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First time buyer/restoration advice

2776 Views 67 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  Caper50
I have always wanted a Ford mustang from either 66 or 68. I now have the opportunity to buy one! It's a C code V8 coupe from 1966. For the most part, it's rust-free with one or two (badly patched) rusty areas. At some point in the 70s, the owner swapped out the V8 for an inline 6. In 2021 the owner decided to restore the car and swap back a V8 but only got as far as to take out the Inline 6. I have an appointment to check it out on Tuesday. The price is approx half of what running coupes go for here. He has a few V8 engines that he is willing to sell for anywhere from 500$ to 3000$.
A few more things about the car: Steering wheel, wheels, and front seats are ugly-looking aftermarket parts. In the pictures, it looked like there were one or two dents. The headlight buckets are either not fully screwed in or the fitment is just terrible because there are huge panel gaps. The car used to be burgundy red but was repainted with candy apple a while back. The paint job looks ok. Breaks, transmission (automatic), electronics, and suspension all are in good shape and have original V8 parts according to the seller. The Interior is in a state where I would be ok with not touching it but obviously not showroom quality.
My questions:
  1. Am I in over my head swapping the V8 back in? I have some experience working with older fords (Ford Taunus 1965) but am not a mechanic. I have access to most tools, friends willing to help as well as a car lift.
  2. Is there anything mustang specific I should pay attention to when checking it out? (Things that will end up costing me a lot of money/time to fix etc)
  3. Any other advice is also appreciated!
EDIT: A little bit of extra info
VIN: 6T07C158163
Asking price: 10990€ (In Germany this is a great price for a mustang. Driving cars go for around 20k)
I am really not trying to restore to showroom quality and am ok with subpar results as long as it drives and looks good from 6ft away!
It comes with papers.

A small update:
The seller never answered my questions because "i don't have time to answer so many questions".
I then asked him if there was any wiggle room on the price or not (I had no intention of paying 10990 but never got as far as to tell him). He decided to insult me because "i never discuss prices over the phone, you don't call the bakery and ask to negotiate the price of bread". Then he said he finally looked at my questions in the email and who I think I am to ask them and what am I expecting from his car. Following that conversation I of course informed him I won't be coming to check out the car.

All in all I am so happy I came here first and thank you all for your help. I really dodged a bullet imo.
I guess he was hoping he could sell the car to some unknowing idiot (me) and get away with it.
You guys just saved me a 7h drive, a lot of money and time, thanks!

In case you were wondering what kind of outrageous questions were in my email here are just a few of them:
Was the car in an accident
What happened to the I6
Why are the body panels so lose
What's that weird patch in the trunk
Are the original motor mounts included
What V8s he has on hand.

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If there’s ANY way your budget can swing it, for your FIRST classic Mustang, don’t buy a car that has rust or needs repairs to be drivable. Get something you can enjoy on the road from day one. Even drivable cars are going to need a lot of constant maintenance before they meet any standard of road-worthiness. The garage queens I’ve purchased took two years of constant attention before they were ready to go cross-country without worry.

You will spend more money up front by purchasing a car that’s drivable. But in the mid and long term, you will be saving thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours by getting a car that’s ready to roll.

Nothing wrong with buying a project for an experienced classic owner. But for a first time buyer, no, don’t do it.

Z
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the quick reply!
Sadly where I live drivable mustangs are pretty expensive, going for anywhere above 25k. So this one seems like a fair offer (10k). That means I have another 15k to spend before buying a running one is worth it. I know things add up quickly, that's why I asked about the biggest pitfalls.
The rust doesn't really scare me, there seems to just be one spot that looks like it has to be taken care of. Also this wouldn't be a daily driver but more like something to take out on short trips (under 50miles) on weekends.
Specifically the V8 "swap" or whatever you want to call it... Doable?
I'm not a perfectionist so as long as It runs I don't need it to have all matching numbers, original parts etc.
If it takes a year that's fine, i just want to avoid getting into a project and never finishing it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sounds like you have pretty much decided what it is you're going to do. That said I too suggest you spent the extra money and get a real driving car. Brian
Definitely not! I am very unsure of what to do, this is my first time buying a Oldtimer.
I just don't want to spend 25k when i can (maybe?) do it myself for 15k or 20k.
Do you think spending the extra 15k upfront will save me money? If so where do you see the major repair costs on a project car, considering my description? Just an educated guess of what the big money sinks are would be great. As I said I have an appointment on Tuesday to check it out so if you can think of any questions I should ask to get a better estimate of what needs to be done that would be great.
Thanks for your advice! :)
 

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Are you in Europe?
Why are a bunch of the bolts that attach the front fenders missing? Yes, the panel alignment where the front fenders, the hood and the headlight doors all meet is extremely poor. There are probably some cheap aftermarket parts and a lack of attention to detail in that area that will require a good body man to fix. That is the first thing that sticks out like a sore thumb on an old Mustang when I go to a car show.
You say the I6 has been removed and it has no engine now? You will need V8 frame mounts and V8 motor mounts to install a V8. The I6 transmission will not attach to a V8 so you will also need a different transmissionYou're looking at a lot of time and money to get this car in decent condition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Are you in Europe?
Why are a bunch of the bolts that attach the front fenders missing? Yes, the panel alignment where the front fenders, the hood and the headlight doors all meet is extremely poor. There are probably some cheap aftermarket parts and a lack of attention to detail in that area that will require a good body man to fix. That is the first thing that sticks out like a sore thumb on an old Mustang when I go to a car show.
You say the I6 has been removed and it has no engine now? You will need V8 frame mounts and V8 motor mounts to install a V8. The I6 transmission will not attach to a V8 so you will also need a different transmissionYou're looking at a lot of time and money to get this car in decent condition.
Yup, I'm in the EU. The seller said the panels just aren't bolted on yet, but it seems a bit weird to me. I agree on that with you. So the previous owner swapped a I6 into the car. Originally it came with a V8. The transmission, motor mounts and frame mounts are all, again according to the seller, V8 parts.
Do you have any idea if the "just not bolted on" excuse has any Merritt? If not can the panel gabs get adjusted or do i have to replace the entire panel?
Thanks!
 

