One thing I absolutely love doing in my free time is building and working on cars. I think vehicles are simply astounding in the fact that a man-made machine can compress a refined liquid pulled out of the earth, ignite it, and create an explosion that propels a few thousand pounds of steel wherever you want to go. That goes for anything with a motor really, the technology behind it is pretty genius even though it hasn’t really changed too much over the past 100 years with the exception of electrics and hybrids. There have been a few very modern advances with the recent introduction of some very efficient and luxurious vehicles about to make their debut. That being said, older cars are a thing of the past, and they are becoming more and more rare each and every day. There are a few epic barn finds that have been brought to light in the past but overall these vintage cars are getting harder and harder to find. This creates a demand and raises the value, of course. American muscle cars defined a generation and inspired the world. The powerful body lines, almost obnoxiously loud motors, and meaty tires are a style all their own. The sound of a carbureted big block motor burning fuel while spitting out exhaust from dual 3 inch pipes is pretty much a symphony to my ears. The smells, sounds, and feeling of raw horsepower are something you need to engulf yourself in to truly appreciate. Most people love muscle cars, even Prius drivers, although they would rather see them sitting in a garage or museum only to never ignite a fossil fuel again. That being said, even most Prius drivers would probably respect the design elements and the beauty of an iconic American muscle car. Now I may be a little biased when it comes to my taste in cars because I am in the middle of restoring a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda with my cousin, but I came across this story and was completely floored with what this guy and his father-in-law were able to do with this pile of rust and steel.
Reddit user FinallyGotMyMustang had always dreamt of owning a 1969 Mustang Mach 1. This is a pretty hard to find car so when he came across the opportunity to pick one up, he knew he had to jump right on it.
The car was in rough shape. It was missing most of the front end and there was a lot of rust eating at the body panels. The car had no motor and the trunk was rusted out.
A few body panels were missing as well, as was most of the interior. The suspension was completely shot as well as the drive train.
Most of the dash was complete, however it was in need of a serious restoration which would be no easy task.
Metal was rotted and rusted in the floor of the car and a few spots in the trunk. This car is going to need a lot of metal. Someone had tried to do some metal work on the car earlier and actually made things much worse. All of this needs some serious attention and a lot of work.
Everything under the hood was missing and either corroded or rusted. The brake system was gone and the electrical system was pretty much shot.
While he does have some slight mechanical and restoration experience, this project was a little advanced for his skill level so he called in his father-in-law who had experience in paint and body. These are some of the most crucial parts of a vehicle restoration. If they’re not done perfect, every single dime you put into a car will be a waste of money within a few short years.
With no front fenders, it was easy to inspect the total scope of work. They realized that they were in for quite the project. They knew full well that this would be a long process if it were to be done right.
His father-in-law started by welding on some factory body panels that they were able to obtain in some of the seriously affected areas. This requires cutting out the old metal containing rust and making clean welds with new clean metal. Once the pieces are welded into place very carefully, as to not warp the metal with too much heat, the grinding begins. All of the excess weld must be taken off very carefully as to not make the metal too thin.
After tackling the passengers rear quarter panel they moved onto the trunk. This can be very tricky as a lot of those creases can be hard to match. Their skills paid off and they were able to replace the rusted trunk pieces with new metal.
The driver’s rear quarter panel was in bad shape, but not near as bad as the passenger’s. He did have to weld in new patch panels, but luckily he did not have to replace the entire rear fender.
The trunk was completely stripped of paint in order to assess the damage. There was a little damage so it was filled, shaped, and sanded. He wanted to use as many original parts as possible and decided to fix everything that he could rather than purchase new body panels.
With the front wheels removed they were able to see that the entire front assembly needed to be repaired in a bad way. The control arms were almost completely rusted through as well as the inner fender liner.
He was able to get a hold of some 1969 Mach 1 fenders but they also needed some work in order to match the rest of the car perfectly, as well as last years down the road.
