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Project

GT Revival

Table of Contents

Introduction

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The GT isn't historically significant beyond being a 5.0 5-speed Mustang, but it holds a great deal of personal significance for me.

In fact, the GT is the car I'm most personally vested in of all of my cars: We've been on many adventures together and she's my baby. When she went down 13 years ago it was a real blow.

Project: GT Revival is all about making her my adventuring companion again; returning her to the open road where she belongs.

Background

After years of driving and racing the GT, the clutch gave out, the third gear synchro wasn't very happy with me, and the trusty 5.0 was tired.

The car needed a lot of work.

It still does.

The GT went down in 2006 and hasn't seen the road since.

Although it has 107,000 miles on the odometer, it's in phenomenal shape and just needs some loving attention to bring it back to its former glory.

Description

When the GT's clutch wore out, I did the only prudent thing I could think of, which was to tear into the car to discover the extent of the damage and to replace the defunct friction disc. As is often the case with repairs of this type, one thing led to another and the GT was put aside as the costs and time demands began to mount.

That is where it continues to sit — in pieces. However, unlike the Survivor and the LX, only the clutch assembly, transmission, and driveshaft are out of the car.

Too bad what the GT needs to be back on the road is more extensive than a clutch replacement. It also needs a rebuilt transmission...and a rebuilt engine.

And a rebuilt differential.

I also don't see the need to leave the scratched-up paint and dinged sheet metal on an otherwise completely rebuilt car.

I'm guessing the interior will need a thorough cleaning after sitting for 13 years, as well.

Basically, this project is like the LX's Project: Special K — a rebuild, not a restoration — with more involved and expensive paint and body repair work since more of it is compromised, but not so much that it goes beyond repair territory.

Reasons

Here's a surprise: I want the GT back on the road.

Not surprised? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Here's a bunch of reasonable reasons beyond "I'm stubborn and I'm gonna do it come hell or high water regardless of a good reason":

  • It's a Muscle Car. It's a Mustang.
  • The joy of driving my baby. I love this car. She and I've been on countless adventures together and they should never ever end.
  • This is the second easiest and least expensive project I have to undertake, making putting one of my most favorite cars ever back on the road a no-brainer.
  • Like the rest of my cars, I worked too hard to keep it through some pretty rough times, and throwing away my baby would not only be a very brutal reward for my efforts. And, really, this car is in WAAAY too nice a shape to toss.
  • Like the LX and the Survivor, I failed to get this car on the road when it went down years ago and nothing says "don't stop" like failure. At least for me.
  • This car isn't practice. For me, the LX is practice and this is the big show. This car REALLY matters to me. That said, it is still good practice for the coming extensive restorations ahead of me with the other project cars.
  • If you've read Project: Car Cancer and Project: Special K, then you know I abandoned my first car, the Original 351, and even though I forgave myself for it a long time ago, I will always kick myself for it. Like hell I'll abandon my baby.

This car has already played the part of daily driver, touring car, and race car. It did it for three years like a champ: a real stud (stud-ette? — it's a she, after all) of a Mustang. Not only do I know it does them all with elegant aplomb, but she's a real gem to drive. Although there isn't a snowball's chance in hell I'll waste her as a daily driver again, as I've already mentioned it would be a joy to have her out on the open road — it absolutely excels as a touring car. Of course, I'll have to give her ample track time as well — it is a Muscle Car after all and that's what they're for.

Goals

The GT has sat for long enough and it's time to return it to the condition I bought it in: like it rolled off a showroom floor.

Thankfully, even though I put some hard miles on her, she didn't suffer a great deal for it and bringing her back to a like-new condition won't be too hard.

