Resurection: '65 Notchback Project


Active User
Jun 14, 2014
Portland, OR

Posting mainly to say 'Hi!', and introduce myself. Here's the car's known (by me) history, and what I'm doing/planning to do with it. All advice, observations, comments/concerns, rants, and beat-downs welcome. ...cost of being a rank noob! :)

Got a couple questions I'll put in subsequent posts (this one is getting plenty long enough).

The car was originally sold in Dearborn, MI (I have most of the original Owner's Manual), but I came to own it in southern California. It was manufactured in Jan '65, in Dearborn.

The '65 notchback's been my dream car since I was a kid, and I've had this one since '92. It's been dead and stored (outside) for me by gracious friends and in-laws since Fall '97, when I burned down the motor (I had the no-win choice of 'pray the motor makes it' or 'fail the final exam').

So, as you can imagine, the only good parts left are basically the body metal. I've got it stripped down to the steering and suspension, and leveled on jackstands (under the rockers). It's got the normal 'mustang flex', but the body's still relatively stiff.

There's about a 2" strip of rust in the driver & passenger floor boards at the kick panel (leaking cowl) - with some (hopefully) mild surface rust running next to the rocker on the passenger side - and some cancer in the trunk floor, wheel houses, and in the bottom corners of the rear window frame. One of the front fenders was curled under at the front of the wheel well, the hood had a bit of kink from a stuck hinge, and there was some front chassis damage from an some kind of accident in the car's distant past...

The L side LCA would travel at about a 30-degree angle (instead of perpendicular) to the frame rail, as it rose during suspension travel. Took it to a Mustang shop in Bakersfield, CA, and got that fixed (same place that did the body work from being rear-ended), but the car would never hold an alignment (lots of negative caster kept developing on the L side, until the UCA studs were topped out...). Despite the toe-out that resulted, the suspension started locking at top of travel on hard acceleration (anyone else thinking WTF??).

I got rear-ended once (it was gratifying to drive away from the '95 Ultima, admiring its newly engine-shaped front fascia, while the other guy was waiting for a tow!), so I need to replace the rear cross-member, valance, and prolly the tail light panel. There was some body cancer in the right quarter panel, but it was supposedly repaired (I have to take off primer and factory undercoat to get a better idea), so that's up in the air.

Otherwise the car was great! :)

My objective for the car is to have a really sweet daily driver, that corners like it's on rails.

So, I'm looking at the Griggs base IFS, for the Coyote; the new Art Morrison Multilink IRS, OEM parts version; 5.0 Coyote, mild 420 hp model; and, 6-speed T-56 or Magnum for the running gear (I'm saving up the ~$17k that I'm short). I'd like to run a 3.7 v6, but chasing all the rabbits down all the holes of swapping one out of a donor car is above my skill-level. I'm also going with a Detroit Speed mini-tub and frame notch kit, and a '71-'73 trunk pan (improved safety). Gonna go with Cragar S/S rims.

I have the original seats, front and rear, and most of an early RallyPac (used to have all of it, but over 15 years of storage + some apparent 5-finger, late night, Mustang parts specials have left me short a few parts!). So, I'm looking at the TMI Sport-R foam and re-upholstery; the TMI 1-piece headliner; the AutoMeter American Muscle 5-guage cluster; and I'm toying seriously with adding a '67 overhead console, and split fold-down rear seat from a modern car. Otherwise stock, black, Mustang interior, including replacing my 'with A/C' center console (stolen) with a 'non-A/C' console.

Thanks for reading, and any feedback!

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So, my first question is about the rust in the floor pans:

There's about a 2" strip of serious rust running from trans tunnel to rocker on both sides just behind the transition to the toe-boards. I've put a #2 Phillips through the metal on the tunnel side of the floor supports on both sides. Also, there's a reasonably sized patch of rust in the center of the driver side toe-board, where there was some body sealer for some reason (WTF?? #2).

Obviously, I need to replace some body metal: How much?

Can I graft in some 18 ga sheet when I know the boundaries of the rust damage?? Or do I need to weld in new front floor pans and toe-boards??

Second question is about the process:

The floor supports are in bad shape, not from (apparent) rust, but from physical abuse. The driver side support looks like it may have a bend where the front frame rail attaches to the toe-board.

Do I swap in new floor supports, then repair the body cancer in the floor boards? Or the other way around??

Like I posted, above: the car's in the air about 18", on jack stands under the rockers; the car is front to rear and side to side. The garage floor isn't flat or level.

What I didn't mention is that the car was pretty much bone stock (aside from a couple paint jobs, and some intake/exhaust power adders that went away with the murdered motor).

I have the US Car Tool chassis stiffening kit, and am adding lower torque box panels for rust preventative/added stiffness. These will go in immediately after the new floor supports; but I'm also flirting with adding some 1/8" channel over the floor supports that weld to the sub frame connectors for added stiffness. Any thoughts on that??

