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Discussion Starter #1
I've taken a first step and narrowed my project towards a 66 or 69. I'd also consider 67 and 68, but with the mods I'd like to make, unless a deal comes along, they are out of reach at the moment.
Been looking for about 6 months to field the market but I'm not ready to buy till early next year. There's obviously a lot more 66 convertibles than the 69s, but the prices are comparable. I like the 69 interiors a little bit more but not enough to dismiss the 66s.

So I'm looking for some buying tips, I'm sure I'll get all types of suggestions, but shoot them my way, willing to learn. I'm not particular on the exact car, just I'm hoping the search won't take too long. Simply looking for a good driver with no rust in Good to Very Good condition as classified by Hagerty. What are the areas I should inspect closest? Hagerty puts a car in this condition at about $20K, is that about right?
 

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The problem is your talking about 50+ year old cars. That's a seriously long time, ask me how I know! We tend to look at these cars like I did 40 years ago as a 10 year old car. They're not. So supply is limited.

So look at what you can do vs what you can't and pick the best candidate. You'll know the right car when it comes along.
 

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If you are looking at solid convertibles, you are more than likely going to have to bump your number a little, but there are deals out there. Are you looking for a 6 or 8 cylinder? Automatic or manual? Are you looking to do any restoration or customization work yourself or does the car need to be suitable as is? For convertibles, I would be sure to check the floor pans, inner, and out rocker panels as rust repair work can get pricey. It's good that you are taking your time and doing your research. Best of luck with your search.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The problem is your talking about 50+ year old cars. That's a seriously long time, ask me how I know! We tend to look at these cars like I did 40 years ago as a 10 year old car. They're not. So supply is limited.

So look at what you can do vs what you can't and pick the best candidate. You'll know the right car when it comes along.
Ideally I'll find one where someone spent the time to do it right and I'll just need to enjoy it. Not looking for a years long garage queen, but it would be great if someone did all the steering/suspension and brake work and all I needed to do was pick an engine. I'm looking at sleeper 6 cylinders for that reason.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
If you are looking at solid convertibles, you are more than likely going to have to bump your number a little, but there are deals out there. Are you looking for a 6 or 8 cylinder? Automatic or manual? Are you looking to do any restoration or customization work yourself or does the car need to be suitable as is? For convertibles, I would be sure to check the floor pans, inner, and out rocker panels as rust repair work can get pricey. It's good that you are taking your time and doing your research. Best of luck with your search.
I'd like to have it eventually fuel injected with something like a Windsor and Sniper combo, but someone here mentioned using an Explorer engine as an option. I've heard 6 cylinders are good for these types of projects as they are cheaper and often overlooked gems. Like to have an OD auto trans as well. But it's a good chance I'll be driving the 6 for a few years while I get the rest of the car sorted out. Do you think working on the engine last is better than doing the underside parts?
 

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I think, do not rush into any mods. Do the research, decide what you want to do with your Mustang. Will it be an improved "stocker", modified, street cruiser/show etc. Then, begin to collect data supporting your intended usage. Save the engine until the last 6 mos. ...IMHO.
 

