...and, no, that does not mean I will be using a john deer tractor engine with an international red paint job; rather, the title is tribute to my humble (...stupid...?) beginnings of the car restoration process. I bought the car with no real knowledge of how to do any of what this thread shows, but, somehow, by God's grace, supportive family, and persistence....I'm still nowhere close to done!!
Keep scrolling for pictures, but, first, The Story:
As I write this, I am 26 years old, just got hired as a design engineer for Snap On Tools, living in SE Wisconsin. This story starts 15 years and 1,300 miles ago as an 11 year old near San Antonio, TX who watched his older sister turn 16 and have the sweet sixteen wish of a car....to which, my parents, hard working middle class folk, laughed. One $17 car later (you read that right, Grandma passed away and the title transfer fee was that much), my sister had the ultimate first car: a 1996 Nisan Sentra that leaked as much oil as gas it drank.
Determined not to be succumbed to this fate when I turned 16, I made the logical decision around 11 years old that I would start working ASAP, buy an old mustang, and have it fixed and running by the time I was ready to drive (cue sitcom laughter). Work I did...mostly mowing lawns at first, then I got connected with a local farmer who needed some basic help around his house and new business: a corn maze. Working for cash at the screaming rate of $4/hr, I started my penny saving. As the years progressed, so did my wage and usefulness to this farmer (I ended working for him off and on through 21 years old…great friend of the family nowadays). By 13 I was working full time hours in the summer, and amassing cash for the mustang purchase of which I was scouring local newspapers and internet ads (pre-craiglist days…).
Then, the fateful Sunday morning in April of 2004…the Houston Chronicle had an ad listed for a 1969 Mustang for sale…$4,500. One phone call later, my dad and I set out for Houston the next day (about a 3 hour drive), we met the owner, looked the car over, and shook hands for $3,800.
No engine, no trans, moderate rust damage…but the frame rails, torque boxes, and major body panels were intact! Knowing what to look for is credited to this forum
I got the car home (credit: my father being willing to drive there with our trailer and bring it home), disassembled, and began to take stock of what needed to be done. To my great regret, I have little to no pictures of the first 4 years worth of work. Somewhere
there is a stack of 35mm film pictures that I had developed (pre-digital camera ownership days), and if I find them, I’ll upload some. Somewhere along the line, I also gathered that this car was not going to be done by 16...or even 18.. (so I bought a diesel truck and found another outlet for hot rodding; however, that is another story...)
At 16, I got hired at a local shop as an oil changer, and 2 years later I was working for them as a technician. Still worked for the farmer on the weekend in the fall (the corn maze season). That funded most of the work (and helped with the car learning curve), but I quickly found out that body work is cheap in cost and expensive in labor, so I learned to weld, taught myself how to replace panels, and took great pride in every ounce of work I did.
I was living at home with mom and dad, finished high school, started taking community college classes towards a Mechanical Engineering degree, and at 21, I moved into San Antonio (about 35 miles away from home), transferred to a university, and the mustang progress came to a screeching halt for 5 long years for me to finish school (it was quite a bit harder than I anticipated...).
And here we are now. Hired and living in Kenosha, WI. Lovely wife (no kids yet), new house with a garage and small shop add on, stable job that I enjoy. So, over the thanksgiving week, my father and I loaded up a trailer (which is for sale now
), and the mustang is home now
First things first, shelves for the garage, organization, then evaluation of what needs to be (re)done. Many things I did as a 16-18 year old need a little love or totally redone. But, needless to say, I’m very happy to get back at it, and I hope to have a driving car in another 3 years or so.
The pictures that follow is of the work that I documented since having a digital camera/smart phone. I’ll say it again, I’m self taught….so those out there that think you’re in over your head, I definitely was/am! But I figure I can learn to do just about anything if I will take the time…those pro’s who look at this thread, please comment with any advice/suggestions. I’m always willing to hear from the experienced!
If you made if through that book, you’re either really bored, or a hardcore member. I thank you. I wouldn’t be where I am with this car without this forum. Enjoy the pics that follow (it may take me a day or two to get it all up, having some R&R time over the Christmas/New Year days)
At the time of moving, the work list looks like this:
- Both full floor pans and seat risers replaced
- Maier Racing Subframe connectors welded in
- Front radiator support, crossmember, inner fenderwell (battery side), and strut rod mounts replaced
- Various small rust areas replaced
- RH lower quarter panel replaced
- interior stripped and painted with Zero Rust (needs to be redone)
- underside stripped, epoxy primed, and painted
- firewall smoothed, engine bay epoxy primed and painted
The *current* future plans include:
- SoT front coilover and 3 link rear
- 408 stroker with supercharger (shooting for 650+ at the wheels)
- 5 or 6 speed trans
- Candy Blue with boss 302 blackouts and striping (custom lettering)
- Cougar Eliminator hood
- interior design inspired by a racecar
in the words of the joker: "and here....we....go!"