- Pitch black with platinum silver 1965 Mustang GT fastback

    My Friend has this old Mustang. It is my nemesis, and the devil.

    Turning this already beautiful 1965 fastback mustang into a trick pony. Even if its the death of me.

    This summer during the Covid thing, a good friend of mine and I were out on a Saturday cruise night (with our masks on looking like a couple bandits). Driving around in my car, he half shouts over the din of muscle car noise. "Can we make my car drive like this?" I say to him "Sure, why not?" Then I say to myself....What am I getting myself into?

    When I look the car over for the first time, I am mesmerized. Black like midnight on a deserted highway and chrome Foose wheels that sparkle like diamonds. A growl from the 351 Windsor wedged into it under the platinum silver GT stripes going down the hood and all the way back. Out back there is a billet GT gas cap and an unforgettable exhaust note through the holes in the rear valance. I feel giddy.... What's not to love?

    A 1965 fastback Mustang should always be like this. Looking like it is in motion when sitting still. I have always loved the look of the early fastback Mustangs whether they are bone stock or highly modified track bruisers. A white tank top in the ring, bloody knuckle bruiser is my favorite because they are modified to perform straight or around the corner, lowered with corrected suspension geometry and sticky tires. Better acceleration from big engines with a stick shift and of course big binders for pulling back on the reins finish the image in my mind. "Lets get this show on the road." I tell him. Then I tell myself....It will be easier than most of the projects I've done over the years.

    That is where the process began in the beginning of June this year. We ordered a 12" Wilwood disc brake kit with lines for all the way around and a master cylinder. Then we ordered front and rear coil over suspension from Chris Alston Chassis Works including the rear G-bar set up out back to get rid of the leaf springs. Four months and about 35 emails later we finally received the last component for the rear suspension and now we could begin the install. That was painful....The guy on the phone said it all would ship in two to three weeks.

    New control arms, strut rods and Wilwood brakes complete

    New control arms, strut rods and Wilwood brakes complete

    We began up front by replacing the upper, and lower control arms designed with sealed Heim joints at the pivot points at the frame, replacing the strut rods with improved units that have a pivoting solid joint up front instead of the rubber and washer set up of old. We then set up the new coil over shock to put back in place of the factory shock and original coil spring. Reinstalling the inside fender which covers the shock/spring combo with new bolts and washers wasn't that fun. None of the bolts lined up, but we persevered with some expletives. Installing the new Wilwood front wheel bearings, brake rotors, calipers and pads was a breeze, finishing with the fluid lines. Completed and happy we moved on to the rear of the car.

    We started out back by stripping the car down. We removed the rear differential and leaf springs, all the brake components, brake and fuel lines, fuel pump and electrical. We are going to be doing some cutting grinding and welding, so we pulled the fuel tank, rear seat and some of the interior. Changing a car from rear leaf spring suspension to a control arm setup with coil-over shocks is no easy task as everything is different. We completely removed everything from the rear differential down to just the housing discovering the pinion gear support bearing is destroyed and lying in the bottom of the case. The thing doesn't have a limited slip carrier either so we will need one of those to go in when we do the overhaul of the third member.

    After installing the provided jig onto the now blank differential housing for locating the upper control arm mounts properly, we welded on the arm mounts and a brake line mount. We also cleaned and de-burred the entire thing in preparation for sand blasting and powder coat gloss black. Limited slip unit and bearings were on order, so we began installing the molly tubing truss assembly up under the rear of the car to provide all the mounting points for this jigsaw puzzle.

    Pinion snubber area prepped for welding.

    Pinion snubber area prepped for welding.

    The area around the factory pinion snubber needed to be cleaned and all welded together. There is no description available for the replaced floor pans and frame rails that were not fit well. There are 1/4" gaps between the panels but tack welded somehow anyway during restoration. you must stitch weld all around this area after beating it all into submission. After welding, the affected areas were painted and undercoated. We then installed the upper truss assembly and control arms. Just getting to this point, has taken its toll on my constitution. I am a very patient guy, but this old car just isn't cooperating

    Coming back to it, we installed bearings and limited slip into center section of the differential. (The shipping gods came through in three days). We hung the empty but gorgeous gloss black diff housing under the car, then installed center section. It is much easier to handle that way because of weight. We then prepped rear coil over assemblies for install, put them in with the proper bolts and brackets, then set the whole thing down on stands to check pinion angle and ride height

    Now that the suspension is basically together, we concentrate on the rear brakes, brake lines, putting the gas tank back in, and re-plumbing the fuel system. We replaced the rubber fuel hoses running down the drive shaft tunnel with steel ones and routed new hose connections to the pump and engine. We also built a fuel pump mounting plate with isolation bushings between the body and new plate to help keep things quiet instead of the sheet metal screws to hold the pump to the front of the trunk pan as when we started.

    Mechanical perfection.

    Mechanical perfection.

    We put the new brake master cylinder in just in time to realize the pedal support shaft bushings are junk, causing the brake and clutch pedals to be quite loose in their mounts. In order to fix this issue, we must remove the pedal pivot bracket nestled up inside the dash. The front seat assembly must come out so I can lay down in the car looking up into the dash. Why is the windshield wiper motor inside the car and covering the clutch/brake pedal assembly? Who ever thought that would be a good idea should have been slapped. Anyway, after several hours of more expletives and small cuts on my arms and hands, the pedal support was removed, pedal bushings were replaced and then bracket reinstalled. After installing the master cylinder, rear folding seat and front seat assemblies, we then bled the brakes in a in upright sitting position. Whew! That was the hardest master cylinder I have ever installed.

    We took a close look at our ride height and discovered to our liking that the car sits quite a bit lower than when we took it apart. However, this is causing the drive line angle to be odd looking. Adjusting the ride height and rechecking drive line angle, we are skeptical but think it will work for a shakedown test drive.

    The area around the factory pinion snubber needed to be cleaned and all welded together. There is no description available for the replaced floor pans and frame rails that were not fit well. There are 1/4" gaps between the panels but tack welded somehow anyway during restoration. you must stitch weld all around this area after beating it all into submission. After welding, the affected areas were painted and undercoated. We then installed the upper truss assembly and control arms. Just getting to this point, has taken its toll on my constitution. I am a very patient guy, but this old car just isn't cooperating

    We drive cautiously for the first bit, building speed and then some aggressive stops to cut in the brakes. So far so good. The car is much firmer than originally and corners flat. Sure enough the drive line vibrated a little and when we return to the shop to look at things, the rear of the car has squatted down an inch further and will need adjusted again. Up front things are looking good, but there is a squawk noise going over bumps that was not there before we took it apart. Upon inspection we find the lower stance up front is causing the larger aftermarket sway bar to rub on the outer frame rails, so we clearance that area, weld, and paint to fix that. Pinion angle corrected and drive line angle corrected by raising transmission mount we send for alignment.

    After we send for some tail pipes to be woven into the rear control arm spaghetti, the thing should be done. Driving it now is much more fun because it is much more stable and if you press the right pedal just right, it will drift without leaning around any corner. Secretary's car? I don't think so. This thing has become a snarling beast perfect for shredding rear tires like a Hoonigan. I don't remember what my friend named his car, but I have labeled it "El Diablo" for obvious reasons.

    Overall, I think this project has been fun and interesting, but not for the faint of heart and short on patience. Fitment and all the small unseen details notwithstanding, it wasn't that hard at all. Time consuming would be the description I would use. I think the normal garage installer would take an entire winter of weekends to get it done. Have you ever seen the movie "Groundhog Day"? It's November now and should be just right by April if I stick with it. I just saw a snowflake....

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