Ontopic History of an Old Car

Mr. Argumentor

I fab shitboxes and shitbox accessories.
Sep 27, 2012
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This is most of the story of Susie, my '67 Mustang
Automatic trans, power nothing, 200ci Inline Six cyl engine. As bare bones as you could get back in '67

She was my first car, I bought her when I was 17 for about $1500 from money I had earned from maintaining the yard of my uncle's law firm since I was 14 or so. She was a daily driver from 10th grade until I graduated. It was a little funny that when I first got her no one at school had really had an old car for a good 2-3 years prior (the school I went to was K-12 and very small, the class ahead of me had 52 graduating students, my grade doubled the class size, it's fairly easy for me to be certain no one else had a classic), but by the time I graduated there were a good dozen classic cars in the parking lot.

I did minor maintenance, rebuilt the carb, replaced transmission cooler lines, typical stuff, kept her running and learned my way around a wrench. My very first accident resulted in the bumper having the nice little bend it does. I was driving her for a couple months and was not fully used to manual drum brakes, didn't have as great a following distance that I needed and slid into a chunky young woman in a Saturn. No damage to her car, but I have yet to replace the bumper
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She was a reliable, strong little car. No decent acceleration, and brakes that made you think about driving, only one mirror (driver's side) which forced me to have good awareness of who was around me, overall she gave me many many good habits.
Tallahassee didn't have a lot for you to do if you weren't of drinking age, so my friends and I would drive around and around in her all night. If we weren't driving around, we were parked out in the woods around a bonfire drinking beers from a little country store that just didn't give a shit.

I joined the USAF and while I would drive her when I came home for leave, the bearings in the rear-end were starting to go out when I graduated, so I ultimately let her sit for about two years. I drove an '86 El Camino in the intervening time, and ultimately bought a '93 F150 which I still own and drive regularly. The truck allowed me to tow Susie from Tallahassee to Andrews AFB, Md where I was stationed for the entire time I was active duty AF.

These pics were taken the very next day after I had towed her up (you can still see the trailer in the background.) These pics were basically a record of where she was at that time, I went around the body taking fairly close up shots of rust, dings, dents, etc etc.
The blue hood is because when I was still daily driving her, a faulty hood hinge let the hood fly up and contact the roof, it also damaged the hinges and inner fender wells where the hinges bolted on. As a result there was about 8 months where I drove her around without a hood. Dad got me one for Christmas or my birthday and he and I prepped and painted it, the boyfriend of my sister's best friend worked in a body shop and hooked me up after hours with help installing the new fender wells.
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Just behind her you can see the Mustang of one of my two best friends at Andrews, Jesse. He had a '95 5-speed with about 25K on the clock (this was in '04 or so?)
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While I was doing this, I did not realize that the registration was a good two or three years out of date. This wasn't a big thing, but it snow-balled to the point where a douchebag 1st Lieutenant tried to give me an Article 15 before people that grossly over-ranked him forced him to back down. (I will recount the story if anyone actually cares)

One of the things I had brought up with me was what is known as a Ford 8" rear end (as the ring gear has a diameter of 8 inches.) Before I joined the AF I pulled it, as well as many MANY other parts from a '68 Mustang that had been totaled. My mentor rebuilt it, my dad sandblasted and repainted it, and the very first weekend I had returned from leave and towing her up I installed it.
In installing it, I also butted heads with a retiree who may or may have not been a former 4-star general.

I'm halfway into the swap and this guy wanders up with his wife. From what he says he was a retired 4-star from Alaska and was RVing across the US. He stands there eyeing Swerve and I for a little bit after we've talked and he goes:
"Don't you have a hobby shop on base?"
"Well, yes sir, but I work the night shift so its hours don't work for me, and it's prices are horrible for young Airmen. I just can't afford it."
"Well son, you should still use it. I remember when I was a base commander and we found an Airman rebuilding a Harley in his dorm room. It was such a big problem that we boxed all his stuff up, carried it and him off base, and just dropped it all outside the main gate. Kicked him straight off base."
I believe I just stared at him blankly for a while, might've said something along the lines of "Well, good thing I'm not in my room!" and eventually he wandered off and I was left wondering if he was gonna narc on me or if he was just full of bullshit. I figured the easiest way to solve the problem was to finish the car so no one else could hassle me.


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The 8" was nice because it was brand new throughout. The gears had barely any wear on them, the bearings were new, and the previous owner had installed a locking differential. I bought the '68 Mustang for about $150, out of it I ended up with a minimum of a grand in parts.

