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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all, I figured may as well start one of these. New to the forum (ish) but have been around in some form or another since I got my coupe. I bought the car around age ~15 (actually was the first one I bought for myself) and have been slowly working on it since in some form. Early progression kept it as a perfectly capable "sunday driver" but that's since taken a pretty massive deviation 馃ぃ I'm an engineer by education and during college I took the FSAE path as some of you may be familiar with. That was a great experience and lead to me doing some RallyX post-college. I did want to get back onto tarmac though in some form after doing 5-6 years of auto-X and some form of open-wheel (even if testing was all my large self was cut out for).

After getting a house and all that, I was finally able to get the car back and start working on it. Chasing down some wiring lead to a serious case of the "While your in there's" and here we are. I thought the mustang fit everything I wanted as a "Track car" but i can get into that more later. I've got a bit to catch up on here but I'll start posting progress and then after I'm caught up will try to keep this regular.


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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Alright, where to start. I guess probably some of those "criteria" I talked about and then also what this will/wont be. Like I mentioned in the first post, I wanted to get back into some form of tarmac racing again and in my mind I had a couple important criteria:
  • relatively cheap consumables
  • wide OE support or OE repo support
  • wide aftermarket support
  • easy enough to work on
  • small/light
Funny enough, the car I had in mind for the longest time was actually a civic EG hatch. I had a chance to drive one in an autoX once and that was a proper fun time. After a 14 hour trailer drive to get the car from my parents it was safely in the garage. This all started because there was a laundry list of things that needed to get resolved before I would ever deem the car "Safe" to drive in a large metro area. It tended to dart right on hard braking, the steering box woefully needed a rebuild, and the wiring was...well...it was original. I have plenty of experience with wiring so I started there. I never really did find what/where the im assuming frayed ground was because before I could get there I had the whole interior apart, frustrated with crawling around trying to probe at things with a multimeter. That's kind of when I realized that the car fit all my criteria.

Now, I have no doubt there are better suited chassis out there for a track car than my mustang. Namely the aforementioned EG hatch or any of the e3x/e4x or (insert common track car here) that are out there. I also have no delusions about being the next Dale Trickle so the mentality was pretty much "may-as". When I eventually stuff the car into a wall repo and/or salvage parts are easy enough to come across. Ford used the same damn parts for 30 years....you get where this is going. Well so step 1 was cleaning....and cleaning....and painting...and more cleaning.

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I was going to try and do the cleaning/painting in parts since the humidity here kind of makes things a PITA. If you leave bare metal for any length of time it doesn't take a whole lot to start developing surface rust. So off I went with the death wheel on the angle grinder and some paint.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So this whole time I had been thinking, alright dummy. You're committed now but how is it going to be built. Not like, nuts and bolts but from a sanctioning body standpoint. I looked into SVRA and it looks like a blast but, a little more "period correct" than I wanted. Mainly the restriction on heads, electronics, and the transmission was my big killer. I fought with this for quite a while, really. I didn't want to "spec myself out" of a class or body but at the end of the day I wanted to go out and have fun so I kind of put it in the back of my head that I'll do SCCA type events, or TT events, etc. For the rest of it, namely safety considerations, I'm using FIA Appendix J as a point of inspiration but then also pay attention to any SCCA specific or other common sanctioning body specific rules. FIA seems to be pretty bounding but along the way (and when it gets caged) I'm working with some local safety folks to make sure I'm not shooting myself in the foot anywhere.