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You don't need to spend 25k to get a decent c code driver. For that money the car should be totally finished.

That car looks like a big project for a first timer. I'd stay away

Edit: I didn't realize you were in the EU. Nevermind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You don't need to spend 25k to get a decent c code driver. For that money the car should be totally finished.

That car looks like a big project for a first timer. I'd stay away
Thanks for the input!
Where do you see the difference between finished car and a driver? The cars in the 22-25k range are all restored but not showroom quality, but i would consider them daily driver ready.
Do you have any tips on where to find c code drivers? I'm in the EU so mustangs are quite a bit rarer and more expensive here.
 

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There’s always more rust than you think. Check the cowls by pouring water in them and seeing if it runs into the interior. You really don’t know anything about the engines he’s selling. When was the last time they’ve run? The underside looks decent. If you can find a nice running car for $15k more, I would absolutely go that route. Projects have a way of taking longer and being more expensive than you think. That’s why there are so many project cars for sale. The last owner thought they could handle it...... Good luck!
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There’s always more rust than you think. Check the cowls by pouring water in them and seeing if it runs into the interior. You really don’t know anything about the engines he’s selling. When was the last time they’ve run? The underside looks decent. If you can find a nice running car for $15k more, I would absolutely go that route. Projects have a way of taking longer and being more expensive than you think. That’s why there are so many project cars for sale. The last owner thought they could handle it...... Good luck!
I can definitely agree with that! And the water in the cowls is a great tip, thanks. I'm gonna be honest, don't hate me for it but I'm ok with a bit of rust as long as it doesn't fall apart while driving. The engines range from fully rebuilt to engines that haven't run for a while! The seller said the inline 6 stopped working in 2021.
The seller also has all the parts for the V8 conversion on hand.

I've had my fair share of experience with projects taking longer than expected, I've been restoring a 1983 Yamaha xs400 for half a year now. Slowly but surely I'm getting there! ;)
 

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My usual criteria is does it start, go into gear, drive/steer and stop? None of that applies here. I am suggesting this project may be more than you are expecting and another more complete car would be a better purchase. Brian
 

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We have several members here in Europe and maybe one of them will chime in. I have visited one of them on Ibiza and there is a classic car dealer there that usually has a couple of Mustangs for sale. They want top dollar for them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My usual criteria is does it start, go into gear, drive/steer and stop? None of that applies here. I am suggesting this project may be more than you are expecting and another more complete car would be a better purchase. Brian
Thanks Brian!
Looks like that's the consensus here and you are probably right :(. I'll still go check it out, who knows maybe I can talk him down by 5k haha.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
We have several members here in Europe and maybe one of them will chime in. I have visited one of them on Ibiza and there is a classic car dealer there that usually has a couple of Mustangs for sale. They want top dollar for them.
Yup definitely want top dollar :/.
My neighbor has a running and driving 65 mustang that he is willing to sell for 22k but the paint job is on the Lower quality side. Also only a I6 and I can see quite a bit of paint bubbling what makes me believe there is rust right below.
 

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Thanks for the input!
Where do you see the difference between finished car and a driver? The cars in the 22-25k range are all restored but not showroom quality, but i would consider them daily driver ready.
Do you have any tips on where to find c code drivers? I'm in the EU so mustangs are quite a bit rarer and more expensive here.
Like I said in the edit, I didn't realize your were in Europe so I have no idea what the market is like there. Sorry.

As for the difference of a driver and a finished car - in my mind a driver is a running and driving car that needs a little work and isn't perfect. A finished car should need zero work.

I still get the impression from the pics and description that your car would be a big project for a first timer. But I understand the temptation if there isn't much to choose from.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Like I said in the edit, I didn't realize your were in Europe so I have no idea what the market is like there. Sorry.

As for the difference of a driver and a finished car - in my mind a driver is a running and driving car that needs a little work and isn't perfect. A finished car should need zero work.

I still get the impression from the pics and description that your car would be a big project for a first timer. But I understand the temptation if there isn't much to choose from.
Ah. Yeah not a lot of drivers on the market here. mostly finished cars for absurd amounts of money or rust buckets, that's why I got so excited about this one. What about it do you see as the problem? The motor swap, the panel gaps, the small dents? I naively feel like the motorswap is manageable (if time-consuming) considering I have all the parts and the seller assures me they are im working condition. His reviews lead me to believe he is trustworthy..
 

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There’s So much that you can overlook, be sure to bring someone familiar with Mustangs with you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
There’s So much that you can overlook, be sure to bring someone familiar with Mustangs with you.
Do you have anything I should pay close attention to? I will definitely bring a friend who is a mechanic but he hasn't worked on mustangs in particular.
Some kind of list with typical flaws and pitfalls would be great :)
 

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Do you have anything I should pay close attention to? I will definitely bring a friend who is a mechanic but he hasn't worked on mustangs in particular.
Some kind of list with typical flaws and pitfalls would be great :)
The short list of things to look for is rust, rust, and rust. Thoroughly check the underside of the car. Frame rails, floor boards, and torque boxes. If the floor boards are shot chances are so is the cowl. Poor some water down the cowl and check for interior leaks.

Remember there is ALWAYS more rust than you can see on the surface.
 
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