Just how safe can you feasibly get a first generation Mustang to be?

Discussion in 'Classic Mustang Specific Tech' started by BillyT903, Feb 28, 2009.

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  1. This is part of an ongoing debate between me and my older brother over the viability of dumping my current daily driver and making a classic Mustang my sole vehicle for good. I’m a single 35 year old software engineer and have done plenty of wrenching in the past but live alone in a city apartment now and would plan on doing little to no work myself.

    First let me present my theories and rationale:

    A car is one of the worst investments you can make. Whether it’s a Saturn or a Lexus, the value of your new car is guaranteed to nose dive from day one and will continue to decrease until the latest set of tires you put on it are worth more than the car. A classic Mustang will not only maintain value, but will increase over time, even if you don’t keep it original. And you always have the option of one day restoring it to original form and selling it for more than what you paid years or decades ago.

    Any honest assessment of car ownership must accept that image is a huge factor. Your 1995 BMW/Acura/Corvette/MUSTANG was super cool the day you bought it. By 2000 it may have still been running ok but was looking a bit dated, (so 90’s). By 2005 your car was an embarrassment and you sold it and bought a new car. All the money you spent on repairs and upkeep was lost. And you will repeat this cycle over and over again for the rest of your life. The complete opposite is true for a classic Mustang which will be cool forever, and only get cooler as time goes by.


    But, let’s say I either happen to find a completed 64-66 Mustang or build my own that has…
    • A rebuilt 1992 Mustang GT 5.0 EFI engine
    • A rebuilt 1992 Mustang GT AOD 4-speed transmission
    • Power steering with a rack & pinion conversion kit
    • Power brakes with a dual bowl and discs all around
    • A complete suspension upgrade with shocks and springs
    • 2002 Mustang GT reclining seats with proper headrests
    • Retracting shoulder strap seat belts and lap belts in back
    • A functional third brake light and working reverse lights
    • Weight ratio: Battery relocated? fiberglass hood? aluminum engine parts? Sandbags?

    Four main arguments with counter-arguments:

    Any and all input from the folks who know would be greatly appreciated!

  2. Put a fuel cell in it, good seatbelts, the best brakes and steering you can afford and act just as you would with a motorcycle on the street. Assume you're invisible, think everyone's out to get you and drive carefully. People used them as daily drivers when they were new and seemed to survive.
  3. my current and last 10 daily drivers had only one thing different from my mustang in the safety department, integrated shoulder belts, however even my classic mustang has factory shoulder belts, though they are not integrated and currently in a box in my garage. let me state, once again, that i HATE 3 point seat belts with integrated shouder belts. i've had one friend die dut to the integrated shoulder belt when he rolled his car and wound up trapped, upside down, with the shoulder belt against his carotid artery cutting off the circulation to his brain. i myself have horrible back problems from a wreck in which all of my injuries were caused by the integrated shoulder belt.

    it's my opinion that if you can't have a proper 4 or 5 point saftey belt system then you're better off with just lap belts in most situations, other than a head on collision and the head on only because the shoulder belt would keep your head from hitting the steering wheel or windshield which a lap only belt would not, in this case, though, you'd still be better of with a 4 or point harness.

    a lot of new cars have the seat belts integrated into the seats and all of them still only have a 3 point system, it would seem to me that if you are going to go to the trouble of integrating the entire belt system into the car it would be better to use a 4 point system. again, this is all just my opinion and learned from my own experiences, so take it for what it's worth.

    i personally plan on adding a shelby style rollbar with a 4 point belt system into my 69 cougar and leaving only the lap belts in the rear seat locations. i am also researching the possibility of installing door crash bars in the doors as well from possibly a jeep cherokee, only because i have a door from my old cherokee in my backyard. i had replaced the door due to bad repair work by the PO so i just happen to have it available and it's actually slimmer than the door on my cougar
  4. I've been working on converting my 70 Mustang in this very manner.

