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Ford Mustang

Published: 24th May 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Mustang
Ford Mustang
Ford Mustang
Ford Mustang
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Do you drive this great classic or are thinking of buying one? Here’s how to ensure that you get the best out of your car for years to come.


Do you drive this great classic or are thinking of buying one? Here’s how to ensure that you get the best out of your car for years to come

The Ford Mustang made its debut in April 1964 and quickly became one of the most iconic cars to wear the blue oval. The Mustang combined a low price with fantastic good looks and buyers flocked to buy it. As a result, Ford couldn’t build them fast enough and over a million Mustangs found homes during the car’s first two years in production. Almost as simple as a Model T, they are a DIY delight and there’s remains a thriving


/strong>industry in mending and modifying them and spares are some of the easiest to obtain, both here and in the United States.



The ‘65 Mustang originally used a recirculating ball system, until 1974 when Ford modernised the set up. Some feel the system lacks precision, so upgrading to a more modern rack and pinion format is a popular mod within the scene. The newer steering, together with those changes to the suspension can completely transform the original Mustang. Bear in mind however that the Mustang’s engine exhaust manifold was not designed with rack and pinion in mind, so a new one will be required. Power steering and RHD kits available.


If the steering feels particularly vague, the steering box may require replacement. Recon boxes aren’t recommended, but a new, power steering box will cost around £900, a standard box £550. That said, the actual box can be adjusted to remove some, but not all the play. Caution is advised however, since over adjustment lead to damage. A screw on the top of the box should be adjustable by turning clockwise – this will reduce the amount of slack; if the screw will not adjust, the box needs rebuilding.



The obvious answer when it comes to improving power on the straight-six would seem to be a V8 transplant – don’t! If you want a V8, buy a V8. Should you opt for one, you’ll find an engine ripe for tuning, with a huge range of performance pistons and crankshafts available. Be prepared to sacrifice everyday drivability in the pursuit of raw power. This Ford lump is virtually bullet-proof and can be tuned
to produce up to 500bhp but there’s still a bit you can do to the straight six to make it better and it too is a strong design.


Given good, regular care, the Mustang should not need any major attention. According to David at Bill Shepherd Mustang, most well-cared for examples give few issues but if and when they do go wrong, parts are widely available and inexpensive to buy. A small oil weep isn’t uncommon, but large amounts of lost fluid is rare and should be cause for concern. Oil strainers can block on cars that are not maintained regularly, and once past the 140,000-150,000 mile mark it’s time to consider a full engine rebuild.



There are a massive array of suspension upgrades for the Mustang, one well worth considering is the fitment of a modern adjustable coil-over set-up. Swapping over is relatively simple and the improvement marked, front end grip is improved as is the ride. A kit like this will cost around £1200 from a US-based supplie however. For those looking to go that bit further, a modern, fully-independent set-up is available. At almost £1800 it’s expensive enough and that’s before fitment. One for serious Mustang owner only!


In general, it’s such a simple system that there should be little in terms of repairs, however it is important
to maintain it. The bushes on the upper control arms require greasing and will squeak relentlessly if not lubricated. The suspension control arms from the
60s are fine; however consider upgrading to newer tubular items if they are worn. They can be fitted without disturbing much of the car’s originality yet are lighter and stronger than the originals, offering improved geometry and great scope for adjustment.



With bigger brakes, bigger wheels become an option. The kits using late model Mustang discs and callipers also accept alloys from the current car. Thanks to its retro styling, the modern Mustang’s wheels suit the classic rather well. If you’re sticking with the standard brakes, there’s a huge variety of 14” wheels and tyres available from a variety of sources. Modern radials are a great improvement for general use; speak to a Mustang expert for recommended rubber wear and have it tracked right to suit.


Unless you’re a stickler for period-correct items, don’t contemplate crossply tyres on a Mustang, unless you like the original feel or use them for static shows. If your car is wearing period alloy wheels it’s worth inspecting them for signs of damage and cracking, as older alloys can sometimes suffer. If you are looking to replace the wheels, V8s use a five-stud fitment, the straight six is a four-stud. This could also help you identify a car that has had its engine swapped…



Mustang was offered with a variety of engines, ranging from a 2.8 straight-six, through to a 4.7-litre V8. Options for tuning the smaller engine are more limited, so concentrate improvements to fuelling and exhaust before attacking the cyliner head. For the V8, much more is possible; a good place to start is with ported and polished cylinder heads. With the right mods it’s possible to extract a lot bhp from the V8 but remain okay for road use.


