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Haynes Project 50: 1965 Mustang Restoration - Part 3

Removing shackles and leaf springs

The crew in the Haynes shop did something a little differently for the 50th anniversary of the company, buying a first generation Ford Mustang convertible and restoring it to showroom condition. This was Haynes Project 50, and if you were lucky enough to be at the 2011 AAPEX trade show in Las Vegas, you might have seen it in person, before it was shipped off to the Haynes Museum in the UK. If you are working on your own Mustang restoration, our comprehensive Haynes Ford Mustang Restoration Manual was produced while we were restoring this very car.

If you have been following along, in part one of Project 50 we took delivery of our barn fresh old eBay score, the 1965 Ford Mustang convertible, assessed how much work was needed, and pulled out the engine and transmission for rebuilding. In part two we began to clean out the detritus and dead things from the interior, and remove the trim and some exterior panels to fix rust, dents and dings. 

Now here in part three, we are going to continue with disassembling the drivetrain and suspension under the car so we can bring it back to factory fresh specs. Then we're going to show you how we organize all the parts, for a regular teardown or this restoration, to make putting it all back together easier.

Removing Front and Rear Suspension and Brakes

We left the suspension and wheels on the Mustang for as long as possible because, even without a motor in it, they make it easier to move the car around at the shop. But now that the drivetrain, interior and most of the exterior had come off, it was time to remove the differential, springs, and front suspension arms so they could be refurbished.Everything will have 40 years of rust and crude media blasted off of it, before being rebuilt, repainted, and reassembled.

Our project car had four mismatched tires on it, two different styles of wheel, and four different shock absorbers, and if you are shopping for a project car those are good indicators that there are lots of other issues as well. Our plan, to improve the drivability as well as the originality, was to replace all the springs with new units with the correct ride height and spring rate. Of course, we were also going to replace all the crumbling rock hard rubber bushings too.

The original Ford nine inch rear end is known for rugged durability. Looking inside the stock 1965 unit that came with our Mustang revealed the ring and pinion was still like new, and the engagement pattern was perfect. We decided to replace the wheel bearings, but leave the inner carrier and pinion bearings alone for another 40 years.

removing Mustang front suspension

Keeping It All Organized

One of the biggest pitfalls that slow down or even derail a project like this Mustang restoration is misplacing some part or parts that are not easily replaced. You will save a ton of time and a good deal of money if you keep everything organized as you take your project vehicle apart. Being well organized means knowing exactly what needs to be replaced early on in the project, and it also means putting it all back together is going to be a breeze.

Since the Haynes shop tears quite a few cars apart every year, we have a very good system for organizing the pieces. It starts with tape, Post-it Notes, and a marker, and includes various size plastic bags, boxes, plastic bins, and multi-drawer hardware organizers from the home improvement stores. Group things together by where on the car they came from and what system they go to, for instance all the front suspension parts and hardware are stored together, even though we may replace the nuts and bolts later.

Now that everything is apart and organized we really know how much work we have in front of us; as Winston Churchill said, it is merely the end of the beginning. The next phase of the project is to send all the parts out to be media blasted (we just don't have the proper set up in our shop to try doing it ourselves on the whole body) and start the body work. Then we will also tear down the motor and see just how much work needs to be done inside to make it roar once more.

In part one of Project 50 we took delivery of a fresh out of the barn 1965 Ford Mustang convertible that we found on eBay, assessed how much work was needed, and removed the engine and transmission for rebuilding. In part two we began to clear out the accumulation of dirt and dead animals from inside the interior, and remove the trim and exterior panels to start the pre-paint body work. Part four involves the dusty and hot work of media blasting the old shell, after bracing it properly, and beginning the engine rebuild. And in the finale, part five, we show you how it all came together to produce a car that looks better than it did when it rolled out of the factory in 1965.