The underside of the trunk lid had the typical rust spots of a 1969 Mustang. The water and condensation accumulates into the creases and eventually creates rust. Over time, the metal is slowly eaten away. This is a tough one to repair considering the amount of folds, bends, and creases involved.
He was able to gather two original 1969 Mach 1 headlight assemblies which also required some restoration. After a good sanding and a little shaping, they turned out great.
Taking a look at the subframe, it was obvious that this car had sat in a field or somewhere unprotected for quite some time. That’s some thick metal to be rusted all the way through. With some new steel and a lot of shaping, welding, and grinding they were able to repair the original subframe.
The underside of the rear end was in the same shape. This was going to require a complete stripping to check the bare metal for any possible rust. They found that the suspension components as well as the trunk pan needed to be replaced.
Time to start addressing the cancerous holes in the engine bay. This was going to require a lot of metal shaping and a steady hand.
The next step was to place the car on what is known as a rotisserie. It is pretty much the same concept that you use to BBQ a whole chicken in a BBQ pit. This allows the car to be rotated a full 360 degrees to allow you to easily address problems without crawling on your back or climbing on the shell of the vehicle.
Because the floor was so rotted he decided to replace almost all of it. Pretty much everything except for the original transmission tunnel. They cut out the bad metal and laid in new panels. They then traced the cut out panels and cut the new ones to fit.
Some parts were so bad that entirely new pieces of metal were fabricated to fit. A lot of parts aren’t produced or even reproduced anymore so you either have to search junk yards or swap meets for a specific piece of metal. If you have no luck, you fabricate your own.
After an inspection after sanding, they noticed that doors were in better shape than expected. A few small rust holes to fill but nothing too drastic.
They started to sand off all of the old paint to see if there was any major body rust that would have been hidden. Luckily there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary and the body was straight which is pretty crucial.
With the new floor in place, they sprayed down a protectant coat of paint. You do this step first as to not get any of this over spray on finished paint or parts.
This section is a very common place to rust because it is where rain runs off of the roof and windshield. It is also one of the hardest places to fix. They did a great job working the metal and brought it back to its factory shape.
With the new floor pans installed and the under body rust taken care of, it was safe to paint the undercarriage. Again, you do this before your final color coat in order to prevent any unwanted over spray.
It looks like they were able to find this part from another Mustang, and cut it and welded it into place. Good thing because that would be a tough piece to reproduce.
With the engine bay starting to wrap up as far as body work was concerned, they started to install some of the new mechanical pieces. This is a brand new steering box and center drag link. The entire steering system needed to be replaced for safety reasons.
As stated earlier, he wanted to restore as many original parts as possible. This not only helps keep the value of the car but it retains the original nostalgia of the vehicle. After being restored, this piece looks brand new! I would love to learn his techniques on bringing these old pieces back to life.
With the car completely stripped, it was time to start with a base coat of primer. From here begins the long process of sanding and applying more primer. Lots and lots of sanding.
The more time you spend on body work, the easier your final paint application will be and the better it will look. On top of that, the paint job will last a lot longer. With the amount of work going into this 1969 Mustang restoration, I can imagine that the owner is going to want every detail absolutely perfect.
With the final coat of primer applied and all the panels inspected with a microscope, it was time to apply some color.
The rotisserie really comes in handy during this stage of painting.
Luckily, his father-in-law was an excellent automotive painter. The owner took notes and learned a lot during this process.
Because they spent so much time on the body work, the paint turned out beautiful. Just wait until you see it in the sun.
Here is the underside of the repaired trunk lid. Remember all that rust? There’s no trace of it now.
The doors were taken off and painted in order to cover every single inch of them perfectly. You would hate to open your door and find a missed spot down the road.
They started to paint the hood but only the outer edges. The center doesn’t needed to be covered in the, what looks like factory 1969 Silver Jade, paint because it will have a black center overlay.
Everything was covered, even parts you’d never see such as the seat trays and seat springs.
With the paint all dry, it was time to start working on the smaller details of this 1969 Mustang restoration project.