    I now have:

    • 98 Explorer EFI engine w/AFR 165 Head, ComCams XE258HR cam & 4R70W electronic OD transmission, using an A9M ECU for the engine and a Baummannator TCS Trans controller for the tranny
    • Fox Mustang engine accessories and pullies w/serpentine belt & 130-amp SN95 alternator
    • Stock LS1 dual electric fans controlled by a SPAL fan controller, triggered by engine temp
    • Power Windows, Power Door Locks, Remote Keyless Entry and powered remote trunk release
    • Digital Electronic gauges from Dakota Digital (they have a BUNCH of cool features)
    • Aftermarket Cruise Control
    • Pioneer Single-DIN stereo feeding two Infinity 3" round speakers in the original dash grille, & 2 6X9's in the package tray
    • 8" Bazooka tubular powered subwoofer in the trunk
    • '03 Mach I Wheels with new tires

    I am currently working on installing a new 8.8 out of a '94 Mustang that will include:

    • FRPP M-4204-318C 31-spline Differential w/carbon friction plates
    • M-4209-F373N 3.73:1 Ring & Pinion gearset
    • Moser 31-spline axles machined for ABS rings, w/rings installed
    • New stock '94 Mustang GT rear disks and calipers
    • New stock '94 Mustang GT Master cylinder (4-wheel disk)

    Cost: Around $1600

    Not sure yet whether I'll be using a stock '94 Mustang proportioning valve, or just go with an adjustable one yet.

    Once I get that installed, I'll start working on the front suspension and braking, and am building up a 393 EFI that will take the place of the current Explorer 5.0L

    The front suspension and braking system will include:

    • AJE Tubular "K-Member" that will replace the existing crossmember
    • AJE Tubular lower control arms designed to use SN95 spindles
    • 13" Cobra front brakes and calipers
    • SN95 Spindles and struts w/coilovers
    • Fox Mustang Adjustable Caster/Camber plates modified to fit the shock towers
    • AJE Rack & Pinion conversion kit, including Fox Mustang power steering rack & pinion

    When I do the front suspension, I might install an ABS from a '94 Mustang, so that I'll have not only the great brake capabilities, but also a way to make sure they apply properly from a safety standpoint in less than ideal traction conditions.

    The AJE kit isn't all that expensive . . . it includes the K-member, the lower control arms and the rack kit (which includes the u-ioints for connecting to the existing steering column) for $1278 + shipping. The struts I have are new car take-offs I got several years back for $70. I found a set of new calipers for $100 on E-Bay. I found the spindles in a salvage yard listed on car-parts.com for $90 shipped. I can get a set of new rotors for around $75. Coilover kits are around $150.

    So, for the complete front suspension conversion, rack conversion, big brakes and all, I'll be spending around $2000 (plus wheels and tires).

    Not too bad, considering the Fatman stuff costs about $500 more and doesn't even HAVE the spindles, brakes, struts or rack . . . and just converting to R&P from other types of vendors will cost a MINIMUM of around $1200 . . .

    Yeah, you can definitely build the car safer, have modern conveniences, and make it as comfortable as a modern car, yet, keep the "classic car" look, but the trade off is it can get really expensive if you can't do it yourself, and it can also be expensive even *IF* you can do it yourself.
  5. if you buy a 10 year old car all your major depreciation is all gone, plus it has the modern features that can save your a$$. a classic will never compete with the safety of a newer car. calling this and that "overrated" sounds like an excuse to justify buying a classic. so just call it like it is. a classic mustang is about the look and feel of a classic muscle car, not a practical car. so don't fool yourself. plus spending the cash on the classic (which you would likely not get back in selling the car) makes it yours, like i said don't try to beat around the bush. buy it for the right reasons, only because you will feel dumb because you tricked yourself.
  6. what exactly makes a classic car "not practical"? just bacause it may not have the safety features of cars made in the last 10-15 years does not necessarily mean it isn't practical. in my mind it would have to be pretty wild and hairy in terms of driveability, gas mileage, braking, handling, etc for it to not be practical. meaning if it can't stop as well as the majority of newer cars, can't drive around town as well as most newer cars, has 500 hp or more, etc, etc. almost any classic car with at least power disc brakes, updated sway bars, shocks and springs and modern compound radial tires can be made practical, even it it still has a carburetor. now that doesn't mean a 71 hemi cuda vert, a 67 vette with the 425hp 427 or 427 shelby cobra would be a practical driver, but they could be (if they weren't worth more than the gross national product).

    the only thing a classic stang really needs to a practical driver is modern radial tires, disc brakes and slightly better springs, shocks and swaybars. for instance i could drive my 69 GT everyday and never have a problem, i don't simply because i only have liability insurance at the moment and couldn't afford to fix it if something happened. it's pretty much stock other than a mild cam, headers, 2.5" duals, 625 road demon carb, 17" wheels and tires, roller spring perches, high rate coils and 5 leaf rear springs and a 1" front sway bar. it still has stock power dics, factory ac, power steering and stock suspension and steering other than the afor-mentioned mods, pretty much everything else is stock on the entire car. even if i put the original 14" wheels, stock springs (already good because of GT package) and stock intake carb and exhaust back on it it would still be a practical daily driver.

