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Ford Mustang MK1

Published: 17th Dec 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Mustang MK1
Ford Mustang MK1
Ford Mustang MK1
Ford Mustang MK1
Ford Mustang MK1
Ford Mustang MK1
Ford Mustang MK1
Ford Mustang MK1

Buyer Beware

  • Perhaps the biggest issue is to establish just exactly what youfre getting for your money. Is the car original and, if not, how much has it been modified? Indeed, nowadays there arenft too many cars around that havenft been altered one way or another, but originality will nearly always be the preference of purists. Seek an owners club or specialist for advice if youfre unsure.
  • The chassis number is stamped on the LHD inner front wing while other data is fitted by the driverfs door lock. Therefs no shortage of Mustangs around for sale, so donft rush into things especially considering the myriad of option packs, engines and so on.
  • Mustangs are quite tough but naturally rust is going to be a worry. The good news is that virtually everything you could want to repair or restore a car is available. The main rot spot is caused by failed windscreen rubbers leading to floor rot and, thanks to blocked drain holes and air vents, decay on the front inner and outer wings. Floor sections are available but can cost over a grand depending upon severity.
  • Another structural worry, front chassis rails. If they look sad, so will you be, to the tune of two grand if really bad. Take a look below the car and check the rear chassis rails and take back seat out to check the floor.
  • The 200ci (2.8-litre) straight-six and 260/289ci V8 engines are generally bullet proof. If a 289ci engine is tired, smoking and rattly, a full rebuild can cost ’3000 upwards.
  • Has a esixf been converted to V8? Apart from diy conversions, dealers in the US also did this to satisfy demand. However, even if done well, theyfll never be the real thing.
  • Ensure that the original radiator shroud is in place; many owners remove them for ease of access for changing V-belts, but they are vital to maintain cooling efficiency.
  • The radiator has always been on the small size. An uprated core isnft a bad move from the likes of Radtec. Head gaskets on all engines can blow as a result.
  • Gearboxes also enjoy reasonable longevity, but a full rebuild will cost around ’1000. On all, check for failing synchros and bearings.
  • The brakes are either all drum or disc/drum. Early models had an integrated drum/hub assembly but this can be changed to the later separate designs if desired.
  • Interiors are a plastic dream and fairly easy to restore thanks to a brilliant aftermarket in the US. The electrics, with all but the earliest cars using DC power is simple but wicked stereos and halogen headlamps can sap all the power so make sure of a good battery.

Fast Facts

  • Driving: 3/5

    Not as sporty as those looks suggest but can be made so. V8s most wanted but six is quite okay for quiet cruising.

  • Usability: 3/5

    As practical as any Yank Tank can be. Compact size means it’s easy to drive (some RHDs available) and garage.

  • Maintaining: 4/5

    Along with the MGB and Morris Minor there isn’t an easier classic to look after. Simple design, great parts supply.

  • Owning: 4/5

    There’s not many classics that are more cool and there’s excellent specialist and club support.

  • Value: 4/5

    Not the bargains they used to be, granted, but with the 50th coming up they are as good a value you’ll ever see...

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Even those who dislike American cars make an excuse for the Ford Mustang – and who can blame them says Alan Anderson

Mustang is the original Pony car and remains the fastest selling car of all time. Aimed at the new youth market, at the start of the swinging 60s, the car became a landmark in modern marketing slickness because essentially all it was a re-bodied Ford Falcon saloon that even led to our own Capri.

What made the Mustang (and so the Capri) so popular – apart from those looks of course – was that there was a model to suit everybody while its restrained tasteful appearance and nature has made it the only Yank Tank many UK buyers would even remotely consider – does that include you too?

Which model to buy?

The millionth car was built in 1966 so there’s plenty around, with a model for every taste. The 2+2 coupe became the most popular, with a nicer looking fastback body styling arriving in 1965, and all came with standard or deluxe vinyl trim. Engine options ranged from a straight-six to V8’s of 289ci (the solid-lifter High Performance K-motor) up to a 390ci. Changes weren’t many. The GT and Shellby Cobra (GT350) arrived in the mid 60s while a slight re-skin for the fastback gave it a fresher face for ’67.

The Cobra range was bolstered by an awesome 355bhp 428ci GT500. A year later a full fat 390bhp 427ci (seven litres!) tune came on stream with, thankfully, disc brakes as standard. Not to be outdone by the factory, Carol Shellby then launches the daddy Mustang of them all – the GT500KR.

Best Mustangs were the early models. Another restyle for 1969 sees the once fab Ford become a tad bulky and lardy. The 1971 line up made the car a lot bigger and more than 500lb heavier than the lithe original. Mustang II was a different car altogether and it’s only been the current design, which showed no shame in harking back to the original in terms of style and character, that has allowed the good times to roll again.

Obviously your heart may yearn for a Cobra, but the head, and not to say the wallet, will scream a mainstream V8 – but don’t ignore a straight six either if all you want is a simple cruise. Unloved and unfairly slated, these are the best value Mustangs of the lot.

