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First time buyer/restoration advice

3080 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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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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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! :)
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?
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!
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
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.
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.
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..
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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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.
That seems reasonable. If the rust is in acceptable amounts/non existent are there any other things to watch out for? The seller said the 66 only came with rear torque boxes, is this true? In the video he showed me there was no rust to be seen on the rear torque boxes and the floor pans looked great. (Ofc there was some surface oxidisation but nothing serious)
Let's hypothetically assume the rust is only minor like the seller said and the car really is a C code and has all the V8 parts like cooler, exhaust, mounts and transmission. Are things like the suspension prone to wear out over time? Do i need to worry about the axels?
To answer your initial questions directly.
  • Structural rust is an expensive and time consuming problem for many of these cars. (for example repairing a leaky cowl properly can easily run $2000+ US at a competent shop)
  • Prior collision damage repairs. (Many of these cars were smacked around when new and often had substandard quality repairs done) Some repairs need to be redone to be safe.
  • Some prior owners have inflicted considerable damage when attenpting modifications and upgrades (make sure the car passes any safety inspections (i.e. MOT, etc) before you buy.
  • Project cars require time, skill, space, money, and tools. Be honest with your self about the time line, available funds, and your skill sets. Some projects have taken more than 10 years to complete and have staggering budget overuns as the scope of work expands over time.
  • Not sure what a competent Mustang Shop charges in your area. For a full rebuild to high driver standards here in he US can easily run tens of thousands of dollars US, show winning cars more
  • There are several members of this community in Europe. Bruno in Belgium, Josep in Ibiza Island, Johnny in Ireland come to mind. They likely know other knowledgable Mustang owners as well
  • Be patient and shop wisely. Good luck.
Great reply, thanks!
As rare as Mustangs may be, patience is your friend. It may take a year to find the right car. Don’t rush into one the first ones you find.

What are the roadblocks to importing a car from say England, for example ? Many more Mustangs there than on the continent.


PS : as AZ_Ryan points out, the opportunities for rust are endless, especially the cowl area . At least pour water down the outside cowl vent and see if if comes inside the car behind the dash.

Realistically, the entire car should be examined with a magnet for (excess) bondo and an ice pick or other sharp object to put some pressure on the floor board / pan, and other rust prone areas to see if there is any “give” or actual punch thru an area that’s been impacted by corrosion.
Importing from the UK is hard, especially now that they have left the EU. Also with the travel expenses of inspecting the car and then having it shipped back, there is little to no difference to importing from the US. In both cases it ends up being cheaper to just buy a finished car here.
I'll bring a pointy screwdriver and magnet to check everything out. I'm more and more skeptical of the car.... thanks for your help!
Just looking over your pics has me curled up in the fetal position, sucking my thumb and starting to cry. I would not even consider that car myself, and I am a fairly competent/experienced mechanic, unless nearly given to me and it was a toy project. First off, there is most definitely a ton of rust. Second, there seems to be gallons of bondo. Third, all panels seem thrown together haphazardly. Fourth, makes zero sense someone removed a V8 and installed a 6, and have that one “just fail last year.” Nope, aint buying that at all. Way too fishy.
I know Mustangs are super rare over there and would be so cool to own. But step back and really contemplate what will need to be done. Do you have the experience, time and money to complete?
What you seem to have here is some mysterious v8/I6/blown/ rebuild I6 or V8”conver-conversion” in a seriously messed up body that looks like someone attempted to stop the rust explosion many years ago which is currently rearing its ugly (super FN ugly) head.
Sorry my friend, this would be a hard No for me.
Good luck.
What makes you believe there is a bunch of rust? He showed me a video of the underbody and floorplan and I couldn't see any except for one corner where they had already put in a new sheet. I will ofc check for any rust. Yeah, I will also check for bondo.
I also agree that it seems a bit sketchy and will ask the seller for more information on the swap. My theory is that it was in a crash that messed up the original V8 so they put in a I6. In that case, I won't touch it! The body panels don't seem to be messed up to me, just seem to be incorrectly fastened. Do you have any insight on what the underlying problem might be here?
Hidden rust is probably the number one concern,…,
Most of my cars have had rust. Is hidden rust such a big concern for drivability with classic mustangs? I don't plan on restoring the car to showroom quality so if there is a bit of rust somewhere I'm fine with that as long as it has no impact on drivability and or safety. Any structural rust would be a dealbreaker for me, but I wasn't able to see any in the pictures/videos.
Thanks for the advice and I am already learning so much here!
Some great advice there.
Bottom line is money! If you can’t afford to buy a runner the only option is buy what you can afford. BUT, in the long run it’s more work and can end up more expensive, that’s the gamble.
I live in Spain and it’s completely different trying to find new or secondhand parts here because as you know everything is twice the price it should be. If we lived in the US or the Uk it’s a different thing, lots of parts new and used available.
If you want to check out Ebay Uk there are always cheap coupes on there.
Some good guys on the forum with a vast knowledge of these cars and I’ve already learnt a lot from them. ( and I’ve only had my 65 Fastback since April )
Good luck!
Buena suerte amigo!
Exactly my point! I just have no idea what gamble im getting into. Is this a 90% chance of needing less than 15k to repair? Or is this a 50/50 chance?
I have access to a lot of equipment and people willing to help me so I can also manufacture some parts if need be. Maybe save some money that way?

That's awesome to hear and from the responses here i can definitely agree, people here are great!

Good luck with your FB, maybe one day I'll get my hands on one as well ;)
You’ll get there. I was looking at coupes as well because that was my budget. I nearly bought a beauty from Germany ( pic attached) previous resto and a real nice car. I had been looking at Fastbacks in the Uk and Europe for months. All of them where silly prices even for cars needing work.
This where it gets interesting- I’m talking to my Danish friends here in Spain telling them I’m going to buy a 65 Coupe. I then said to Lars I had given up looking for a Fastback because of costs and then he said have I tried Denmark.
As he was already sat at his computer he did a search and 2 FB’s came up immediately.
I ended up buy one of the for just over 30,000€ !! I couldn’t believe it.
So the moral of the story is, never think you won’t have something because in this strange life some nice things can happen.
Just stay positive!
Wow. Those look amazing! 😍
Did you go visit the FB or have Lars check it out? That's an amazing price!
I still have some hope left and will keep checking the marketplaces every now and then :)
That rear taillight panel looks as wavy as the ocean. I'd be very surprised if it wasn't filled with bondo. See that rust at the bottom of the rear may have a big surprise when you pull the rear window out. The car looks very thrown together for the purpose of selling it. It appears the last owner got in over their head on this don't want to be the next victim.
Yeah the more I look at it I agree. Maybe I can get a good bargain on it for 5k, who knows. Would be cool to have a cheap running mustang even if half of it is Bondo haha.
But i probably won't end up buying it following everyone's advice here.
I phoned a local mechanic that was 15 mins away from the car with intentions to pay him to check the car out.
When I explained it was a 65 Mustang he said “ I love those cars” then said he didn’t want anything because he would be happy to see a car that he had grown up admiring!
Haha that's awesome! Importing from the USA has become rather cheap (1800$ for shipping + 7% of the sale price in import duties)
I might use that trick of sending a local mechanic to check it out!
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I 5K it would be worth considering. You could have a structurally sound car (maybe not pretty) to work on and have fun, and still get your money back if you decide to sell.
With the amount of flaws discussed here, realistically I might be able to talk him down to 6k or 7k at which point i might just have to buy it for fun and see how hard restoring it really is! If he throws in a V8 even better!
I'm not in it for the resell value anyway so a car held together by Bondo and duct tape is fine by me!
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