Here's what's needed:

  • Rebuilt powertrain — I don't know all the parts that will need to be replaced, because even though she has 107,000 miles on her, much of it is still good. However, it will need a rebuilt longblock — balanced and completely blue printed, obviously — a rebuilt transmission, and as already mentioned, the differential needs its clutches replaced, but the gears and bearings are likely fine.
  • Suspension alignment — I was never happy with the alignment on this car. It needs a lot of help to be spot on. I would like to do it myself, but my guess is I won't have the equipment or even the space to do it — we'll see. On the positive side, the suspension and brakes were rebuilt right before she went down, so they're in fantastic shape.
  • New tires — sadly, I replaced them right before it went down and after 13 years, they're flat-spotted.
  • Paint scratches and dings repaired — there's some extensive scratching down the driver's side and a ding I put in the driver side fender when I dropped an impact socket on it — I wasn't terribly pleased with myself, to say the least.
  • Clean interior — it's been sitting for more than a decade and lord knows what's built up in there over that time. The interior is otherwise nearly flawless, so I'll see about getting her back in driving shape. On a side note, it's gray cloth and I've always wanted black leather in her: something to do in the future.

That's it. I'm just looking to replace the worn-out parts and bring all the surfaces back to like-new. Since this isn't a concours restoration, I'll be able to save some dinero by using good used parts where applicable.

Scope

Like Project: Special K and Project: Car Cancer, Project: GT Revival includes any and all work, parts, and other resources necessary to bring the GT back to a like-new condition.

What this project doesn't include are any mods — even though it was low on power, I love the way it drove right off the showroom floor and plan to keep it that way — I may add a little grunt in a future project, though ;)

Timeframe

Like the LX, the GT is in great shape. While the body work will take more time, they aren't hours that I'll likely have to work as I plan to outsource that work to a body shop. Thus, like the LX, I will be giving myself 18 weeks over six months of actual work time for this project.

Now for the ugly truth, just like with every other project, I have no funding for it or for the space needed to do the work, so there are no start or end dates for it, currently.

The following is a table summarizing my planned personal work time for Project: GT Revival — of course that means it doesn't include the contractor time needed for the paint, body, and alignment work:

Per: Day Week Year Totals
Hours 5 10 180 180
Days 2 36 36
Weeks 18 18
Years 0

Budget

Since there's no budget in place for this project and I haven't done the detailed planning necessary to know the exact amount I'm going to need to complete it, I'm going to take a wild stab at it.

I guessed the '93 LX's budget for Project: Special K at $10,000, so I'm going to guess this one at about $5,000 more due to the increased paint and body work. From that $5,000, I'm going to subtract $2,000 for the already completed chassis and put it right about $13,000.

Using the estimate and the timeframe above — and not based on the work phases or systems effected — here's the scheduled budget for Project: GT Revival:

Week: 1 2 3
Initial Financing $8,000 $0 $0
Scheduled Financing $250 $250 $250
Scheduled Cost -$722 -$722 -$722
TOTAL $8,028 $7,556 $7,084
4 5 6 7 8
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$722 -$722 -$722 -$722 -$722
$6,612 $6,140 $5,668 $5,196 $4,724
9 10 11 12 13
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$722 -$722 -$722 -$722 -$722
$4,252 $3,780 $3,308 $2,836 $2,364
14 15 16 17 18
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$722 -$722 -$722 -$722 -$722
$1,892 $1,420 $948 $476 $4
Totals
$8,500
$4,500
-$12,996

Location

This is the second project on my list after Project: Special K for the '93 Mustang LX. What that means is I should — in theory — have the space to do this project already. Hopefully, this time when I say that I'm doing the work myself for both financial and fulfillment reasons, it makes more immediate sense.

How much financial sense doing this project myself makes will depend on how you look at it. If you consider the money for the facilities as already spent, then I have substantial savings, if you consider spreading the cost of the Service Garage over the initial six planned projects (one for each project car), then I'm spreading that cost out, which is good, but the financial advantage is reduced.

Now that I've said all that, I plan to do the majority of the work on the GT in the Service Garage, then move the car to the respective repair facilities for whatever contractors I find to do the outsourced work.

However, if luck should turn my way, maybe — just maybe — I'll get to do the paint, body work, and suspension alignment myself.