Talking of value, Mustangs aren’t going to get any cheaper, not with the 50th birthday just around the corner. You may just be lucky to find a coupe for under £10,000, but budget for £10,000 to £15,000 to get you started. A superb, matching numbers ‘K’ code fastback GT will be £25,000 - £45,000 depending on originality, condition and options. A mint convertible will also bust the £20,000 barrier with ease. A 1966 Shelby first rate show car will be £100,000 plus, and a 1965 GT350R will be £250,000 minimum. At the other end of the scale the current Mustang is well received by experts such as Bill Shephard so don’t think you’re not getting the ‘real’ thing if you opt for one instead,

What’s it like to drive?

The Mustang has often been endearingly compared with the English Cortina when it comes to driving and truthfully it has to be said that standard models don’t drive as good as they look – it is a 50 year old design, based on nothing more exotic than a Falcon – never the greatest handling car after all! Cars sans power steering can be hard work; with power steering it is nice and light, albeit woolly; goodness knows what it must have been like if you followed handbook procedures and pumped the tyres up to the recommended 40psi, mind!

A well maintained car will handle decently enough, especially with new springs, uprated dampers, bushes, front disc brakes, radial tyres – mods which are all worth doing. Adding an export brace will improve handling corners, and fitting a booster to drum brake (preferably along with better linings) cars will vastly improve braking without a need to do discs if you don’t intend to emulate Bullitt.

A V8 with a stock 289ci engine is great and what most want but don’t dismiss outright the 101bhp straight six. These ‘Blue Flame’ sixes are as brisk as a Fiesta but that may satisfy many after a genteel cruise. In contrast, V8s will hit 60mph in around nine seconds with top Ponys being Ferrari quick.

What transmission? Essentially there’s a choice between a three-or four-speed manual. Less than 10 per cent of Mustangs boasted four-on-the-floor, the bulk being three-speed autos, with the remainder the wide-ratio three-speed manual. It’s easy to dismiss the three-speeder but again its horses for courses and as specialist Mustang Maniac put it to us: “When you’re doing 70 in top, does it matter what gearbox you have?” Indeed the wide ratios employed (as you’d find in say a MK2 Zodiac) here means that second is like having an auto when you feel like it.

The Daily option?

On the face of it, with its Cortina Mk1-like makeup, you can’t say that a Mustang is a complex bit of kit. DIY is typically Ford easy and with the massive parts and club support, owning this classic is easier than a Cortina. According to American films and TV programmes,

virtually everybody runs and old Mustang, but for us the biggest deterrent has to be the fuel economy. Motor, in its November ‘64 road test eked just 13.1 mpg out of a 4.8-litre model and virtually the same in a gentler ‘touring’ mode, but there again you don’t intend to do 20,000 miles a year in yours, do you?

Owning and running

There can’t be an easier classic to own. There’s an army of specialists on this side of the pond with all that you need, from brand new door cards to a wings, for repairing or restoring one, while in the US Mustang support is an industry in itself. You can even purchase brand new bodies for around £14,000 if you fancy making a ‘new’ one,

Mechanically these cars were designed to be mended by farmhand mechanics, so a simple tool box suffices. A Mustang needn’t cost a lot more than an MGB to own. Garaging doesn’t present the usual Yank hassles either, being around MkIV Zodiac proportions.



Launched at New York’s World’s Fair on 17th April, the reaction (named after an American Prairie wild horse, hence the Pony logo connection) was nothing short of sensational with an amazing 22,000 orders being placed for the Mustang on the very first day of the show with Frank Sinatra one of the early customers.


Fastback body styling offered with standard or deluxe vinyl trim. Pony interiors featured running horses embossed on the backs of the seats. Changes to the car weren’t many. GT and Shelby Cobra (GT350) arrive while a slight re-skin for the fastback gave it a fresher face for ’67. Cobra range was bolstered by the awesome 355bhp 428ci GT500.


A full fat 390bhp 427ci (seven litres!) tune came on stream with disc brakes – as standard. Steve McQueen drove a 390GT in Bullitt of course but, not to outdone by the factory, Carol Shelby launches the GT500KR, standing for ‘King of the Road’.


Grande luxury version (fake wood vinyl roof etc.) but Boss 302 fastback with 400bhp redressed the balance. Carol Shelby drops his hot rod range.


Car a lot bigger and more than 500lb heavier than the lithe original, while increasing detox equipment hindered performance, despite a fancy Mach1 moniker.


An icon bows out for the smaller, softer, meeker Mustang II, which ironically sold well through the depressed ‘70s, keeping the name alive.


Mustang III launched featuring longer wheelbase with Fiarmont suspension. Choice of Turbo ‘four’ (140bhp) or 4.3 V8 as part of the mix.

We Reckon...

Even Yank Tank detractors admit that they have a soft spot for the Mustang. Without intending to, it feels one of the most ‘European’ of American hardware that’s never ‘in your face’ or brash and is beautifully easy and surprisingly practical to own and run. Add a cool factor that’s off the scale and you can’t see this thoroughbred being anything less than an odds-on cert in the classic stakes. Best saddle up now .

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