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Couple things I always tell buyers:
1) Don't worry about the year as much as finding the right car. Be open to all years 66-70 and with convertibles, I think the 71-73 convertibles are very cool - quite Shelbyesque, (I'm not a fan of the hardtops) and you can save some big coin. I went looking for a 69 but found a 66 California car - It was lust at first sight, being open gives a 4X enlargement of the market...
2) RUst Rust RUst, you simply must do the homework to learn where these cars rust and do a thorough inspection on each and every car. bring a magnet or better yet, someone knowledgable Everything else is bolt on bolt off, rust is expensive hard labor...
3) If you want a modified car, buy a modified car, its the cheapest way to own one and there are a to of them out there. Mods are expensive (usually)
4) The cheapest way to get a car painted is to buy a painted car. Paint is hella expensive and will consume no less than a year of pain and suffering trying to get the body shop to get around to it. THey will start it quick so you can't take it to someone else, then it will sit till a day when they have no work. IT ALWAYS HAPPENS!!!
5) The cheapest way to get nice chrome on a car is to buy a car...
6) Every car you look at, become Indiana Jones but rather than seeking the holy grail, your trying to avoid the snakes. Its your job to dive into this archeological dig and find the repairs, not just what it needs. I autocross with a paint guy that had an amazing 66 ElCamino - perfect paint. Then came the bubbles in the rear fender, someone had welded an entire rear quarter over the rusty original and he spent a year. Get the car on a lift! The underside is more than half the story and an awful place to work!
7) Make a list of everything a car of interest needs then spend an evening in the catalogs and add up your dream, that number is no less than half of what the car will cost you...
8) Look at lots of cars before you are ready to buy, get good at assessing, pay attention to wiring - evidence of previous owners in wiring means a lot of troubleshooting.
9) Finally, look for a car that makes your heart sing, it will happen quick - I didn't even get 3/4 the way around my car before I knew it was coming home with me. WHEN THAT HAPPENS, YOU ARE THE ABSOLUTELY LAST GUY POSITIONED TO MAKE AN INTELLIGENT DECISION. Have the car inspected by someone knowledgeable that can play Indiana Jones. My autocross buddy inspected my car for me while I dreamed away and pretended that I was on the fence inspecting the car.

Good luck
 

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When costing add 20-30% for all the little things you will find you need as well. The danger here is to buy a 'good looking' car that still needs everything. Plenty of pretty paint hiding fresh out of the woods specimens. Look for the big things already done like suspension and steering, nicer drive train with an OD transmission and disc brakes if you want to enjoy it now. These are costly things to do afterward.
Don't buy on emotion. This is how the scammers get you. Lots of people are upside down in their 'projects' and are trying to pass the savings on to you. Avoid the deadly leaking cowl unless you really want to tear the front end off. With convertibles inspect the top well - as in the place the top goes when retracted. Floor boards and rockers need to be tight. And the panel underneath that ties the pan reinforcements together. Lots of specific convertible parts like header chrome on the windshield, visor brackets, interior rear quarter trim. Make sure it is all there and in good condition. The 69 convertibles come up from time to time in solid condition. Just recently one came up that had been sitting for 20 years that looked really good but needed to be gone through and paint. The price reflected that. I almost picked it up.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
When costing add 20-30% for all the little things you will find you need as well. The danger here is to buy a 'good looking' car that still needs everything. Plenty of pretty paint hiding fresh out of the woods specimens. Look for the big things already done like suspension and steering, nicer drive train with an OD transmission and disc brakes if you want to enjoy it now. These are costly things to do afterward.
Don't buy on emotion. This is how the scammers get you. Lots of people are upside down in their 'projects' and are trying to pass the savings on to you. Avoid the deadly leaking cowl unless you really want to tear the front end off. With convertibles inspect the top well - as in the place the top goes when retracted. Floor boards and rockers need to be tight. And the panel underneath that ties the pan reinforcements together. Lots of specific convertible parts like header chrome on the windshield, visor brackets, interior rear quarter trim. Make sure it is all there and in good condition. The 69 convertibles come up from time to time in solid condition. Just recently one came up that had been sitting for 20 years that looked really good but needed to be gone through and paint. The price reflected that. I almost picked it up.
thanks, can you explain better what is a "leaking cowl"?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Couple things I always tell buyers:
1) Don't worry about the year as much as finding the right car. Be open to all years 66-70 and with convertibles, I think the 71-73 convertibles are very cool - quite Shelbyesque, (I'm not a fan of the hardtops) and you can save some big coin. I went looking for a 69 but found a 66 California car - It was lust at first sight, being open gives a 4X enlargement of the market...
2) RUst Rust RUst, you simply must do the homework to learn where these cars rust and do a thorough inspection on each and every car. bring a magnet or better yet, someone knowledgable Everything else is bolt on bolt off, rust is expensive hard labor...
3) If you want a modified car, buy a modified car, its the cheapest way to own one and there are a to of them out there. Mods are expensive (usually)
4) The cheapest way to get a car painted is to buy a painted car. Paint is hella expensive and will consume no less than a year of pain and suffering trying to get the body shop to get around to it. THey will start it quick so you can't take it to someone else, then it will sit till a day when they have no work. IT ALWAYS HAPPENS!!!
5) The cheapest way to get nice chrome on a car is to buy a car...
6) Every car you look at, become Indiana Jones but rather than seeking the holy grail, your trying to avoid the snakes. Its your job to dive into this archeological dig and find the repairs, not just what it needs. I autocross with a paint guy that had an amazing 66 ElCamino - perfect paint. Then came the bubbles in the rear fender, someone had welded an entire rear quarter over the rusty original and he spent a year. Get the car on a lift! The underside is more than half the story and an awful place to work!
7) Make a list of everything a car of interest needs then spend an evening in the catalogs and add up your dream, that number is no less than half of what the car will cost you...
8) Look at lots of cars before you are ready to buy, get good at assessing, pay attention to wiring - evidence of previous owners in wiring means a lot of troubleshooting.
9) Finally, look for a car that makes your heart sing, it will happen quick - I didn't even get 3/4 the way around my car before I knew it was coming home with me. WHEN THAT HAPPENS, YOU ARE THE ABSOLUTELY LAST GUY POSITIONED TO MAKE AN INTELLIGENT DECISION. Have the car inspected by someone knowledgeable that can play Indiana Jones. My autocross buddy inspected my car for me while I dreamed away and pretended that I was on the fence inspecting the car.

