Conversion therapy - Reader Resto

By: Guy Allen and owner, Photography by: Guy Allen and owner

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It took the classic lines of an early Mustang to convert an unsuspecting builder into a car nut

Conversion therapy - Reader Resto
After the hard yards, this is the result.

Until I saw the Mustang at the Shepparton swap meet in 1999, I wasn’t really interested in cars. I was a builder, with no inclination to own a classic. 

We were walking around – Carolyn, the boys (Thomas and Declan) and me – and were taken with a Mustang we saw there. I got talking with the owner who said if we were interested in one, we should contact Ian Blume of The Mustang Marque in nearby Harcourt. 

It was a nice thing to dream about: maybe win a lottery and get a car the next year, for my 40th birthday. Things didn’t quite work out that way.

In two weeks’ time we had contacted Ian, had a look around and became the proud owners of a very sad, but straight ’65 Hardtop in need of a full ground-up rebuild! It cost $5500, but there was a long way to go. 

He had already started on the car and was going to do it as a speculative project to sell on. Some of the paint was already stripped.

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Not exactly bought on a whim, but close to it.

He was prepared to host the restoration in his shed and said the more work I did on it, the less it would end up costing. Ian would support me with the more technical work. 

One of the decisions we had to make was whether we simply did it up as a tidy driver or go all out as a concours car. I think we decided we wanted something in-between. We wanted good quality, or display class.

With concours you get wrapped up in too much detail. Judges look for things such as if the alternator is the correct date code, namely two months before the date of the car. That was beyond what I wanted to do.

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This is what was left of the engine. Not much.

As for the body, it was really clean. For example, the floorpans were immaculate and it had a little rust in the doors – only in the skins – and the C-pillars where the drip rail finishes.

I did a lot of the grunt work, such as paint-stripping, rubbing down and getting components ready for finishing. At times I would load smaller pieces into the boot of my car and take them home to do the work over the weekend.

We were fortunate to find a retired spray painter who still did some work in his shed and he completed the body for us in an acrylic, Wimbledon White. That was the original colour of the car and he did an amazing job considering it was done in a shed rather than a paint booth.

The engine that was sitting in the car was just the block and the heads. We were about a third of the way through the body resto when Ian said, "I’ve spent some of your money." He had managed to buy a fully-rebuilt 289 V8 with C4 transmission out of another project. The owner wanted a Cleveland instead of the Windsor in his car and was prepared to let the 289 go at a very good price. Ian pointed out we couldn’t have built an engine for same money. That gave the project a significant boost.


It was painted the wrong colours for our project, so we worked on that. It’s in a fairly standard state of tune for a C-code car with a two-barrel carburettor. 

We took the opportunity to convert the Mustang from left- to right-hand-drive and decided against adding power steering. Plus we upgraded the brakes from drums all ’round, to power-assisted discs on the front. Barry Reynolds, the fella who did it, used a lot of Falcon XA-XB-XC parts. There is a good crossover of parts between the two series.

Originally the interior was black, but we went for red as I preferred the look. My son Thomas has since become an auto trimmer and he recently refitted the car with a fresh interior, as the first one we did had started to fade and wear with all its use and exposure at shows over the years. We took the opportunity to upgrade to a Pony trim. You never really finish working on these old cars!


We’ve taken it to a lot of events and met with some very early success. For example in 2001 it scored the Most Outstanding Ford Elite and Top Authentic display car awards at Springcar Nats 9. When the organisers discovered we still kept the Ford in the same condition, it was invited back as a special display at Springcar Nats 30 last year, where it was again an award-winner. Over time, it’s picked up 115 trophies.

It’s very easy to drive and sits on the road like a dream. I always keep the wheel alignment bang on – we have a local company in Shepparton called GV Front End Specialists, which does a lot of older cars. They have it running on rails.


Bill loves his Pony.

It drives like a dream and I love getting out in it. 

Next project? Well, I already have EB and XL Falcons in the driveway and my son Declan tells me three cars are enough. Then again, I wouldn’t mind a manual AU Falcon XR8. We’ll see …


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