I installed the brakes on the new axle, dropped the old rear axle, slapped the new one in and immediately went up to my room and passed out as it took me a solid day to do (I recently changed the rear springs out, pics further on, the same amount of work and it took me maybe two hours.)

In the background you can see the feet of one of my best friends in the AF, "Swerve." Was a fellow car nut, and while I think I was the better mechanic, he was definitely the more involved in the car scene
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Old rear-end was leaking, bearings were shot, everything was just going bad. While the rear-end was technologically decades ahead of the 8" (Ford brought back that style of rear-end in the mid-late 80s), no one makes rebuild parts for them so you can't repair them.
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This pic is useless for anyone now, but was a very early example of how I would take a digital picture of something I couldn't see and examine it where I could easily see it. An invaluable trick, especially with modern cars and how tight everything is.
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Springs undone, rear end unbolted, just needed to roll it out
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Old V New
The tires and wheels are off of a friend's Ranger, he got better ones from a Jeep. It's a wonder what can interchange at times. In the background you can see my truck.
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Installed, those that have a good eye will notice lowering blocks of about 1.5"

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Thankfully I did not have to modify the length of the driveshaft, also a good shot of Swerve's crotch
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Rear end installed, when compared to the pic above it's easy to see how the lowering blocks changed the stance
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I didn't have anything really big to do for a couple months, so I found this valve cover in a junk yard and started playing with it
Throughout my AF career I believe I've left the shadow image of a cardboard box created by overspray at every base, and outside every room I've lived in and every squadron I've worked in
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It was a fair little while before I had gathered enough parts to swap the front brakes to 5-lug Disc brakes, but once I did it was definitely time to ignore the hobby shop and get shit done in the parking lot
I found parts from a '76 Ford Granada (a common swap for disc brakes for a Mustang), bought a few things new and spent a long weekend installing.

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Part of the push for swapping the brakes was the fact that I had front wheels ready for the 5-lug, and the 4-lug wheels had rubber on them that was.... well, old. This bubble formed after a day of very.... "spirited" driving back and forth between a friend's house and this girl I was seeing.
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All in all, the swap maybe took 3 hours. I had progressed quite nicely as a mechanic.
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I was able to sell the old parts to a friend online for enough to cover everything I had invested in the swap except for the actual new tires (which were the cheapest things I could get at Wal-Mart)



In a couple months I ordered a suspension upgrade kit from National Parts Depot (I seriously love those guys, great GREAT people.)
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Installed new Upper and Lower Control Arms, as well as a front Sway Bar
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At about this time I had been getting hassled fairly regularly by the people in charge of the dorms. When I wasn't driving my car there was a cover over it, and it was parked properly. Despite this I, and I alone kept getting shit, kept getting told that my car would be towed off base, that it would be impounded, and on and on and on. There were cars there that had not moved in months (the owners were not deployed either), tires were flat, shit was broken on them, they leaked, etc etc etc.
It got to the point where I expected to wake up one day, find my car gone, then see it one day being driven by some jackass that had bought it from an impound lot. I finally ended up visiting base legal to see if they had any leg to stand on. I submitted pics of these other decrepit cars, there was some back and forth, and finally they started to leave me alone.
Wouldn't you know it, midway through the install of these parts I ended up needing to take something to a machine shop as I had borked a set of bolts (cross-threaded them I believe). I knew I couldn't leave the car sitting there on jack stands as they would flip. It was the weekend so I wouldn't have the parts back until sometime during the week. I thought I was SOL for a little bit, then I ended up thinking of a novel solution.
What they wouldn't know, wouldn't hurt them. I put the suspension on this jackstand, with some help from Swerve I lowered it down onto it, then finished everything up and cleaned up for the night. Midweek I got the parts back, finished it all up and was hunky dory.

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Shiny happy parts all holding hands
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The original seats were FUBAR, so I brought the seats from the '68 up and installed them. That left me with two seats that I had nothing to do with.
I needed a computer chair, though, so with the help of Swerve's welder...
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Sometime in there I noticed a hole rotted in the exhaust, so I removed it. I took to wearing ear plugs whenever I drove her around.
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Upgraded the ignition to a late model Inline 6's ignition. The DuraSpark II system gives a stronger spark, better starting, more power, less maintenance. Overall it's just a better system.
For some reason, I still do my best wrenching at night. Just easier to concentrate on the car I guess.
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While you can just use all factory parts with the DSII swap, I elected not too, there are Chevy parts that work just as well, and are cheaper
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Along comes October, I had spent the day helping a friend get his house ready for an awesome Halloween party. I needed to head back to base to pick up the truck so I could haul tables and chairs back, so I putter off. Along the way I start seeing wisps of steam coming from under the hood. The wisps turn to clouds and I pull over
Had I known that a co-worker's sister who was visiting was extremely turned on by old cars, especially old Mustangs, I would've found a way to limp back and call AAA the next day, alas I did not.
It was ok though, she had seen enough for me to be ahead of all the other leghumpers at the party, we had fun.

