Project Mustang: Starting the build

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Building our Project Mustang Building our Project Mustang Building our Project Mustang
Building our Project Mustang Building our Project Mustang Building our Project Mustang
Building our Project Mustang Building our Project Mustang Building our Project Mustang
Building our Project Mustang Building our Project Mustang Building our Project Mustang
Building our Project Mustang Building our Project Mustang Building our Project Mustang
Building our Project Mustang Building our Project Mustang Building our Project Mustang

Project Mustang gets a new heart and a heap of other gear

Project Mustang: Starting the build
Building our Project Mustang

 

Project Mustang

You might recall that last issue we stripped what started out as a very tidy D-code Mustang down to bare metal and went on the great rust hunt. Luckily, there wasn’t much to find. So while the good folk at Classic Speed limbered up to put it all back together again, Uncle Phil was turning his attention to the powerplant.

Our car was rolled out the doors at Ford nearly five decades ago with what could be regarded as the basic domestic version of the V8 – namely a 289 with a three-speed auto behind it. Basic, but very effective. This package produces around 200 horses, which is enough to make a relatively light (by modern standards) car perform pretty well. Not enough to win down at the local drag strip, but certainly plenty of oomph to make for a satisfying Sunday drive.

Here is where we encountered the same dilemma faced by every restorer. It’s sorely tempting to give the engine a quick top-end rebuild and plonk it back in. Do it right and you’d end up with a very nice cruiser that would run for another decade.

The thing is, there is so much you can do to these cars – the choice of parts and upgrades out there is apparently endless. The only limitations are the size of your wallet and the level of your insanity.

Classic Speed has had plenty of time to think these things through and has come up with three basic engine packages based around seasoned blocks: a 302 with around 415hp (309kW) at the crank, plus two variants of a 351 Windsor, with 415 or 555 neddies (414kW). All three are supplied by Blueprint Engines out of the US.

Factory Manager Richard Dearing has been instrumental in these choices and is a big fan of the product. After serving 20 years in the US Navy, he set up his own auto engineering shop, which he ran for several years before joining Classic Speed.

"We were a machine shop, engine rebuilder, electronic diagnosis, the whole deal," he says. Having done enough engine heart surgery to appreciate good equipment when he sees it, he’s become a fan of the Blueprint product. Why? "The driveability and dependability," he says, "We haven’t had any problems with them – no abnormalities at all. They’re just a superior product."

He goes on to list the goodies inside: "You end up with a more robust and longer-lasting product. These engines have got the best of everything in them: steel crank, roller cam and valvetrain, plus hypereutectic pistons."

Evidently the maker has a lot of faith in its product, as it offers a 30-month and 50,000-mile (80,000km) warranty. The powerplants are delivered complete, pretty much ready to start. Classic Speed installs them, fills up the requisite fluids and test runs them.

While of course you can throw lots of bling at the engine bay, there is one major choice to be made, which is fuelling. Classic Speed offers the option of injection or a Holley carburettor. Which should you go for? Richard is a fan of injection for most applications.

"I really like the fuel injection," he says. "With proper camshafts it’s just unbeatable. It gives you cold start drive-away ability. The carburettors do just as well once adjusted properly, but the fuel injection adjusts continuously. Your power is a little more and your fuel economy is much better. I’d say your fuel economy is the biggest reason." He doesn’t dismiss the humble carburettor, however.

"A guy that wants the simplicity of a ’65 or ’66 Mustang, the Holley is the way to go. Something that he can adjust himself."

So what about our car? We’re sticking with the 302, which is an original and cleaner fit in this generation (’64-and-a-half) Mustang. With 302kW and around 540-odd Nm at the crank, it will have plenty of life in it. And yes, we’re going for the carburettor – a Holley 600 – so we can have a bit of a tinker. What about a transmission? Again we’re sticking with the spirit of the original and using a tried-and-tested five-speed manual.

So that’s a couple of the big decisions made – now we have to get stuck into the detail. Of course we’re still a hell of a long way from a finished product.

With the body stripped and engine chosen, its time to start down the road to re-assembly. Watch this space...

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