73' Convertible First Car


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Jul 18, 2018
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1973 H-code Convertible, 351c 2V, automatic
73’ 351C 2V, Convertible, Automatic FMX

Car was gifted to me from my dads’ college roommate in 2011.  My dad remembers driving it around Ohio State.  It was sitting outside of a restoration garage in Columbus, OH for ~10 years when we brought it back to Indiana.  The convertible top was moldy and the back window was ripped out.  There was a dead bird in the front seat, probably from a cat living in there.  During that winter, I helped my dad restore it to driving condition.  Here’s a summarized list of what was done:

-         New Fuel tank

-         Popped intake off and cleaned area

-         Replaced lifters

-         Replaced some bent push rods

-         Rebuilt carb

-         Replaced fuel pump

-         Rebuilt power steering (never again)

-         Replaced water pump w/ refurb water pump

-         Replaced cracked exhaust manifold

-         Replaced spark plugs

-         New brake lines (custom by my dad) and new front calipers, etc.

-         New air shocks

-         New convertible top

-         Rebuilt heater core

-         Patched up a few rust spots on front left fender and repainted (color not quite matching)

-         New 4-speaker stereo system

After getting it to a drivable point, I drove it for a few years in highschool and college and put it away in my dad’s barn every winter.  Drove it ~10,000 miles since 2011.  One time I also managed to drive an hour home without brakes only to have my dad tell me that the problem was I didn’t have brake fluid… 

Since then (2016) I’ve done the following:

-         Patched up floor pans w/ sheet metal

-         New Carpet, floor mats

-         Replaced convertible top front seal.  Pretty sure I did this wrong because it still leaks a bit.

-         Pertronics ignitor, new ignition coil, starter solenoid and wrapped foil/foam insulator around fuel line next to carb (Woohoo no more failure to start w/ hot engine).

-         New exhaust system after it cracked off around muffler.  2.25” w/ Hooker longtube headers, Dynomax mufflers (the idea was that I would upgrade carb, intake to support headers’ pull).

-         Replaced rear-main seal to fix slow oil leak, replaced oil pump, cleaned and repainted oil pan.

-         Replaced sway bar bushings.  Definitely did something wrong here.  After briefly driving it a few months ago there was much more play in steering than with old bushings.

-         Repaired seat bottom metal frame.  Cracked where the seat back meets the bottom and I didn’t notice until someone told me I looked like I was driving like a gangster.

-         Replaced window crank knobs about 100 times

Now I’m at a point where I’ve graduated from college and working a full-time job.  I’m looking to put some serious cash into it to bring it from fair condition to great condition.  I want to be driving it to work once or twice a week and give it some upgrades to give it a little more power.  Here’s the following work that I’m considering:

-         Body: There is a concerning amount of rust pretty much everywhere under the body.  I’m hoping to have someone look at it and tell me what needs to be done to make sure it’s structurally stable.  I don’t know if I’m willing to put in the time and money to strip the car to the frame and build from the bottom up.  It at least needs a new paint job, as there are large patches of bubbled or faded paint. 

-         Engine: I’ll likely pull the engine.  Needs a new radiator and considering one w/ electric fan.  New air filter, A/C delete.  Considering new intake, carb, camshaft to pair with the headers that were kind of an impulse buy.  Considering a T5 swap on the transmission and I’m willing to shell out the cash for it.

-         Suspension, Brakes, etc.: Need power steering hose (maybe all new power steering).  Brakes aren’t great or at least I don’t know what good brakes for this car should feel like.  Rear brakes are still drum brakes.  Will be getting a new master cylinder at the least. 

-         Wheels:  I’ve had vibration at 60-70mph for the last 8 years that I’ve driven the car and I’m almost positive it’s from one of the stock wheels.  So I’m planning on getting replacement rims that can still fit the hubcaps, which are in great condition.

Right now I won’t be working on the car until mid-February 2020, but I’m putting together a plan and researching my options in the meantime.  Any suggestions on the route that I should go are welcome, especially with body-work, as I don’t know much about that area.  Pictures are from a few years ago when the paint was still nice.

Oct 8, 2019
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My Car
1971 Mustang Convertible
1971 Mustang Mach I
1972 Mexican GT-351
Gratz and welcome! I just joined yesterday. Collectively the folks on here know their stuff. if your car has been a midwest car its entire life then it probably needs a fair amount of sheet metal work. It sounds like you have patched up the floor pans. Rear quarters and outer wheelhouses probably need to be replaced. If you post some photos i imagine some of the folks here can give you some ideas of things to look for. Try getting shots underneath the car, bottoms of door, lower door jambs, inside trunk (will need a good light or flash) and also try to figure out if your cowl needs some attention. The last thing seems to be a frequent problem but one i have not experienced.

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