How to Restore a 1965 Ford Mustang

by Thomas West

The popularity of the 1965 Mustang has never waned since its introduction in April of 1964. Its popularity had a lot to do with its sporty good looks, a wide variety of options and engines ranging from powerful V-8s to an economy-minded six cylinder. These are the same reasons the 1965 Mustang is such a popular restoration candidate today.

Evaluate the condition of your Mustang and determine what you want the end result of your restoration to be. A rough and rusty Mustang will take a lot more resources to restore than a straight, rust-free car. Do you desire a decent daily driver or an award-winning show car? Budget your finances and time for your restoration accordingly. Make a list of parts, materials and services needed.

Decide what type of restoration you want for your Mustang. Do a cosmetic restoration if you have a basically sound car that just needs paint, chrome or interior work, and you want to use the car as an everyday driver. Perform a total restoration on your Mustang if you desire a show car. A total restoration will be more expensive, as it usually entails completely disassembling the car, refurbishing or replacing parts as needed, and then reassembly.

Join a local Mustang club and attend meetings. Go to restoration seminars if your Mustang club sponsors them. Talk to other pony car owners who have already been through the restoration process. Find out what repair and body shops they used, what parts vendors they ordered from and how they dealt with a particular restoration issue. Purchase a 1965 Ford Mustang shop manual. Even if you are not going to perform any of the restoration tasks yourself, familiarize yourself with every aspect of your Mustang and the processes involved. Knowledge is key to a successful restoration.

Get your Mustang mechanically sound. Depending on your car, this may require a complete engine rebuild or a simple tune-up. Make sure the suspension, brakes, differential and transmission are all up to snuff as well. Garage your Mustang if you are going to be doing some of the restoration work yourself. Acquire a good quality mechanic's tool set.

Schedule your Mustang for the body shop. You can save a considerable amount of money if you do the disassembly of chrome trim, bumpers and lights yourself. Use a digital camera and take close-up pictures of each item before, during and after the disassembly. This will help immensely when the time comes to put your Mustang back together. Make a photo album of your progress as this will help to value the car by showing the level and quality of restoration that you have done.

Refurbish the interior once the body and paintwork have been completed. Complete interior kits from the carpet to the headliner are available for Mustangs at quite reasonable cost. However, for a daily driver you may only need to replace the front seat upholstery and give the rest a good cleaning.

Do not skimp on the details when it comes time for reassembly. Take your time and get a helper so that you don't scratch or chip your expensive paintwork when reinstalling bumpers, chrome trim, lights and so forth. Don't forget to take pictures as you go for your album.


  • check Plan on the unexpected. Even the most thorough shop estimate may not reveal hidden work that may need done. Don't give yourself an unrealistic deadlines. The quality of work in your restoration will suffer.


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