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Father/Son 66 Coupe Restomod

18418 Views 71 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  rbtconsultants
My son is 15 and he really wanted a vintage mustang as his first car. I didn't want to deal with a rust bucket, but I didn't want to buy a "finished" runner either. I wanted something he and I could restomod and make it look vintage while having it modern under the skin. I wanted him to have something safe and reliable, with some of the creature comforts his friends cars have, while still having it be a muscle car that would stand out above his friends tweakers and beemers.

So, we looked around a bit, and found this on craigslist for $2500. We started on it November, and we've made quite a bit of progress. I've been taking pics all along the way, and he's been bugging me to blog it somewhere, and this forum has been my favorite resource, so I decided to blog it here.

In coming posts, I'll add the pics of our progress. The metal in the front and interior was pretty much replaced when we bought it, so good floors, new toe pans, firewall, cowl, aprons, shock towers, fenders. As I'll show upcoming, there was rust in the trunk/quarters/framerails but we have since dealt with that.

One thing I liked was that it was partially disassembled, interior was out and engine was out so a lot of that hassle was already done.

So, more to come, but for now, here are the original Craigslist photos.

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As promised, next installment. There was a bunch of rust in the rear trunk area, so we bought a welder (Eastwood 135) and the whole setup (gas, cart, helmet, gloves, etc. etc.) and went to town. I did some stick welding a million years ago in high school, and my son has never welded, so off we went. Learned as we went, blew some holes, welded some ugly welds, got better at it (my son is now much better than me).

Here is the rust when we started:

So, we decided to replace and section of the rear frame rails, the trunk floors, rear trunk support, quarter on one side, and the lower rear quarter on the other.

Here's what we saw when we cut the Driver's quarter off:

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So, we went to town, and started drilling out spot welds and cutting out metal. We tried a couple different spot weld cutters, and honestly the ones with the teeth did not work at all. We ended up getting a bit:

Type 187 DN Cobalt TiN Spot Weld Drill Bit |

and sectioned/repaired the frame rails first. We cut out out and welded in one frame rail section at a time, and measured to fit to the other frame rail:

Once the frame rails were installed, we plug welded in the new trunk floors/dropoffs and cross bar and test fit the fuel tank (this is where we really started to learn how to weld, as a result of trying to fix my burn-throughs :) ) :

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Ahhh, I remember those days with my son!
It will be something he will remember forever
Put together a build log or blog to document all your work and for him to look back on later. The forum is good but it will get very cluttered
Take a look at ours. There maybe some info you can use or ideas for your car.
Ron - you have literally been my role model for this project. I have read every word on your site many times. I have stolen most of your ideas, because your model of safety, reliability and quality with a reasonable budget is exactly my desired approach. You'll see how much we stole from you as I blog more :) I agree that a dedicated documentation site is best, and I'll get there at some point.

We thought we might need to replace the taillight panel, but we REALLY didn't want to because of fitment and all the finesse required. So, we compromised, and bought a taillight panel and just sectioned a piece to resolve the rust issues and welded it in. My first butt welding, I got better as I went along. I figure we can grind it and it will be covered with the bumper :)

As for the quarters and wheel wells, on the driver side, we welded in a new outer wheel well:

As you can see from the above pic, what we did for the quarter was cut it out, using tape to mark a 1" flange of sheet metal around the perimeter. After the wheel well was in, we used a Quarter Skin and used Panel Bonding Adhesive (Lord Fuzor) to attach it, (after cutting off the perimeter of the skin so it fit perfect as an overlay) and self tapping sheet metal screws to hold it while it cured. There is a thread in this forum I used to provide direction. It was glued all around the perimeter, including the wheel well to quarter bond, and welded at the trunk floor dropoff. Here's the result:

On the passenger side we sectioned the wheel well and quarter in the lower back and put patches in. Welded in the wheel well section patch. Glued the quarter patch panel flange to the inside of the quarter, and welded it to the trunk dropoff. I don't have a pic of the wheel well patch, but here's pics of the quarter patch:

We'll grind that overlap smooth and use a tiny bit of filler and you'll never see it. On the inside of the trunk, we'll use some seam sealer and bedliner and you'll never see it.

More to come.
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I'm not getting much feedback here, but I'll move ahead with the next installment.

