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Project

Homecoming

Table of Contents

Introduction

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My Mom's '66 Mustang and I have a long history together and Project: Homecoming is all about resurrecting this car one more time.

Yes, it's died and come back to life multiple times and after a couple of decades, it's time to bring it back once again.

Background

My Mom's Mustang was the car I learned to drive in.

It was also the car I grew up in.

It was even the car I was brought home from the hospital in as a baby.

After all, this was my Mother's first car and this '66 Mustang has been an important part of my entire life.

To say this car influenced me is an understatement.

This one car is responsible for my love affair with both driving and Mustangs and it's why my first car was a '66 Mustang.

In fact, I went for countless road trips in it before I could even see over the dash. Of course, that was a time before child car seats. To this day I can still remember not being able to see over the dash — most of my view was that of the Mustang running horse on the glove box door.

Not only was this the car I learned to drive in, before I had the Original 351, this was the car I drove every day.

After the Original 351 was gone, I continued to drive it off and on, resurrecting it several times with rebuilt or replaced drivetrain components and often extensive maintenance and repair.

My Mom's Mustang has, however, sat derelict for a couple of decades. The powertrain is shot, the suspension is shot, the brakes never were taken care of properly (I had nothing to do with that), the interior needs to be replaced, and some of the body panels are rusted through.

It needs a serious overhaul.

Description

My Mom's Mustang needs a complete restoration.

Front to back, left to right, top to bottom. It all has to be done.

If you ask the question "what about xyz?" The answer is yes.

I've got a conundrum over Project: Homecoming, though:

This was my Mom's first car, so I feel like it should remain a time capsule replete with Springtime Yellow paint, 6-banger engine, terrible drum brakes, and that automatic transmission.

Okay, I'll clue you in on something: the C4 auto in the '66 Mustang is the only automatic transmission I've ever liked.

Ever.

I still prefer a manual, but there's something magical about that car, with that shifter and that transmission. So, I'm not conflicted about the transmission.

The rest though, I'd like to put on the chopping block. Here's why:

First of all, the brakes are so terrible in the '66 Mustang with the 6-cylinder option that, quite frankly, even if perfect, aren't safe on modern roads — if they ever were.

Second, the engine is so bloody emaciated that the car is slow enough that it’s not safe getting on a modern freeway. Nor is it capable of maneuvering on the modern open road. Hell, it struggles with hills if the engine is running perfectly.

So, what are my options? Well, many, but my thought is that since I — due to my own shortsightedness — lost my first car, and this one is the first car I ever drove, I should make a replica of the Original 351.

Without the hideous white vinyl top, of course — no offense to those who love their Mustang with vinyl tops.

And, have it in like-new condition — complete with the Original 351's original Vintage Burgundy paint.

Basically, a time capsule of a sorts. A car I would never modify, only use to relive my youth.

That would entail a complete restoration of the car, swapping the 6-cylinder brakes and suspension for 289 brakes and suspension, changing the color from Springtime Yellow to Vintage Burgundy, swapping out the 6-banger for a 351W, replacing the 6-cylinder C4 automatic trans with a 289 Type II C4 auto, and the 6-cylinder rear end with a 289 Ford 8" sporting 2.80:1 gears and an open differential.

I would then have the best of all worlds: My Mom's first car, my first car, and it would be safer to drive.

Let's be honest, I'm not looking for complete safety, just the additional ability to get up to freeway speeds within the confines of a freeway on ramp, maneuver through traffic and safely pass, get up hills, and be able to brake when needed.

Crazy, I know.

Reasons

I want it back on the road?

I know, I know, it's been the same basic reason for all of the Car Projects so far. But it's no less true, here.

Beyond putting it back on the road, there are a lot of extraordinarily significant personal reasons for this car, though:

  • I can't possibly get back to my roots any more than this car. This is the one that started it all. And to do it in the guise of my own first car, well, it's so personally special I'm practically a gooey little mess inside thinking about it.
  • I'd like this car to be in like-new condition and safe to drive. That'd be cool for once.
  • I may keep my failure with the Original 351 with me, but if ever there was a car I won't abandon, this is it.
  • Unlike most of the other cars, I didn't keep this car through rough times, but I've waited my whole life for it. It's finally in my possession and I refuse to fail to bring it back to its original glory — or better, as the case may be.

