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Mustang Update: NW Classic Rally Or Bust

Mustang Project Car

Updates have been few and far between the last few days because we have been busy with our newest project. If you didn’t already know, we just bought a Mustang! We introduced it with some glamour shots taken by Josh and many of you left comments about what you think we should do with the car. There were lots of great ideas and we are going to try to incorporate as many of them as we can, but we have some of our own plans too…

Ford Mustang

Before we get into that though, I need to clear up a few things. When introducing the Mustang, I made a grave error that needs corrected. Our car carries many of the features unique to the early Mustangs. It has the vinyl under the door jams. It has the battery vent holes. It has a lot of little clues that led me to believe it was a 1964 1/2. Well, it isn’t! Apparently it would need to have the 170 cubic inch inline-six under the hood to be awarded that special designation. Our’s has the 200, so it is actually an early 1965. That is fine by us though.

Mustang inline six

The 200 was a better engine anyway. It put out 19 more horses than its predecessor and most importantly, came with seven main bearings. That made it a tough little workhorse with decent power and fuel economy. Sure, the one piece intake manifold/head was a bad idea, but the bad breathing can be corrected. Like many people we assumed that six-cylinder equipped Mustangs should be avoided at all costs, but we have since changed our minds. Sure, a V8 would have been nice, but for the kind of work we have planned, the six is perfect. Eventually we would like to swap in a 2v carb, hi-po cam, headers, exhaust, and a beefier 3-speed, but that might all have to wait a bit…


Now, back to our plans. Josh and I have been wanting to attend one of those fancy pants classic car rallies that we all read about in the magazines. Heck, we even drove down to Vail two years ago just to ogle all the high-dollar machinery. We know they would ever let our humble pony into something as highbrow as the Colorado Grand, but we did find a respectable event that will let us run. The Northwest Classic Rally is a TSD (Time Speed Distance) style rally that has been held in Oregon for the past 25 years now! We are signed up as sponsors and participants so it should be fun. Now, we just need to make sure our old girl can make the journey.


After talking to a few experts, our biggest concern was the transmission. Until about 1967, the three-speed transmissions mounted behind the inline-sixes were junk. With no synchromesh on first and a reputation for being fragile, we started to hunt around for a replacement. While doing that, we contacted the previous owner to get a full breakdown of the work he had done to the car in the last year. Well, it turns out that he had the transmission completely rebuilt. He also installed a new ring gear, resurfaced the flywheel, and mounted a clutch kit. We are still a little leary, but we might just take the risk with the old tranny. A shifter rebuild kit and a new rubber boot should tighten things up a bit.

Mustang Engine

The engine runs good thanks to the PO. The car was a mess when he found it under a tarp in someone’s backyard, but he put in the time to get the car drivable again. In his list of repairs a recent tune up was mentioned – new ignition switch, coil, plugs, points, cap, and wires. He also rebuilt the carburetor and coated the fuel tank twice. The cooling system was addressed with a radiator repair, new heater core, water pump, and thermostat. He even went through the brakes by replacing the master cylinder, front hoses, drums and pads all around. When we picked up the car he told us a story about how he decided to address the brakes after one of the old hoses failed while trying to stop at an intersection. Let’s just say that he and the car are both very lucky! We are probably going to leave the drum brakes for now, but we might still swap out that single bowl master cylinder to a dual bowl setup for added safety.

Mustang Undercarriage

Don’t let this long list of completed repairs fool you though. We still have a lot to do before we can head to Portland on the 24th! The suspension needs attention as does the exhaust, parking brake, interior, etc., etc. We have our work cut out for us if we plan to make this car reliable and comfortable by the deadline. We did score some rims with almost new tires the other day, but unfortunately the four lug pattern of the Chevy II does not fit that of our Mustang’s. We would still like to find some steelies, but we might just have to stick with our American Racing ripoffs for now. That is not our biggest dilemma though. We know we are always preaching about originality, but we are sorely tempted to drill the holes for an Arning/Shelby drop while we are in there freshening up the front suspension. We do have a friend with the template and a few period modifications could be justified, right?