While we were welding in all new metal around the trunk, we obviously had to drop the leaf springs. These were a huge pain, as documented elsewhere on the web. Ultimately, to get the front bolts out, I discovered the simplest way is to cut the leaf spring as close as possible to the bolt, using a grinder with a cut off wheel. I have a 4 1/2" inch grinder. Once the leaf spring is cut, I was able to fit my grinder with a 7" cut off wheel, in between the spring and the bracket and cut the bolt through without injuring the permanent parts of the car.

Trying to turn bolts with an impact wrench, pound them out, cut off the heads, use a sawzall, etc. is useless. After I went to the 7" cut off wheel, it took 5 minutes per side. So, if you are replacing the springs, just cut them off.

Once we cut them off we mounted new 4 leaf standard-eye hi performance springs I got off Craigslist for $75.

We picked up a 9" small-bearing rear from a 57 ford for $200. Ultimately used nothing but the housing as the brakes and axles were really junk, and the diff was 3:10 open.

It is the same width as a 66 mustang, and the spring perches are the same. Since it is the same width, we used the 28-spline axles from the 66 (I didn't like the looks of the axles/hubs on the 57) and took the axles and housing up to Glazier-Nolan Mustang Barn to have new bearings and seals installed. They were a HUGE help since we had to do some research to figure out exactly what seals to put in. The bearings were standard small-bearing bearings.

We picked up a 3:70 Trac-lok rear at Carlisle and mounted it in the housing.

We bought a rear disc conversion ($300) from EBAY that included rear calipers (from an 85 Cadillac with e-brake), rotors (from a 79 trans-am), cables, mounting hardware and custom brackets. It was for a small-bearing ford axle and it was a simple bolt-on. Here's the bracket mounted:

Here's how the disc looks inside the wheel (note these are 2004 Bullit rims, so there is a 1" adapter/spacer required to make the wheels fit. 17" wheels have no problem clearing the 11" rotors and calipers.

Here's our new rear (coated with POR15) mounted. Had to use new u-bolts and the spring pads from the 57 ford to fit the bigger axle-housing diameter. :

This is the first time in about 5 months the car was back on the ground, since we originally put it up on stands and cut the rear leafs off so we could cut out the rear framerails. I'm not quite sure what my son was trying to accomplish here:

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Thank you - Oh, we have needed lots of help. The best part of this forum is that I have read and read and read, and searched, and I haven't really found any question I needed to ask that I couldn't find an answer for already. So, we've gotten lots of help from everyone here. :)

If anyone has any comments on our work, good or bad, I welcome them. I'm an old motorhead, my cars back in high school were a 64 galaxie with a 289 and a 69 cougar with a 302. I like to think I'm competent, but there's a lot I don't know so anyone who has advice, please feel free. If anyone has questions on how we did something, also please feel free.
So, after the trunk metal rough work was done and the new rear was in, we turned our attention to the front. We intend to do the Shelby/Arning drop, and assess the state of the front end suspension and steering components. But first, brakes for the front.

These are 13.2 inch brakes from a 2012 mustang. Roush sells the complete set of rotors, pads and calipers (new mustang take-offs) on EBAY. I picked them up for $150. I paid $200 to MustangSteve to get brackets for mounting them up to 66 Mustang stock manual steering spindles.

The 13.2 " rotors are BIG. I used 1" spacer/adapters with my 17" 2004 Bullitt wheels to make them fit in the wheel wells properly, and I doubt the wheels would clear the calipers without the spacers, since the inside diameter of the wheel gets narrower as you go in towards the hub.

Here's the disc installed with spacer on the hub:

Here's the disc inside the wheel:

Here's the car down on it's 4 new wheels for the first time:

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Fiddling with the engine now. The PO we bought it from never had the engine in it. He claims the guy he bought it from said the motor was "rebuilt stock" and had a "mild cam" in it. It does have a Pertronix ignition in the dizzy. The big issue I had was that the 2 barrel stock cast iron intake manifold had rust in it and the motor was stuck, and there was a bit of water in the oil pan. It looked like it was left out in the rain and some water got in it. It looks like water got into #1 cylinder and rusted the rings. All the plugs were in great shape except #1 which had some rust on it. We needed some Mystery Oil in the spark plug holes a breaker bar and some elbow grease to break the engine free.

I am not inclined at this point to tear the engine down. Too much else to do. We tried to do leak down and compression tests at that point, but since the motor hadn't been run for a while, I didn't get useful readings. So, we decided to at least turn it over make sure it fired before we put it in the car. So, we changed the oil and filter and gave it a go. This may seem a bit crazy but here is what we did:

After that we did some compression readings and things looked good except for #1, which was lower. (IIRC, all cylinders were 150-160 except #1 which was around 100). I put some oil in the #1 cylinder and it went up to 160, so I am hoping it's just a stuck ring and when we get it running it will work itself out. Maybe wishful thinking but if it proves to be a long term issue we'll probably just build a 302 short block with some newer heads and swap at some point.

