Our classics: Ford Mustang

| 19 Jun 2019
Classic & Sports Car – Our classics: Ford Mustang

RUN BY Lizzie Pope

OWNED SINCE October 2017

23 May 2019

(scroll down for older entries)

After a leak-free, sun-kissed Easter Monday drive, we set off for Bicester’s Sunday Scramble the following weekend. Steam pouring from the bonnet en route meant an ignominious wait on the hard shoulder of the A404 and return on an AA flatbed. Thankfully, it was a quick and cheap fix…

27 April 2019

The arrival of a new gasket for the mystery axle took longer than anticipated, giving time to work on some other jobs – starting with one that was also related to fluid leaks.

The flexible hoses to and from the gearbox and the radiator had perished and were leaking, so needed changing. As standard, the Mustang has solid transmission cooler lines most of the way, so the plan was to revert to these.

Removing the old items was simple; fitting the new ones wasn’t, and involved taking off the starter motor and steering arm. It was a time-consuming faff, but part one – from gearbox to radiator – was fairly straightforward. Part two was proving more awkward. After some swearing and banging it was just about in place, but not bolted in.

Taking a break from that, the next spare weekend allowed time to do what I hoped would be a simpler job. The plan was to fit a shroud, in order to improve the efficiency of the radiator and fan following the hot running we experienced in traffic during last summer’s French road trip. This would use the existing radiator bolts, but those in the Mustang were larger than the factory parts. Handily, a well-timed trip to Race Retro yielded the right-sized bolts, nuts and washers in preparation.

With the fan and belt removed, the old bolts were persuaded out, swapped for the correct items and screwed in, securing the shroud’s brackets. The fan was then refitted and the shroud offered up. With clearances checked, a final spin of the fan meant all was well, everything could be tightened up and the belt reinstated.

Classic & Sports Car – Our classics: Ford Mustang
Classic & Sports Car – Our classics: Ford Mustang
Classic & Sports Car – Our classics: Ford Mustang
Clockwise from top: new radiator fan shroud was an easy fix; new gasket fits, which seems to confirm the suspicions that the back axle is a Jeep item; solid transmission lines are now reinstated

Once the long-awaited gasket had arrived, attention could return to the rear of the car. Pleasingly, the gasket fitted, thereby adding credence to our guess that the car has a Jeep axle. This was further corroborated by reader Pat Cashman, who got in touch to say that the image of the diff in our April 2019 issue looks like that in his ’69 AMX – and that AMC used Jeep parts. I knew when we bought the Ford that it was a bit of a ‘bitsa’, but this discovery is still unexpected. With the cover in place the propshaft could be refitted, then there was more success as the remaining lines went in without any drama.

All that was left was to go for a drive. Spring had sprung and a free Saturday was the perfect opportunity, so with fluids topped up the Mustang fired second time and rumbled onto the drive. Smiles all round… Until a rearward glance revealed a puddle of transmission fluid on the garage floor. With the road test abandoned, the car was pushed back into the garage and an initial inspection suggests that the culprit is the rearward gearbox line, which has come unscrewed.

As a result, what had been ticking off a few jobs over winter may yet become a race against time to get the car ready for Drive It Day.

17 March 2019

Classic & Sports Car – Our classics: Ford Mustang
New Pirelli Cinturatos should improve grip while retaining the Pope Mustang’s classic look

The exciting pre-Christmas arrival of a fresh set of Pirelli Cinturato CN36s from Longstone Tyres was all the inspiration I needed to get stuck into the Mustang’s to-do list and get back on the road. First was an oil and filter change, then it was time to find out where the oil leaks were. One was from the diff, so with the front wheels chocked and the rear on axle stands, the cover and gasket were removed, and the oil drained.

