to a blueprint motor you could build on a budget back in 1990.

 

This is the engine bay ready to take the engine, the white rod is just supporting the transmission temporarily.

 

Another bad picture of the engine being installed in the body.  I constructed a sort of gantry which ran between the steel girders supporting the patios of the maisonettes above the garages (see inset picture top right) plus the engine tilter. At least then I could lift the engine in and out without any help (always seem to be working alone). I hadn’t the cash or space for an engine hoist at the time so this was built from all sorts of stuff either lying around or scrounged. Same goes for the engine tilter which I still use today.

 

The engine installation is finished and I could concentrate on getting the car sprayed.

 

Another shot showing an uprated custom built triple row radiator, fitted with a high flow electrical fan to deal with the extra heat generated in a tuned motor.

Next: Mustang – Part 3

I bought the Mustang in 1989 after looking round for a project. Although I really like the 60’s Mustangs the prices being asked in Holland at the time were a bit extreme especially when a lot of them were real basket cases. I settled on a Mustang 3 Ghia from 1979 which I found by a dealer in Katwijk, it wasn’t in the best condition but it had a 302ci small block V8 (5.0L) and a 4-speed manual box and I didn’t pay much for it. I drove it for a while but it was a bit of a slouch and smoked a little, the engine compartment was also a real mess with a lot of the environmental things not working effectively. To be honest the sort of additions that were used in the US at the time were BS. So eventually I decided that there was only one thing to do – a complete custom restoration. The photo above was taken in ’96 if I remember correctly, after I had imported a set of Centerline Racing Alloys and Mickey Thompson Indy Profile retro tyres. It didn’t always look like this though.

Mustang - Part 1

Mustang - Part 1

After starting to strip it down I found that the factory sunroof was completely rotten and unrepairable, the only answer was a new roof. So a new roof was sourced from a scrap yard and the delicate process of cutting off the old one was started. The ...
Mustang - Part 2

Mustang - Part 2

It was a bit of a puzzle to get everything to fit in the garage after I had stripped the car. Here you can see the block stripped down on the engine stand with rear axle and front subframe on the floor under the bench.     I eventually...
Mustang - Part 3

Mustang - Part 3

Plastic nose masked up whilst the primer was applied. Did all this work in the covered area just outside my garage box until the Environmental Police paid me a visit - OOPS!   Black mist coat applied to aid with wet sanding of the primer....

From the time that the car was first finished in ’91 we used to attend a lot of meetings. The car was built with drag racing in mind but I wanted it to be street legal, it was therefore never a particularly comfortable car to drive long distances. Through the summer seasons the most popular meeting on the American Car scene in the Netherlands was the Saturday Night Cruise in Scheveningen near The Hague. It wasn’t much more than a number of cars parked in a small industrial park near the harbour and sea front but you needed to be there early to be sure of a place. During the evening cars would leave now and then to cruise up and down the boulevard while somebody else kept your place free until you returned. To be honest the number of people who actually built cars and maintained them like I do could be counted on your hands and although we had some interesting discussions with these guys most of the time I was explaining to others why and how certain things were done. Trying to share knowledge. You tend to stand out as a non-national (foreigner) and I believe I got a bit of a reputation for having the ‘knowledge’. Sometimes guys with a particular problem with their car would come over and tell me they had been told to go and talk to the English guy with the blue Mustang.

Some years later the local council decided to close down the meeting due to nuisance being caused on the boulevard by people with old American shit that wasn’t welcome at the meet. We were moved to an industrial park somewhere else in the town which was nowhere as much fun so I eventually stopped going. By the time I bought the BMW in ’98 I was just about done with the American Car scene but it would be another three years before I found a buyer for the ‘Stang.

Above is the trophy I won at the Show’n’Shine Sunday meeting we attended in Arnhem in 1997, it was for the class Post ’73 Mustang. It was quite unexpected as I don’t attend these meetings with any attention to try and win something, it’s just a way of showing what I do and talking to others about it. We had arrived quite early on the Sunday morning and were quite close to the main show area. I spent the first hour or so doing a little polishing to get rid of the dead flies we’d picked up on the way. Then we spent some time talking to people who stopped to look at the car and meeting old friends who had also arrived. We then left the car to go and inspect the other cars, which turned out to be quite a lot as they had spread into two more fields after we arrived. We also spent some time by the food and drink in the main show area. when we got back to the car a little later there was a card under one of the windshield wipers informing me that the judges had been around and had selected the car for the final of the prize-giving. It was a pity I’d missed them as I could have told them about how and why I had done the work on the car. I didn’t think any more about it until later in the afternoon while I was in discussion with another owner when someone came over to tell me that he was certain that the car had been named during the prize-giving and that maybe I should get over to the main stand to enquire. To be honest I wasn’t even aware that it was taking place and by the time I got over there they had finished the ceremony and were packing up to go home. I told them that I was the owner of the car and they fetched the cup out of one of the boxes and sort of presented it to me. Shame we missed the main event.

A week after the Show’n’Shine Sunday there was a drag race meeting in Drachten in the north of the country. I went up on my own with a tent packed in the back of the car planning to meet some other guys I knew from the American Car circuit. On the Saturday was qualifying and the eliminations took place on the Sunday. It wasn’t a bad weekend, the weather was perfect, unlike weather I have experienced at Santa Pod Raceway in the UK in the past. But unlike Santa Pod it wasn’t that well organised. Due to restrictions on the event times enforced by the local authorities it made the days quite short and so everything was extremely rushed. Another thing was that it took place on an airfield which was itself not too large and it was not possible to let the faster cars run any more than 1/8th mile instead of the usual 1/4 mile. The class I ran is was ‘Street’ which just about covered everything that was legally allowed on the road and therefore encompassed a pretty wide spread of ET’s (elapsed time). As they were just running heads up racing as opposed to a handicap system it meant that the chance of doing any good was pretty small. There was actually a pretty large entry for the class, about 25 cars or so, and after a couple of practice runs I managed to qualify 13th which wasn’t too bad. During qualifying it became obvious to me that nearly all of the competitors had arrived with the car on a trailer and a lot of them were running cheater slicks. Cheater slicks were a tyre you could buy in the US which were basically slicks with a couple of shallow tread grooves cut in them and a DOT (Dept. of Transport) approved stamp. Having a short life they were not what you’d normally use on the road, just racing. I had arrived fully road legal with genuine road tyres so I was at a disadvantage from the start. On the timing slips it was obvious I was losing out in the first 60 foot, as I couldn’t get enough grip. A simple burn out was not enough to get the street tyres sticky. In the eliminations on the Sunday following the normal rules with a 16 car field meant that I would be up against the number 4 qualifier and as it was heads up racing I didn’t stand much chance. I got beaten off the line, as was to be expected, but by half track I was catching him up but couldn’t do it before we crossed the line. It wasn’t bad considering it was the first time the car had been raced, this not including all the traffic light duels I had with boy racers in hot hatches running around our home town.