Edit: the best part of this was the fact that my co-worker went around to virtually every male at the party and demanded that "YOU WILL NOT SLEEP WITH MY SISTER"
I didn't get that warning, and halfway through the night she drunkenly stuck her head out the window and demanded "DAMNIT, YOU DON'T GET TO SLEEP WITH MY SISTER EITHER!!"
I looked at the young lady, told her that her sister was strange, then we went back to alternately jumping on the bouncy castle that my friends had rented and making out.
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Ended up with a blown head gasket and a warped head. So I found new parts online.
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BUT THEN I GOT DEPLOYED! OH MERCY ME!!!
wait... I got sent to Kuwait, nevermind, cakewalk.

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Eventually I got back from Kuwait. This was one of about three truckloads of toys I had ordered.
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Not in that particular pile, but in one of them, was a full setup for a T5 transmission swap (automatic to a manual) that a fellow Inline fan had taken out of his car. At the time I did not realize (and he did not tell me) that the kit was for a '66, this wasn't a big deal, but I did spend a lot of time piecing stuff together down the road. Long while down the road as I wouldn't attempt the install until I was out of the AF for several years.



Shortly after I got back from Kuwait, I ended up moving off base, this netted me a garage.
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Where I worked diligently
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And very seriously
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At swapping out the borked head
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One unexpected benefit of swapping the head, my old carburetor had threads that were fairly stripped, as a result it would seep gas constantly. Not enough to be a danger, but enough for me to get 2/3 the gas milage these cars, with these engines, normally get. When I swapped the head I upgraded it, as a result I needed a slightly bigger carb. This took me trolling through a couple junkyards till I eventually found what I needed off an old F100
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I always got off on wandering through junkyards
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Got everything all buttoned up.
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And found that the radiator leaked. Patched that with some JB Weld and haven't had an issue.

Random Shiny (no, I have yet to put an exhaust past this on there, I still wear earplugs)
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For now, I need to go to bed, so I will finish it later.
 
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fly, you're funny. No one truly finishes a project car.

I still have to get her down here to Tampa and figure out where I was in getting the T5 working.
Anyone on here in the Tampa area have a trailer I can borrow for a weekend in order to tow her down?
 
fly, you're funny. No one truly finishes a project car.

I still have to get her down here to Tampa and figure out where I was in getting the T5 working.
Anyone on here in the Tampa area have a trailer I can borrow for a weekend in order to tow her down?
We don't have one... :/
 
FUCKING CHRISTFUCK

I go to insert a picture, the fucking page locks up. I'm going to fucking lose absolutely everything I've written since about 10AM. How does the autosave feature work? Will I be able to refresh the page and recover it all?
 
I have my 65 completely disassembled right now, in the process of sanding off ye olde crappy paint job, had to open the cowel to clean it up in there, have yet to weld it back together.
The radio hole in the dash was butchered by some genius, I have a patch-piece to fix that.
Its a lot of work and slow going but it will be like a new car when Im done, and awesome.
 
Around this time I had a friend in Australia who found me an extremely low mile 250-2V motor, so called because the engine is a 250ci, and it has a 2bbl (or 2 venturi if you're foreign) carburetor. The Aussies kept modifying the six cylinder as gas is so much more expensive down there, as a result there are a few advantages of this engine over the American 200ci. The most notable improvement is the fact that this head has a removable intake, if you look at some of the earlier pics of my engine, you will see that the intake is cast into the head. The lack of machining needed with this setup probably saved Ford millions over the course of the engine's life, unfortunately it also severely limited the intake of air and thus the production of power (there are a couple guys running the log head with a turbo, they are running in 10 seconds and less in the quarter mile).
A few other advantages over my current engine: 50 more cubic inches, bellhousing pattern that matches a Ford V8 making it easier to adapt a better transmission, comes stock with a more free flowing exhaust, power is more than doubled.
I ended up getting this engine for the cost he paid plus shipping, roughly $1250 altogether. Usually you will end up paying that for just the head after shipping from Oz

