Restore or Modify? 1965 Ford Mustang Coupe

I think that we’ve all seen 1st Generation Mustangs that have been so severely consumed by the dreaded tin worm that we take it as a blessing that glass can’t rust. That is something that the buyer of this 1965 Coupe won’t need to worry about because a life spent in the dry climes of Arizona has left this classic rust-free. Adding to its appeal is that although it looks tired, it is said to run and drive nicely. For anyone searching for a Mustang project car, this one looks like it could be a beauty. Located in Tucson, Arizona, you will find the Coupe listed for sale here on eBay. The bidding has been spirited and has pushed the price along to $3,850. This is short of the reserve, so there’s still time for interested readers to stake their claim on this beauty. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Dayle G for spotting the Mustang for us.

There’s a lot to like about this Mustang when you look beyond the baked Red paint. The color isn’t original because there’s plenty of evidence to indicate that the Coupe rolled off the production line with a body coated in Prairie Bronze. I don’t know when the change occurred, but judging by some of the finer points, the person who performed the work did it without focusing on quality workmanship. However, since a repaint will be on the cards, the buyer can refinish the vehicle in the shade of their choice. The panels are extremely straight for a classic of this age, with no significant dings or marks. This is a 1st Generation Mustang, so it seems that it is inevitable that the question of rust has to be raised. That is something that the buyer won’t need to fret about. The panels are clean, but the underside is possibly even better. There’s the usual dusting of dry surface corrosion that you might expect from a car that has spent its life in this type of climate, but there’s no penetrating rust. The floors, frame rails, shock towers, and the torque box region appear to be structurally sound. The buyer will almost certainly choose to treat the surface corrosion, but the welder and grinder can stay in the cupboard. Most of the chrome remains respectable, although the bumpers would benefit from a trip to the platers. The glass looks acceptable for a driver-grade restoration, and while the Cragar wheels aren’t original, they suit this classic’s character.

Project cars will always involve a certain amount of compromise, and this Mustang is no exception. That same climate that protected the car’s steel has taken its revenge on the interior trim. There’s a bit to like here, but there’s a lot that will need to be replaced. My favorite feature is the blanking plate that someone has fashioned to cover the radio opening in the dash. There’s nothing in the world like high-quality work, and this is nothing like high-quality work! Beyond that, the aftermarket wheel, and the Hurst shifter, the interior is unmolested. It is screaming to be returned to its former glory, and the most cost-effective and stress-free path that the buyer could choose would be to source an interior trim kit. Depending on the look that the buyer will be hoping to achieve, these can cost anywhere from $850 to just over $2,000. That latter figure might seem high, but the kit will include every screw, bolt, and clip to complete the installation. If you’ve ever tried to perform this type of work and have been forced to reuse these items, you will know how painful this process can be. Unfortunately, I’m speaking from personal experience on that front. It is also worth remembering that while $2,000 is a fair chunk of cash, this will be a one-off expense. Provided the owner completes the installation correctly and the car is treated with respect, the interior trim shouldn’t need touching for another 50-years. That makes it a pretty reasonable bargain when you consider it that way.

I’m pretty sure that some of our readers will look at this photo and feel a degree of disappointment with what they see. When it came to drivetrain configurations, this Mustang is as basic as it got in 1965. What the buyer will be getting for their money will be a 200ci T-Code six-cylinder engine, a 3-speed manual transmission, and unassisted drum brakes on all four corners. That might not be inspiring for enthusiasts, but it was one of the savviest parts of the Mustang program when this car was new. Ford wanted to build a glamorous image with the Mustang, but they knew that it would be out of financial reach to many potential buyers. This combination allowed interested parties to buy into the Mustang lifestyle at an affordable price. It was also cars like this that formed the foundation of the model’s sales success in 1965, and why 559,451 people could park one in their driveway. The little six still manages to produce 120hp, which is enough to send the Coupe through the ¼ mile in 18.4 seconds. I admit that’s not fast, but it also wasn’t shabby in 1965. On a positive note, this Ford is in sound mechanical health. The owner says that it runs and drives well for a 56-year-old classic and can be enjoyed without anyone needing to lay a spanner on it. That will leave the buyer with the choice of retaining its originality or slotting something more potent under the hood. If they choose the latter option, they won’t be the first to tread that path by a long way. All of the components required to drop in a V8 can be bought off the shelf, making such a task cheap and easy.

This 1965 Mustang proves that old adage that you should never judge a book by its cover. Taken at face value, this looks like a tired classic that would require a lot of work if it were to present nicely. However, the truth seems to be that this should be a straightforward project, and the buyer could potentially complete most of the work with basic tools in a home workshop. The bidding is low at present, but I expect that it might start to increase pretty soon. If you are searching for a project car, this one deserves a closer look. You never know, but your search may be over.


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  1. Turbo

    it is about to become a fast back 289 car based on what seems to be trending

    Like 1
  2. Allan W

    A nice, solid pony from the land of rust-free cars. I disagree with the contention that the bumpers need re-chroming. I see no rust there…give ’em a good cleaning and polish and they will be fine. Original Detroit chrome just doesn’t fail in Tucson. It will be interesting to see where this one goes.

    Like 5
  3. Gary Rhodes

    It’s a six banger so it’s not worth restoring. Put a late model 302 and five speed in it dressed up like a stock 289, painted valve covers and all. Pepaint/upholster in original colors, big brakes/suspension mods, make a sleeper/road carver out of it and surprise the tuner crowd.

    Like 4
  4. RKS

    If it gets a repaint and an interior kit it’ll be a survivor, right?

    Like 1
  5. danny mather

    This will be FFFFFFuuuunnnn you have great bone structure .. u need a9in. locker rear 379 posi Maassive amout of steel floors roll bar,Cayote motor trmac 5sp a very kooool pony interior air stly steel wheels 15×7 red line radials Brandy beer pait with a swish of Pearl wella super 65 stang. luv Dannys Mustangs

  6. Steve Brown

    Honestly, I lean toward sealing up the leaks, rebuild the front end, paint and interior. Still not a cheap proposition, but the paint and prep would be the most expensive part. Neat little car.

    Like 3

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