    it wouldn't be the most practical daily driver since it still has a carb and doesn't get especially great mileage but it will stop, handle and drive almost as well as my wife's 2002 escape. the main advantage my wife's car has over the stang is that it's a little safer because it has air bags and it's got EFI so it doesn't have to warm up as long on cold mornings and get's better mileage, it's also a little more comfortable too but that wouldn't be as big a problem if i stilll had the 86 GT bucket seats in the stang. i'm old and have back problems so comfort is a big deal to me.

    that's why i'm building up my 69 cougar as more of a resto mod than i did with the stang even though i'm using 15" wheels and tires on it. it'll have better suspension front and rear with a TCP G-Bar out back and a custom Opentracker roller front suspension with coilovers, it'll be adjustable too so it will add to the overall comfort level. it'll have a TCP power rack kit so it will steer better. it will have those 86 mustang GT buckets, tilt column, power windows and locks, power trunk release and keyless entry so it will be more comfortable to drive around town. it will have a long rod, roller cam, aluminum head 351 with EFI via a holley commander 950 pro-jection system so the engine will be much more efficient and it will also have a vintage hone-o-drive syetm so i can run steeper gears and still get decent mileage as well. i'm also planning on adding a shelby style roll bar with 4 point belts and possibly even door crash bars so it will be marginally safer too.

    it will have all these updates and still look like like a classic cougar with no obvious giveaways to any of the updates readily noticeable anywhere, unless you get under the car. even under the hood will look stock as the holley projection can be easily hidden under the stock air cleaner. in addition it will also have extensive sound-proofing and insulation, plus a modern sound system that will also be non-invasive too. so basically will do almost everything as well as any modern car, still look like classic musclecar and cost no more than, probably quite a bit less than a comparable new car. since i will be keeping pretty much all of the original stuff i can return the car to stock and swap almost everything over to another cougar or even a 69/70 stang and sell the cougar or replace it in the event that it get's it totalled in an accident and i won't be detracting from car's originality or value in any way.
  7. The classic Mustangs were built around a completely different set of federal safety regulations. Trying to make one comparable to new cars is going to present compromises. One that comes to mind is shoulder belts. You can either get retrofit shoulder belts or do one better and install a roll bar, buckets, and harnesses that compromise use of the back seat. The '64-67s also did not have collapsible steering columns, which is important if you only have lap belts.

    Although not practical for a street car, I would rather race-prep my Mustang with seats, harnesses, fuel cell, roll cage, etc if I was a safety freak. I think it would be more worthwhile than trying to implement modern safety features like ABS or airbags.

    Billy, no offense, but how does you brother manage to leave the house or drive on public roads? I also don't get how he attributes some fishtailing phenomenon to non-IRS suspension. The design has little or nothing to do with it. :shrug:
  8. bnickel, i understand what you are saying. You have a classic that could drive everyday. I do too. do i drive it to work, through the snow, and leave it on the street at night? nope. do I expect it to start everyday and be 100% reliable? nope. its to be expected with older cars, things happen!

    consider: an older car you spend major $$$ to upgrade (dont forget OP has to pay labor costs too) for a car that would likely still have not all the creature comforts of a daily driver, reliable car. And some kits have questionable engineering and reliability, party because MOST if not all consumers using aftermarket stuff can tolerate break-downs and failures. by the time all the engineering of proper stuff to get a car into IMO "daily driver" reliability and safety, you would spend at least $10K plus the cost of a car.

    otherwise, imagine $8000 on a complete stone reliable daily driver 99-04 mustang gt that is just as fun and has all the engineering sorted out. look, I'm not saying these old cars aren't fun and can't be reliable, but you are still taking a gamble with an older car. buy it because its fun, not because you can make it "this and that and the other". call it like it is.

    I also find it ironic many members post on here, "yeah i CAN drive mine everyday if i wanted too." really? how many times has your car been down over the past 5 years? what if you urgently need to get somewhere i.e. work, hospital? take the bus? and what if you live in a northern climate? i cant imagine taking a vintage piece of iron through a salt spray. can you?

    it takes real balls to drive a classic every day, and not without the safety net of a secondary backup car.
  9. If I'm here alone with my girlfriend in my little apt in San Francisco, and we just have my car because her mom dropped her off after shopping... if while she's making dinner, I gash my hand open trying to get the fore-end off my Remington... I will want her to be able to drive me to the hospital...... in my car...... without needing to be constantly warned about things to be careful of or shortcomings that need to be compensated for.

