The safety features of a 66 mustang


#1

uh. there are none.



on the left hand:

i would like to be able to drive on the highway sometimes



on the right hand:

i dont want some bee’s hind in a honda swooping in front of me and my metal eats his plastic.



what do i do?

a.

it has 4 wheel drum brakes. my mechanic said he’ll put in a power booster for $300

is this a bad idea?



is going to 2 or four wheel discs a really bad idea ‘money-pit-wise?’

b.

also, the steering is like being in a bad version of ‘over the top’ with sylvester stallone (not that i know of any good versions)



i had heard some 66’s had power steering…

is this possible?

c.

is there any way to get anything other than lap belts with the original seats, any kind of 4 point i can attach? or just something a little safer?


#2

A brake booster would help no doubt about it. Going to at least a front disc setup would also help the braking quite a bit but that’s a somewhat pricy conversion. Drum brakes are not as good as discs but they’re also not quite as bad as often portrayed. In repeated braking in traffic the drums will have a tendency to fade a bit easier than discs.

With the steering I would advise making sure all of the suspension components (ball joints, tie rods, etc.) are good along with making sure the steering gear is adjusted correctly. I assume the steering is basically sloppy and the car wanders a bit.
Quality shocks and the right tires will make a huge difference also.
Yes, the car can be converted to power steering. Again, a bit pricy to do this.

I’ve never done a conversion on a car like this, but I would imagine a seat belt swap could be performed. You might check Summit or Jegs racing websites. I know they carry seat belts for not only race cars but street cars and something other than a lap belt would be very desireable IMHO.


#3

I don’t know how much help the brake booster would be. It reduces the effort needed on the brake pedal, but it won’t reduce the stopping distance. Disc brakes certainly would help in reducing the stopping distance, particularly when the brakes get hot. The power steering versions of the Mustang of that vintage may have had a faster ratio which would make the steering quicker.

Years ago, I had a 1965 Rambler which didn’t handle nor brake as well as your Mustang. I put on the best brake shoes I could afford and put in heavy duty shocks. I made certain to keep the front end in alignment and replaced steering components as needed. This didn’t make the Rambler handle like a Ferrari, but it really did help things. Cars of this vintage did go out of alignment rather quickly.

I don’t know how you would go about installing shoulder harnesses. You might also ask a knowledgeable tire person about what kind of tires would be a reasonable upgrade.

My only other advice is to enjoy the car.


#4

You’ve suggested probably the most worth-while driveability upgrades to this car: power discs and power steering. If you have the money, by all means, look in to it.

The power booster alone is, in my opinion, a nice improvement, and at least gives you more confidence in the pedal. It’s also very nice if you should be making a steep descent and overheat the brakes (an easy thing to do in a drum brake car), it will help you squeeze out a little extra stopping power. But the discs are where it’s at. (For what it’s worth, though, my '70 Chevy 3/4t truck has 4-wheel drums and I do not consider it “unsafe”.)

As ok4450 suggested, keep the steering linkage joints maintained or replace if necessary and check the steering box for slop. If you have a lot of play in the steering, it’s a safe bet that you do have a sloppy power steering box. You can crank down on the adjuster a little, but chances are that will not last you very long. Going to power steering will make it a whole different car to drive, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, though, you may lose some of the feedback and sportiness that comes from manual steering. If you would simply like to drive through a parking lot without having biceps and forearms of steel, power steering is the way to go. I’m sure there is a replacement box you can get for your '66.

Seatbelts… I really don’t know. JCWhitney has just generic shoulder belts that you can mount yourself, but you don’t want to do something ugly like that to your poor 'stang. Really, for ALL of these questions, you should be seeking out vintage Mustang vendors. There are literal THOUSANDS of vendors making and selling parts for this car. Hit up google, spend a little while just searching “vintage Mustang parts”. On top of that, I’m sure there is a club within 100 miles of you with knowledgeable folks who can give you a hand.

Here’s what I wouldn’t do: I wouldn’t just take it to any mechanic and ask for power discs, or seatbelts, or power steering, or something like that, because it doesn’t ensure that you won’t get a hack job. Find some Mustang experts, ask them the RIGHT way to do it, and you’ll know that you’re getting exactly what you need.


#5

How much can you afford?
Front disc conversion are gonna run you atleast a grand, with rears costing about the same.
Converting to power steering will require you change the steering column out as well as having to add a few other things. i haven’t priced something like this, but it can’t be cheap either.
You’ll most likely have to rip up your headliner to get to the frame of the car to install a shoulder belt.
My chevelle has the same “problems”(no power steering, 4 drums, lap belt), but I can’t see myself changing anything on it, and i believe the 'velle is a little bit bigger than a 'stang. Drive safer and you’ll be alright. And, if some dope in a little honda cuts you off and you hit him, you have a new hood ornament for your mustang, wear it with pride.


#6

I believe power steering was an option. Power brakes really aren’t necessary with drum brakes. Drum brakes are a lot more efficient than discs, thats why discs require a power booster. The problems with drums are that they fade with several high speed stops in a row and sometimes won’t work if you go through deep water.


#7

Only safety to worry about is the single master cylinder, if it hasn’t been changed out. Fit a double mas cylinder for safetys sake. LEE


#8

Just, to be clear; what is the overall condition of this car? I remember driving late 60s mustangs when the were new, they were not inherently unsafe to drive. The brakes worked well enough, the handling was decent (for a 60s vintage domestic), and they were not the least bit scary at highway speeds (and above). Before you start re-engineering this thing, make sure it is in good mechanical condition. A good (not like new, but like a few years old) mustang should be more than capable of normal driving.