Finally, although it's of even less historical importance than the New 351, it is still a 1966 Ford Mustang and the first two and a half years of the Mustang will always have historical significance — and with their numbers dwindling, it's important for every one of them to remain running.

Goals

My goals for this project are very similar to those of the New 351 in Project: Two-Barrel Terror — and for good reason, the projects are nearly identical.

I'm going to copy and paste those goals here, with the changes needed to address this car's peculiarities where needed:

  • Completely restored. Stem to stern. That includes all components, sheet metal, and paint.
  • Replace the worn-out 200 I6 with a completely rebuilt — balanced and blueprinted — factory '69-'74 351W w/a two-barrel carb and a 289 3-bolt harmonic balancer — possibly a Hi-Po balancer. I'll also be going with a Pertronix Ignitor in the factory distributor. I just like the ease of electronic ignitions — and more importantly, dislike having to deal with the issues associated with points.
  • Replace the single exhaust with a dual 2" featuring standard baffled mufflers — or possibly DynoMax Super Turbo mufflers. Why a 2" system? That's what was on the Original 351, but this time it'll have an H-pipe. If I can find someone to build a mandrel bent version, I probably won't say no.
  • Use an original air cleaner, valve covers, 2-bbl exhaust manifolds, accessories, etc from a '66 289 to keep it looking stock — in the spirit of the Original 351.
  • I may opt to dyno-tune the engine — this is definitely something the Original 351 didn't have and would have benefitted from.
  • Replace the original 6-cylinder C4 automatic transmission with a Type II C4 for a 289. The Type II is significant because it's what the Original 351 had and it has a revised shift control which allows me to start in second and manually shift between the three gears.
  • Replace the 6-cylinder rear end with an 8" out of a 289 car. It will also need to be a 2.80:1 one-legger because that's what the Original 351 had. Yes, it will make traction a challenge, but it was also a big part of the old girl's charm.
  • Replace the stock steel wheels with 14"x6" Cragar S/S Mags. The wheels on the Original 351 were American Racing S/S knock-offs, and the originals are the closest I can get. Yes, 14"x6" were the original size of those wheels.
  • 205/70R14s all the way around. If I can find Michelins, I'll be using them (they are my favorite tire), if not I'll probably fall back to BFG Radial T/As. The Original 351 had 195s in front and 205s outback, but I'll be going 205s all the way around this time for the very slight improvement in handling, braking, etc they will provide. Plus, they're easier to rotate that way. And trust me, frequent rotations will be required — this thing eats tires even if I'm behaving myself.
  • Vintage Burgundy paint. I've thought long and hard about this. The Original 351 came from the factory with Vintage Burgundy and was repainted at some point in a darker shade, but I'll be painting my Mom's Mustang the original — unless I get a wild hair, than another shade of burgundy could be on the table.

Like the New 351, my goal is to recreate the Original 351, but in like-new condition, with some minor changes to improve many of the issues the original had. I'm creating a like-new driver, not a show car, so it'll be missing chalk marks and extraneous labels. It will also see quality stock replacement parts in place of factory-correct recreations and NOS parts where appropriate based on my judgement.

Scope

The scope for this project includes any and all work and resources necessary to reach the goal of returning this old pony to like-new condition. It will also need the resources and work necessary to drop a 351W into the chassis and convert the rest of the car accordingly as outlined above in the goals section.

Timeframe

This is the fifth and most ambitious project I have in my hobby for the foreseeable future. The amount of time needed to complete it shouldn't be any worse than that of the New 351 in Project: Two Barrel Terror. That means two years of work, with 36 weeks each, and two available days a week at five hours a day. Total, that's a planned 720 hours of personal time.

See the table below for a breakdown:

Per: Day Week Year Totals
Hours 5 10 360 720
Days 2 72 144
Weeks 36 72
Years 2

Budget

$40,000, that's the budget. Just like the New 351.