Anyway, after we did that, I ground/port matched the exhaust ports to the header gaskets (that was fun, came out good, I will get a couple pics and post 'em). Then we cleaned/painted the motor (He wanted Hemi orange on the motor, it's his car, so that's what we did :) ). We got the Edelbrock Performer manifold and Edelbrock 1406 4 barrel carb on it. We then dry fit it in the car, bolted it on the motor mounts and fired it up. Here's some pics of the motor in the car.

I wanted to see how things fit, particularly the Hydroboost brake booster and MC (from a 00 mustang). It's easy to slide the motor in and out with no radiator support :)

Next steps:
1. Pull the motor back out. We've got Tri-y Stainless headers for it, so I think we'll get it up on the cherry picker and dry fit the headers and see if we can slide the motor in with them on. If it fits we'll bolt them on permanently for the final engine reinstall. If no fit, we'll plan to bolt them on after the motor is back in.
2. paint the engine bay
3. finish the brake lines
4. install the borgeson power steering box
5. Install the clutch and attach the T5 and slide the engine/tranny back in permanently
6. Hook up the hydraulic clutch linkage
7. get the driveshaft in and drive it around the block :)

More to come as we move ahead with all that. I'll post pics and progress. Hope you're enjoying our little project. I know the time spent with my son is priceless to me.

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So, it's been a while and we have gotten a fair amount done over the last few months when weather permits, so I thought I'd post progress. We pulled the motor back out, and then decided to redo the front suspension before we put it back.

We used a CPP Mini Subframe kit with A arm LCA's, Open Tracker standard UCAs and roller spring perches, KYB Gas Adjust shocks, Progressive rate springs, and of course, the shelby/arning drop. We also put a one piece chrome heavy duty export brace and some billet shock tower caps on (for bling :p ) Also, a one-inch sway bar, don't have pics of that yet.

I have some minor concerns about the CPP ball joints on the LCAs. They don't quite fit the taper of the Mustang spindle, and CPP supplies a spacer to be installed on top of the ball joint/spindle mounting point to raise the castle nut up enough to catch the hole for the cotter pin. They seem pretty low to me, and the boot is very squished. I read about this various places, and contacted CPP directly, who assured me that it was "fine". I have researched and it seems like there is a different screw-in ball joint available that fits the mustang spindle better (that TCP apparently uses) and maybe I'll switch them over if they bind. Seems like CPP should just switch the ball joints to correct all the concerns and be done with it.

Also, the CPP LCAs have no steering stops. I contacted them about that and they said the internal stops in the steering box are all I need. I can go stop to stop without rubbing the tires on anything, so I think I'm not concerned about that but we haven't driven it yet, so we'll see.

We haven't aligned it yet, so I cannot comment on how well the caster adjustment works on the CPP control arms, but we'll find out in the spring.

I don't have a lot of great pics of the suspension, but here's what I got. In the first pic you can really see how the ball joints are positioned. It looks close to binding but the suspension is fully extended at this point, and still doesn't bind, so CPP claims it will be fine. Again, we'll see.

Here you can see how the mini subframe replaces the strut rod mounts:

Here's a pic of how it goes on underneath. It bolts on, I have it clamped for dry fit in this pic:

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So, after the front suspension mods, the engine goes back in for good. First tidied up and painted the engine bay.

Then slid in the engine, with transmission and headers, and bolted it in. Fit nicely with the new T5 crossmember, enough clearance on the shock towers.

Here we are giving it a quick start once installed, just to make sure everything was OK so far.

And, here it is after we got the compressor, alt, power steering pump and all the pulleys and belts on. You can see the sway bar in this pic.:

here's a test fit of the old school Hurst shifter on the T5:

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Nice work. Only comment I have is regarding the new LCA's and what would seem to be a lack of steering stops, now that the strut rods are gone. These are relatively important to prevent running the steering box too far, unless it has internal stops.
Thanks. According to cpp, the borgeson steering box has internal stops. I have it in writing from them this is not a problem. The wheels hit stops before the tires hit anything like the frame or suspension. It seems to be 4 (maybe 3 1/2, I'll have to check) turns stop to stop.