Mustang Rear Corner

Preparing an old car for an event like this can be a challenge. Anyone can come up with a long list of todos for a project like this, but with limited time and money it is important to focus on the most important areas first. Obviously, many of you are much more knowledgeable than Josh and I so we want to hear your guy’s advice. Where do you think we should direct our resources first?

Recent Project Updates


  1. Carlton Madden

    Nice car. I’ve got what is, essentially, the same car in my ’64 Mercury Comet. I swapped the stock 170 for a 7 main 200. The tranny hasn’t given me any trouble yet but I would probably replace it if I were going to do any power mods, and surprisingly, there are quite a few available for the Falcon Six. I haven’t done the Shelby drop yet but I plan to when I refurb the front suspension. I also plan to switch to a dual master cylinder as well. My car has manual brakes and drums at all four corners. Supposedly the ’67 dual manual drum master cylinder is the one to get.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Thanks for the tips and the links Carlton. I would love to get one of those triple carb setups. You should send in progress updates so we can all follow along with your project too!

  2. sunbeamdon

    I owe, I owe, so off to work I go! Toys for boys get expensive, but you should be able to get this Pony up and running for just a small fortune!

    Definitely “Shelby-ize” the car – future value as an original is probably marginal so personalize it! Don’t forget the dual exhaust with cherry-bombs!

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Yeah these sort of projects are always more expensive than they first appear. The suspension modifications we have in mind actually aren’t too bad though. We got the cherry-bomb covered already. The leaky glasspack under there puts out such a loud rumble that the inexperienced could easily confuse it for a V8!

  3. DT

    sounds like its good to go, muffler tape and some cassetes

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Dang, I think Josh threw out the collection of Beatles tapes when we were cleaning it out!

  4. Debbie Mariott

    So cool!!! Be patient with the process and enjoy the results. Just got my dad’s old ’65 mustang restored. It sat in my folks garage for 30 years, and when dad passed away, mom gave the car to me. My hubby secretly had it restored for my birthday. Wish I could post a pic… Phoenician yellow with black interior.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Email us a few photos Debbie! Some before and after shots would be great. If you include a story we might even feature it on the site so everyone can have a look.

  5. Chris A.

    First on my list would be all the safety related items like the dual master cylinder brake setup and complete refurbishing of the brakes themselves. Then steering and tie rod ends checked along with a front end alignment. I’m thinking piece of mind with all the safety checklist items addressed. Like the entire lighting system inside and out. Oregon can be wet, new wiper blades and a good hosing of the car to see if there are any serious body leaks. Got fuses to spare? A waterproof kids knee bandage will keep the water out of the bullet hole, that’s an easy one. The tough part will be if you can’t do all the safety items, park it and be a smart spectator. Have a good time either working on it or the actual drive.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Yep, the dual master cylinder is getting ordered tonight. The previous owner installed new drums and pads within the last year along with new hoses up front, but we might still have everything checked out. We do need to fix the hand brake while we are under there too so we have a backup. I hear the hand brake was worthless on these though, so it might be more for peace of mind more than anything.

  6. paul

    Nice & my goal for the Corvair is the great American race , this years was just run from Agonquit Maine to the Villiages in Fla. the task for an all alluminum boxer motor with a turbo is a bit more complicated to sort out since you don’t take the block & heads to your local machine shop. I just got a new exhaust system & then had it ceramic coated along with the turbo housing part that the exhaust bolts to, the temperature at 70 mph runs around 475 so I’m hoping to bring that down some with the ceramic coat, also some question as to the accuracy of the gauge’s since the engine doesn’t feel all that hot. But good luck to you.

    • paul

      As for your car depending on the condition of the roads your going to travel, ball joints, tie rods, center link, idler arm, pitman arm,should be checked for any play & replace as needed, also because you are going with the single master you might want to change those hard lines. From the pictures underneath it appears like you have some oil leaks?? How old does the generator/ regulator, look? I went on google & found a volt meter that just plugs into the cigarette lighter, pull the lighter out put the digital gauge in, no wiring needed.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      We need an update on the Corvair soon Paul! Following your journey as you prepare for the Great Race would be lots of fun, so please keep us updated!