Fingers crossed.

Work Requirements

Although the chassis is by-and-large complete, I still have to replace the tires, so I have to touch virtually every part of the car to get it back on the road. In order to make sense of the work, I've gone ahead and broken it down by vehicle system.

Body

  • Dent repair
  • Paint repair

Interior

  • Cleaning and detailing

Powertrain

  • Rust removal
  • Mechanical part replacement
  • Rebuild engine
  • Rebuild transmission
  • Rebuild rear end
  • Primer and paint?
  • Plating?
  • Powder coating?

Chassis

  • Tire replacement

Electrical

  • Mechanical part replacement

Trim

  • Rust removal?
  • Mechanical part replacement
  • Straightening?
  • Primer and paint

Hardware

  • Rust removal
  • Mechanical part replacement
  • Primer and paint
  • Plating
  • Powder coating

Sealing

  • Mechanical part replacement
  • Material reconditioning

Schedule

Since this is what I would refer to as a rebuild and not a restoration, I'm looking at it the same way I am Project: Special K: as a bunch of repairs, not a total tear down.

Since I haven't done a detailed plan for this project yet, I've written out the generic milestones as I see them now.

This plan is likely to change.

Assessment, Feasibility and Go/No Go

The GT is the first of three disassembled cars in my collection — if you look at the sequence they were torn down in, rather than the sequence I'm doing their respective projects.

Unlike the other two car, the disassembly work done for the GT makes the project easier, because it isn't so disassembled I'll be chasing parts from here to hell and gone, but it is already well on its way. All I need to do is give everything a careful once over to be sure all is in order and the assessment should be taken care of.

As far as feasibility goes, outside of finding someone to do high quality work on the body and the alignment, there shouldn't be many issues if any. This car is all there and in otherwise great shape — all it needs is funding and a place for me to work. HahaHahahaHa...

Since this project is insufficiently supported, project launch — the final part of this phase — is on hold before I can even get to it.

Planning

Once I'm able to pull the trigger on launching Project: GT Revival, the planning begins.

The planning phase involves creating a written, detailed plan with properly sequenced work as well as sourcing the contractors for the work I can't do that I'm going to need taken care of to complete it.

Engine Rebuild

This phase isn't as simple as taking the engine down to the machine shop and picking it up when it's finished. I would like to save the original engine, so that means finding a solid replacement for the trusty 5.0.

Once the engine is procured, I'll need to go through it before taking the longblock to be rebuilt, including balancing and blue printing. I would like to do this part myself, but while I have the engine tools necessary to assemble the longblock, I don't have the machines and equipment to machine the parts, so really, it's just easier to let a skilled engine builder do the whole thing.

I don't foresee finding a good shop to do this work as difficult as finding a body and alignment shop, but one never really knows.

Transmission Rebuild

This is a job I can do myself. In fact, unless something falls in my lap, I plan on rebuilding the original transmission and tossing it back behind the rebuilt small block. It was fantastic for 100,000 miles, so it should be good for another 100,000 or so.

Side note: I don't have the clutch replacement as a separate milestone because installing it will fit later on in the engine and transmission installation phase. I may even put the powertrain together for storage if it's more convenient. I'm keeping my options open.

Rear End Rebuild

There's 100,000 miles on this rear end — just like the rest of the car, funny enough. That's about the limit of the clutches in the Mustang 8.8" rear ends — at least, in my experience. That's definitely the case here. Enough racing has made this rear end extra soggy. I know, because power transfer from side-to-side was getting pretty sluggish by the time the GT went down.

Remember when I said there would be no mods on this car for this project? I should have said no major mods. There will be a minor mod: I will be re-stacking the clutch packs in the rear end to use an extra clutch disc on each side. It makes the power transfer much more aggressive and the traction improves accordingly. It does so by lowering the amount of wheel spin on the slipping side before it transfers power to the other wheel. It does make the rear end "snappier," increases fishtailing under hard burnout, and is harder to catch if your reflexes aren't fast enough and you aren't extremely smooth with your driving inputs, but smooth is fast and I've spent most of my life making my driving as smooth as possible, so, for me, adding those extra clutch discs is definitely an improvement.