...and pics!


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So, first: The holes are on the ROCKER side of the floor support. My bad!

Next, attached are pics of the car, shortly after retrieving it from SoCal; before I stripped it down.

I kept all parts, except ones that were damaged, and easily replacable (bumper, fender, etc).

With regard to the torque boxes (pic in previous post): The US Car Tool torque box is a one-piece, 1/8" steel job, that's basically the same as the inner/upper panel of a two-piece OEM-style torque box. So, I ordered a pair of outer/lower panels, and they test fit relatively well over the US Car Tool boxes. I may need to make some mods for both to fit, but I'll have to anyway, as I'm going to weld in box tube rocker panel bracing , a la the Mustangs Plus chassis strengthening kit, then web the rockers to the sub frame connectors:

Going this way, because I found the Mustangs Plus kit after purchasing the US Car Tool kit. Meh, it's just work! :)


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Next question.

When test fitting the US Car Tool frame connectors, I found they didn't fit very well. Since I'm pretty good friends with Google, I asked what other people thought of the US Car Tool connectors, and discovered that one issue old 'stangs have is stretched/sagging floor boards. I seem to've lost the link to where I read about this...

The US Car Tool frame connectors are CNC machined to weld to factory spec floor pans, so I was curious about the poor fit:

The chassis work I'm tentatively planning (see previous post) is based largely on SN65's chassis build recommendations, phases 1 & 2: & Ice unibody reinforcement.htm

So, I'm wondering if anyone's 'dealt with' sagging floor pans; and if so, how?? Uh, short of replacing the full floor pans, that is...

My 'first blush' solution is to put 2x4 or angle across the rockers and trans tunnel (+ bracing to maintain dimensions), and use threaded clamps to pull the floor pans into position - the deformation eyeballs less than 1/2" at the largest gaps, so I don't need to pull things very far.

Any thoughts?

You have a lot to cover here so i will attempt some of it .You will want to replace all the sheet metal issues before you even think of stiffeners . Depending on how much rust you have in the floors you may want to do a complete floor ,it is actually much easier than patches and looks cleaner . Also you will want to level the car side to side and front to back first, before any work is done .Floor supports are not fun to replace because they are very well welded . I would use good quality replacement sheet metal ,plain old pieces of sheet metal for patches is just not the way to go.
Your suspension problems sounds like the upper control arm shaft is worn and binding . The rest is going to be ,How much money can you spend?

Welcome to Stangnet :welcome:
...I know, I spammed... I bow my head in shame!

I can't spend much (at a time, anyway...). I've got a monthly budget of ~$500 (+some savings). I'll be doing most or all the work.

Repair the toe-boards/floor pans before replacing the floor supports and installing the chassis stiffening. Will do! Thanks!

There's not much rust (I say, not having cleaned things up, yet), which is why I'm wondering about how much body metal needs replaced... I'm cool with swapping in new metal, but don't want to cut out good metal if I don't have to.

Here's pics of the driver (Dr) and passenger (Pas) floors from the inside. Aside from the passenger side where the rust runs next to the rocker panel (hopefully just on the surface...!), it's pretty localized to the lap joints where the toe-boards meet the floor pans. What do you think?

I tried writing that I'd leveled the car front to back, and side to side, but failed... Sorry!

We completely rebuilt the front end not long after we finished overhauling the engine, but it wouldn't hold an alignment. We also discovered that the driver's side LCA moved diagonally forward (and up) and backward (down) instead of straight up and down. When I got the LCA bracket repaired, it still didn't hold an alignment. I put in an export brace and monte carlo bar. Also didn't help. Could be the shock tower but there's no visible cracking. <shrug> Mystery to me!

BUT, since I know the factory suspension is, um, 'slushy', in my car, I'm going with an aftermarket cross-member and suspension. Should fix the problem.

Thanks for your help and warm welcome!!


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It looks like both sides need just a short patch ,If you have a air compressor the pressure pot sand blaster at Harbor Freight would be a big help .Blast the rusted areas clean and you will see exactly how much of a patch you need . I have one that is at least 10 years old and still works great . ford used tar to cover these joints and after a while it lifted and flaked off allowing moisture to get at the bare metal under it.
I think my cowl might be leaking, too. I didn't get a great look at it, but I'm suspicious that some rain made it to the floorboards.

Got air, but no blaster. Would a wire, paint stripping or flapper wheel be OK?

More importantly: Are small patch panels available for that part of the car?? I've seen the floor pans and toe-boards, but not for the transition area.

They make the cowl patch but it's a bit difficult to do .The toe board has extra material for the transition . Scrapers and flappers and wire wheels do not get all the rust out of the pits like a blaster will ,i believe they are in the $100-150 range and you will use it more than you think. It is a very good investment . You will want the pressure pot .
Gotcha - I'll check 'em out!

Yesterday, I was looking at a build page somebody did, and he was impressed by the effectiveness and time saving of a pressure pot he got. He's doing a 'slow'n'steady' resto, too.

