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Haynes Project 50: 1965 Mustang Restoration - Part 4

Media Blasting a Mustang Shell

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. For a more indepth look at the process, get a copy of our Ford Mustang Restoration Guide, produced using this restoration as a guide, and including hundreds of pages of detail.

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. In part three we stripped that car of its drivetrain and down to the bare shell, and organized all the parts so we could send the shell out to be cleaned down to the bare metal.

Now here we are in part four, with the shell being shipped off to our local media blasting shop, which is very messy and labor intensive. Meanwhile, the tired and crusty Ford 289 cubic inch motor is disassembled back in our shop, assessed for wear, and sent out for machine work to bring it back to better than new running condition.

Media Blasting the Body Shell to Bare Metal


When restoring a classic car, many people simply fix the visible problems and make it look like new, but to really do a restoration properly you need to go all the way back to bare metal everywhere. Even a well preserved body shell, like our Mustang, that lived its entire life in a dry climate like Texas can hide rust in the floorboards, rocker panels, and underbody. Media blasting sprays an abrasive mixture of air and "sand" (actually a variety or different media including glass, nut shells, baking soda, etc.) at the body panels to quickly strip off the old paint, rust, and dirt, leaving nothing but metal.

But first, the bare body shell needs to be braced and mounted to a wheeled platform to make it easier to work with. The shop we contracted for media blasting does this all the time, so it only took a few hours to measure and cut the custom wheeled cart. Small square steel braces were welded across the door openings, from side to side, and up to the windshield frame, to keep anything from getting twisted while the media blasting med were working on it. These braces would also help later when we cut out a portion of the floor to replace a rusted out spot under the driver's feet.

The most difficult part of getting a car down to bare metal is often removing the rubberized undercoating, which is just too tough to get off with blasting media without also ruining the underlying texture of the metal. A stiff wire wheel is used in a power tool to manually strip off the undercoating, as well as a large amount of dirt and rust.

Next the media blaster suits up in protective gear with an outside air supply and begins removing the paint. This part of the job is actually easy compared to the prep and removal of undercoating. After a few hours, our 1965 Ford Mustang looks almost exactly like it did while rolling down the assembly line at the Ford factory.

Tearing Down the Engine


Compared to doing body work, tearing down the old Ford 289 V8 was easy. We didn't try to get the small block Ford running, but looking inside it appears to be in running condition. The valve covers and oil pan were full of sludge and old dirty oil, but the valvesa and pistons were all free and in okay condition. We will be giving it a thorough cleaning inside and out, a minimal overbore, valve job, and new pistons, rings, gaskets, seals, bearings and oil pump, to end up with a motor that should be good for another 100,000 miles of cruising without issue.

Even more so than when dealing with the rest of the car, the moving parts withing the engine must be properly organized. Be sure to keep the valves in order, as well as the connecting rods and caps, and the main bearing caps. Typically this is done with a hammer and a set of numbered punches by an engine builder, but the punches are not expensive if you want to mark them yourself as you tear it down.

We are restoring this car for the Haynes Museum in the UK, so there will be no upgrades as we build it, but getting more power with a different cam, mor compression or a 4 barrel carburator would be easy to do. If you are building a project like this, it is good to start thinking about potential upgrades at the teardown stage before any parts are ordered or machine work is done.

Check back with us next week to see part 5 of Project 50 - including plenty of pictures of the completed car.