I've already been over the justification for budgeting so much to restore a car that's otherwise solid, in Project: Two Barrel Terror, but to recap:

That includes the cost of every single nut, bolt, material, and supply. It also includes all the body and paint work — which I'd prefer to do myself, but will realistically need a body shop to handle.

Just like all the other projects, there is no money for this one right now, nor is there a detailed project plan, because of that, the following scheduled budget is based solely on the $40,000 dollar number broken down for the 72 weeks needed to complete the project. It will be updated when a real plan is in place:

Week: 1 2 3
Initial Financing $22,000 $0 $0
Scheduled Financing $250 $250 $250
Scheduled Cost -$555 -$555 -$555
TOTAL $21,695 $21,390 $21,085
4 5 6 7 8
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$555 -$555 -$555 -$555 -$555
$20,780 $20,475 $20,170 $19,865 $19,560
9 10 11 12 13
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$555 -$555 -$555 -$555 -$555
$19,255 $18,950 $18,645 $18,340 $18,035
14 15 16 17 18
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$555 -$555 -$555 -$555 -$555
$17,730 $17,425 $17,120 $16,815 $16,510
19 20 21 22 23
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$555 -$555 -$555 -$555 -$555
$16,205 $15,900 $15,595 $15,290 $14,985
24 25 26 27 28
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$555 -$555 -$555 -$555 -$555
$14,680 $14,375 $14,070 $13,765 $13,460
29 30 31 32 33
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$555 -$555 -$555 -$555 -$555
$13,155 $12,850 $12,545 $12,240 $11,935
34 35 36 37 38
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$555 -$555 -$555 -$555 -$555
$11,630 $11,325 $11,020 $10,715 $10,410
39 40 41 42 43
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$555 -$555 -$555 -$555 -$555
$10,105 $9,800 $9,495 $9,190 $8,885
44 45 46 47 48
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$555 -$555 -$555 -$555 -$555
$8,580 $8,275 $7,970 $7,665 $7,360
49 50 51 52 53
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$555 -$555 -$555 -$555 -$555
$7,055 $6,750 $6,445 $6,140 $5,835
54 55 56 57 58
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$555 -$555 -$555 -$555 -$555
$5,530 $5,225 $4,920 $4,615 $4,310
59 60 61 62 63
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$555 -$555 -$555 -$555 -$555
$4,005 $3,700 $3,395 $3,090 $2,785
64 65 66 67 68
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$250 $250 $250 $250 $250
-$555 -$555 -$555 -$555 -$555
$2,480 $2,175 $1,870 $1,565 $1,260
69 70 71 72 Totals
$0 $0 $0 $0 $22,000
$250 $250 $250 $250 $18,000
-$555 -$555 -$555 -$555 -$39,960
$955 $650 $345 $40

Location

The home for this project will hopefully be the Service Garage.

Since the Service Garage isn't even funded, much less built, the principle place of work for this project is still realistically up in the air.

I've made plenty of mention of the difficulty my projects have in coming to fruition on all the other project pages, already. This one is no different. As I pull my life together, I intend the projects to come along for the ride.

Work Requirements

I've broken down the type of work required by vehicle system as follows:

Body

  • Glass removal and installation
  • Rust removal
  • Body panel replacement
  • Body panel adjustment
  • Primer and paint
  • Mechanical part replacement
  • Plating
  • Powder coating

Interior

  • Rust removal
  • Sound deadener replacement
  • Upholstery removal and installation
  • Mechanical part replacement
  • Primer and paint
  • Plating
  • Powder coating

Powertrain

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

Chassis

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

Electrical

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

Trim

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

Hardware

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

Sealing

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

Schedule

Since this is a total restoration, I've broken up this project's milestones based on a complete tear down.

This schedule is only preliminary and will likely change — especially after I find out how Project: Two-Barrel Terror turns out.

Assessment, Feasibility and Go/No Go

This car is all there, however, I haven't been acquainted with its problems in decades. That means I'll need to do a full assessment of the car when the time comes. Once I do that, I'll be able to determine the actual feasibility of this project — but I don't really see it being a problem provided I've got the resources prior to starting.