All that being said....back to more cleaning.
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
And then here's where a few more items kind of took hold. So the chassis actually only has about ~70k miles on it or so. I was the 3rd owner of the car and it spent most of its time in NV where after about ~10 years of driving it went and got parked. No idea why, just that it was parked. As you can guess that means it was in pretty good shape. There's not much done body wise on the car, the bottoms of the rear quarters have some filler but I'm not sure if that was done to "dress" them before painting but the filler isn't that thick. Insides of the car don't show any major crunches so...who knows. In addition to that though there was the standard battery tray rust that I just wanted done/gone/cut out. Surprisingly then the last part was in the drivers side footwell. This originally was an AC car so I'm not sure if it was the condenser leaking or if it was parked outside for some of its life and the water came in through the cowl...but there was some moderate rust that needed replacement.
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At this point I was starting to get close to final cleaning and painting. There were a few more things to do along the way though. While the car was in this state, I also wanted to do some of the more common chassis reinforcements called out in the 70s track manual, namely the shock tower reinforcement. After using some SEM primer behind the plates, I cut those up as well and welded them in. For some additional good measure I also stitch-welded the insides of the strut towers.
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
There were three last orders of business then before I could paint the whole thing (deviations increase lol). The first was a matter of stopping. I've both built and bought a dual master with balance bar type setup for brakes. Some of the common household names you'll come across include Tilton, Wilwood, AP, and some other more boutique (read $$$) ones exist as well. I'm a big fan of Tilton and have used their products so I decided I'd pick one of their pedal quadrants. This also solved the issue of how I was going to operate the clutch, getting a brake and clutch combined pedal assembly gives me an option for a hydraulic clutch. Since I'm already in there cutting away, may as well do it all at the same time.

Here's the only shot I could really find of the in-progress with the pedal mounts. Tilton (and most others) have PDFs with their dimensions and critical sizes on them. After cutting out a thicker plate to mount to and center-punching all the holes I started cutting. This was just tacked in to test fitment of the column, pedal placement, etc. After getting everything done and in the car (hindsight's a pain) I wish i would have went another ~1/4" further to the outside. Ohwell, it's all metal, maybe I'll cut it back out and change that later. After cutting the holes for the master cylinders, I welded the whole thing in and used some additional sheetmetal to fill in where I had to make additional "adjustments". There likely is another way i could have done this but....it is what it is. Additionally, there (now) is also a bracket that supports the top of the pedals and ties it into the column-mount similar to how the OE pedals did. That way, this tin-can...erm...firewall doesn't take the entire braking force from a panicked 250# gorilla in the drivers seat.
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Next one was seating. As i all but briefly mentioned above, I'm big. 6'5" and 250#, I'm most certainly not a weightlifter so it's not all muscle...but I DO like tacos....Between that and my height it was really hard to find a seat, or fit into the OE one for that matter. After lots of test fitting I settled on a Sparco Evo2 QRT. It's like shopping in the "big and tall" section. Most other seats the top of the shoulder-belt reliefs were below my shoulders....not so good. Now that I had the seat picked out, I was able to make the mounts, etc. I'm getting a little ahead here though because as mentioned, rust is a pain, so it was paint time! As for the seat mounts and "mystery item #3", I'll get back to those after going through some more of the paint and prep stuff.

