71 Mustang Restoration

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Introduction: 71 Mustang Restoration

About: Father of 5 sons, and step-dad to 2 daughters and a 6th son. We are constantly creating projects and developing solutions to our day-to-day living. Also a 20+ year Marketing Design Solutions firm - AdJourney.

My oldest son had spoken of a vintage car for some time. The notion of a muscle car for a teenage boy is not a surprise - especially for my red-headed firecraker Jonathan who was 16 at the time. The prior owners had purchased the car with the dream of fixing it up as a retirement project. It was a true barn find for them - having set in a barn with 74k miles on the original engine for over 12 years. When they purchased the car - the rear wheels were locked up and of course the engine did not turn over. They managed to get it pulled onto a flat bed and haul to their home - where they got the brakes to release and within a couple hours had the engine running.

Step 1: I Found a 1971 Mustang (NOT a Mach 1 Variety) on Facebook...

The car appeared as a listing on Facebook marketplace. I reached out and immediately after a few hours online, disappeared as a listing. The owners were overwhelmed with questions and low-ball offers and took the listing down and decided to only respond to 1 person that had reached out - based on the recommendation of their daughter. She picked the one person in the list that she knew - me. I had been a long time acquaintance of the daughter's husband.

My boys and I went out to see the car and Jonathan (my then 16-year old) fell in love. It needed work to be road ready... The prior owners agreed to take the offer made - and we were the new owners.

Step 2: Started With the Mechanical Basics...

The muffler bracket was broken, and hole in the pipe made the car ridiculously loud and unsafe. We had the tail pipe fixed and muffler replaced first.

Next we:

  • bled the brakes
  • replaced the oil and filter
  • got a front-end alignment
  • replaced headlights, taillights and signal lights
  • replaced the spark plugs and wires
  • replaced the battery
  • got an inspection

While not perfect, the car was road ready.

Step 3: Enjoyed for a Bit - Then Had the Engine Rebuilt...

Jon used the car for almost a year. While it looked decent, there were some performance issues we noticed. The engine needed more than the little tweaking we had done. We decided to elicit the help of Clayton's Mean Machines for a complete engine rebuild. It was a thorough rebuild that nearly doubled the horsepower, yet increased the fuel life from the anemic 8-10 miles per gallon to a whopping 24 miles per gallon. It was a long, slow, agonizing process for Jon to be without his car (it was worked in around other projects for a significant price savings) but well worth it when Clayton got the job done.

Clayton also replaced the brakes, rebuilt the rear-end (left the transmission for another day), added short pipes that ended right at the rear wheels - and delivered an amazing sounding and running engine.

Step 4: Wheels CAN Make a Statement...

Jon began looking for a set of rims that would set off the Mustang just right. If you are NOT in a hurry, keep your eyes open, you CAN find a deal. Jon bought this set of nearly new tires on the amazing Crager Rims for under $350. The tires alone were worth more than that! The guy who had them was an older fella and was thrilled to support the teenager in pursuit of his dream car.

We washed the VERY dirty chrome rims and scrubbed them with balled up aluminum foil. (Great tip to know!) They came out looking brand new.

Step 5: Body Repair

While the lines of the Mustang were pretty straight, there were plenty of dings on this car that was older than I am. We worked with Sanchez Classic Restoration in Aberdeen. They removed the bumpers and chrome and began repairing all the dings.

Step 6: Some Areas Needed More Work...

The vinyl top was our area of biggest concern. It was a terrible design by Ford. The literally put a piece of vinyl on top of metal that would hold moisture against the metal underneath. We could feel the pits and see the spots of rust BEFORE it came off. SANCHEZ did an excellent job of fixing all the damage. We were surprised (and thrilled) to find that it was structurally sound - even with the pits and dings...

Step 7: Primer Brought the Hard Work to Light...

