Just inherited stock 66 Mustang - does not start well after $$$

I’m a girl and don’t know anything about cars.

I just inherited my fathers prize possession, his 1966 Mustang of which he was the original owner. Everything is stock except the paint and the new brakes and fuel pump that I just paid a lot for.

My problem is that after spending over $3000 it does not start well. I have to give it a LOT of gas and I have to try it several times before it will turn over. There is a lot of dark exhaust coming out the tail pipe at start up too. What does the dark exhaust indicate?

I am also horrified to drive it because I am not used to manual brakes. I am thinking of getting the ‘booster’ that I hear about that will make the brakes more like power brakes. Is this a good idea?

I appreciate any suggestions and please talk to me like a 4th grader because I don’t know anything about this stuff and the repair shop were I just dumped $3000 isn’t much help…they tell me everything is fine and to just “hold the key over until it starts”.

I suggest you find a senior citizen who is familiar with operating a ‘classic’ car and understands choke pull-offs, choke heaters, fast idle cams, etc. with a patient old ‘gear head’ the learning curve could be much easier.


If anyone has any referrals in Orange County Calif it would be much appreciated.

A booster IS the “power” part of power brakes. Easily fitted to a 66 Mustang as are disk brakes on the front. I’d recommend that conversion.

Old cars are harder to start than modern ones. Pump the gas pedal twice, turn the key and add a little gas pedal as it cranks.

Modern fuel and early cars can be an issue so a carburetor rebuild might be needed.

BTW, being a girl doesn’t mean you can’t know about cars. Plenty of guys have no clue either. It is just a lack of education about the subject.


How many times are you pumping the gas pedal before you try to start the car???

You may need to do a full tune up on it which on that car includes points and condenser or at least adjusting the Dewell and ignition timing, carb idle mixture, coke and other things needed for back in the day…
You might want to invest into a Chilton’s or Hayne’s manual for your vehicle, will have a lot of useful info in it…

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Find your local classic Mustang club and go to a meet or meeting. Ask around for recommendations regarding mechanics. Which engine and transmission do you have? What did they do for that $3000? Getting the carb and ignition straightened out is pretty straightforward for someone who knows how.

I second @Mustangman ’s recommendation to install a quality disk brake conversion. My ‘65 had terrible brakes. Drums, manual, and they were the smaller ones on the 6 cylinder cars.


+1 to Texases’ comments.

A local Mustang club should yield info on recommended mechanics, and it is entirely possible that one or more members of that club do their own repair work, and could provide hands-on assistance–at less cost than a mechanic’s shop.

I think that could be said for all of the cars from–you know… The Good Old Days :smirk:. And, the problem of weak, anemic brakes persisted past the '60s.

My '71 Dodge Charger came with the standard power-assisted drum brakes, and they were prone to fade toward the end of a high-speed panic stop. Not very confidence-inspiring…

Only after I bought it from the dealer’s stock did I find out that there were two optional braking systems–heavy-duty drums, and a front disc/rear drum setup.

You got a bill. You paid it.

It usually means the engine is running very fat. (too much gas), on start-up,

The choke operating incorrectly is what usually causes this.

The choke is the top plate in the carburetor.

This regulates the amount air that enters the engine when starting.

Bring the vehicle to a shop that has a mechanic that looks like this.


They’ll see if the choke is out of adjustment, or if the carburetor needs to be rebuilt or replaced.



The shop’s going to charge way more for parts than Rockauto prices

And they SHOULD

I have a feeling the $3K job included much more than just a fuel pump

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Sounds like she had some paint work and brake work besides just the fuel pump… Paint is not cheap and if they replaced all 4 drums, wheel cylinders, hoses, shoes, hardware, wheel bearings and possible Master cylinder then $3000.00 is not out of range…

If you really want it to be upgraded, you can put EFI on it and have a turn key start up as well as power disc brakes… But it’s not cheap or OEM…
Just depends on what she want’s to do with it…

Thanks for the great info.

I just paid a lot for all new brakes but unfortunately they did not tell me about the option of disk brakes. They just gave me drum brakes without any discussion and I had no idea there was another choice. Now that I am horrified how badly the car stops they are suggesting the booster which sounds like a good ban-aid. Will a booster on drum brakes make a significant difference in stopping the car or just a small difference? If I have to pay another $1000 I want it to be worth it.

I also got a new fuel pump and they rebuilt the carburetor, so that is already done, yet the car does not always start on the first try.

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Adding a booster will make it easier (less leg-power) to apply the brakes. It would only result in shorter stopping distances if you are currently unable to apply full pressure to the brake pedal when needed.

But, if you do convert to disc brakes, then you will need to have a booster added in order to be able to use the brakes effectively.

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At 6:00 AM this morning, I pumped the gas twice, waited 5 seconds, and the car started up perfectly. Then 15 minutes later I did the same, and it did not start well.

Then 5 hours later I did NOT pump the gas and it started just fine. So it is different each time.

By the way, there is a lot of dark exhaust that comes out the tail pipe when starting it. What does that mean? Is there a fix for that?

I asked the repair shop if anything else can be done to make the car start better or be more quiet and they said ‘no’.

They just said a booster would improve the brakes.

Conversion to disc brakes is involved, I’m not too surprised they didn’t mention it.

You pump the gas when the engine is cold to put some gas in the intake manifold and to set the choke, once it ha run for a bit no need to pump the gas, just turn the key and maybe give it a little gas if it doesn’t start immediately.


I did attend a classic car get-together this morning and got some good leads.

I did get conflicting info on starting the car however. Most say to pump the gas pedal twice, others say not to do that because it could flood the car.

It is a 1966 Mustang with 289 (8 cylinder). The car was not driven for two years so it would not start so I towed it to a local place that charged $3200 for all new brakes and to get it running ( new fuel pump, and rebuilt carburetor).

I am a little annoyed that they didn’t mention the option of disk brakes. It was a place that specialized in classic cars so it seems they should have known to mention it. I am going to go back Monday and see if they will swap out the front new drum brakes for disk brakes and see what they say. I will likely go ahead and get the booster but had they mentioned the disk brake option I probably would not need the booster…right?

It’s not a simple swap, and it’ll cost a bit.

Regarding starting, read my comment. This assumes the carb is correctly adjusted.

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The invoice is 2 pages long. I will post it when I get a minute but I don’t see where I can upload it. I would like to upload a pic of the car too. Where is the upload pic icon?

Thanks. I will have someone else look at it. You’d think after spending $3200 specifically to get the car running, that included a rebuilt carburetor, it would be adjusted correctly.

When the car does not start well, it seems like it is not getting enough gas, yet the black exhaust may indicate too much gas? So confusing. I really need a good mechanic that can just take care of it for me.

Carburetor was just rebuilt. It was part of the $3200.00 bill.