    One time in my early twenties, I ended up at a surprise party that was thrown for me by my friends, and they got me pretty drunk... and they expected me to stay over, but that plan suddenly changed when the dude's parents unexpectedly came home. So... my non-car-enthusiast friend took it upon himself to drive me home... in a dark heavily wooded area... on extremely windy roads... going down the side of a mountain... in my old bone stock 1972 Ford Maverick that had manual steering and manual front and rear drum brakes! I remember frantically telling him, "It's ok man... it's ok... you're doing fine... just anticipate everything sooner and then lean into it!"

    Never Again!!!!!! :ban:
  10. 10 year old car? It's 2009 and my current ride is a 1999 Ford Contour Sport V6.
    It's decent looking, is a great beater for the city and a nice car to drive at a great price, but it just doesn't scratch my "Cool Car" itch. A car I'm psyched is mine. Also, since I bought it I've had to spend $1200 on repairs. It's like helping your current girlfriend pay for college when you know it's a relationship that won't last. But you KNOW if you and Ms. 66 GT got together, it could be a marriage for life.

    And a 2010 M3/C6/Cobra would certainly scratch that itch. But until when? 2015?

    In 2030 I'll still have my 66' Mustang, but I doubt you'll still have your 2010 Vette.
  11. I really don't understand buying an old car if you want a new one. People go to great lengths to eliminate any trait that is not in line with current technology. It was cool when no one had cars that were old, but had all the creature comforts. Now it is common.

    If you see my car you will know I am not a concourse restoration guy. I like my old car to be enhanced, but not to the point of killing the vintage feel. That does not mean it is unsafe. That also does not mean it is on par with new stuff either.

    I think ABS is over rated. If you have average or below average driving skills, you probably need it. If you panic in tense driving situations you need it. If you can steer and modulate brakes at the same time it is less helpful. For my wife it is very helpful. For me it is annoying when a computer takes control away from me. Stability control is a different story.

    For me, driving my Mustang is a treat. If I drove it everyday it would lose that feel. My daily driver is nothing special, but I like it that way. Even if it was special I would get used to it and it would lose it's charm too.
  12. I never even said the word practical... I said...

    "Just how safe can you feasibly get a first generation Mustang to be?"
  13. That is funny. One of the things I like about my car is that my wife has no desire to drive it due to it's rough edges. It does not have PS or PB, but does have 4 wheel disc. She is a little intimidated by the power too.:shrug:
  14. I agree 100%.
  15. He drives an ultra safe modern top of the line Acura with child safeties out the wazoo. But he's had as many old muscle cars as the rest of us. I think there's an implied warning here... "We remember your '72 Maverick Billy"... We want you to spend as much time as possible with your nephews... but we MUST feel that they are safe in your car." My brother goes on to add that I should feel the same way when it comes to meeting and dating women.
  16. Safe = Suburban Cars t-boned by a full size truck or SUV is trouble. I don't care what car it is. Sometimes knowing your car is not indestructable makes you more aware of your surroundings. Ride a motorcycle in a metro area and you will know what I mean.

  17. hey man i drove this car every day until i started the resto or when it was parked for a while because of numerous problems that were caused by me treating my daily driver like it was a 2nd car/paytoy. i was young and dumb back then and it was the only car i had and i liked to race it, do reverse 180's, drive it off road like it was a truck, etc, etc. absolutely nothing that was broken on it was due to normal wear and tear, nor would any new car stand up to the same kind of abuse. it was off the road for about 4 years and once i had all the problems fixed it was my daily driver again until i started the resto.

    now i only drive it during the spring, summer and early fall and only on nice days not because it's any less dependable than my daily driver 86 town car, but because it's not worth something happening to it now that it is fully restored and because i still have my daily driver/beater that is expendable should the worst happen. now keep in mind that my car is not just a simple restoration to a basic mustang coupe but a full on chassis-up resto with new everything to a 69 mustang GT.