This was also a chance to work out what the diff was. An earlier inspection proved that it wasn’t a Mustang part – and not even a Ford item – and with it apart, the only clue was that the gasket sat inside the bolt-holes. Some Googling suggests it could be from a Jeep – we’ll see if the eBay-sourced replacement fits, once it arrives. Another leak was traced to where the propshaft and ’box meet, so the former came out for me to clean the yoke and grease the universal joints.

The gearbox’s rear seal and pipes were leaking, too, so the pipes are now off and the seal has been replaced. And while we’re at the rear, a stay for the spare wheel and matching bag for the jack have tidied the boot. Up front, a frayed battery pipe was replaced, then it was time to look at the loose bonnet seal.

Removing and cleaning the rubber was much easier than persuading the old RTV silicone off. With fresh adhesive applied, the seal didn’t seem too keen to stay put, but after a few days with the ends clamped in place it was another job that could be ticked off the list. One final task was adjusting the bands in the gearbox to see if this helps it shift as it should. Hopefully it won’t be too long until I’m back behind the wheel to find out.

10 February 2019

You know that thing when you’re checking you’ve got everything to service your classic, you spot an oil leak, it’s from the diff, and you notice it’s not the standard item and you’ve no idea what it is? Well… that. I predict much head-scratching and Googling to follow.

12 December 2018

Sadly, life has caught up with me and the Mustang hasn’t moved for rather more than several weeks. The Ford isn’t undersealed, so I’m not keen to drive it on salt-encrusted roads, but garage life means that it’s winter-service time. Plus, I’ve had the exciting delivery of a fresh set of tyres from Longstone!

10 September 2018

My ’65 Mustang might not need an MoT certificate these days, but it’s never a bad idea to let a fresh set of eyes give your classic the once over, especially before a road trip.

I couldn’t think why it should be anything other than a formality, but I’ll admit to some relief when the ticket was issued – it was reassuring, too, ahead of the longest drive since taking ownership. The diff oil was topped up and a few checks made, then we were ready.

Classic & Sports Car – Our classics: Ford Mustang
Classic & Sports Car – Our classics: Ford Mustang
(l-r) Capacious boot swallowed all bags; frequent fluid top-ups were needed

A few days later, the car demonstrated its practicality; the boot easily swallowed luggage for two, plus the essential toolkit, and after giving our neighbours a silly o’clock eight-cylinder alarm call (sorry about that!), we were on the M3, heading to Portsmouth to catch our ferry to France.

It might have been an early crossing, but it was 25ºC and swiftly rising when we reached Caen, and as those in the moderns around us turned up the air-con and programmed the sat-nav, we wound down the windows, unfolded the maps and hit the road.

We’d decided to not be over ambitious, but the Loire Valley is still a good few hours from the ferry. It was an easy drive, the car in its element, cruising along autoroutes. Happy to make it there trouble-free, we had time for an evening digestif as we enjoyed the dramatic sunset.

The next day, although the Mustang started first turn, the gearbox wasn’t keen to shift. You may recall that in my previous report I said it was oversight and not a leak? I take it back. We’d packed some fluid, so topped it up and found a motor factor to replenish supplies, and all was well. Indeed, fluid checking and topping up aside, the Mustang was a joy. All right, so there was that afternoon when I turned the key and nothing – or should I say rien – happened.

Some underbonnet fiddling revealed that the earth had come loose from the battery; all was fine once it had been reattached. The holiday was also the first time I’d driven the Ford in the wet, which was less of a worry than what we found after our usually garaged car had been left outside overnight in heavy rain. I was concerned that the windows weren’t sealing too well, but the seats were dry the next morning… unlike the footwells.

Classic & Sports Car – Our classics: Ford Mustang
The DS wasn’t the only classic Pope encountered on French tour

With the water tipped out and the mats replaced, it was time to head out for the day, but I wasn’t a fan of cold rainwater dripping on my bare, sandal-clad feet as I drove. The holiday was superb and, as a bonus, some other guests at our farmhouse accommodation had made the trip from Holland in a tidy-looking Citroën DS; what a pretty pair they made.

