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Discussion Starter #1
With the 14' racing season behind me, it's time to start my much anticipated winter project--adapting 67/68' shock towers and front suspension to my 65' Mustang. After this mod I should have gained enough engine compartment room to allow me to install a nice set of raised port racing heads and the desired big tube headers to enhance the power of my street/strip 427w. Once completed I will have gained at least 2" between the shock towers.

One may ask why not go straight to a Mustang II rack and pinion? Its for both cost and appearance. All told I'll have barely a grand in my project, including 100% all new front suspension parts. Can't touch a full on fitted rack and pinion with decent brakes for double that. This mod will also help me maintain some of the factory appearance, which I've tried to adhere to. A side benefit of going to the 67-70' suspension is that caster and camber changes are made with screw type adjustments and no shims will be required at the UCA as this becomes a fixed position.

Here are most of the parts that are needed for this project:





When I ordered parts, I specifically targeted the 68' model. Although the parts can be spec'd from any 67-70' Mustang or Cougar, it is best to avoid the 67' specific model due to some odd 1 year only parts such as the LCA's and strut rods. The 69/70' shock towers are shaped somewhat differently than the 67/68' parts, but are still useable if you have the parts. I do not believe that there is any clearance or fuctionality advantages in either series of shock towers and I chose the 67/68' series because it is somewhat closer in appearance to the 65/66' parts. If it was and available and affordable option, I might have installed the 69/70' Boss 429 shock towers for even more upper tower clearance. They have yet to be inexpensively reproduced and finding used ones in good condition would be next to impossible. An option is to further notch the new towers, which is something I plan to explore before the project is completed.

Very few suspension parts are carry overs when doing this project. Only the outer tie rod ends and its connecting piece could have been reused from my 65'. I orderd them new too as they are inexpensive. The remaining parts MUST come from a 68-70' to make the swap work. Most of the parts pictured above are quality made by Moog and Dynacorn. The hardest part to source was the pitman arm, which is an early 67' 1" V8 manual shaft unit that is needed to adapt the new front suspension to my original 65' steering column. This arm was only available for part of a year until Ford introduced the 2pc rag joint steering box. I sourced the arm new from John's Mustang in Houston Tx.

It may also be possible to install a 68-70' 2 pieced 1 1/8" rag joint steering box, shaft and pitman arm, but for an original look one should use a late 67' 1 piece column with the 65/66' bushing and turn signal.

The coil springs must also to be changed as part of the conversion. Many catalogs list both the 67/68' basic V8 and 6 banger cars as using the same spring. With my Caltrac rear suspension, I wanted to get the softest spring rate I could find to help with weigh transfer, much like the 65/66 6 banger springs I've used. After a little research I discovered a 67/68' specific 6 cylinder spring with a little softer rate than the dual V8/6 combo part:



The only real negative that I have found with doing this project is that it limits the choice of what front wheels that can be used. Most commonly used offset wheels might rub the front fenders, especially when turning. The reason is that the 67/68' Mustang suspension and body is actually 2" wider than the 65/66' Mustang. One might be able to install a modern Mustang wheel with a deep back space, but for my needs I want to use a classic type wheel. Luckily all I had to do was look in my storage garage for a set of original type 14x5" 65' styled steel wheels:



I like them and they will be replacing my old Magnum 500's.

Let's get to the fun part. I began the project by first removing the motor, the full front cap, and virtually every loose part out of the engine compartment. During outer body part removeal, I used lots of masking tape in critical places to prevent scratching the still beautiful paint:







The old suspension also needed to be removed:



This is how I left her the first evening:



Although I already had a generic Monte Carlo bar, I opted to order a Scott Drake reproduction which is said to be the best fitting bar out there (besides an original Ford bar):



Before I started hacking away at the car, I took a few measurements from a never damaged 60K mile 65' convertible. Not surprisingly, I found that the shock towers on the project car had sagged inward (which was also verified by the Monte Carlo bar.) Not having ready access to a port-a-power, I used my engine hoist's ram to shove the towers apart:



Opps, I went a little too far so a come-a-long was utilized to pull the towers a little closer together:



The Scott Drake bar then fit the car like a glove. When bolted in place it will be a valuable guide while aligning the new towers.
 

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It will be fun to follow along as you do this one Dennis. I can tell you having run the early springs (8088) and the 8306s the 8306s definitely raise the ride height some. Have you already made a choice on the new heads/header combo?
 

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Glad to see you're posting your build here Dennis!