      The suspension is our second priority right after the brakes. We do have a few leaks, but hopefully I will be able to see where they are coming from after giving the underside a good bath. Since ours is a ’65, we have an alternator in place of the generator.

  7. jim s

    do not go if you can not stop. dual master cyl first. when the master cyl you have fails/runs out of fluid you then have the parking brake and downshifting to get you stopped. good luck with that! then the gas tank armor. good tires on sad wheels. a 65 instead of 64 1/2 works for me, still going to be just as much fun.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Yeah, drum brakes can be scary enough without the possibility of the master cylinder going out. Don’t want any panic stops ruining our trip. I found some almost new tires mounted on steelies, but the bolt pattern was a little off so the tires might just have to go on our mags.

  8. sunbeamdon

    Chris – maybe a Freudian slip – what we don’t want is a “piece” of mind (maybe that’s all I have left).

    Leave the bullet hole and use the “Handyman’s Secret Weapon” to tape a funnel and container for the wind-shield washer system behind it!

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      The funnel idea isn’t a bad one actually.

  9. jim s

    you only have 17 days to get this car ready and get to the rally. i think you may be rushing things a little or a lot. the miata or saab might be a better choice this time.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Where’s your faith Jim? We might have to call in some professional help, but I think we can pull it off if we focus on the most important areas first. The previous owner already did a lot of work on the car and made two 5 hour drives in it without problem. That was even before he went through the brakes! Preservation of life may not have been as important to him as it is to us though…

      • jim s

        i have a lot of faith in all of you. but rushing to meet a deadline can lead to mistakes. and also can take the fun out of a project. # 1 goal is keeping it safe, #2 goal is keeping it fun. so if it stops being fun, put the tools down, turn out the lights, lock the garage door and take a break. you have more then 1 back up plan.

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        Good point Jim! We will follow your advice and if we can’t make the car safe by the 24th, we will sit it out. It really isn’t worth having an accident.

  10. DT

    to be honest with you(dont ever trust a person that says that to you) Your upper radiator hose looks older than dirt,and is that a filter on top of your fuel pump,that loooks like its never been changed,ever,and remember all thoes parts in the trunk,they were there for a reason,carry a few extra parts ,points,condencer,cap,rotor, brake fluid,oil,anti freeze,alumiseal, plug kit,12 volt compressor

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Yeah some new rubber may be in order. That fuel pump does look old to me too, so we might swap it out and keep the old one in the trunk. We will have to put together a tool roll and a stash of parts for the possible roadside repair too.

  11. Jim-Bob

    One of the mods I would really consider is a swap to a T-5 5 speed manual transmission. I believe Ford used the SR-4 manual trans behind the 200 in the late 70’s, so that bellhousing should let you use a T-5 out of a later Mustang (This is one of the ways to bolt a Mustang T-5 to an AMC V8, which is where the idea comes from). You can also choose another application with a wider ratio spread such as the rare 82-83 AMC Spirit/Concord T-5 with a 4:1 1st, as long as you use a Ford input shaft from a SR-4, T-4 or T-5. Couple that with a taller final drive ratio and you should have greatly improved acceleration. As for the brakes and suspension, I would do the Shelby mod (it’s easily reversible) and find a disc brake setup from a Granada for the front. Out back, get the 8.8 rear axle from an Explorer (it’s the same width, if memory serves) and modify the perches. This also gives you the excellent rear disc brakes from the Explorer as well as the drum style emergency brake, a Traction Lok diff (if you find one) and a 3.55 gear. If you want steelies, now you can use the black powdercoated wheels from a 90’s Ford Crown Vic P71 (police and taxi).

    As far as originality goes, I think survivors and rare models deserve to stay original. However, more proletarian models leave room for improvement and experimentation, so long as it is done respectfully. Enough rare cars end up scrapped every day that I am not going to cry if someone doesn’t leave a car stock. The Two Rover TC 2000’s I saw at the local U pull it today being a case in point. Very original, mostly complete (down to a nice set of Rostyle wheels) and destined to be crushed pretty much as they are in a month when their day of reckoning comes. I went to go see them for no other reason that to study their odd suspension setup (same as a P6). I’d much rather someone would have swapped the engine and done something with them than being scrapped, probably when the owner passed away and their descendants wanted rid of them.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      A transmission swap would be nice, but it might have to wait until after the rally. Same thing with the disc brakes. Crown Vic rims would be a good idea, but they have one too many lugs. Normally I don’t like modified cars, but this old Mustang is so bad to drive the way it is, that it makes me want to see what it is capable of with some proven suspension tweaks.