Little pre-pain prep with some MEK as a first cut to get all the real grimy stuff off first. If you've not used this before, be sure to at least filter it with a cigarette. Seriously, wear PPE with this stuff. We use it all the time with aircraft fabric covering and it's the only stuff that will dissolve the glue.
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After that it was paint! Some of these are a little out of order. I actually did the interior before the front of the car but I'm trying to post all of these "thematically" so if you see a few shots that aren't quite lining up...that's why. First I wanted to at least hit all of the jambs and odd areas with some black. When I had the car painted when i first got it, it was never a "show car" paint job and it's going to be a little more utilitarian now. I know you perfectionists out there are rolling over right now but that's how it goes.
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Also some more shots of the front of the car when I did the engine bay. I do love this "racecar grey", good ole Rustoleum smoke grey. I know it's not the most durable or the most chemical resistant. I thought about using SEM or some others that are better but, i mean, i am still trying to do this somewhat economically lolol. Additionally, it makes it SUPER easy in the eventuality of needed touchups. As some of the keen eyed have probably seen, I'm also not just doing a simple grey. I'm also spackling the whole thing with black and white. As many of you know, there is/was a specialty paint for the spackled treatment and it was common in the 60s GM trunks and other uses. I just did things the "poor mans" way and used a paint brush and stick to spatter the whole surface. I like it, makes it unique ish even if its not perfect and results in a few random blobs in the end result. However it DOES hide a lot of sins and also makes it real easy to blend in new work or do touchups. Previously I had helped a friend do that in a little more sophisticated manner on one of his planes. Basically get a big ole tip in the spray gun and let it spatter all over. Makes for a real nice uniform covering.
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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Last bit to do was the underside. Man did I ever dread doing this. If you hadn't picked up on it yet, I'm doing this all in my garage on jackstands...yes really...and no, never again 馃ぃ. I seriously put this off and did so many different things before finally just tackling it. The trunk and underside got the same treatment as the rest. Putty knife scraped, wire wheeled with a grinder (deathwheel...seriously it's the nose-shortener 5000 if it catches something), and then cleaned and painted with rusto. I skipped spackling the bottom but the trunk got it.
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After all that I felt like frodo dropping the ring in mount doom....it was finally over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Alright, so. Finally the seat mounting and "mystery item #3". As mentioned with the seat, I chose a sparco and also took some inspiration from FIA on how to mount it. Without going into too much detail there's an outline for tubular seat mounts and their reinforcement place size, thickness, etc. These pictures don't show the sandwich plate and bolt I also used on the inboard side but they're there. First I cut the OE seat pans out and cleaned/painted all of that (did that with the rest of the interior). Mounting the seat this way allowed me to move it a whole 2.5" lower and a whopping 8" (yes EIGHT!) further back. Yes really it was needed. That length is about perfect for me with the seat adjusted in the front-most holes (so all the way back). Sadly if you're 5'6" i doubt you'll be able to drive it but there is enough forward adjustment with the sparco rails for someone roughly 6ft tall or someone with a shorter inseam.

To figure out the seat mounting and then subsequent tab placement, I used some 2x4s to create a template. Transferred the seat rail holes to the bottom of the template and then fixed the mounting tabs to that. The whole thing worked quite well and I'm happy with the result. This may ultimately be a temporary solution until I get it caged. At that point I'm going to see about running another bar along the floor between the main hoop and the front landing pads and then welding the outboard mount to that tube instead of the inner rocker with reinforcement plates.
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The last is my shock tower bracing. Previously the car had a "monte-carlo" bar and I did notice quite a bit of improvement in our noodly frame after that. I knew that this needed to have something similar but I wanted to improve on it. Now there's some existing weld-in solutions and also some bolt-in solutions. As soon as you see what I ended up using, you'll know where I took the inspiration from. Before that though I wanted to use the ole noodle and figure out what size/shape/placement/thickness I needed for everything. The brace consists of two tophat plates, a firewall plate, and then a cross-bar in front of the shock towers.

Without going into *too much detail, I used math and figured it out. If there's interest into hearing a little more detail on the "hows and whys" behind the math I'd be more than happy to elaborate. It wasn't meant to be a definitive "this is exactly what forces and moments the car sees/does" but more of a napkin-math starting point. Given some known information like the car weight, 2g worth of cornering, some extra F.O.S. and some other assumptions, I could at least prove what I needed so the brace wouldn't fold like a wet noodle on the first corner. Once the car gets a proper shakedown I'm planning on using some strain-gauges to find out what it's actually seeing and revisit some design choices to (hopefully) make it a little lighter.

The firewall plate is a 90* plate with additional webbing so it attaches to both the cowl pinch-seam and the firewall with some bolts and large washers. The tophats got plasma cut out of 10GA. I thought about doing 7GA but we'll see how this holds up first. As you can probably see in the picture I chose to put a bend in the plate tab instead of using high-misalignment spacers for the heims. Spaces go everywhere and i haaaaaaate them. They're like "jesus nuts", anytime you take them apart its "jesus where did that go!". If needed, I can provide some additional webbing to reinforce and/or use a thicker plate. Using a bend instead of spacers also eliminates a small bending force that I'm hoping will help. First picture is a peek at the maths and last one is a peek at what's to come. Finished powder-coated parts in the car as well as a freshly painted motor. More on that later.
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Now that the whole car was painted, it was off to a decent start on getting the rest of it together as a roller and get everything back in where it belongs. I wanted to get the plumbing all done as well before stuffing the motor in so that meant doing a lot of the brakes and fuel plumbing before then. I had no real deadline but I was trying not to dawdle. I chose NiCu lines for all my brakes and fuel lines. I kind of was back and forth with this choice too. I'm sure everyone's heard or seen the "steel or die" comments and I think (not sure) some sanctioning bodies also require steel lines (or at least not AL). As I've hinted at, I've got some experience in the aircraft world (mainly registered) and AL lines aren't anything new there. Granted they're all protected inside the plane (no risk of rock puncture) but they do see plenty of NVH and have no issues there. Additionally I was torn on AN flares or bubble flares. Really the whole brake line "how should you do it" topic is right up there with engine oil, anti-seize on lugs, and religion for sure-fire ways to stir up an argument on the internet. So far after bleeding, mashing (no really mashing) the brake pedal and chasing down any loose fittings, I've not had any leaks. If it causes a safety tech issue my thought was at least now I'll have templates for everything.