However, you got me to thinking more about it so I just emailed borgeson to get their blessing. I'll report back when I hear.

Just to close the loop, Borgeson confirmed for me that external stops are not necessary, and the internal stops can be relied on without damage concern.

Now that the engine is in, we back to moving towards our goal of "Stop, Go, Steer". Started with steering. Since we had new suspension in the front, we also put new tie rods on, and added a Borgeson Power Steering box. To do that, we needed to cut down the steering column, and use a new, short Borgeson shaft, along with a Borgeson Rag Joint. We also added a lower column bearing setup from Mustang Steve to keep things stable and tight and smooth.

Here's a couple pics. You can see the hydroboost and Hydraulic clutch master being dry fitted in these, but we'll get more detail on them later:

Oh, here's a pic showing that the Borgeson box didn't exactly center itself in the firewall hole. This was not an issue with the firewall hole, but it caused me to have to jigger a bit with the column bracket plate you see in this pic to get it to fit to the firewall after the column was hooked up to the steering box.

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A little more detail on the Hydraulic clutch and Hydroboost.

The hydraulic clutch is a slave setup from Daze. I originally used the master from Daze also, but I didn't like the plastic reservoir setup, so I replaced the master with this: It's got a 13/16 bore and 1.4" stroke, so plenty of fluid volume to operate the clutch slave. You can see it tucked in here under the hydroboost, braided steel line to the slave:

The Hydroboost and master cylinder were off of a 2000 mustang, picked up last summer at Carlisle. The hydroboost had its own challenges, and I fiddled with a few different scenarios to get it where I wanted it.

I originally cut down the bracket that was on the hydroboost and drilled it so it would be bolted in by the firewall bolts that hold the pedal support to the firewall. However, since it held the hyrdroboost at an upward angle, it didn't line up with the brake pedal pin. Some folks have moved it up on the firewall but I didn't, instead I got a flat bracket from Tallon hydraulics to mount it level.

Of course, now that it was level, it interfered with the Hydraulic clutch master. To resolve that, we rotated (clocked it) so that there was room for the clutch master. To do that, I had to grind the notch out of the Tallon bracket so it would rotate.

Then, with it rotated, the brake master was no longer level. To resolve that I decided to go with a remote brake reservoir. I got my hands on a Mercury Villager master and remote reservoir, but the master would have needed massaging to fit, so I decided to use the remote reservoir with the Mustang hydroboost master.

I was a bit concerned that the brake master might have clearance issues with the shock tower, but after fitting everything, it has a sold 1/2" of clearance without being tilted upward, so yeehah!

Ultimately, I decided I didn't like the villager plastic reservoir setup either, so I ordered some master cylinder remote billet reservoir nipples from Lodestone Billetworks. Then we ordered a billet CNC remote reservoir setup.

Here's some pics of the whole setup. Power steering hoses still aren't hooked up yet, and we're going to replace the black rubber remote reservoir lines with braided lines, but you get the idea. In this first pic, you can see the hydroboost setup, with the hydraulic clutch master, and the borgeson box, all tucked in to that small amount on real estate in the corner of the engine bay. Also, just lying there is the proportioning valve/distribution block for the brakes, which has since been installed along with all the brake lines, (but I need to get some pics of that):

Here's an overall look at the engine bay, with the remote reservoirs installed and plumbed temporarily with black rubber hoses:

And, here's a pic of the clutch and hydroboost pushrods poking through on the inside of the firewall, waiting for pedal installation:

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So, I need to get and post a few pics of the brake line setups in the engine bay and on the front discs, but here's a couple pics of the brakeline setup in the rear. We switched the rear distribution block/bracket to the one for dual exhaust, since we'll be going that way:

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The reservoirs are CNC. Here's the link: CNC, Inc. - Accessories

I bought them in October from autoplicity for around$150.

I like billet stuff :)

Thanks dieselman. What are the sleeve adapters? Are they different than the spacers they gave me for the castle nuts (I only have two of them because I only bought the lca's, the uca ball joints from open tracker fit the spindle fine). Are they like cones that fit over the ball joint taper to make it fit better? I don't see anything on their web site, do you have to call them? They didn't mention them when I called before to ask about the ball joint to spindle fitment. They charged you for adapters to make their product work correctly?

Thanks much,

So, I contacted CPP and they are sending the sleeves. I'll report back on the outcome.


So the sleeves arrived. They look exactly like the pic above. CPP did not charge me for them. Now we just have to wait out the polar vortex to install them. I'll take pics when we put them in.

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