We all love a classic car. That’s why you’re here, on Car & Classic, reading about them. However, within that vast and brilliant world of classics, there are some that stand out more than others. They could be rare, they could be exotic or as per the car we have here, they could be pop culture icons. Many, many cars have made it to the silver screen. The Beetle, Ferraris, Porsches, Jaguars. The list goes on. But few make an impact as large as, befittingly, big American muscle cars. And of those, the Mustang is arguably king. Sure, there are others like the Charger, the Camaro, the Firebird and the Chevelle, but the Mustang sits atop them all as a true Hollywood A-lister. It’s been the star of Gone in 60 Seconds, John Wick, James Bond, Death Race, Need for Speed, K9, Drive, Transformers and of course, Bullitt. And it’s that last one, which starred Steve McQueen, that takes the top spot. Even if you’ve never seen the film, you know about the chase. You know about the ’68 Highland Green fastback and the noise it made as it double-shifted through the hilly street of San Francisco.
Now, we’re not saying you need to paint this 1968 Ford Mustang fastback Highland Green. You can do with it as you please. But we are saying that there is an undeniable appeal that comes from a car with such a rich and exciting history. It makes owning said car more special, more exciting. It’s a link to one of the most famous car chases in cinema history, and who doesn’t want to be associated with a bit of that action? And this car, fresh from America, could be just the ticket.
What is it?
What we have here is a 1968 Ford Mustang fastback. The seller confirms that it’s the real deal, too. Not a copy (there is big money being made converting coupes to fastbacks). It was owned by a WW2 vet, and then his son. Sadly, they have both passed away, and the car was acquired by the current seller. It’s a factory V8 car with a C4 automatic transmission and on the whole, it looks to have been cared for reasonably well over the course of its life. The interior is in remarkable condition, even the dash isn’t cracked. The paint looks good in the pictures, and the car sits on a fetching set of Torq Thrust style alloy wheels. The car is running and driving, too, which is a big bonus. It just needs you to scoop it up and give it a new life!
Why is it a project?
It looks like the Mustang was in use until recently. It certainly doesn’t come across as a car that’s been sat in a barn for decades, after all, it does run and drive. And that lovely interior has obviously been worked on to keep it so nice. It’s difficult to say without properly inspecting it, but at face value, it seems like this could be put on the roads of the UK without too much fuss. It could then be a rolling restoration. You could even drive it as it is – we would, as we like the patina the car has collected over the decades. There is some structural work needed first, in particular with the front floors and the torque box, but the seller has stated they will do this if the full asking price is met. If not, they will include the parts and leave it to the new owner.
Five things to look for:
You need to check any old Ford for rust, and the Mustang is no exception. The seller states that there is some work to be done on the front floor and torque box. The seller will complete this work if the asking price is met, or they can just supply the new metal. Up to you. Check the sills, the rear floors, doors, bulkhead, boot floor and inner wings, too.
While you can buy reproduction trim with relative ease, it’s always nice to use the original stuff. Not only for the sake keeping it stock, but also because it’s easier on the wallet. Check the body trim, window surrounds, grille, lights and badging. If you can restore and reuse it all, that’ll save you a chunk of change.
The seller states the car runs and drives, so that’s good. But how strong does the engine sound, and is it free of any leaks? You can replace the engine with ease, but it’ll be costly. Happily though, you can buy crate engines that just drop in and require nothing more than a bit of wiring and some plumbing.
The interior looks remarkably decent in this old ‘Stang. In fact, it looks really, really good. But this presents a problem. If any of it does need replacing, said replacement bits are going to look somewhat incongruous. As such, you need to check that you can indeed live with and use what’s already there.
In the pictures, this bruiser looks to be arrow straight. The panel gaps all look good, and there doesn’t seem to be any damage to speak of. However, nothing beats an inspection person. Check the paint – it might be something you can save. Look for any signs of filler or past repair, in particular on the lower sections, as these were prone to rot.
What should you do with it?
Well, as we alluded to earlier, you could go down the road of building a Bullitt clone. There is no shame in that, largely because the Highland Green look is stunning. But don’t think that Frank’s car is your only option. This is a Ford Mustang, and as such, there is a frankly staggering aftermarket out there ready to help you build the mustang of your dreams. You could go down the restoration route and just build yourself a nice classic. You could go the restomod route, maybe drop in the 5.0 and six-speed manual transmission from a current Mustang. That would be one hell of a car. Or, you could do none of that, and just give it a mechanical overhaul and run it a bit rough around the edges. There is no shame in a car with a bit of age to it, and the Mustang suits that. Hell, even Frank Bullitt’s Mustang had a whopping great dent in it!