In addition to all the brake lines, you can also see the tab I made for the line down to the clutch slave. After the tab its a 20" length of braided AN3 line, same outboard connection to the wheel cylinders. It makes (in theory) a bit easier time of pulling the motor/trans should I ever have to. Thought being it provides a little extra wiggle when trying to get things in and out. Additionally you can see the pedals mounted up prior to cleaning and painting that portion. The rear axle got cleaned up with the deathwheel and some degreaser before brushed on black rusto. Same treatment on the rear brake lines back here as well. Surprisingly the bends back to the rear of the car weren't that bad.

Speaking of the rear gas/brake lines, I switched it up from the OE configuration. Instead of chasing the rear brake lines down the trans tunnel as one did in 67/68, I ran it in parallel with the 6AN line I was using for fuel. I used a fuel/brake grommet from a 1971 model which does exactly that in place of the 1968 style gromet. This required a little "persuasion" of the hole as well as a little re-forming but it worked well. I have a male-male join fitting right where they exit the torque box. I hate using more joins than needed, its just more places to leak or fail, but this was needed. Makes running the lines a lot easier without having to finaggle them through the torque box. the 1968 brake lines avoided this by going way of the trans tunnel but the OE fuel line had a rubber hose join there instead. I like this better. Everything was finished off with adel clips and rivnuts. After doing my final bleed/leak test for everything, all fittings got market with a red paint pen.

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
To get the car a roller I had a few more things to do, nameley...everything! lolol. None of the front suspension links had been touched yet so that was next on the to-do list. I cleaned everything up and brought it to a local powdercoat place to have it done in black. This included all of the engine bay bracing and a few other parts. As an additional change, I cut out the stock lower ball joints (LBJ) and welded in a K772 style cup. The modified lower control arms (LCA) were then also sent off to powdercoat along with the suspension bits. These all turned out great and I'm really happy with how well the shop did. Their price was reasonable too, YMMV but i want to say it was something like ~$250 for everything, which included blasting some of the areas I couldn't get to with a grinder.
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This is where things started to get REALLY fun. Along with all the powdercoating I sent out, I also had all the fasteners on the car gold zinc coated. Again, was really happy with how reasonable it was to do, I think a 2-4 week turnaround for about 2 gal worth of fasteners and it was ~$150 or so to dip and coat them. I used berrymans prior to sending to get most of the junk off but wanted them to dip and etch anyway to really get them clean. Pictured below is one of the front corners being assembled.
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I wanted to use the Street or Track tubular UCA, which is what you see in the picture. I use that as a past-tense, not for fault of the product. I ordered these but something about my setup just wasn't quite right. No idea if the LCA points were pushed in or its a different chassis, or what, but I was only able to get about -1* of camber out of them with the eccentric pulled all the way out. Shaun (the owner) was amazing through the whole process and made sure I was taken care of. Unfortunately they got boxed back up and sent back...i really did want to use these because they were such nice pieces but i guess it wasn't meant to be.

