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José and his ‘78 Mustang II

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José, 76, lives in Seine-et-Marne, France. In September 2018, he bought a second generation Ford Mustang: the car was then forty years old. In this article, he tells us under what conditions he got it, then how, little by little over the last few years, he has made it a reliable car that looks good.

A passion for mechanics of all kinds

Passionate about DIY from a young age, José built his first kart at the age of 14 in 1958 and then, in 1965, with two cars bought from the scrapyard, he made his first car: a 1950 Simca sport convertible! And José does not stop there, as in 1975 he made his own 4 meter long speedboat in fiberglass, powered by a 40 horsepower engine and approved by the maritime service. After the land and the sea, there is only the air left. It was in the 1980s that José became interested in the subject: he built a Delta ULM before embarking on the construction of the first paramotors in France. In 1990, he helped organize a Nicolas Hulot program in Corsica thanks to his talents as a paramotor specialist. For the show Ushuaïa, José builds a wheelless paramotor. Many years pass before our handyman friend returns again to his first passion: auto mechanics. So he set out on the hunt for a car to DIY in 2018.

Wanted: Mustang II

José is now interested in American cars, and more particularly to the second generation Mustangs, built between 1974 and 1978. This model is unusual in France, the budget to be devoted, admittedly increasing in recent years, has not yet reached that of the first generation models and there are still some interesting units in circulation.

After much research on the Internet, our Seine-et-Marnais friend spots a Ford Mustang in his budget and whose general condition of the car is satisfactory. The goal is to have a car to tinker with, and not a wreck where all the bodywork has to be redone.

Before the purchase, José traveled twice to Alsace, where the car is located, to see it and try it out. He buys it after his second visit and brings it back by road. Unfortunately, on the way back and even though he thinks he is scrupulously respecting the speed limits, José is flashed at 50 kilometers / hour, in a town fifty kilometers from where he picked up the beauty. He would later understand, by performing a test using a GPS, that the previous owner had put on the car wheels with a diameter larger than the original without taking care to change the speedometer gear.

Many small jobs

Only three months after the purchase, José sets out to restore the interior of his new car. He bought an old industrial sewing machine, faux leather, and began by dismantling the door interiors to refurbish them. And two months later, everything is back in place with new upholstery, painted plastics and new carpet installed.

José also quickly notices that his new Mustang tends to backfire seriously. Besides, the exhaust ends up literally exploding! Never mind, José is building another with the salvageable elements of the old one and while waiting to make another in stainless steel.

Wishing to get to the bottom of things, José decides to take out the engine and the transmission in order to sand and repaint the engine compartment. The V6 also underwent a repair following a few surprises discovered during disassembly: absence of several seals (including those of the exhaust manifolds, and the one of the calorstat), seal of the outlet of the crankshaft not centered (which explains a significant leak), fuel pump too tight and therefore cracked, etc. New gaskets are installed in the state of the art and the fuel pump redone on the lathe and the milling machine. The front brake calipers are also getting a makeover. Before replacing the engine, José removes the clutch cable to replace it with a self-made hydraulic control. Likewise, it modifies the door locks to install a centralized control locking system.

This winter, the Mustang will be returning to the workshop for some more work. Indeed, our friend noticed that the transmission had been changed by the previous owner. Only problem, this one comes from a first generation Ford Mustang and is therefore not quite suitable for its model. After some research, José found and bought a used Mustang II transmission. This winter, José also plans to redo the rear axle and install a power steering (not present on his Mustang) to improve comfort.