As for launching this project, if you've read above, you know I currently lack the resources to do anything. So, until that's in place, there will be no go ahead.

Planning

Planning should be pretty straight forward since '66 Mustangs are such simple cars and I know there isn't anything terribly wrong with this one.

During the planning stage, I'll assemble any of the parts I have lying around for this build, find any needed contractors, and, of course, plan the details of this project.

Disassembly

Like the New 351 in Project: Two-Barrel Terror, my Mom's Mustang is going to be torn all the way down to the nuts and bolts — the chassis mounted on a body dolly or rotisserie.

Disassembly is where that gets accomplished.

Parts Repair and Replacement

In parts repair and replacement, I'll be assessing all of the old parts to figure out what's savable and what isn't, then saving those I can and replacing those I can't.

For Project: Homecoming, I'm going to be saving as many parts as possible. Unlike the New 351 where I'll do whatever is most economical or time efficient, this car has a great deal of sentimental value and every single part on the car is a part of that.

That said, whatever I can't save, I will replace.

I may use some "good" used parts simply because the original parts — sometimes in their original condition — are important, but it will depend on the part and the circumstances. Ultimately, like the New 351, I want this car in a like-new condition so that it's at least as reliable as it was when it rolled off the showroom floor back in 1966.

Body Repair

It's been a really long time since I've looked over my Mom's Mustang, but from what I can remember, there will definitely be some rust removal — possibly even the replacement of the driver side quarter panel.

If I can get away with just replacing the most rotted section of that quarter, I will.

Other than that, the body work will include stripping the paint and making sure it's arrow-straight.

Body Primer and Paint

Obviously, I'd really like to do all the paint and body work myself, but the reality of my situation may keep me from being able to do that. If I'm able, then I will be keeping "body repair" and "body primer and paint" as separate milestones. If I end up farming it out to a body shop, then they'll be rolled into one.

Regardless, when done, it will be burgundy, more than like Vintage Burgundy — possibly with a clear coat. We'll see.

Assembly

I've ripped plenty of '66 Mustangs apart. I know them backwards and forwards — especially this one. With all of the body and paint work done at this point and the parts restored or replaced, and ready to go in, it should be quite simple and identical to Project: Two-Barrel Terror, so I'm just going to copy and paste those steps in here:

  • Final installation and adjustment of body panels, glass, trim, and related components.
  • Electrical system installation — minus components related to other assembly procedures later in the process.
  • Interior installation including heater system.
  • Powertrain and chassis installation — this car will be completely apart, which means these two groups will be easier to put in together much like they were at the factory as complex sub-assemblies.

Adjustment and Quality Control

Other than being an automatic, this project is virtually identical to Project: Two-Barrel Terror, so the adjustment and quality control will also be virtually identical. That means this milestone includes adjusting engine timing, idle, and suspension alignment. It will also include performance tuning of the engine if I decide to do that — after all, this will be a stock engine, so, I already know it will run just fine. But we'll see.

I'll finish this section up with a final quality check and re-work anything that doesn't make the grade.

Delivery

Once the car passes quality control, it goes into rotation with the other cars and I finally get to start enjoying it and all the nostalgic feels.

It won't be driven much, but it'll definitely see some sunny afternoons, maybe a road trip or three and probably at least one night at the track — I mean, what the hell else is a Muscle Car for?

Close Out

As with all the other projects, close out is where I go over the successes and failures in preparation for future ventures. In this case, the future project involves my Grandpa's El Camino.

Summary

Project: Homecoming is the project that returns my Mom's Mustang to the road. It also recreates my first car, the Original 351. That way, I can revisit both my Mom's Mustang and my first car all at once, anytime I want.

Unlike the New 351, which creates an idealized version of my first car with Raven Black paint and a 4-speed Toploader, this one retains the automatic and restores the Original 351's factory burgundy duds.

Progress

There is no progress.

I don't know when there will be any progress.

Check back here periodically, though, as this is where progress will be shown when it can and does finally happen.

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