Both the straight six and the V8 are hardy, but suffer in the traffic, so uprated radiators can help the Mustang keep its cool and the shroud must not be removed – although many are for better access. Budget around £300 for an aluminium rad. UK-based specialist Mustang Maniacs (01920 822 556) recommends Evans Waterless Coolant to go with it. Also popular is electronic ignition to dispense with the dreaded c.b. points.



There are plenty of ways to improve the Mustang’s brakes which on many cars was drum all round (which can work okay). Larger, modern disc setups from later models can be fitted (conversion kits available). These brakes will demand larger wheels to clear the bigger calliper and disc combo, however. The work required is quite extensive, so consider this only for those with high power tuning. If you opt for a very early, pre ’67 car, convert it to a dual circuit braking set-up.


Early Mustangs were offered with power-assisted drums, or non-assisted discs. In most cases, the brakes should be sufficient. That said, converting to disc is a popular and well worthwhile mod, improving the car’s stopping ability. Expect to pay around £500 for the necessary parts. Original disc brakes can be converted to accept power assistance, if required but not essential. For those looking to improve the stopping power of the original disc, expect to spend around £400.



In October 2011 Ford announced that Mustang shells were to be produced once more. Again, Mustang Maniacs have bodyshells in stock, and these cost around £14,000. The full range of panels are available individually. Budget around £200 for a replacement, reproduction front wing, while a full hood costs around £800. Cheaper fibreglass panels are available, but the advice from Bill Shepherd is to avoid these. Bodykits, skirts and spoilers to ape later, louder, faster Mustangs are a matter of taste but there’s plenty of styling options available.


Like any classic, the Mustang doesn’t fair too well in the wet British climate. Check for rust regularly particularly in the rear footwells, the sills, the boot floor and the door bottoms. On convertibles, the sills provide much of the car’s strength, so a thorough inspection here is vital. Also look carefully for signs of accident damage and poor repairs – many Mustangs have had a hard life and a bump or two is to be expected but repairs need to be correct.



Fitting a five-speed is a popular mod. Commonly, the conversion uses the five-speeder from the later 83-95 Mustang. Fitting is fairly straightforward, using readily available parts from any specialist. Prices vary, but the result is greatly relaxed cruising at motorway speeds and improved fuel economy. The standard Mustang clutch is not particularly well regarded but, thankfully, every component in the system can be uprated – an improved, dual friction clutch plate will cost around £100 for example. Three-speeders can also be similar converted but it’s more involved.


A variety of ‘boxes were offered, including three and four speed manuals, as well as a three-speed auto. They generally have a good reputation for strength and reliability, although the clutch seems to take more a pasting on three-speeders. Automatics should last well, and only require a fluid and filter change every 30,000 miles or three years. The auto is more prevalent than the manual and should not present too many issues. Manuals can suffer from a loose, floppy gearshift but this is simple to rectify or modify with a custom shifter.



As with the front suspension, the rear can be stiffened and lowered. The Mustang uses simple leaf springs at the back so, for as little as £40, the required kit can be yours. For those looking to do something a more involved, an air system is available for around £6000. Bigger, beefier axles are also available. Made using cutting- edge design and production techniques, these are better suited to the higher bhp outputs.


It’s as simple as it gets when it comes to maintenance. New springs are available, standard or uprated springs are available, together with the necessary bushes (you can polybush if you wish but it will roughen the ride). New leaf springs are worth considering, even on a standard Mustang, since they will offer more progressive damping compared to the original 60s items and penny to a pound the originals will have settled a fair degree by now.


It might be the ultimate slice of Americana, but there’s an active community for the Mustang here in the UK. Check out the Mustang Owners Club of Great Britain (www. They’ve been supporting the Mustang since 1979 and can be found at events nationwide. They also organise a national rally, which regularly sees 200+ cars attend. Membership costs £20 a year for Brits, and includes a bi-monthly club mag, as well as agreed value services and insurance discounts for club members. A ‘must-visit’ for any Brit- based Mustang fan.

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