Grandma’s 1967 Mustang – Part 1
My grandmother, Marjorie Tucker, bought her lime gold 1967 Mustang on May 5th, 1967 from Ojai Valley Motors and drove it up until her death.
She took very good care of the car. It was her pride and joy and was always garaged. It has covered just 64,000 miles since new and the extensive records show she was well into 40,000 miles by the late seventies. Most of the car is original. She ordered the car relatively well-equipped. It has power steering, factory AC, and the 225 horspower / 305 lb/ft 289 cubic inch engine with a 4-barrel Motorcraft carburetor.
It has been sitting in my father’s garage since she passed away in the early nineties. We have finally decided to awaken her from her 25 year slumber and restore her. Although her mechanical parts have survived in excellent condition, she suffers from something no one can stop – the effects of time on rubber and plastic parts.
Join me as I chronicle the restoration of this iconic car and teach some of the methods used in the restoration. Of all restorations I have done, this one is the most important of my life.
After her death, my father and I towed the car home to San Jose behind a U-haul with her personal belongings. For the first year it was stored at my house in Willow Glen. I occasionally drove it but eventually the registration was up and we were still working through transfer of title. I had a framed picture of my grandmother and her sister when she was six and I’d take joy rides around the neighborhood with the picture on the passengers seat. I spent more time detailing it than I did driving it. I moved down south for school so it went back to my dad’s The car sat in his garage with a car cover for years.
Whenever I would drop by the house I made sure to go in the garage and remove any heavy boxes that may have accumulated on the car. I eventually removed the carburetor and had it rebuilt at the carburetor shop I worked at, Ace Fuel Systems. That carb sat in the trunk for about 10 years before ever being reinstalled on the intake manifold but fired right up when I did. I remember sitting in the car with my sisters when they were in high school and pretending to drive while listening to reggae on the AM radio.
Grandma was a very meticulous collector. Around the steering column there was a purpose built leather holder for easy access to your registration. She had every registration ever received, in ascending order, in the now bursting-at-the-seams registration holder. Each one was folded in the same pattern in order to fit the dimension of the holder. I unfolded them for the picture but they have been returned to their original configuration.
The glove box is stuffed with receipts from maintenance and repairs as well as warranty paperwork and the original warranty cards. The only thing it doesn’t have is the window sticker. She special ordered the car out of the San Jose factory so I am not sure it came with one.
Any well-managed restoration always starts with a statement of how you plan to use the car and a structured project plan. We are not sure where we want this project to end but we do know that we want a driveable car that handles and stops ‘as new’. After we meet that goal we will drive it. We’ll think about what we don’t like about the car for what we use it for. This car has four wheel drum brakes. They don’t even have power assist. Although they were state of the art in their day, they sucked. Our next goal may be upgrades to the safety systems.
Our statement may sound something like, “We plan to drive the car mostly in the summer and likely limited to the weekends. 100 miles in a day would likely be maximum. The car will be shared among members of the Tucker family. It may be entered in local car shows but not concours.”. This gives us an idea as to the level of detail we want to get down to. It is expensive to restore a car to 100 pt concours condition, but there are alternative ways to get yourself a cosmetically and mechanically solid car.
This car is more valuable with the little patina it has acquired. A short rub with some compound on the quarter panel made the all-original single stage paint shine. On the mechanical side, the original hardware will be reused as possible. Most of the hardware is easily removable and only has superficial surface rust, If it can be rebuilt rather than replaced, it will be. Since we will drive the car, it needs to be 100% safe with no safety issues. All systems must work as designed.
The first step in any restoration is to perform a thorough mechanical inspection of the car to determine what works and what does not work, Do not assume that ‘everything worked when parked’ means anything whatsoever. We will not be diagnosing anything at this stage, just identifying that there is a problem. The actual troubleshooting will be performed once the formal project plan is drawn up. By doing a proper inspection we can make a list of repairs that need to be done in order of importance. The first stage of this restoration purposely does not include any cosmetic restoration. We are simply trying to get a mechanically sound car.
The mechanical inspection has now been done and sure enough there is a long list of concerns that need to be addressed before the car can even leave our parking lot, the specifics of which will be released in the next update on this project, For now, the critical path of this project is being drawn up. We want to get this car on the road in the shortest amount of time possible. Spring is coming up and we want to be on the road. Tasks must be performed in a very specific order to keep on schedule. A delay of a single one dollar part can kill a project’s inertia and grind it to a halt.
Poor project planning is the #1 cause of schedule and budget overruns.
Stayed tuned for the next update.