Good luck
My first choice is to find a cherry with a 6 cylinder which had all the hard parts worked out such as the suspension and steering. I can deal with the 6 for bit till the upgrade urge builds. My friend had a 65 in HS in the late 80s, and even then the car was frightful daily drive. Most importantly I'd like the car to drive more like a modern car. Which parts of the mustangs would be the best upgrades to drive better? I've seen people put Mustang2 frontend on and new rack & pinions
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I think, do not rush into any mods. Do the research, decide what you want to do with your Mustang. Will it be an improved "stocker", modified, street cruiser/show etc. Then, begin to collect data supporting your intended usage. Save the engine until the last 6 mos. ...IMHO.
thanks, I'm even fine with a 66 six cylinder for that reason, can you sniper a straight six?, lol
 

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thanks, can you explain better what is a "leaking cowl"?
These cars are notorious for rusting around the cowl vent area, just in front of the windshield and when they do, water leaks into the interior of the car, rusting the floor and causing all sorts of havoc. A good test is to dump some water down the cowl vent and see that the water ends up on the ground under the car, and not inside.
Good luck with your search! The only thing I would add is to seriously question yourself as to how handy you are. Anything you can do yourself is something you don't have to pay someone else to do.
 

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My first choice is to find a cherry with a 6 cylinder which had all the hard parts worked out such as the suspension and steering. I can deal with the 6 for bit till the upgrade urge builds. My friend had a 65 in HS in the late 80s, and even then the car was frightful daily drive. Most importantly I'd like the car to drive more like a modern car. Which parts of the mustangs would be the best upgrades to drive better? I've seen people put Mustang2 frontend on and new rack & pinions
Also with these cars, changing from a 6 to an 8 cyl isn't as simple as dropping a new engine in. They v8 have different requirements for the front end and almost everything in the suspension has to be upgraded to handle the v8. If you really want a v8 car, the cheapest way to do it is to buy one from the beginning. Check the VIN for the original engine code.
 

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I wasn't looking for a convertible so my picks were significantly easier. But if rust free is what you are going after don't worry about the mechanical. 20k is unlikely to get you a perfect car for a vert....couple you could get much closer. You have to build it if you can't pay the big bucks for that perfect car. This is what I had to do. Engine, mechanical suspension those can always be rebuilt and swapped. Body work is the hardest and most expensive thing to do on these cars.

Make sure you check not only Hemmings and Cars.com but also don't forget local listings and craigslist! I saw many off of Hemmings and drove up to 500 miles + to look at good ones, but then found the deal of the decade on CL just south of me 2 hrs away. Sometimes you get lucky like that especially if you're getting it from an inheritance or a retiree parting ways. Take your time to search! Don't be afraid to find two good ones and make the owners compete for over you. That's exactly what I did. Those guys often don't advertise on big sites.
 

