(New Jersey (unfortunately))
First off, thanks for making what is quite arguably the best Mustang site I have come across in my search for info!
Secondly, the mustang I bought is stock with 69k miles on it. (I6 and 3 spd) It has only a small bit of rust at the very bottom of the left rear quarter panel. Interior looks pretty good but parts are worn. The outside has three distinct shades of white and overspray on it.
I plan on dropping a 289 2v in it as well as an auto transmission.
I also want to upgrade to 5 lug spindles (Granada Spindle swap) and have a matching rear axle whether it be disc or drum. When I do the suspension work, I also plan on raising the rear up about an inch or two to get rid of that “nose in the air” look the 65’s have. I also plan on upgrading from the “suicide cylinder”, single line brake MC and adding power brakes, steering and A/C.
My questions are:
1. Where do I start on a resto project like this?
2. Which vehicle should I look for to get the front/rear suspension parts?
3. Is there a “best” book or guide for a project of this sort?
Sorry to take so long to answer your post. This site has taken on a life of its own and I am currently digging through almost 600 submissions to get caught back up!
And thank you for your positive comments about the site. My goal was to ultimately make this site the most complete reference to all things Ford Mustang.
1965 Coupe restomod… where to start?
Here’s my take on your 1965 Mustang Coupe restomod project and where to start.
First, leave the body work to last.
My thinking on a project like this, from trial and error (lots of it) is that get and/or keep that Mustang running as quickly as possible. Unless you have unlimited time to work on it, a restomod or full-on Mustang restoration project takes a long time when you have evening and weekends only.
It can become frustrating when things don’t come together as quickly as you would like and I think that’s why a lot of project cars never get beyond that point. We took this angle last summer on my son’s 1968 Cougar project. It was a car that needed major work on the body due to a life in the rust belt and also has seized brakes and a motor that hadn’t run in over 10 years.
This was his first restoration project and I didn’t want him to lose confidence and his desire to be the only kid in his high school to drive a V8 powered classic car!
Most Important First Steps
In my opinion, the most important things you can do for your project is make it run and stop properly. Everything else is icing on the cake.
You haven’t mentioned what kind of budget you have to get your restomod to the final form you would like achieve, so I am going to break down the ways to tackle the project based on ease and money as much as I can in this post.
There are many improvements you can do while ultimately planning your engine swap and which in many cases can be even easier to do with an inline in the engine compartment temporarily.
Increasing Stopping Power/Safety
Ordinarily I would suggest that you first replace your entire rear brake components, however, since you are planning on changing the rear axle, it is probably the best idea to first, find a good used Mustang rear end, with the gearset you want to have. Those with a limited slip set will be somewhat harder to find and more expensive than a stock “one tire fire” axle, but if you plan on more than a mildly done 289 V8, having both wheels get traction is a good idea.
The benefit to finding one that came from the same generation Mustang as yours, is that the width and attachments will be where they should be.
Since 80% of the braking in your vehicle is happening at the front, it’s not absolutely necessary that you go disc at the rear if you are looking to either save money in the short term or are fine with drums on the back. The choice is more
about its intended use or how you want it to look than a drastic difference in braking in more or less normal driving.
If you decide on disc, you could look at a rear end that already has disc brakes on it which is roughly as narrow as a 1965 Mustang’s dimensions. (the 1965-66 pony car’s rear is 57.25 inches wide)
The Ford Granada/Lincoln Versailles is 58″, its a strong 9 inch differential, has a 5 bolt flange and disc brakes, making it a popular choice. The only issue will be fabrication of a cable setup to make the parking brake work.
I’d suggest looking at other options too, as the Granada rears are economy geared, not performance geared.
There are several options for the front end, depending on your budget, skills and desires. Since you are looking at going the granada route, keep a close eye to the overall cost and which pieces are going to need to be replaced.
There are some great retrofit disc brake kits out there, with brand new rotors, calipers, hangers, friction, hardware, proportioning valves and power boosters at an additional cost. You may find it cheaper and faster to go new than swapping out 25 plus year old parts.
The brake swap is also the time to address the single cylinder master cylinder issue as you will be replacing pretty much the entire system anyway, particularly since you plan to go to power brakes.
Steering and suspension
This area is gong to be impacted by your engine swap, so you should plan your parts and modifications based on the new, heavier engine.
It’s time to address front springs, shocks, tie rod ends, ball joints and suspension bushings. Remember that you will need to change your 6 cylinder front springs to the beefier V8 springs.
Also, since you are going to change the engine to a V8, which rear end you chose will determine if or how much fabrication you need for the drive shaft to change length and/or substitute the appropriate yolk.
Getting the rear stance a little higher can be accomplished the ‘old school’ ways with longer rear spring hangers, air shocks or changing your springs to ones with an arc that gets the rear sitting a bit higher.
On my 1695 coupe (seen in the photo at the start of the page, the route I went was longer hangers, giving me a slightly raked look and more clearance for wide tires at the rear.
Your engine swap to a 289 V8 will be pretty straight forward. The major changes will be substituting engine mounts, radiator and any modifications necessary to the wiring, vacuum hoses and linkages to adapt the 6 cylinder parts. Other than that, you will of course, need a new exhaust system.
Which Donor Vehicle?
As you can see, there are many different ways of approaching your restomod project. If you can find a good mechanically Granada or Versailles, you have the makings of a very good start. Alternatively, some or all pieces for an upgrade like this can be done with some good swap kits.
The one I used to convert my 1970 fastback, in my estimation, would not cost any more than the used parts, plus the costs of all new hardware, rotors, friction etc. and I didn’t have a power brake system before, so it solved all those issues, using the stock spindles. The front disc swap was all Kelsey hayes hi-po style as they are for a 1965 Mustang swap so the pieces will look right in your car.
The other alternative for donor car or parts, is to find a Mustang with all the pieces you need in a write off, or out of state car that for various reasons cannot be registered where you live.
Best Book on Building a Restomod
Here’s where I cant really give you a good answer. (Maybe I should be writing one). I would search your local major bookstores online for a publication which most closely matches your type of build. And of course consult the Mustang restoration section here on onlymustangfords.com.
You have brought up enough good questions, that I am seriously thinking of doing an even more in depth look at building a restomod.
All the best in your project. And it would be great to get some pics of your car now and as it moves along the process.