Now is the time to buy and build your Mustang dream car. Perhaps the kids are finally off to college and careers. Or maybe you've just come of age and have your first driver's license. Then again, mid-life crisis may have set in, and you're thinking about that Mustang you couldn't afford 30 years ago. Now is the time to make yourself happy with a Mustang project.
So, how do you get there? Where do you begin? What will it cost? What should it cost? Where will you store it and build it? And what happens when you don't know zilch about cars? An open hood is an intimidating experience-all of those wires, lines, brackets, iron, aluminum, grease, and filth. What will you do with it and how?
We're going to show you how to find and buy a Mustang. Then we're going to run you through an introduction to Mustang restoration.
You can find your dream ride any number of ways: Check the local classifieds for leads; crack open some of the national auto trader publications. You may have to take a chance on a Mustang 2,500 miles away. Auto traders exist online, too. Type Mustang into your Internet search engine and go mad with the selection, making sure to check eBay Motors for what it has to offer.
Bob Gelsi of Gelsi's Mustang...
Bob Gelsi of Gelsi's Mustang World in Vineland, New Jersey, checks out a potential Mustang buy for a customer. Bobby has the expertise you need if you're shopping for a Mustang. Gelsi's Mustang World has performed dozens of concours restorations in 25 years.
Anytime you're considering a long-distance Mustang purchase, caution is important. You'll need lots of images from the seller that are in focus and well lit. Photos should include the undercarriage, engine compartment, interior, trunk area, and all four sides of the vehicle. The seller needs to tell you the truth in writing about the car. Sooner or later, you're going to have to roll the dice and see the car in person. You risk the loss of a deposit and the cost of air fare if the car isn't what you'd hoped for, but that's the chance you take when considering a car long distance. Walking away from a bad idea is better than giving in to emotion and being stuck with something you'll be miserable with and unable to sell.
If you're considering a long distance buy, check the resources in the area where the car is located. Mustang clubs, appraisers, and the like are good judges of a potential buy. Pay a qualified appraiser or seasoned Mustang expert with a local club to examine a potential buy. It's a good way to spend less than you would on airfare.
Fit and finish are two indications...
Fit and finish are two indications of a Mustang's structural integrity. Even an old beater that has never been restored will have good fit if it hasn't been wrecked or victimized by rust. Rusted-out framerails and rocker panels, for example, will adversely affect fit. Accident damage, even if corrected by a body shop, sometimes leaves body panels with a sloppy fit. Check door, fender, hood, and decklid gaps to see how they all fit together.
Then, if you decide to buy, get an agreement in writing from the seller. Draft an agreement that outlines the car. You may even want to hire an attorney to handle this for you-especially if it's a high-dollar deal. A simple outline puts into writing what the car is and that the seller guarantees the car to be as represented. This, more or less, protects you, the buyer. If the car arrives in poorer condition than what the seller confirmed in writing, you have legal recourse.
For example, let's say the seller has advertised the car as a factory original '65 Mustang GT convertible. You'll want this confirmed by the seller in writing in a signed agreement, notarized by a witness. This gives you legal recourse if the car turns out to be nothing more than a standard '65 convertible with foglights and a transplanted 289.
When we discuss "matching-number"...
When we discuss "matching-number" cars, we're talking about originality. Do the engine, transmission, and rear-axle differential casting numbers and date codes jibe with the assembly date of the vehicle? Normally, these numbers should fall 30-60 days prior to the assembly date of the vehicle. Not all classic Mustangs have the original engine, for example. Even rarer is an original transmission because so many were replaced with new or rebuilt replacements. But it's nice to know where you stand before a purchase-especially if the seller is claiming a "matching-number" car.
The goal is an honest, straight-up deal in which everyone understands what's expected. We suggest this procedure because we have witnessed too many stings when buyers have been duped by less than honest sellers. If a seller isn't willing to allow both a written and signed agreement as well as your thorough inspection of the vehicle, bite your lip and keep looking.