1966 Ford Mustang Coupe – Project Profile

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By Chris Pollitt

The history of the automobile is one that is rich in winners and losers. Some cars hit the mark and then some, while others floundered and became difficult to shift from dealerships. The car we’re looking at here, namely a 1966 Ford Mustang, is not a car that lives in the latter camp. Though it is a car that was born out of failure. You see, we perceive Ford as this massive, global powerhouse. And it is. But back in the early ‘60s, Ford of America was in trouble. Its cars weren’t cutting the mustard with the buying public, and as such it needed something new, something fresh that would give Ford the shot in the arm it so desperately needed.

Lee Iacocca was the man who spearheaded the project, deciding that Ford needed a new, more personal but ultimately sporty car that would appeal to the youth market. The Mustang was that car. Launched in 1964 for the 1965 model year, the Mustang was handsome, it was nimble, it was practical and with a V8, it was fast. And the American public agreed, as the Mustang sold in the millions within two years of being launched. 

It was an icon, a car that dominated and some would say, defined the ‘pony car’ movement. It became a pop culture icon, a symbol of what American cars could be and it also provided the bedrock of many a performance model. There simply isn’t another car like the Mustang, which is why the prospect of owning one is always exciting. 

What is it? 

The car we have here is a 1966 Ford Mustang V8 Coupe. It might not be as desirable as the fastback, but in Mustang terms, that’s like saying the sirloin isn’t as popular as the fillet. The Coupe is still, and always will be a hugely popular model. Even more so when fitted with a V8, which is exactly what’s under the hood here. Believed to be the original engine (though it looks to have been freshened up) the 289 Y-block V8 is mated to an automatic transmission, which in turn drives the rear wheels. 

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Finished in blue with matching blue interior, this car is an enviable specification, but one that should be treated as a base. There are a few things that need doing – this is a project after all – and there are also a number of things that you would probably want to upgrade (drum brakes all round, for example). 

Crucially though, while some work is indeed required, the fact remains that this is an early model with the desirable V8. It seems to be largely untouched, meaning it has the potential to be the blank canvas on which you build your dream Mustang, or you could of course go down the restoration route and keep it in original trim. The world is, thanks to a huge aftermarket and enthusiast following, your oyster. And you can start this journey for a mere £12,500.

Why is it a project? 

There are a number of things that push this Mustang into the project category, but none are anything to be too worried about, as parts availability for this generation Mustang is better than some modern cars. It seems the years have caught up with this car, but thanks to it being from the southern states of America, the issues are more heat and exposure based than anything to do with corrosion. 

First, we have the interior. It’s complete, but the sun has taken its toll. As such, the steering wheel is cracking and needs replacement, as does the dash pad – but this is an easy to get part from America. The vendor also says that while the seats are usable, they could perhaps benefit from new coverings. New carpet wouldn’t go amiss, either. But again, all these parts are readily available. 

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Externally, the ‘66 is in good order with only the odd mark or chip in the paint, which is allowed given this car is fifty-four years old. The glass, too, is in good order and the car sits on factory steels with a full set of original hubcaps. The tyres, however, need to be replaced due to age. 

Underneath the car there is some work to be done. The floors have some rot in the front, the driver-side frame rail needs a repair, too. However, the vendor states that apart from that, the Mustang is in solid condition. 

Mechanically, the car is believed to have the original 289 V8, which looks to have been given some attention recently, though to what extent we don’t know. It’s also worth noting that this is a power steering car, which works perfectly according to the vendor. Back to the engine, it starts on the button, though is a tad on the loud side due to a missing exhaust. Furthermore, it can’t be driven too far as the brakes need attention. Drums all round, the vendor is of the opinion that they need to be completely overhauled. 

Five things to look for:

1) Rust

It’s an old Ford, so rust is something you always need to check for. Boot floor, doors, pillars, screen surrounds, sills, firewall – just check it all. Better to know now than later. 

2) Electrics

Living in dry, hot conditions could have done all manner of things to the electrics. The joints could have dried out, wires may have become brittle and dried out, connections may have failed. Well worth a cursory check. 

3) Brakes

The vendor has already said the brakes need work, but it wouldn’t hurt to inspect them yourself. Is it just the wheel cylinders that have failed, or have the hard lines been damaged? What about the flexis? 

4) Trim

The good thing about the Mustang is that almost everything is available, either in the form of used parts, or reproduction. However, it’s good to use what you have, as it’ll keep the spend down. So have a look at the condition of the trim and get an idea of how much you’ll need to replace. 

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5) Paperwork

As ever, always check the paperwork with an imported car. The vendor states the car comes with UK registration and V5. However, check the numbers match up, chassis and engine. 

What should you do with it?

The world is very much your oyster. If it were our money, we’d dress up the engine, fit the new parts it needs, upgrade to disc brakes, sort the interior and then roll it as it is. But you don’t have to do that. You could restore it back to original specification, which wouldn’t be difficult given how straight and complete this Mustang is. If you wanted to go the other way – bigger engine, better suspension, big wheels, whatever you want really – you could. There is an aftermarket out there to support whatever you want to do. This could be the 1966 Ford Mustang of your dreams.

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