      Too bad about those Rovers. I bet if they put them on eBay for a grand that someone would buy them. There was a pair of them back in Wyoming and the guy sold them for $750 in one day.

      • Jim-Bob

        Sorry, I probably didn’t flesh it out well enough (I was sitting at a Mc Donalds, eating a cheap lunch of beef and sawdust “burgers” after seeing the Rovers.) The idea I had was to go to a five lug setup by using the Granada and Explorer components, thus necessitating new wheels, which would be sourced from a pre-2003 P-71 (This is the year Ford completely changed the front suspension and steering, necessitating a change to the wheel offset.) You would also want to use a Mustang driveshaft for this setup too, as it would give you a flanged rear axle yoke and the proper trans slip yoke for the T-5.

  12. mike

    NO shelby clone..been over done.since it’s a white notch back make a Tour De France replica/look a like.

  13. MikeW

    A true 64½ will have the “U” for an 170 engine code. and 3 extra louvers next to the 4 slots in the core support at the battery, if it has these, it’s a true 64½ and the motor has been swapped out. Look at the 5th/ last letter in the VIN on the data plate or the stamped vin in the top of the inner fender to verify. Good luck with your project. Owner of a D code 64½ with the 289 4v..

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Yep, it’s a ’65.

  14. Dolphin Member

    Great idea! I had forgotten that a Ford Mustang notchback won the 1964 Tour de France in touring car category—the ONLY non-European or Brit car that ever won any category of that race. It was run many days around France on roads and circuits and was so tough that a famous Ferrari 250GT model that won it a number of times is still called the ‘TDF’ to this day.

    The winning #83 car doesn’t look white in various B&W pics that I found, but what the heck—just throw a big number 83 on the doors and be done with it. That, and get some wide steelies with some kind of racing rubber. There’s got to be some wide 4-bolt Ford steel wheels out there that somebody can rustle up for the occasion. And don’t forget those giant driving lights in front of the grille.

    Yep, that ought to just about do it.

    • mike

      dolphin….my mistake…they were by Alan Mann racing…well it does need painted…
      macco is cheap…both price and quailty of paint job…

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        Great idea Mike! I was leaning towards the European rally car look too after seeing photos of the Mustangs that ran at Monte Carlo. We will have to do more research on these cars for inspiration.

  15. MikeW

    The 200 engine has a “T” for the engine code.

  16. MikeW

    The Tour de France Mustangs are all K code Hi-Po V8’s

    Note: the Fastback wasn’t available until October 1964

    • mike

      mikew….very true but doen’t have to be an exact copy…just neat and fun..

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Yeah we won’t have the V8, but I like the idea of using the original rally cars as inspiration for our project. Modern day rallies are no longer high speed races on public roads. Now you have to make it to each checkpoint within a certain timeframe. No speeding is required and you loose points if you arrive late AND early. So, actually the inline-six makes more sense for road rallying today. It’s more fuel efficient and that means less time-eating pit stops!

      • paul

        Yes agreed Jesse I like your idea of the 6’s,also better weight distribution = better handling, I am not a fan of understeer.

  17. MikeW

    I found this on ebay.
    The front #83 car, with license plate number DPK7B, was ridden by Andrew Cowan and Peter Procter. They WON the race. The rear car, with license plate number DPK5B was ridden by Ljungfeldt and Sager. According the spec. sheet they were forced to retire during the race due to top-end failure of the engine (camshaft failure). It further indicates the VIN numbers of the two cars. The winning car had VIN number #5F07F100027, the retired car had VIN number #5F07F100025.

    F codes are 260 v8’s

    Lots more info here as long as it’s up.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Thanks Mike! There isn’t a lot of information about the TDF or Monte Carlo cars online. It would nice to know if the cars were modified at all or if they were basically stock with some driving lights.

