The original “pony car”, the Ford Mustang set the world alight on its debut at the World’s Fair in 1964. It was designed to be a sporty car that the ordinary working man could afford, and over 50 years later it’s still hugely popular, with a sixth-generation Mustang being released in 2015.
Ford made more than a million Mustangs in the first few years of production alone, so despite its popularity, early models are still plentiful, reasonably affordable and supported by a strong parts market – all the ingredients to make it an evergreen hit with vintage car enthusiasts.
There are many generations, models and sub-models of Mustang. This guide assumes you’re looking for a first-generation car (1964-1973), which were offered in a huge variety of options. Here are a few things to consider if you’ve got your eye on a Mustang:
Undercarriage floor pans, wheel wells and the cowl area beneath the bonnet are common rust spots for a Mustang, so be sure to give these a thorough inspection and look for blistering or recent paint jobs. Many older Mustangs have had these areas replaced, which is fine as long as the owner can show it was done professionally. Avoid Mustangs with large areas of rust unless you’re prepared to replace the affected areas.
First-generation Mustangs rely on their shock towers for their structural integrity, so it’s absolutely vital to make sure these are in good nick. Rusted or separated shock towers are dangerous, and replacing them yourself can be a demanding job even when you have the tools.
Classic Mustangs have data plates showing the car’s original setup as it was when it was produced, so these can be a valuable source of information for the second-hand buyer. Check the VINs on the engine compartment, windshield and door data plate and use this handy tool to decode them for you.
Transmission and drivetrain
Mustang owners usually like to push their cars hard, which over time can lead to problems with the transmission and drivetrain, so these along with tyre condition are always worth a careful inspection before any money changes hands. Also ask about any electrical faults and whether the engine has been rebuilt.
Most first-generation Mustangs are 40 to 50 years old. They’re generally sturdy cars, but not invincible: look for examples with a full car history report and look out for anything that raises questions.
Due to the wide availability of Mustang parts, a fixer-upper usually isn’t quite the money pit that other cars can turn out to be – but it always pays to know exactly what you’re buying!