LOVING THE PONY CAR….. A 1965 FORD MUSTANG
Jon Thomson is a car tragic who owns perhaps half a dozen vehicles crammed into a garage under his Sydney office.
Like many car tragics, as a kid, `Thommo’ drooled over the ’65 Mustang Fastback. The car held a special place in his heart and he wanted one since back in the day.
Six years ago Thommo’s Mustang dream came true when he bought one out of the ‘States and he still can’t believe it’s his.
Now just about every bloke who talks to Thommo about it seems to say the same thing, “I’d love a Mustang, I’ve always wanted one, did it cost much and where did you buy it?”
Thommo says there are two things you have to understand about old Mustangs, first up, they’re OLD! Anyway you cut it a ‘65 ‘Stang has passed 50, but don’t let that put you off. Secondly they are reliable old nails and if you choose wisely they can be a dependable classic muscle car to drive and enjoy.
I took the `import it yourself’ path to get my car. This was done with some help from a friend who buys a lot of cars in the States and who was able to track me down a very clean, if a little tired skylight blue 65 Coupe A code 289 V8 auto.
I wanted a California car because the problem with other states in the mid-west and East Coast is that winter snows mean salted roads and inevitable rust problems.
At the time of purchase the Australian dollar was worth around $1.05 against the American dollar so the purchase price of $5900 Australian was a steal.
There are about 4500 Mustangs of varying ages on Australian roads, a fraction of US production but enough to give local buyers some stock to consider.
A GOOD ONE
Finding a good one is the challenge.
Before you ship the car back you must have approval to import and to find out more info on that you can go to the Department of Infrastructure website https://infrastructure.gov.au/vehicles/imports/ for info on what you can and can’t do.
My advice is engage a good and reputable import agency/customs agent with car import expertise and you won’t go wrong.
There’s 10 per cent GST but no duty on cars older than 30 years.
All up my ‘Stang owed me just under $9000 landed including all taxes, freight and handling fees. Today you would be lucky to land the same car for under $14,000.
I wanted to restore the car back here because of the certainty of knowing what was wrong and having it fixed properly for a reliable car.
We went about stripping the bright work, lights, glass and interior, labelling and storing securely for the re assembly before finding a good sandblaster.
With the car stripped all damage and rust was exposed. Save for a few pinholes in the rear guards rust was negligible allowing the semi- retired panel beater doing the work to get stuck in without having too much rectification. I was fortunate my guy did the work at a cost well under commercial rates, however it was still close to $10,000 without parts.
JOIN THE CLUB
My advice would be to join the Mustang Owners Club and chat to other members about the good and bad restoration organisations and get some recommendations.
You should budget at least $15,000 if you need or want a full respray. If you have the skills and ability or more importantly the desire to do some of the prep work yourself you will save yourself money.
Replacement parts are relatively cheap and in plentiful supply with many reproductions available but you get what you pay for so be careful.
The engine and driveline in my Mustang were in superb order and needed no work save for swapping the four-barrel Holley for a reconditioned unit and the fitment of an electronic ignition set up for better performance and driveability so that saved me more dollars. Along with rust this is the other part that you need to be careful with.
Of course these days there is no need to convert 30-year-old cars from left hand drive. Not converting saves you close to $15000 so why do it?
If you start doing the sums you won’t get much change out of $35,000 to import and restore an early V8 that drives well and is in good fettle.