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Buy as complete and close to your finished goal as possible.

There are so many unseen nickles and dimes that its unreal. Unless you do all the work yourself you will never get back the money you put into it.

Price your whole build, then triple it, that's what it will cost to do.

I personally love working on old cars, I like painting them myself, building it all myself. It can take years to do. If you dont enjoy that, dont buy a project. Old cars have to worked on when they deem fit, not when its convenient for you. If you dont work on it yourself it becomes a huge money pit that pops up at random.

Finding the right one can take time. But holding off for the right deal will save a lot of headaches later. Dont shop alone, bring someone who's job it is to talk you out if buying it and find all the problems. The excitement of owning one can give the seller a lot of leverage, it also makes you look past things you know are an issue.

One suggestion that's a huge help on a truck forum I use that I'm sure would work here is to post a bunch of pictures of something you're looking to buy. Then you have a bunch of experts who can see something that is only noticable with experience. You would be amazed at some of the things they can catch.

Then it's not just your opinion of the car nor are you hastefully buying it off emotion.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I wasn't looking for a convertible so my picks were significantly easier. But if rust free is what you are going after don't worry about the mechanical. 20k is unlikely to get you a perfect car for a vert....couple you could get much closer. You have to build it if you can't pay the big bucks for that perfect car. This is what I had to do. Engine, mechanical suspension those can always be rebuilt and swapped. Body work is the hardest and most expensive thing to do on these cars.

Make sure you check not only Hemmings and Cars.com but also don't forget local listings and craigslist! I saw many off of Hemmings and drove up to 500 miles + to look at good ones, but then found the deal of the decade on CL just south of me 2 hrs away. Sometimes you get lucky like that especially if you're getting it from an inheritance or a retiree parting ways. Take your time to search! Don't be afraid to find two good ones and make the owners compete for over you. That's exactly what I did. Those guys often don't advertise on big sites.
thanks, so what did you end up getting?
A friend of mine who is restoring his 68 GT fastback at the moment tried to convince me to get a fastback as well for collectability, but older convertibles have such a sweet look to them
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Also with these cars, changing from a 6 to an 8 cyl isn't as simple as dropping a new engine in. They v8 have different requirements for the front end and almost everything in the suspension has to be upgraded to handle the v8. If you really want a v8 car, the cheapest way to do it is to buy one from the beginning. Check the VIN for the original engine code.
thanks MrE, could I upgrade the suspension, steering and brakes independent of the motor upgrade from a 6 to 8? Due to funds, this will likely be a 2-3 part project. Thinking from the underside, then engine/trans and last interior and body. I'm sure there's lost extra to consider, for each phase, but I'm exhausting my car knowledge, lol
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Buy as complete and close to your finished goal as possible.

There are so many unseen nickles and dimes that its unreal. Unless you do all the work yourself you will never get back the money you put into it.

Price your whole build, then triple it, that's what it will cost to do.

I personally love working on old cars, I like painting them myself, building it all myself. It can take years to do. If you dont enjoy that, dont buy a project. Old cars have to worked on when they deem fit, not when its convenient for you. If you dont work on it yourself it becomes a huge money pit that pops up at random.

Finding the right one can take time. But holding off for the right deal will save a lot of headaches later. Dont shop alone, bring someone who's job it is to talk you out if buying it and find all the problems. The excitement of owning one can give the seller a lot of leverage, it also makes you look past things you know are an issue.

One suggestion that's a huge help on a truck forum I use that I'm sure would work here is to post a bunch of pictures of something you're looking to buy. Then you have a bunch of experts who can see something that is only noticable with experience. You would be amazed at some of the things they can catch.

Then it's not just your opinion of the car nor are you hastefully buying it off emotion.
That's my ideal path, but I'm not even sure what things cost in parts and labor. I'm will to try some bolt on upgrades, but will mostly leave it to a pro-mech.
So if folks here can help me out with my balance sheet or point me to one (I'm sure someone here must have shared their budget tables)
Three things as I've mentioned I'd like to do first, assuming the car is in good running condition.
1) brakes - Wilwood seems to be a popular choice, want 4 power disc all around
2) suspension - I've seen the CJPony full kits, they seem like a good option to avoid shopping around go the right parts
3) steering - the some kits have everything together, though it's not really a bolt on from the quick video they have. But thinking rack & pinion and power steering is a must.