The original tail lights came out a lot better than I expected after seeing the state they were in. They look brand new. I really appreciate that he is taking the time to make the parts you won’t be seeing perfect like the back of the light housings.
That rear end looks like it would be easier to just junk and replace with a new one. He was determined to restore as much of this car as possible so he decided to strip it down.
After grinding off the rust, replacing the axles and the gears, installing a new drum brake system along with e-brake cables, this rear end came out looking better than new!
Here you can see it installed along with the new rear leaf suspension. It is so clean that it would almost be a shame to drive this beast. Well muscle cars are made to be driven in my opinion. I’m not a fan of seeing people pull into car shows with their pride and joy on a trailer.
The entire front assembly is replaced with new parts. A disk brake kit with new spindles and control arms. New brake lines and everything!
This is the original gauge cluster after restoration. It looks brand new which will be fitting for this practically brand new car.
And now on to the heart of the beast! This is a 1969 Ford 351 Windsor motor. It produces roughly 290 horsepower from the factory. The car had no motor with it so he found an original 1969 351 block and heads. He and his father-in-law completely rebuilt the motor themselves.
The heads had to be rebuild as well. This included new valves, rockers, and springs.
With the motor completely assembled, you can see that they’ve made a few upgrades to the exhaust system as well as the intake manifold. This should provide some more of that highly sought after horsepower that muscle cars need. Who knows what they did to the internals but this looks like a very healthy motor.
Using a hoist, they lowered the 1,000 pounds of motor and transmission down into its final resting place. I love how the two factory Ford blue colors offset each other. I also think that the engine stands out in the black engine bay just like a diamond ring being displayed inside of a plush black jewelry box.
With a restored grill and new lights installed the car is really starting to come together. That newly chromed bumper is absolutely gorgeous as well!
A motor like that deserves a good exhaust system to help it breathe. These twin tips really set off the muscle car look that Ford originally intended for their customers.
A new dash pad and restored panels make this interior look brand new even though most of it was original and in terrible shape. Just a few more pieces to go.
I’m not completely sure if he had an original seat reupholstered or if he had to purchase a new reproduction. Either way the folds are tight and the leather looks like high quality material. This is a seat that will last for years if properly cared for.
The rear seat installed finishes off the interior. It also looks like he replaced the factory stereo with something more modern that will provide quality sounding music. If you look behind the rear seat on the deck lid, you will see two 6×9″ speakers that are too modern looking to be factory. A new carpet kit along with high quality leather will definitely provide that new car smell.
And here she is in all her glory! This 1969 Mustang restoration project turned out a lot better than I had anticipated considering what they had to start with.
A project like this would cost anyone roughly $40-50 thousand dollars if you wanted to pay a shop to complete it for you. He did it all himself with the help of his father-in-law for only $15 thousand. That is a drastic savings and he was able to build his dream car himself. This is a car he has wanted since he was a kid and he built it himself. I can tell you first hand that it is an experience that is absolutely priceless!
The final result of 3 years of hard work and dedication finally paid off with something spectacular. This is a car that is highly sought after and only becoming more and more rare each year. This was once a pile of steel that was slowly decaying. It was built in 1968 or possibly 1969 by Ford employees during the age of Woodstock and the Vietnam war. This car is a crucial piece of American history representing freedom, raw power, and the pure essence of the iconic Ford Mustang. The Mustang has been an American icon ever since its introduction in 1964. Ford drastically changed the body style with the help of race car driver Caroll Shelby in 1967 and started offering a more swept back style. Ford produced a Mustang that looked more aggressive and came with more powerful motor options. This sparked a frenzy and the newly styled muscle car was one of the most desired vehicles of its time. Well it has only become more desirable over the last 46 years because these cars are simply rotting away. This guy saved this one and added another beautiful piece of art to the road. Being that it is his dream car, I can imagine that he is going to drive the hell out of this car. I hope he does because it will provide an experience that you simply cannot replace and memories you will cherish forever. Especially when it’s in a vehicle that you built with your own two hands.