It has been two years since I last wrote of the 1967 Mustang pictured (“The One Dollar 1967 Mustang Convertible”)You may recall that my fiancé and I were traveling to Ohio to generate enthusiasm and excitement for our upcoming nuptials. I was a member of our local central office staff having a position focused on improving Other People’s Processes (You down with OPP?) while improving my own. I was also testing the waters with my sweetie on whether I should try to acquire one 1967 Ford Mustang that was a family heirloom.
Two years later? I’m entering my second year as principal of a 250 student elementary school (proficiency up J school grade the same L) defending those students from the forces of ignorance on a daily basis. Married one year and just as happy as we were when we met five years ago.
Meanwhile my parents had decided to move from the ranch style house they built in 1978 moving into “town” (as they called it) both of them closer to their places of work. My father expressed his fear that he wasn’t driving the Mustang enough to justify owning it (insurance, upkeep, etc.) and that with the move he might lose his storage space. The new house had a two car garage and a small shed as opposed to the two car garage PLUS one car garage sized outbuilding that was on the current property. The Mustang slumbered in the outbuilding during the winter.
This spring I informed my father of two things.
1. I could certainly use the Mustang and would take care of it.
2. If he were to “gift” it to me, I could afford to slowly restore it and make general improvements along the way. If I were to have to pay for the car, I could not afford to do what needed to be done.
Much to my surprise my father agreed, even though he had previously explored the option of selling the car, although what he thought it was worth, nobody else thought it was worth. I guess he could not deny his only son and eldest child a car that was a piece of family history. I will take this moment to state that while my father took care of the car he did not fix anything that “wasn’t broken.” The car had not had a documented tune up since 1976 (he drove it less than 3,000 miles per year) and although the radiator, water pump, heater core, and brakes had been replaced or rebuilt it was due to those things giving him issues, not as part of preventative maintenance.
I realize that I am a lucky man in that my wife’s reaction to this was simply; “I knew you would end up with an old car as a hobby. I’m simply glad that it is a car that you KNOW.” We planned a trip to Ohio in July by way of Memphis & Nashville, TN with a stop in Bowling Green, KY. We visited Elvis, relatives, and the Corvette Museum. This entire trip took place in my 2004 F150 Heritage just so I could trailer the Mustang back to New Mexico.
I considered doing a travelogue on our return trip but was not nearly ambitious enough. I will say that we saw a significant portion of this country and that we could have played a continuous loop of Jason Aldean’s “Flyover States.”
On the trip my wife christened our newly acquired convertible as “Sally” and I started to formulate a plan in my head for what needed to be fixed and the order of importance. (I’m listing these things out because I want all of you to remember even a vehicle that looks good on the outside you must be realistic about what your total investment may someday be. We all MM out our automotive fantasies but what is it like to “live the dream?”)
1. Mechanical soundness
a. Tune up
b. Set up carb for high altitude
c. Service transmission
d. Conversion to electronic ignition
e. Replace rotted dual exhaust system
2. 2. Convertible top
a. Tear in back window
b. Small “pinhole” over passenger seat
c. Weak hydraulics
3. 3. Structural soundness
a. Floor rot in rear floorboards
b. Asses extent of rust issues
4. 4. Everything else
a. Drivers side rear window does not stay up when vehicle in motion
b. Passenger side window regulator does not keep window from dropping approximately 1 inch during travel
c. Rip on seam of passenger vinyl seat
d. Intermittent functioning of gauge lights
After returning to New Mexico the car did not make it all the way back to Tohatchi where I am living now. It was taken directly off the Uhaul trailer to a local mechanics shop a place where they work on anything, have all the modern equipment but the objects of their lust have carburetors and no computers. The first order of business was to resolve the mechanical issues so that the car would be drivable and fairly reliable, the car is living 20+ miles from my trusted mechanic, therefore it had to be sound. I had mentally calculated this to be a $1500 job.
The eventual total for parts and labor was $2700. A complete MSD ignition system was installed to get rid of the nasty old points and purely mechanical ignition – the distributor is a billet race style unit and total overkill (right now) but think of the upgrade possibilities! The total for that portion of the work was around $1000. The replacement of leaky valve covers (new gaskets and chrome covers just because), chrome air cleaner for looks, total tune up and set timing, along with transmission service, and under hood painting (engine block and firewall/inner fenders) rang (parts and labor) at $1000.
The most trashed part of the car was the exhaust system (seen above). At some point during the 70s a true dual exhaust system was installed with glass-pack mufflers and tiny 1.25 in pipes. After 30+ years of use the system was completely rotted and all the exhaust gaskets were toast. My mechanic referred me to a local muffler shop that I was already familiar with after their installation of a cat back system on my F150.
Seven-hundred dollars later I had a new dual exhaust system with Flowmasters and 2.25 in pipes topped off by new chrome tips that echo the taillights in their rectangular nature.
What now? Well the other things on the list from #2 through #4. Time frame? When funds allow. I see myself as the car’s custodian but my job is not to try to restore it to perfection or turn it into a show queen. I want to reach the point where it can be reliably driven across the country if need be but I’m not terrified to park it in a parking lot for fear the paint might get scratched. My car, my way – an extension of my personality and I am ultimately the one I am trying to make happy.