Throwing out some number but feel free to shoot them down. Also if you can provide labor and other costs I haven't factored in.
Brakes (Wilwood: calipers, discs, master cylinder, lines) $2500 parts
Suspension (Ridetech Streetgrip kit) $2500 parts
Steering (Flaming River rack & pinion kit with power steering kit) $2500 parts
oddly each kit is roughly 2500 and with simple math is $7500 in parts alone, so what other incidental costs have I forgotten? labor costs? If this phase is going to cost north of 15K, I'm going back to looking at C3 corvettes....
 

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Well, there's a lot of different ways you can cut this, really. As others have said, the problem with a 6 is that they have weaker suspension, rear ends, etc. that also must be swapped out when you go to an 8. So while the sixes are frequently less molested, and are frequently much cheaper, you end up paying for it in the end anyways.

In terms of financial value, here's a list of things that are generally the most expensive to repair/upgrade to the least expensive, and their rough costs:
1) Paint (usually $6,000-20,000)
2) Body (anywhere from $500 to $8,000, depending on condition of car)
3) Full suspension overhaul (as in, entirely new rear end, entirely new front end, as you would do to convert a 6 to an 8) (~$2000)
4) Brakes ($2000-3000)
5) Interior ($1000-2000)
6) Engine ($1000-3000 for a full rebuild if you include the Sniper EFI)
7) Basic suspension rebuild ($1000-1500)
8) Transmission (~$1000)

Those are just ballpark numbers intended to give you an idea of the scale that you're working on - actual numbers can very pretty widely based on what parts you want installed and where you're located. For example, paint is significantly more expensive in California than it is in, say, Alabama.

As you can see, paint and body are the most critical things to look for in a car if you're trying to save yourself money in the long run. A $20k vert that has perfect paint but no motor will be much cheaper, long-term, than a $20k vert that has most of the mechanical work done but has rust issues and no paint. The 20k vert with good paint but no motor will take another few thousand to finish, while the 20k vert with a motor but no body/paint will take another 10-20k.

HOWEVER, it is far more convenient to buy a fully assembled running/driving project when you are a new restorer planning on doing a "rolling restoration". When you are new to restoration, it is hard to assemble parts without some previous reference to know where they went to begin with. It is also significantly harder to figure out when you've done something wrong when you have no starting reference as well (take this from me - I know!). It's a lot easier to have a good mechanically sound starting point and add onto / upgrade it from there.

But, the final thing to consider is that you are looking for the "right car". To some degree, you need to think about what you want out of the project, regardless of what we are telling you is the best choice. For my first project, I wanted something running and driving that I could take apart and upgrade bit by bit. I found a few cars that were nicer in the paint category that were not nearly as interesting to me because they didn't have the right drivetrain options or the right interior or the right... pizzazz, I guess. I don't know, there was something that I was looking for and I knew I would know it when I found it. And I did. For some people, it just works that way.
 

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Throwing out some number but feel free to shoot them down. Also if you can provide labor and other costs I haven't factored in.
Brakes (Wilwood: calipers, discs, master cylinder, lines) $2500 parts
Suspension (Ridetech Streetgrip kit) $2500 parts
Steering (Flaming River rack & pinion kit with power steering kit) $2500 parts
oddly each kit is roughly 2500 and with simple math is $7500 in parts alone, so what other incidental costs have I forgotten? labor costs? If this phase is going to cost north of 15K, I'm going back to looking at C3 corvettes....
Yes, the labor will eat you for lunch on each of those systems. Brakes are not too bad if you are just swapping out rotors and calipers for different ones, but a drum to disc conversion takes more time and thus, more labor. Ridetech suspension is very nice but far from an easy install and you will pay out the nose for it. Similarly, that Rod and Custom kit will take a lot of work to put it into your car. You have to factor in that a significant amount of disassembly and cutting is required even to prep the car for installation, and after that there's a lot of welding and such to deal with.
 
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