(Words and Photos by Joe Grippo) I’ll admit it, I have been slacking. It has been like a year since I have done a BS installment on the rehabilitation venture we call Project Phantom, my wife Stacey’s 1969 Mustang GT. If you want to see the progress leading up to today’s chapter, type Project Phantom in the search box in the upper right on the page. Now truth be told, we have been continuously working on it, I just have not shared anything with the BS faithful, for no reason other than the old life gets in the way idiom. I intend to amend that moving forward. When you last saw the car it was going under the knife at Rides Restored, a Mustang restoration shop in Red Hill, Pennsylvania. This post will continue to follow that work as the key structural elements of the car continue to be replaced with new metal. The changes taking place are amazing to see, as the car is being transformed before our eyes.
The floor pans were plenty rough, with patches here and there, they presented some serious issues. The floor supports had separated from the floor pan and the inside rocker panels had more rust spots. Mustangs, being unibody cars, do not have a full-length frame but these floor supports tie into the front subframe rails along with the torque boxes, so this a key structural tie-in point. The torque boxes are a common problem area in early Mustangs, ours was no different. The cowl was rotted out and moisture worked its way down and destroyed the layers of metal that make up the boxes. Steel bracing was added to the body keep it square, then out came the torch and cutting wheels, and soon essentially the entire bottom of the car was laying on the shop floor.
Looking pretty grim, right? Time to get it back together now, here is the mockup of the torque boxes and front floor supports…
The inside of the rockers were crusty so the suspect areas were cut out and patch panels were fabbed, then welded in place. All the new sheet metal was sourced from Dynacorn, so we went with their one-piece floor pan. The fit was excellent and only required slight trimming. Once the new floor and all the new pieces meshed together, everything was tacked in placed, then checked again and fully welded. Seat risers were installed, and seam sealer was added to according to original Ford specs. We are cooking now!
As a bit of an addendum, this was the family car that Stacey grew up cruising in the back seat of, as her dad Harold banged the gears all over southern New Jersey. The deep connection to this Mustang GT warranted the investment to bring it back to the street. Are we buried in it from a value standpoint? Probably, but we don’t care. It’s not about that, the memories that Stacey has as a child and the moments we share as husband and wife putting it back together are invaluable. Not to mention the future fun this GT will bring. We are not there yet but the progress has been wonderful and motivating.
Tune in next time as the major surgery ends with the hind quarters of our faithful steed getting needed attention.
Check the gallery below for additional photos of the structural and floor work.
Thanks for reading.