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Discussion Starter #1
You have two mustangs, same year same color same trim (coupe), but one is a six-cylinder and the other is a 289 V8. Six cylinder has no rust at all. V8 needs new floorplans and cowl vents. Base car is $9k. You have $15k to spend on car and parts.
Goal is a cruiser with enough power to give you a little thrill, but nothing crazy — around 350hp at the wheels.

What do you buy and why?
 

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I’d buy the 6 cylinder IMO.


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yup - buy the 6, then upgrade the suspension, brakes and drivetrain with what YOU want - this assumes the 6 car had no rust ever or was fixed correctly - fixing botched repairs is harder than starting fron scratch!
 

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Dimples
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I buy the V8 because pans are not a big deal and I only drive classic Mustangs when it’s pretty out, so I don’t care about the cowl.
I’ve had a six banger before that was in perfect shape. I loved it, and ditched it for a rusty cowl V8 as soon as I could and regret nothing.
 

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V8 Disc Brake Front End: $600
V8 Steering: $250
V8 Rear end (buy a 1967, and use spacers): $250
Set of 4 17" Bullit Mags with tires from Craigslist: $600

V8 Engine and trans: All over the map, a 5.0 / 5 speed, or plain vanilla 302 with a C4, etc.

After that, interior, paint, etc. will be the same 6 cyl or V8.

You may be able to find a drop in set up reasonable from a shop doing a conversion. For example, recently, for $800, there was a complete running 1967 289 with C4 and driveshaft, with AC and power pulleys, brackets, hoses, etc.. that came out of a nice 1967 fastback that was being converted to an Eleanor.
 

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No rust wins every time except for stuff that us mere mortals couldn't afford anyway!
 

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On the V8 car, there is the rust you can see and then there is the rust you have not seen yet. One has to believe if there is that must visible rust, once you tear into it there will be more.
If what you really want is a V8 car, then that may be an option based upon your mechanical skills and tools. If you don't have the skills and tools, then someone else has to do the repairs, and that is another story.
If you don't have the skills, tools, or budget to restore the V8, then as most have said already, buy the 6. You will quickly have a driver and then you can decide if you want to take the 6 to the next level.
The car I bought was described as rust free, it wasn't. Not bad mind you, but the cowl did require replacement.
 

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350 at the wheels is a crazy amount of hp for a 55 year old car. You are basically looking to more than double the factory hp.

For that you need solid frame rails attached to a solid unibody. No rust, cracks, previous shoddy repairs or twisted/fatigued metal.

Thats why I like the 6 cyl cars. They have not been beat to hell like the V8 cars have been. On the other hand if you want the V8 car and have to replace the pans, you can do torque boxes and subframe connectors at the same time.

9k is to much money for a car that needs pans and cowl repair.

What do you gain with the V8 car? You will still do an engine and transmission + thousands in rust repair.

15k total budget minus 9k for the car leaves 6k to work with. Thats not going to get you anywhere. The 350hp engine with cooling, rear end and a transmission to handle the hp eats that 6k up in a heartbeat.
 
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Six banger, largely as im petrified of the rabbit role that is rust repair (an outlook you may want to also adopt buying a 55 year old car with modifying dreams on a budget) and tendency of those vehicles to have seen less abuse in their lives than their V8 counterparts.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Interesting mix of replies here. Surprised there aren't as many diehard V8 guys out there, or maybe this brought out the i6 people.

"There is the rust you see, and the rust you don't" is what scares me most about any rust. But I'm in the Northeast, so "rust you don't" seems like a guarantee even on a clean car.
 

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Interesting mix of replies here. Surprised there aren't as many diehard V8 guys out there, or maybe this brought out the i6 people.

"There is the rust you see, and the rust you don't" is what scares me most about any rust. But I'm in the Northeast, so "rust you don't" seems like a guarantee even on a clean car.
I doubt any of the ones saying the rust free 6 is the way to go are indicating you should keep the six. They are still mostly die hard v8 guys, but we know just how much work, time and money rust repair is. Depending on your level of ability swapping to a v8 can be done relatively cheaply and quickly in comparison to rust repair.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I doubt any of the ones saying the rust free 6 is the way to go are indicating you should keep the six. They are still mostly die hard v8 guys, but we know just how much work, time and money rust repair is. Depending on your level of ability swapping to a v8 can be done relatively cheaply and quickly in comparison to rust repair.
That's interesting. I'm having trouble pricing a V8 swap cheaply. Most estimates put me at like $8k all in, but that's all new components (crate engine, trans, axle/diff, accessories). Can't find too much used stuff on the cheap, but haven't gone to a junkyard or anything.
 

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If you are not a "rust" guy with experience, you have absolutely no idea what a rabbit hole you are headed down - punt - seriously, punt!!! Personally, I would buy any Mustang without rust in a heartbeat, just the cowl alone will... ugh! I've been building cars for as many decades that can fit on one hand and I won't touch a seriously rusty Mustang. Its a quality of life thing. There are better ways to spend your days and money. For some people who like a big challenge - its your life, get a tetanus shot!

Buy the 6, but first pour a gallon of water down the cowel under the windshield first and make sure it doesn't show up on the carpet. Its the Mustang secret rust out place. Next, find a cheap V8 beater with disk brakes and do the swap. if the 6 cylinder moto is good, make sure you put it up for sale or donate where folks that need one can find it e.g. classifieds here. Lots of folks running low on bucks are trying to keep 6s alive or revived, don't just junk or scrap it. Start a build thread here and make sure you let folks know you have it and its available.
 

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Rust is like an iceberg, cars typically don't rust from the outside in, oh no, it comes from the inside out. Yea, Patina is cool, and you can get heavy pitting on outer panels, but if there's holes, that come from the backside of the panel rotting away, which means there's a WHOLE LOT MORE you can't see.

I'm older and know better. I will never buy another rusty car. I don't care what the initial cost is or what motor is has. When it comes to engines I typically assume the seller is blowing smoke and the motor is crap anyway, so I'd V8 swap it and 5 speed it. So I don't care what trans it has.

Suspension? Again, a plus if you buy a new project car and you can drive it, but I always end up rebuilding/upgrading the suspension/brakes.

So in the end... I would have upgraded the same stuff on the V8 car anyway, but I'm also not dealing with rust.

Value... eh... yea, that VIN can drop the selling price, but I don't build cars to sell.
 
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Dimples
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Personally, I was reading this as a hypothetical, especially since my garage is currently occupied by two V8/plot pan cowl rust 66’s.

Obviously, any rust needs to be investigated and solid is always preferable to rusty, but if the V8 car truly is solid aside from cowl and pan rust, I stand by my position. A V8 swap is neither cheap nor easy, and when it’s all done you’re still stuck with a T code VIN which will effect resale in most cases.
 

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I'll give my perspective..
I buy the car that is what I 'want'...rust be damned.
What do I mean? I do enjoy some original pedigree...a car that has some or most of what it was born with. I always would view a rust free T code with a 302-T5 as a red headed step child..LOL.
I look at these cars as 'what is this one going to teach me?"
Such as the 67 hardtop S code with a 390 4 speed/tach and cool color combo...but it needs floors etc...Get the tools/learn the work have a try and do it your self.
If I don't have blood/sweat skin in the game on a car...I lose interest.
 
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