I did find that the short floor pans do have extra material that goes over the transition to the toe boards. There's also one that has an extra 8" of kick up - I'm getting one a them for the driver side, just in case that spot's worse than I was hoping.'s amazing what you find when you're paying attention...

Well listeners,

It's a happy, sad day: Found pretty significant rust pitting on the under rear seat pans while exploring rust and removing that dang tar from seams. Luckily, after a day of fretting and Googleing, I came across the ol' "see if an ice pick'll go through it" to see if the metal's integrity is compromised. I knew that, but apparently my delayed intelligence is working overtime...

Tried the pic, and only got a thud coming from the car; shined a light from the bottom, and only saw it coming through the holes Ford put there. NICE!

Here's pics of the passenger side - it's got the worst pitting. Driver's side has a bit, but it ain't bad.



I have Eastwood rust converter & encapsulator on the way, and am waiting till my next month budget to get a pressure pot. Til then, I'll get a couple wire wheels with beefier wire, and continue using my Armstrong power scraper to explore rusty spots and clean the chassis of its factory, MI, undercoating. :(

More good news is, I figured out how to insert pics into the text (which is another reason being a noob sucks).

I'm ordering the new front floor pans, and'll keep y'all posted on progress.

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So, for giggles, here's a few pics of the car:


I'm also wondering if anyone knows an easier way than buffing/sand blasting to remove the undercoat Ford put on cars sold in the Midwest? Pics, below:



Finally, here's a couple pics of the floor pan follow-on rust removal: The rear window frame!! yay. Luckily most of the damage is in the rear window panel, which I can swap out...



Have fun!

Sand blasting these areas will show the holes as they will blow through when the rust is gone .Small pin holes is common ,you can weld them in if not to big .If the pitting does not go through after blasting the metal is probably still sound ,epoxy prime the area very well after blasting and it should be fine .
So, almost 2 years later, I'm back working on the car. Gotta love family!!

The car's on trailer leveling jacks, level front-back & side-side, with the floor pan plasma torched out. I'm working my way around the spot welds, now. New one-piece pan and one-piece coupe/FB seat platform are on the way.

Driver side toe board needs replaced - the tunnel side spot welds holding the frame rail are all pulled in about 1/8". I'll have to square that up. However, the rear frame rails are within 1/8' of the Lisker diagram specs, and pretty much identical left-right, so that's good!!

Passenger side inner rocker needs patched/replaced - I stuck my scraper through it taking off the undercoating in the fender well. (Eastwood's Under Gone made that job stupid simple, compared to using a buffer!!)

Instead of the pressure pot horse sence recommended, I ended up getting a soda blaster - I should be able to clean up most of the parts I took off the car with it, metal with rust it doesn't take off will be replaced anyway, and I shouldn't have to worry about EPA raiding my house. Will let you know well it works.

...and I'll start posting pics of the work.
It's on 10 trailer leveling jacks, and 2 jack stands: level right-left and front-back:

Floorpan cut out (I'm still working on the edge and spot welds):


Holding the top-side is the old export brace I put in before cooking the motor down:

I'm not sure if all the stands are necessary. Even without the floor pan, the car's stiff enough that if I raise one of the leveling jacks, the car lifts off others. Good stuff!

Here's a pic of the inner fender shown above, but after treatment with Eastwood's Under Gone and about 20-30 minutes of scraping:
UndercoatGone.jpg can see where I got to bare metal with the buffing wheel, which took a great deal more effort than scraping after spraying with Under Gone. I'm obviously impressed with the stuff!

The new floorpan and seat platform should be in sometime next week, so I concentrate on cutting out the spot welds holding the edges of the floorpan to get ready. I bought some 3/4" box tube to weld to the bottom flange of the rocker (the floor pan is about 3/4" above the bottom of the flange on both sides and front-to-back) to lay the new pan on to install.

Will update as work progresses.
Wow! You removed the entire floor for just those two little spots up front?

Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk

...well, not "just" those two little spots. The pitting under the rear seat had me worried, and I'm having some fitment issues with the US Car Tool subframe connectors (they're molded to the floor pan), so I decided to play it safe.

I'm also a noob at welding, and wanted to get my hand in doing simpler work than butt welding sheet metal. I really want more stick time before tackle that kind of job. The transitions and driver side toe board'll be just that kind of job, though.
No big changes this weekend. Just cut a lot of spot welds from around the perimeter of the floor pan. New toe boards are on the way, too.

I did a little body metal touch up, though: The battery box was bent in, so I hammered it back to stock-like appearance.

Front and rear suspension are off, also. I have the OEM '65 289 cast iron motor mount brackets and complete power steering suspension that I'm not gonna re-use. So, I'll be selling those parts.

I'm going with the Griggs GR-350 suspension and the Coyote 5.0, so the shock towers have to come out, and none of the original suspension is going back in.