VMF members: Dennis does excellent work, and his write ups and pics are always fantastic. Enjoy the thread.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It will be fun to follow along as you do this one Dennis. I can tell you having run the early springs (8088) and the 8306s the 8306s definitely raise the ride height some. Have you already made a choice on the new heads/header combo?
Thanks for the spring info Willy--a little more ride height might not be a bad thing as after a while (couple of years) the 8088's settled and it was easy to bottom the A-arms out against the stops on a rough return road.

This years winter project is just to make room for the heads and headers so I won't make a final decision until next fall. Heads depend on a few things, all cost related. Really, really, really want the D. Busch 7721's, but the new firm that I am working for is getting shaky. Lowest out of pocket cost would be the newer AFR 220's. TFS highports (225 or 240) would probably be chosen before them though. Chi is not out of the question either since I might be looking at new pistons anyways for anything beyond the AFR's.

Looking at Accufab for the 1 7/8" or 2"headers. Need to see if either accept the factory Z-bar, otherwise might consider building my own. Might even give the AFR 205' a chance with them and a good ported Super Vic.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I should have also added in my first post that one other big benefit of doing the shock tower and suspension swap is that it allows you to easily install any FE motor of your choice (except the Boss 429) in your 65/66. A 351 Windsor or Cleveland would be right at home too and you would have lots of room to work on it. A more modern Lima 429 or 460 engine will also fit, but as in any of the larger combos it would be best to notch the new shock towers for addition clearance.

All this is possible because the 65-70' Mustangs share the same basic engine compartment dimensions--including the frame. Its those pesky 65/66' shock towers that prevent most of these combos from working with ease.
 

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I contacted CPR a few months back to see about 1 3/4"-1 7/8" step headers for my 65. They said they could do it and make it fit, but no z-bar. It would require a conversion to cable or hydraulic clutch linkage.

Hope that helps.
 

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Glad to see you're posting your build here Dennis!

VMF members: Dennis does excellent work, and his write ups and pics are always fantastic. Enjoy the thread.
it will be nice to see how it's done! subscribed!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
it will be nice to see how it's done! subscribed!
Thank You Tarafied. I've been researching this for quite some time but it was your VMF thread and help that sealed the deal for me to jump into this project with both feet. :drunkies:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I contacted CPR a few months back to see about 1 3/4"-1 7/8" step headers for my 65. They said they could do it and make it fit, but no z-bar. It would require a conversion to cable or hydraulic clutch linkage.

Hope that helps.
Jeff from my experience with the 427w, I suspect that 1 3/4" headers would suffice with your 351w.

I haven't called anyone yet about 1 7/8" or 2" headers for my car but Accufab and Maddog are on my list of places to try first. If nothing else, with the added room I am making I might modify an existing off-the-shelf set or even attempt to build my own from scratch, if needed.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Take note that the shock towers and some other parts of this conversion are an integral part of the vehicle's structure and you should seek the assistance of a properly trained professional before considering undergoing this task. The shock towers/strut rod supports are NOT bolt-in items and they must be properly and permanently welded after the new towers are correctly positioned. One must possess the necessary skills and equipment or have help from a competent professional in order to successfully accomplish this project. If you should try to duplicate the techniques being shown in this thread, you are doing so entirely at your own risk and liability. Remember Safety First!!!

Once the towers were shoved into the proper position, I center punched the middle of each of the factory spot welds around the outer part of the shock tower, including those under the frame. I then drilled an 1/8" hole through the spot welds that did not go into the frame. These holes were redrilled with a 1/4" and finally a 3/8" drill bit which should help to separate the panels:





For spot welds that physically attach to the frame, I used a cheapy $5 spot weld cutter from Harbor Freight. Love these little fellows:





To use the spot weld cutter effectively, I partially drilled the spot welds without breaking through the frame with an 1/8" or so bit. Then I allowed the cutter to center itself in the hole and do its stuff.

There is also some spot welds to be cut on top of the frame (inside the shock tower) and on the under side of the frame:







After all the spot welds had been drilled or cut, I used a saws-all to cut out the vast majority of the shock tower leaving the drilled areas for later:







In the above photo you can see the dents that were previously made to clear the 1 3/4" header tubes.

The edges that remained on the shock tower were carefully removed using vise grips, a couple of prying devices, and a cold chisel:



Since the spot welds were properly punched and drilled, it was easy to remove the above parts without further damage to the aprons.

I used the 2 piece Dynacorn shock towers for my project. Although a 1 piece unit is available, there are reports that the 2 parts have been misaligned from the factory will not fit in place properly around the frame. If this happens, there will be additional work to separate the motor mount bracket from the tower and you'll end up right where I am starting. The 2 piece towers are shown below.





The Dynacorn parts are much sturdier than I expected and are at least as heavy as stock stuff.