  18. Jerry

    I saw the Great Race finish and the eventual winner of the Maine to Florida rally was a 1965 Mustang 6 with automatic. I’d stick with the 6 and some mild performance goodies, maybe a Tour de France replica of sorts. Nice project.

    • paul

      I missed it , I was away, otherwise I would have been there.

  19. Chris A.

    Piece of mind! I’m laughing hard at that one. Good catch. Jess, the comments about the almost worthless parking brake are accurate. It had to be put on really hard just to hold a parked car on a slight slope. I don’t even think what it would take to stop the Mustang from 60 using just the parking brake. Notice I did’t call it an “emergency brake”.

    I really like the T5, Shelby mod and disc brake all around idea. Instead of the done so many times V8 conversion, I’d like to see what the car would be like with a warmed over 200 6. But then I really like big 6 engines. Really weird, think what it would be like with a Volvo 164E engine.

    Yup, an external filler hole for the windshield washer tank. Ford never thought of that one.

    Paul, good luck with the ceramic coating for the Corvair. The turbocharger can handle the heat so long as the oil holds up. Do you have a special oil with an oil cooler for the oil line?

    • paul

      Yes these engines have an oil cooler & I am using Amsoil. The factory recommends idle for 2 minutes before shut down to allow the oil to cool off & circulate through the turbo, intercoolers hadn’t been invented yet.

  20. Doug M. (the west coast one) Member

    Jesse, I recently had a 63 Fairlane 500 Sports Coupe (you featured it about a year ago) that had what I think is the same transmission… no syncro in first gear. Only replacing wasn’t as flexible of an option as in the mustang… I found a shop that would rebuild it, but they wanted almost a grand to do it. If your tranny has been rebuilt, you should be good for many more miles… until you have the time to do an upgrade. I say take the trip and enjoy the scenery. I live in Oregon and this particular tour is a great one! Have fun!

  21. Andrew

    I read somewhere that the 6 cyl cars had 4 lugs and the v-8 had 5. Is that true? Also what is the lug spacing? 4.5″ and you could throw some 1986-1993 Mustang wheels like the 10 holes or Ponies on it.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Yep 4-lug. The Outlaws are probably going to have to do for now.

    • MikeW

      In ’69 the Mustangs with the big 250 ci went to 5 lug wheels. The newer 79 to 93 4 lugs were 4 ¼, and the old ones 61 to 69 had 4½ ” spacing. Here is a chart

  22. Bryan Cohn

    Everyone has pretty much covered all the bases but one: How to make sure your 3 speed transmission made of glass lives through the rally and beyond?

    Several things come to mind, including using the proper fluid. Transmission lube has come a long way since 1965 so you want to look into what is best. For example, RedLine makes something MTL that is made to work with certain types of synchro transmissions. I use it in my Miata race car. I used to use something called RedLine Shockproof Lightweight in the Hewland transmissions as used in Formula Fords. Those are a non synchro dog ring gearbox. Shockproof is the clingiest lube I have ever used/seen in my life. It may be just the thing to help make the 3 speed live long and prosper. Those are just two, there are many others out there.

    OK, lube is out of the way, now on to the big item: How to shift gears? Double clutch, that’s how. With a non-synchro first and an overall weak transmission, if you double clutch, matching engine revs to the speed of the gears you’ll be able to shift it like buttah! Its the only way to change down to first in a non-synchro first gear. Don’t know how? I found a pretty good video, kind of homie but it gets the job done:

  23. MikeW

    He’s right, the small tranny is fragile, I broke the main shaft in mine once. Your main problem will be brakes. Stock shoes will glaze in a couple of corners and leave you without any. You might try some metalic linnings. Also don’t forget to replace the rubber brake line to the rear end. It can cause the rear brakes to drag and catch the rear on fire and you could lose the whole car.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      We will get some semi-metallic pads ordered! We are going to replace that rear hose, but can you explain why the old one would cause the brakes to drag?

      • MikeW

        The old rubber brake lines swell and block the return flow of fluid causing them to drag. it’s happened to 3 of my old cars.

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        Ok, I see how that can happen. That rear line will be getting replaced!

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