The port had a forklift to put the box in my truck, I had neither forklift, nor engine hoist, so I had to get mildly creative to get the engine out. Sawzalled the box away, laid the engine on its side, bolted the engine stand to the block, took the wheels off the truck and gently lowered it down until I could get the engine stand completely under it.
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A wrecked garage is the sign of a happy mind.
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OnceI installed the new head, I realized a few things:
  1. My carb would not fit as I had a larger diameter intake as I had received a later model head.
  2. The throttle linkage would not work with whatever new carb I installed.
  3. My old air cleaner would not clear the new carb and the hood
This necessitated maybe 3 months of crawling through junkyards, visiting speed shops, scratching my head, etc etc.
Finally I realized that: the carburetor from a mid-model F100 with the 300ci Inline 6 would work, a cable throttle could be rigged up, and the aircleaner from my 250-2V fit both the new carb and under the hood as it was much lower profile.
I'm still not happy with the cable throttle, the pedal action is about 2 inches from idle to WOT where the original was something like 6-8”, makes for a very finicky throttle. I'm going to rework the cable throttle one day. I would like to make a rod and bell-crank assembly from an aesthetic standpoint, but that priority is far down the list.

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So, I got everything setup so that it would work... And the rubber in the balancer crapped out. With an inline six this shouldn't really matter as the the engine is internally balanced and does not need an external balancer, the one problem with this is that the single belt that runs the water pump and alternator... is on the outer ring ofthe fucking balancer.
So, another three weeks for parts researching and delivery. Couple hours work to install and....
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Somewhere in there I replaced the rear shocks which had crapped out
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And yes, she was road-worthy (ish, still had open headers, didn't bother me)
I'd always heard the phrase “smiled so hard it hurt” but never put much credence to it. However, the first time I drove her from my house to base to meet some friends, as I was bombing down Route 4...Well, by the time I got to base I had little spots of blood at the corners of my mouth.






Not long after that my enlistment ended and I moved back to Tallahassee. My best friend from before I was even in kindergarten, Bubba, drove up with my dad and a trailer. We put Susie on the truck and they left a day or two ahead of me as I still had some paperwork and such to finish.
Not even a quarter of the way down and my transmission cooler lines that (unbeknownst to me) had been rubbing against each other for a fair amount of time before finally rubbed through and I started puking transmission fluid down I-95.
I had the brilliant fortune to pull into an exit that had a Ford dealership/repair shop and got the line patched, but it was too late and I lost first gear and overdrive.
This was roughly at the Virginia/NC border, I ended up limping down to almost South Of The Border, SC, but the temp gauge was pegging way too hard/too quickly so I ended up calling AAA and massively taking advantage of the 100 mile tow per day (I had the premium membership) and ended up maxing my tow abilities by getting to somewhere in northern Ga, then holed up in a motel for a day or two. Bubba trekked back up with the trailer and we limped the truck onto the trailer and got on down to Tally.

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I started the T5 swap when I was making minimum wage + tips, and it was then that I found out that the kit I bought was for a '64-66 model. The only way I amassed enough parts to properly do the install was by getting paid by the Reserves, and making friends with the owner of a Mustang specific junkyard near Duke Field who would help me out by selling me parts for cheap as hell.

When changing from an early model to a '67 they changed virtually everything. The pedal is different, one of the mounting points for the clutch assist spring is in the same point, however the other is in a completely different spot making it a whoreson to install.
My biggest pet peeve is that no one makes any reproduction parts for this at all, so you can't just buy new parts.

I'm not sure which part is for which year anymore, I think I painted everything so it looked good before I installed it, but I'm not sure
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The Mustang graveyard hooked me up with a fair bit, but some stuff I just had to make (for instance, the rod that actually moves the clutch fork ended up bending in half the first time I ever tried to activate the clutch.) It's a good thing that through the Reserves I had the facilities to completely tear down a Cat D7 bulldozer, so I got to the point where I did some fabrication

I can't find the pics of the fabrication, so here's this:
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And now, I'll post something I wrote a long time ago
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On the fourth of June 2006, while I was working with a fellow Reservist for my “two weeks a year” at Naval Support Activity Panama City, my father called me just as I was leaving work. He told me that he was sorry to ruin my day, but that Chuck Sparks, my mentor, the first person to ever teach me anything about turning a wrench, had died of an abdominal aneurysm


I've included this here because Chuck is as much a part of this build as any nut, or any bolt that I've ever turned on any vehicle. He taught me almost every trick I know and I'm sure he knew more than I'll ever figure out. He was also as into this build as I was, and the last time I saw him (about two weeks before he died) he was very excited that I almost had the T5 installed, and couldn't wait till she was running so that he could see how it all turned out and how she drove.