When we saw the car covered in primer - it got REAL exciting. It was gorgeous!!! Even better than we had imagined. (I mean, we even wondered if silver was the direction to take the color....)

Step 8: Corvette Red Was the Color of Choice. It Was HOT!

Ric Sanchez got the car painted and buffed to a ridiculous luster! It just about sings...

Step 9: The Geometry Was Off With the Oversized Wheels...

We took the car back to Claytons to get the ball joints replaced and to adjust the turning arms for alignment and stiffening. The car at speed was a bit like chasing a finicky wagon. Not easy to manage, and far to challenging to drive. Clayton informed us that the problem was mostly in the oversized rims on the front of the car (steering), but he managed to correct much of the finicky-ness in the steering... When he was done, we returned the car to Sanchez to wrap up things...

Step 10: Interior Just Makes the Lasting Details of the Enjoyment!

Ric's brother owns an upholstery shop - Luxury Upholstery. He re-upholstered the entire interior of the car from seats, doors, headliner, dash, carpet and even trunk. The interior had been in terrible shape - and the completed matching red stripe to the body paint just looks beautiful!

Step 11: Pick It Up and Drive It Home...

The car was finally complete (as far as the bulk of the restoration). Jon got to pick it up and take it to college. It was a 5-year process. He still needs to replace his heater core, add a stereo and sound system (instead of the single speaker AM radio), add an aftermarket AC unit - but the car is sound, looks and sounds great, and drives well.

Step 12: Sharing the Ride...

A highlight has been for Jon to take friends and family for a ride in his "new" ride. The first 2 pics are of his grandpa (my dad) grinning from ear to ear. Grandpa Sykes had a 73 Mach 1, so it felt real nostalgic for him to enjoy the experience.

The third picture is from the prior owner getting a chance to see the completed car. He was thrilled to see it...

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    10 Comments

    0
    RASpberryman2005
    RASpberryman2005

    5 months ago on Step 12

    That is one heck of a gorgeous car!
    You guys did an amazing job and the new paint goes sooo well.
    Great job! your son is one lucky dude!

    0
    AdJourney
    AdJourney

    Reply 5 months ago

    Thanks for the compliment! It truly turned out beautiful. Still has some more work (as do ALL older vehicles), but those are all on him as a (a)dult of 21 now.

    0
    amiles22
    amiles22

    1 year ago

    Looks amazing! I really like how the red looks.

    0
    dave322
    dave322

    1 year ago on Step 12

    Veeery nice!
    My project ('69 Mustang Grandé 302) followed much the same trajectory, but it was almost 7 years till it was finished. Reading your article brought back that feeling when they replaced the old C4 tranny and it was finally ALL done. Up until then, I had to baby it off the line.
    Sadly, I ended up selling it about 18 months after it was all done. These stories are getting less and less frequent as the years go by.

    0
    AdJourney
    AdJourney

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks Dave... there is definitely a "sentimental journey" in the process of putting a project like this together. The Mustang was a 5 year process with big gaps of time between portions of the to dos... Still more yet to do - but it currently looks great and runs well, so it is enjoyed by my son Jon!

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    1 year ago

    Gorgeous results! It's definitely a team effort when you do it right. It's nice to see the full process laid out, and also great to see an appropriate nod to the pros on the steps where they took over. Good stuff, love it! : )

    0
    AdJourney
    AdJourney

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks seamster! We had a vision but definitely needed the support of those in the know to make it a reality!

    0
    AdJourney
    AdJourney

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks so much! Had to give props to the guys who did the heavy lifting and accomplished the details we both knew to be BEST for the pros.

    0
    pemazzei
    pemazzei

    1 year ago

    It's a master's job! Beautiful car! Greetings from Brazil! Paulo

    0
    AdJourney
    AdJourney

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks Paulo. We really enjoy the finished look... Funny thing, we had NEVER seen this version of a Mustang before we came across this car. We were both aware of the Mach 1 version of the 71, but not this...