At the same time, I had the motor all apart and checked it over. When I last had the car at my parents, Dad did a great job running and driving it at least once a month, even if just to go into town and get mail. That kept everything lubricated and at least leaking equally through all its holes 馃おBefore I started all of this after getting it home, I had pickled the cylinders to some degree but still wanted to check the bottom end. When in Rome. Everything looked goo through so I buttoned it up and put a fresh coat of Ford blue on it, new gaskets everywhere, and I'll be honest, it was the first time that motor never leaked since i'd owned it 馃ぃMuch like Dad's Stearman it's parked in front of (this was back when it was at my parents place), usually if it's not leaking its empty. Actually that's not fair, the R985 wasn't that bad but it wasn't GREAT either lol!
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I will say too, this whole time I have to say I am very lucky to have an understanding wife. Front quarter panels and other misc body bits were in the den for the about a month while this was going on. This is my CBO (chief box inspector) even giving me the stink-eye about using his play space as temporary car part storage.
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My shop foreman also runs a tight ship. No more rodents to raise hell on wiring so long as the daily scratch quota is met.
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Beautiful car man I鈥檓 doing something very similar I鈥檓 thinking about painting my engine grey but wow you have solid car
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Jokes about pets aside, I got all of the plumbing done that I wanted to and bled it as much as i could prior to. Found a few loose fittings just just needed another click on the gorrilla-wrench but nothing too surprising. After that the motor and trans were ready to go in! Previously the car had a AOD in it and it was originally a C4 car. I opted for the T5z from modern driveline this time. I wrestled with getting a 4-speed like, T10 or similar. I live out in NASCAR country so that would have been easily obtainable but I'm planning on changing out the current 3.00 rear gears for some 3.73s in the near future. Having road-tripped with the C4 before and the 3.0 gears I wasn't exactly sold on that idea yet since I'd still like to take the car out and get icecream or drive to a cars and coffee. (as an aside, no, really...I drove the car from the southern tip of MN all the way up to Bemiji and back with the C4. That was an awesome trip but anything over about 65mph was mind numbing. Later on once it had the AOD i actually drove it from MN to TX when the parents moved...much better). This was another "landmark" struggle I had. I was really debating going with a TKO500 but I'm not planning on dig-racing this thing anytime soon. I think we'll try and do best we can with the T5Z and then if that goes....maybe some plated gears....otherwise it might be dogbox or T10 time. My daily driver is a WRX with the fabled glass-cased 5-speed so I know all about having to baby a transmission...

It was GREAT to finally have the motor back in and have it start looking like an actual car again. I also took this as a chance to do some random stuff like dressing the sparkplug wires and since everything was in place I could finally find a home for the master cylinder reservoirs. All in time but it was starting to look tidy again.
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Somewhere along the way, I also took the time to do a preliminary alignment on the car. I put this here just as a bookmark for anyone following that didn't know about this, but two flat floor tiles (or similar like smooth cuttings boards I've used before) with some bearing grease between them work GREAT for grease-plates to help with alignment. It'll help you bounce up and down on the car to settle the suspension and also make toe and/or caster changes easier. Since our cars have some level of scrub to them (quite a LOT actually lolol) this takes place of the "roll it back and forth" you usually hear to do if you're doing string alignments. I will say too it works great for arrive and drive events if you want to add some toe-out or more caster once you get there.
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At this point I also started to do some of the minor things like painting trim, bumpers, etc. Nothing special here (again, it is a track utility car) so I scuffed everything up with some 3-400grit and used black rusto. It'll likely get abused and need to be re-coated but that can be done in the off-season easy enough. Also using some cardboard (from ALL THESE DAMN BOXES! lol) I make templates for the door-cards and rear bulkhead. They need to get finished with a DA sander yet but they're in place. I also used some 1" wide "quiet tape roll" for the mating surface and anywhere else that the cards come into contact with the shell. Ideally a guy would either bead-roll or have these bead-rolled to help lessen the "tin-canning" but i was (admittedly) too impatient for that, maybe later? Forreal this stuff works wonders though. It made things MUCH more bearable to drive. Pictures are with just the generic 10-24 bolts I was using to mock-up. They since have nice capheads in their place.
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Beautiful car man I鈥檓 doing something very similar I鈥檓 thinking about painting my engine grey but wow you have solid car
Thanks! Its been a process. Really wishing I did this when i had the large farm shop instead of my garage LOL.
 
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