#9

You’re working with a '62 Falcon platform…That’s not much to work with. The factory power steering was a joke, a Mickey-Mouse deal that ALWAYS leaked and seldom worked right…

Everybody thinks these old cars are great until they DRIVE one of them. You are worried about safety?? Check out the design of the fuel tank. It doubles as the floor of the trunk. There is no structure to connect a shoulder belt(s) to…Mustang GT’s came with disc brakes starting in 1965. They were Kelsey-Hayes 4-piston calipers, rigidly mounted.


#10

im going to have the box adjusted or replaced (with the longer spindle switchover) and see how long I can deal with muscling the wheel. mostly i’m worried about my tiny armed girlfriend wanting to drive it, and i know she will. i dont want to break up with her over a car. that said, i dont have confidence in her ability to drive this. (with a 289, hi rise manifold w 750cfm carb and a 351 windsor cam, it has twice the horsepower than anything she has ever SAT IN.) it has a hurst kit which i like, so that rules out valet and… the car is creating serious trust issues and i just want to enjoy it.

i’m going to be driving it from st. louis to new orleans to get it home so that is going to try all of the patience i have. then again, i know there will be times on the highway just listening to that engine. sounds like a snoring monster.

its about 700 per wheel so ive found to switch to 4 wheel discs w/dbl mas cyl and power booster which i would like to go for.

i think i’m just going to play it unsafe and drive as safe as possible as i dont want to butcher the interior for shoulder belts, unless i could get the seats pretty close.

that recaro crap in a mustang of this age just makes me shake my head. i wish i could get a 4 point which came over the seat or something, cause i cant let go of these pain in the arse no headrest seats, they just fit the bill aesthetically.

anyone know of a mechanic in new orleans i can trust this with? im looking for mustang shops now but i havent found any


#11

A brake booster would help no doubt about it. Going to at least a front disc setup would also help the braking quite a bit

Drum brakes are not as good as discs but they’re also not quite as bad as often portrayed. In repeated braking in traffic the drums will have a tendency to fade a bit easier than discs

This is one of the very few times I have had anything to add to OK's advice.  When I read what he wrote, I get an impression somewhat different than what is going to happen.

The basic brakes on the car are capable.  Assuming you do not push them on the track of something, they are fine.  However switching to discs can reduce some fading, but under normal conditions, fading is not a problem.  Under racing conditions it IS a problem.  

My personal preference for this kind of car would be to keep it as original as possible.

#12

mostly i’m worried about my tiny armed girlfriend wanting to drive it, and i know she will. i dont want to break up with her over a car.

Too bad this is CQ. Dr Phil or Ruth could probably give some sage advice here. If you cave here, there’s absolutely no hope for you ever putting your foot down again! She’s already got you by the short hairs just by even considering it.


#13

I wouldn’t worry as to whether or not your GF will have a problem driving this car. A mustang is not a heavy vehicle to begin with.

During my late teen years, I was involved with oval dirt track racing and there were a number of girls wheelin’ '50 to '54 Fords around with no apparent problems.

The trick to easier steering is to keep the vehicle wheels turning, especially when parallel parking.


#14

i would like to be able to drive on the highway sometimes

Hmmm. Is this a Sunday afternoon cruiser or something you’ll want to exhibit at shows? If you want to restore and show it, I’d suggest leaving it absolutely stock (authentic) and trailer it to the shows. I wouldn’t drive on the highway in something that old. Did '66 models have collapsible steering columns? Soft dashboards? Breakaway rear view mirrors? Dual-circuit brake systems? Even if you put front discs, power brakes, and power steering in, what is the condition of the frame, body, and suspension? Don’t forget either that any econobox from today is probably going to have superior handling characteristics compared to that old Falcon design. Even with your planned upgrades, I’d be nervous about taking that thing out on the highway. Maybe you’re different…


#15

I’d have no problem taking my 65 chevelle on the high/freeway, if I felt the need to travel on one. I also have no problem driving it back and forth to work.


#16

Dual master cylinder was standard by that year, personally I don’t think it works as well as its hyped.

As long as the brakes are kept in good shape, the rest of the safety stuff only counts if you get in a wreck, so don’t get in a wreck and you won’t need it.


#17

These did not have dual master cylinders. You can however replace the spindles with those from a mid 80s Granada to get the disk brakes get the rims as well as the center hole is too small from the '66 rims. Then get a '67 disk brake master cylinder and you’ll be all set.

Of course it may be simpler to get the aftermarket conversion rather than trying to find all these parts.


#18

You’ve gotten lots of excellent feedback here. Personally, I think any improvement to eth brake system is good, front discs being the best. I suggest doing a little research on the price of aftermarket retrofit kits. This being a classic Mustang, I’ll bet there are lots of affordable options available.

4-point hitches should be available if you search for racing equipment.

On the steering, I could be wrong but I think this uses recirculating ball steering. As a part of the process of ensuring that everything is in good shape, you should adjust the play in the steering box. A manual for this car should be readily available and should tell you how to do that. This plus some good shocks, upgrade antisway bars, possibly upgrade springs, and larger rims with lower profile tires should do wonders for the steering and handling without impovershing you. I’d suggest keeping all the original parts.

Sincere best.