Shortly after I got married, I got my first car, a 1972 Mustang Grande similar to the one pictured here.
My car was green, with a black vinyl top, and a good bit of rust. When I bought it, I didn't realize what a problem the rust would be. It was only later that I learned that rust repair, particularly when it gets to seriously rusted structural components, is about the most expensive repair/restoration project there is.
A little background. I was just a kid when the Mustang first came out. As it happened, my family never owned one, but I fell in love with them. As I grew, I was a long time before getting my driver's license (see my bio to see some of the reason why). When I did, at long last, I got my first car, the Mustang, for $1500.
My fiancÚ at that time (now my wife) hated the Mustang. I thought the reason was that she just did not understand the concept of a "classic car" and that an old car can be valuable. Well, that was part of the reason. Part of the reason also was that she didn't like this car. She didn't like the rust at the lower edges of body panels. She didn't like the noise from the leaking doughnut gasket. She didn't like the cracked dash panel. She didn't like the smell of exhaust inside the car. (Boy, was I blinded by the idea of finally getting "my Mustang.")
As one might imagine, this caused some tension. Over time, I dealt with the stink (covered the holes rusted through the floorboards) and the noise. I also began to learn more about Mustangs and how I had been had. Still, rust-bucket or not, the car was great fun to drive and the 302 V8 under the hood had great authority on the street. I came to realize that it was not a good project car and put it up for sale, taking out ads online, in the paper, and posting signs in the windows. By that time, we had two other cars (a Toyota Corolla which we still have and a Mazda 626 that recently died a gruesome death) so I did not need the car to drive. However, although a couple of people came to look at the car, nobody really wanted to buy it even at $500.
I didn't want to junk the car. I hate to see any Mustang go down if there's any life in it at all. After all, they aren't making classic Mustangs any more. So with a choice between junking it and doing at least a partial restoration so that maybe somebody would buy it, I chose the latter.
About this time, my wife and I bought our house. I put the Mustang into the garage and started to work. The fenders and hood came off with the idea of blasting off rust from the unibody, patching any holes either by welding in patches or fiberglassing over them, and working my way from front to back that way. The engine was in good shape but I was thinking of maybe giving it some modest power modifications.
As time wore on and the demands of work and family kept me from spending more than occasional time on the car, I began to realize what a really big project I had taken on. Undaunted, I rolled the car out into the driveway and covered it so that my daily driver (a '91 Mitsubishi Eclipse by this time) could stay in the garage for the winter and the Mustang could wait until the weather warmed up to go back into the garage for further work.
This nears the end of the tale. I would like to say that the story had a happy ending and that I was able to finish work on the car and find it a good home. But that's not the case. For the denouement see my Gripes page.
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