The bracket that will hold the motor mount is supported with anti-crush tubes just like the factory piece:



The 67/68' tower practically fits as-is in the old opening of the 65/66' tower. The 67/68' is just slightly narrower in width, but is a little taller necessitating removing about 1/4" of material off the top of the apron. I also trimmed a little off the side of the front apron to get the angles right:



I also needed to loosen and peel back the lower front and rear corners of the aprons to remove parts of the old tower and to install the new in its place:





This is what the final trimmed opening looked like without the tower installed:





The top of the apron does not need to be split like you see above--I am taking care of a shoddy repair that occurred prior to my ownership. Also note that the 67/68' towers are not a perfect fit for the 65/66' aprons. Material will need to be added about mid-height where the towers meet the apron.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
We have previously established that the top of the tower can be aligned using the Monte Carlo bar. The 65/66' frames have 2 factory alignment holes on the frame for the old motor bracket:



It so happens that those 2 holes exist in the same location for the same purpose on the 67/68' frame. Using them will help in the alignment of the new motor mount bracket. The 2 UCA holes and the single bolt hole at the top of the frame are punched through the tower and will give yet another reference point for installation. I also used a couple of critical dimensions from a 67/68' Mustang to verify the alignment.

Note the use of the frame alignment holes in the below photo of the motor mount bracket.



Here are a few photos of the shock tower clamped in a test position. I installed 1/2" bolts to hold the motor mount bracket to the tower. Nothing can be welded in place at this time until after the passenger side tower is clamped into its proper position:











This photo shows the physical difference of the 65/66' tower on the left, and the 67/67' on the right:



65/66' close up:



67/68' close up:



The passenger side apron was given the same basic treatment as the driver's side:









To make installation and adjustments easier, I ran a piece of 1/2" all thread between the 2 towers:





Here is all the metal that I've removed from this project so far:

 

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this is pretty cool. It is interesting to compare my hillbilly method to the much more professional method you are doing but it looks like we will end up with very similar alignments/positions of the components.
I too went with the 68 suspension because 67 is one year only LCA and strut rods. I found that one of my 68 strut rods were bent and I had an extra from a 69 that was identical.

now if I could only make progress as quickly as you are!
 

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I especially like this comparison photo, very cool illustration of the differences
 

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Jeff from my experience with the 427w, I suspect that 1 3/4" headers would suffice with your 351w.

I haven't called anyone yet about 1 7/8" or 2" headers for my car but Accufab and Maddog are on my list of places to try first. If nothing else, with the added room I am making I might modify an existing off-the-shelf set or even attempt to build my own from scratch, if needed.
With the exhaust bias on the cam I'm installing, and due to funds, I'll be leaving the 1 5/8"'s on the 351 for the time being. The 6208's I just picked up will go on when funds allow or when the 393 goes in.

I heard CPR makes headers for Accufab, that's why I mentioned them. I don't know if it's true or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
this is pretty cool. It is interesting to compare my hillbilly method to the much more professional method you are doing but it looks like we will end up with very similar alignments/positions of the components.
I too went with the 68 suspension because 67 is one year only LCA and strut rods. I found that one of my 68 strut rods were bent and I had an extra from a 69 that was identical.

now if I could only make progress as quickly as you are!
These cars were not built on precision jigs and no 2 cars seem to measure out the same. Some difference is from wear and tear from 40+ years of use. Some is from the rudimentry construction methods employed on the assembly line. Structures being 1/8" Or even a 1/4" off from another car is not unheard of. There are plenty of measured discrepancies all over my car which was built in Feb/Mar 65' during the rush to get more cars to market.

As far as time invested, having a couple of weeks off work starting at the beginning of this project has helped. Its just the wife and I now as the kids are all grown and have spread out over the US. Still plenty of time for family gatherings and we're currently spending a couple of days with friends.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
do you plan to add the reinforcements (e.g. like the cougar, big block/boss) while you are making this mod?
I have this one to install:



Not sure if I really need the others for my street/drag race purposes.
 

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Dennis,
I measured 27 and 9/16ths at the core support, at the anti-sway bar brackets and at the idler arm/gear box location on three cars. One was an unmolested 65 6 cyl. car, another is an unmolested 69 sportsroof and the final one was my FrankenStang 65 with 68 front half. This was done with a tape measure and from inside of rail to inside of rail.
My 68 front frame rails have not been cut apart at the front near the core support and the 65 rails were not touched at the floorpan/firewall so I feel this is a pretty good measurement since all three (four if you count the 68 clip) measure the same. My 67 has too much stuff in the way to get a good measurement but the other three cars have no engines at the moment.
 
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