On the journey home, it would have been rude to not take time to swing by Le Mans and drive the Mulsanne Straight, and at a nearby supermarket it was fun to have a Pontiac Firebird park alongside us.

Nine days, 808 miles and rather a lot of transmission fluid later, we were home, all smiles. I’ve fallen even more in love with this car now – and the many grins and thumbs-up we got every day in France didn’t hurt! A couple more items have been added to the to-do list – find where the transmission fluid is leaking and get the gearbox shifting properly and the car idling happily – but it was a brilliant trip.

8 September 2018

Spoiler alert: the Mustang made it to France (and back!) without major mechanical malady. Okay, so it wasn’t all plain sailing but it was huge fun – and the warm, friendly reception the car received wherever we went was an unexpected bonus. Full report very soon.

2 May 2018

You know you want a classic, but how to narrow it down? Our criteria were simple: two doors and a V8 engine. So when, while flicking through C&SC, we realised that a notchback Mk1 Mustang was in budget, we were hooked.

There were some who didn’t believe we’d actually buy one, such was the length of the search. I’d rather think of it as a careful, considered purchase; time will tell.

After visiting specialist dealers to get a feel for what our budget would get and for the cars themselves, evenings, lunchtimes and weekends were spent scouring the classifieds. We were determined to buy on condition, of course, although I had a preference for the cleaner, uncluttered look of the non-GT cars.

Oh, and I had been seduced by the aesthetically pleasing horizontal speedometer of the super-early models.

Classic & Sports Car – Our classics: Ford Mustang
Basking in the sun at Bicester Heritage’s Sunday Scramble on the first of hopefully many days out this year

It looked as if the stars had aligned when we trekked to north Norfolk to see a 1965 V8 auto – with the bonus of racing stripes. She’d been the subject of a home restoration and, while not everything was standard, the work had been done sympathetically – and, no, we don’t understand the leather bonnet straps either, but we can live with them.

After a thorough inspection and a test drive, a deal was struck. She even had the ‘right’ speedo. And sounded fantastic.

Next was the Mustang’s first test, a 180-ish-mile drive home. But first, we plotted a route to the nearest petrol station… I’m delighted to say that she didn’t miss a beat. Mechanically speaking, anyway. Driving the ‘chase car’ (ie the one that got us to Norfolk in the first place), not only did I enjoy the burble during gratuitous, grin-inducing drive-bys, but there was also the hypnotic light show when an indicator was on – a job for the to-do list. But not the first.

Being from ’65, it only had two-point lapbelts. This is a car we intend to put plenty of miles on, so we wanted to feel a bit safer in 21st-century traffic with our unservoed brakes.

Later cars had mountings for then-optional three-point belts; a call was put in to local specialist The Mustang Workshop, and a pair of inertia-reel belts was ordered and fitted.

Classic & Sports Car – Our classics: Ford Mustang
Classic & Sports Car – Our classics: Ford Mustang
(l-r) Brands Hatch on an Arctic November day was a good excuse for a drive; LED rear lights should cause other road users less confusion

Next, it was a driveway service, changing the oil and replacing the brake fluid. We’d also noticed that the throttle pedal was coming loose and was missing a spring that holds the foot pad at the correct angle, so that was remedied.

Which still left the tail-lights. Other road users definitely knew when we were indicating, but the disco-look wasn’t what we were going for.

After chatting to Roy Holmes at The Mustang Workshop, it seemed the best solution was an upgrade to LEDs from Bright Light Customs. One benefit of this is that you can preserve the US-style red lenses, but the orange LEDs shine through when you indicate. Installation meant removing a large amount of the interior, but the process proved straightforward and the result is very neat.

And, last but not least, we’ve replaced the flexible sections of the fuel line that had perished. So after a few winter outings, she was ready for her first – and surprisingly sun-kissed – big trip of 2018, to Bicester Heritage for the Drive It Day Sunday Scramble. And it was with some pride that we noted she received some admiring glances.


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