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Restoration Overview

Restoration Overview


Before you start your restoration process on your early Mustang or Shelby, you need to make some decisions. The key thing to think about is what is your over all purpose and direction. Depending on the shape your car is in, you may have a pretty good size project on your hands with a lot of expense. The first question you should ask is how concours do you want your project to be and maybe how soon? The next question is how deep is your pocket book? And lastly, who is going to do the work?

A true concours restoration is not only a work of art it is also costly. I recently spent over $1,000 on interior parts on my GT 350 for the just the seats, new carpet, door panels, door sills, and hardware. I ended up hiring an upholstery shop to redo my seats at an additional cost of $350. And my car isn't concours. Getting closer all the time. To get a good feel for what it means to have a concours restoration, volunteer to do concours judging at your local Mustang club show. If you are going concours start a checklist with priorities.

You can replace about everything on your Mustang. If you pocket book is large enough and your desire deep enough there are plenty of parts vendors who would be more than happy to send you the parts, for a price.

Speaking of priorities, I would recommend making a list and setting priorities regardless of your final destination. Some things need replaced & repaired now and some can wait. If your car isn't running or the body is in sad shape those would be good places to start. When I first got my GT 350, my first priority was to make sure it ran well and I wouldn't get any surprises on the road. Next I worked on the suspension. I didn't want my wheels to fall off. It needed tires badly, too. Once it was road worthy, then I started thinking about the cosmetics.

I started a check list of projects. The fenders and quarter panels were rusted in the places Mustangs rust out. The floors were rusted through. This was an NW Ohio car, you know rust belt. I didn't realize how bad the floors were until Biff told me to push my finger up from the bottom of the car. It not only went through what was left of the floor, I also poked a hole in the carpet. The floors became an immediate priority. So body work was next. At that time, I was able to order the replacement fenders and quarters directly from Ford through a fellow club member who owned a Ford dealership. I ordered replacement floor panels. Fortunately for me, Biff owned a welder and had already done his share of floor panels.

I made a check list of all the "minor" cosmetic things like emblems, letters and the like. My car had seen its better times. Even though it was a one owner, it had set outside in the elements. It hadn't been cared for like the car that it is. They enjoyed it and had over 100,000 miles on it. Almost all the chrome pieces were in bad shape. The dash chrome was pitted or coming off. The door panels are wood grain with plastic chrome bordering them. That was all peeling off. My pocket book wasn't that deep. So I prioritized items and started ordering. The body was going to be redone first, so I put those body pieces high on the list.

So the point of this article is to suggest restoring an old car is a long process. If you are going to replace parts, consider doing so with NOS parts working towards a concours restoration. I made the mistake on some things of not getting the "right" pieces and ordering or buying parts that would work. I eventually replaced them with NOS pieces adding to my cost.

Another thing to consider if you are going full concours is that you are restoring a car. Cars are meant to be driven not stored in a garage. When you get your project done, what do you do with it? Driving the car is going to cause it to deteriorate, get stone chips and wear. On the other side if you don't drive it that isn't good on it either. After spending all that time and money on it are you going to let it set in the your heated garage? This became an issue with SAAC some years ago. In the concours judging, some people were bringing their cars in on trailers and pushing them into position. The cars didn't have fluids in them. And if you drove your car to the show, it would not compete with one of these museum pieces. The SAAC club dealt with this by instituting additional judging requirements. Points were deducted if you did not start it or the lights and horn didn't work. My feeling is it this is a car. I bought it to enjoy driving it. So I do. It is driven infrequently though, less than 500 miles a year. And yes, it has stone chips.

Good luck with your car. You have to enjoy the car as you go as well or you may get discouraged. I've known more than a couple of people that sold their cars in boxes having given up on the process. Don't be one of those.

I've gotten a number of emails asking which Shelby would be the best investment. An investment to me is something that I put money in and it supplements my retirement. Cars as a rule are not investments. I figure if I can get at least my money back when I sale a car, I've come out ahead. Shelby cars are better from that point than most cars, but an investment? Want an investment, buy mutual funds. I do expect Shelby cars to appreciate more than most over the next 10 years or so. If you could've purchased a Daytona Coupe for $4,500 in 1967 and sold it for $4,000,000 in 2001, that would be an investment. (read the article on the long lost 6th Daytona Coupe here.) I would hope buyers of Shelby cars do so because they admire and want to enjoy these cars.