Paint and Body Repair

Once the car is ready to roll, I'll take her in to the bodyshop to deal with the dent I put in the driver side front fender that has tweaked my nose ever since it happened, and the scratches running all up and down the driver side of the body.

In the past, the dealership bodyshop I prefer to use, wouldn't do the work, but they've relaxed some on the types of work they'll do, so I plan to try again. If that doesn't pan out, I'll be forced to do my best to find someone who can really knock it out.

Tire Replacement

This one is pretty straight forward. I don't have the machines and equipment to swap tires, so, I'll have to take the GT's tires down to the local tire shop and have them swapped out. I'll also have to do some research during the planning phase to figure out what tires are available for her nowadays.

Engine and Transmission Installation

This car is my baby, the body work will be done, so the installation of the engine and trans is going to need to proceed very carefully, but otherwise, this should just be a straightforward procedure.

As I mentioned in Project: Special K, I've sure as hell done enough powertrain installations, so this shouldn't pose any real issues.

Interior Cleaning and Detailing

Not a big deal, but I have a feeling it's been so long that things are growing in the nearly perfect gray cloth interior.

This is one place I wished for something different when I bought this car: I really like the black leather option. I won't be replacing the interior now, but it may happen at a later date. I've already got a few cherry items I sourced from a local u-pick junkyard and I plan to put them in during a later project.

Adjustment and Quality Control

The GT needs an alignment something fierce. The last one I had done was so-so and I'm not impressed. The problem with this chassis is that it's not stock any longer so I can't take it to a Ford dealership, it has to be an independent garage and I don't have one I would trust to do the work.

The story behind the dealership-offensive modification is that the strut mounts had to be replaced with Ford Racing pieces in order to bring the alignment back to factory spec, in so doing, the local dealerships wouldn't work with the car any longer. It was also the strut mount replacement that led to the dent in the fender mentioned earlier and below.

C'est la vie.

Maybe I'll have the resources available to do it myself by then.

Other than the issues the alignment potentially poses, that should be it. At this point, the principle project work should be complete once all the other little adjustments are made and it passes a final quality inspection.

If the GT doesn't pass — because, I don't know, I couldn't comprehend that if I didn't do it right the first time I'd have to redo it — I'll also have to redo any of the work that didn't meet my standards before it's ready to go.

Delivery

This is where the GT goes into rotation with the LX as another potential back-up to the Cobalt, as my primary touring car — because I really love this thing on the open road — and to take to the track every now and then because the GT really is fantastic on the drag strip or hanging the corners.

Close Out

Once the GT is put into service alongside the other cars, I'll still need to take a look at how the project turned out — including the successes and the failures — in preparation for the next project, the Survivor's Project: Car Cancer.

By this point I'll have dealt with the '93 LX's rebuild, the GT's rebuild — which includes dealing with more extensive paint and body work — and that will hopefully prep me for the full-on restoration of the Survivor '87 Mustang.

Summary

Project: GT Revival is a rebuild. It differs from a restoration in that I'm only doing a bunch of isolated repairs, not a complete tear down of the mechanicals as well as a stripping of the body and frame down to the bare metal. Outside of the work itself, the differences for the resources needed to perform a rebuild are that a rebuild can easily be done in a space that will work for any major repair with the addition of the extra space needed for the extra parts and repair associated with a more expansive job like this. The ultimate goal of this project is to bring the GT back to a like-new condition reminiscent of when I first purchased it. When done it will be capable of performing as a back-up to the Cobalt, as my main touring car, and as a weekend racer.

Progress

This is the second project I plan to undertake when I'm able to work on my Car Projects again. Since I haven't started on the first, Project: Special K, and I lack the resources to do so, there's obviously a ways to go before I'm able to get to this one. Once I do, you'll be able to find updates right here.

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