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Rusty '65

About how much would it cost to restore a rusty old 1965 Mustang? And at age 18 would it be a good investment?

Those things are rust pits (I had one, rusted to pieces). It could be any where $10,000 (to get it on the road) to $30,000 and up, depending on what you want, and depending on what work you can do. If you are wanting to (painfully) learn about car restoration, then buy one cheap and prepare to spend a lot of time and work on it. If your goal is to have a running Mustang, buy one that somebody else has spent all the time and money on.

What are your mechanical skills?

Good investments return more money back to you than what you spend on them. Generally, cars are bad investments, even old ones. You spend a lot of money on them and receive less money when you sell.

If you love 65 Mustangs, do it because you enjoy it. But don’t start with a rusty one.

Keep looking. A rusty start is a bad start. You will find the car you love if you just keep looking. A project that is rushed into usually becomes a money pit post haste.

I overlooked your ‘investment’ question. Here’s a simple formula:

Sale price = purchase price + restoration costs/2.

So you will not have an ‘investment’, you will have an ‘expense’. Don’t expect to make a dime.

You can buy a late-model Mustang much, much cheaper than restoring an old rust bucket. And, in the bargain, you get a MUCH better car.

Most quality restorations cost are very high and you’ll not likely get all your money back when you sell the car. Backyard mechanic restorations are the worst and buyers can tell a good job from a poor one. This makes your chance of making money very slim.

A '65 Mustang uses unibody construction and if the floor pans are rusty the integrity of the car could be compromised. This means a lot of repair money just to get the car solid enough to be worth putting money into further engine and body work. You need to have a good body shop evaluate your rusty Mustang before you spend any money on it.

Many restorations of cars in bad shape are a matter of loving the car and not about making money in the process. At age 18 with novice mechanical, electrical, and body work skills; not a good investment.

These cars had the rather unique feature of having the top of the gas tank double as the floor of the trunk. Be sure to remove the trunk mat and cardboard and take a look at THAT situation…Check recent e-Bay auctions to see what these cars are REALLY worth, forget the prices owners dream about but never get…

He may not want a late model car; he seems to be interested in this '65.

In his book “What You Should Know About Cars” written by Tom McCahill back in the early 1960’s, McCahill urged his readers in purchasing old cars to stay away from rusted out cars and cars with bent frames. “Engine work or even a new engine is cheap compared to a rusted out body”, he said. I think this would be particularly the case for a 1965 Mustang.

One thing you’ve got in your favor is that virtually every part of a '65 Mustang is available new. All the sheet metal, glass, drivetrain, everything. Plus, any restoration shop that’s been in business for more than a year or two has probably done several Mustang restorations, so they’ll know the pitfalls and common problems. But be honest with yourself. If you don’t have at least $30,000 to spend, and are prepared to spend considerably more, then stop now and wait until the budget is adequate. Professional restorations can eat up cash faster than a Beverly Hills trophy wife.

And when you finish the restoration, you still have a 1965 Mustang. These cars did start a trend when first introduced around April of 1964 because of the unique body. However, the chassis was a Ford Falcon chassis. There wasn’t anything special in the way the Mustang handled.
There were a lot of Mustangs made in this time period and a good percentage of them haven’t been scrapped. If you can get one from a southwestern state where salt isn’t used on the roadway, this may be the way to go if you just have to have a Mustang.

One more thing to add, a restored car is not worth nearly as much as mint condition, unrestored car. For some of the estimates seen here, I think you can probably get a mint condition, unrestored Mustang adn it will more likely be a fair investment.

Okay my mechanical skills are not very good, but I was never planning on doing the work myself.

I talked to the current owner and he said that it runs perfectly and even had a transmission overhaul a year ago, so mechanically there isn’t much to do. I also was able to take a closer look at the body of the car and though there is some rust it does look to be minimal. Also the upholstery and windows are all in mint condition. So the only real expense beyond buying the car itself would be some body work, and new paint.

When I said investment I didn’t mean that I wanted to turn around and sell the car myself once I fixed it up. This would be one I would keep. I meant investment as in that I don’t want to have to worry too much about there being some major mechanical problems in a few years that I would have to deal with. Minor problems come with cars of any age, so I’m definitely not expecting there to be absolutely no problems that I would encounter.

Exactly, I don’t want a newer model mustang, I want the '65. Even though I am a girl, I love cars and have always wanted to restore one.

OK, sounds better than you first indicated. But you MUST have a mechanic or someone very familliar with older cars (preferably Mustangs) and their restoration look at it. There are many old Mustangs out there that look good on the surface, but have lots of rust underneath. And rust on Mustangs can be dangerous, one of the common places for rust are the spring mounts in the rear. You can imagine what happens when they give way.

But you said ‘I was never planning on doing the work myself’ - that will prove to be expensive. And there will be constant work needed - you might want to learn how.

You know, there are so many variables to your question that without actually seeing the detail and shape that the body is in, it’s really difficult to answer. If the engine is good and you love the car my guess is that over time you’d probably spend two or three times what you bought it for, maybe even more. But if you love the car, it’s probably worth every dime. I had a 72 mustang convertable with a 351 Cleveland 4bbl and a Hearst 4 speed trans that I drove to 260,000 miles over about 19 years. So I understand the feelings. It’s not just a car, it’s an adventure. ;>)

BUT if you want to learn to do the work yourself or with some help, if you’re still in high school, see if you can enroll in an auto shop class or one specializing in auto body work. ( A pretty lucrative field I hear). If you’re out of HS, look for an adult education class at night or weekends at the local community college. Enroll in that and make the car restoration a class project or at least one for you. Enjoy the ride !

Yeah I’m really worried about rust hidden underneath the paint and on the underside of the car. I’m going to look into a good mechanic that is familiar with mustangs too before I take it anywhere. If I’m going to have it fixed up I want it done right, which I know will be expensive.

I would love to learn how to take care of it myself, I just need to learn.

Of all the things to fix, rust is just about the worst. Do not buy a car expecting to fix the rust. I like working on most areas of a car, but not that.

I do love this car and I wouldn’t mind putting lots of money into it overtime. It has less than 100,000 miles on it so I should be able to get quite a while out of it too if you said you drove yours to 260,000. It is a total adventure, and I’m really hoping I can go through with this in the end.

I am out of high school but I will look into finding some classes, and I have some friends who are awesome with cars. One even recently did a partial restoration of an old Torino so he’ll know a lot about who to take it to.