He had gone everywhere, and done everything. He was a Marine who lied about his age to join up, he ended up fighting in the Pacific during WWII and turned 16 or 17 shortly afterwards, later on he was sent to Korea. He worked as (I believe) the crew chief of the Triumph factory team, raced his own vehicles, and has owned more unique vehicles than I've seen in any museum.

He could make the most obstinate motor of any English or Italian brand spin like it was new off the factory floor and beg it's forgiveness for having the nerve to run poorly. He had an answer for any possible issue, or a way to think around any problem that showed that he had been in a similar situation before.(and considering my clutch linkage issues with this car, I'm still not sure if he was joking about using a solenoid to activate the clutch or not.)

He could bullshit any cop so thoroughly that they would be unsure of where they were, much less what he was doing wrong when he was stopped by them, and those few times he actually was not able to do so, they were so impressed by what caused him to get stopped that he got off without even a warning. I remember him telling me that in the 70s he once (legally) passed about half a dozen slow drivers while driving a Lotus through the Dragon at Deal's Gap, only to have a Deputy who had been following him pull him over "because if any of them tried to do that, they'd run off the edge and kill themselves." The Deputy let him go as soon as they all had passed

He never stooped to cussing, not even when bit by an ignition coil, or when he slipped on a pool of oil and bruised his entire side for weeks after. Instead he knew the mostly forgotten art of cursing, eschewing mere four letter words for such convoluted phrases of damning mien that Shakespeare himself would have scratched his head in befuddlement.


But mostly, he was the friend of a young man who had unwisely chosen a car over twice his age for his first car, with more problems than any three Hollywood starlets. He was the man who taught me the value of being smarter than what you're working on, and the tools you're working with.

He was one of my best friends, and now that he's gone I feel that the best tool I had access to is gone
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Fuck I hate reading that. Any time I post it I always have to go over it, see if there's anything I need to add (such as how, when Chuck was in Korea, he met Chesty while Chuck was wearing the uniform of an Army Captain who had stolen Chuck's Marine uniform because the Capt wanted to be in the Marines so much more than the Army), remove, or change anything. I never do change anything, but I always have to check,and it always hurts.
One thing I didn't mention was that my dad and Chuck were both Marines, I'm still not sure if that's how they met each other, or if it was from the fact that dad used to do Auto-X with his '71 Porsche 914-6 (another project I have) and Chuck had such a strong racing presence in that area.
This pic of Chuck was taken February of '06 by my dad. Dad is still bothered by the fact that the only decent pic he has of Chuck is not one where he's laughing or making a joke or something, but one where he has "this damned, surprised silly look" on his face

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Anyways.

Around this point in time I was having trouble with the linkages, I ultimately bought a '68 Mustang solely for the purpose of stealing parts off it. I should have probably kept it or tripled the amount I sold it for, the body on that thing (other than the immediate front) was straight as an arrow, had never been wrecked
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So, I got it all installed, got the linkages all sorted, started her up and was able to activate the clutch exactly twice, then the pedal got rock hard.
Turns out the pilot bearing was crap, it disintegrated and the throwout shaft (which was made of aluminum) basically got beaten out by the input shaft enough so that the throwout bearing would not move past a certain point.
Happily, Ford Racing makes a steel throwout shaft, so parts got ordered, parts got installed.

Old throwout shaft

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New shaft, new throwout bearing. These two should probably be a gif, it's even lubed up
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When I finally got it all installed I found that I needed the driveshaft to be shortened by a couple inches. When I did that I also found some seats from a Supra in a Junkyard for cheap as hell. These seats are the cheapest, closest thing you can get to professional racing seats, yet are still built for a daily driver.
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Somewhere in the install of the clutch linkages, the brakes went wonky, seized up completely, I can't move the pedal at all. I have not been able to work on the car enough to figure out what's going on. I want to change the lines to stainless steel, so I will likely just remove everything and install new lines, that'll eliminate any blockage I've got
I don't have a picture of that, so here's me being manly
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Changed out the rear leafsprings. As I mentioned earlier in the thread it took me roughly 3 hours with an additional hour to sandblast old hardware, Vs the entire day affair it took when I first started
The VW vans in the background are dad's. The green one was a parts van, the VanOrange is something he used to daily drive, but has had issues with the carbs and has yet to get those sorted.
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Julie helped a lot
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This is, roughly, how she sits right now. I typically have a cover on her, and she's not on the jackstands, but that's how she looks right now.
For roughly a dollar a day, you can help me save her. Your donation of a dollar a day will help me rent a trailer to tow her down. It will pay for gas, it will buy replacement body panels and a welder. For less than the price of a Happy Meal per day, you can help me save this beautiful Mustang.

Won't you help?
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