    my 69 cougar that i'm going to build once the GT is sold will also be a nice weather driver but it will share daily driving duties with, hopefully, a 68-71 ranchero that will get the EFI 302 and AOD from the lincoln and it will become my primary driver/bad weather driver or an early model lightning if i can't find a suitable ranchero. i have absolutely no problem driving an old car everyday, hell the 86 lincoln, is now considered a "classic" and is nowhere near as safe or practical as a 95 or newer car. if it wasn't for the fact that i need a pickup for hauling stuff with i'd probably just keep the lincoln around forever since it is a nice comfy driver. if i can find a suitable ranchero i'll just swap the engine and stuff from the lincoln to the 'chero if i can't find a ranchero that i want, for a decent price then i'll sell or part the lincoln out and just buy an early 93-95 lightning instead.

    truth be known the newest car i've ever owned would either be my old 93 jeep cherokee that i bought it in 2000 or the 78 dodge monaco i bought in 1985 to replace the GT because my parents wouldn't let me bring it with me when i moved in with my real dad, that lasted all of about 4 months and they let me have the stang back, but my dad blew the original engine driving it back from houston so another 6 months went by i rebuilt a core engine in high school auto shop, from that point on the stang was basically my daily driver/only car for about the next 8 years when i parked it, i did have a few other cars in that time as well but they didn't replace the stang as my driver, just shared driving duty with it or were simply backup cars and none of them were around for more than 6 months to a year. i even delivered pizzas in the stang for many years, which is why i occasionally had backup beaters so if anything did happen to the stang that took longer than a weekend to fix i would have another car for work and quite a few of those were trucks. i only had 2 cars in the time the mustang was parked one was a 78 mustang II and the other was a 70 cougar and just like the stang i delivered pizzas in them, i got the cougar after the 78 stang was totalled by flatbed that ran a stop sign. in fact i had the 70 cougar until just a few years ago when the "buddy" i had storing it for me sold it to some dude for parts, needless to say we're not buddies anymore.

    the point is that i've pretty much driven classic or older cars all of my life. my wife doesn't like to drive "old" cars because she wants something efi and a warranty and low miles, that said she has only ever owned 1 new car in her life and it was the absolute worst car out of all the cars she's owned, it was a brand new 1990 nissan pulsar and she only owned it for about 3 years and it was in the shop for at least 6 months of those 3 years.
  18. Okay, I'll admit I didn't read every post but here's my opinion.

    Common sense rules. :nice:

    I don't care how many new fangled safety devices there are on a car. If a fool is behind the wheel nothing will matter.

    I've driven my 67 coupe for weeks at a time to and from work, shopping, etc. No A.C., no power steering. crappy Kelsey Hayes disc brakes, but enjoyed every minute of it.
  19. It seems as though you want one car to do everything, be everything, be easy to use, never lose value and be safe, and to top it all off, you live in SF, the very worst city I've ever been in for traffic. I was there yesterday, and told my wife I would never dream of taking my Mustang through that city on a bet. Forget it. In '01, I bought my fastback from a 93 year old woman who used it for her transportation since new. If she can do it, I would hope anyone can do it. It's not a spaceship, it's a car. If it's near stock, anyone who's ridden in a car can drive it, providing it's in good repair. Quit over-thinking it and make a choice, safe-reliable and starts everyday/ get a newer car. Fun to drive, doesn't lose value and may need a wrench occasionally, buy a vintage Mustang.
  20. Your friends are caught up in :bs: politics.
    They believe that newer cars are safer.
    Antilock brakes do help keep you straight but it takes 3 times longer to stop than none antilock, Insurance companys have tested this and is a fact that there are a lot more front end damaged cars due to antilock brakes. I have antilock on my rodeo and I live in the mountains with a long driveway down hill and they almost killed me a few times as they wont let the wheels lock when sliding and you roll right out into traffic with No brakes.
    The sheet metal on new cars is paper thin, thats why you need air bags. they call this thin sheet metal CRUSH PANELS, this is why you die in a accident, even with a airbag.
    Now AIR BAGS, This is just a bomb inches from your face, it throws plastic and metal into your face and kills children, if you wear glasses you will probably be blind after a airbag goes off. If you get hit hard enough to set a airbag off you will probably die because the crush panels will slice you to pieces.
    How many recalls on new cars today for China built junk parts like tie rod ends that come apart while driving or seat belt latches that unlatch when in a accident or paper thin gas tanks that a stone can punchure or tires that come apart at 60 mph and roll you over or seats that rip off the floor in a accident or all plastic dashes that explode into razor sharp pieces when hit.
    I can go on but I hope you get the point.
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