Heartland Laser Creations
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1967 Bench Seat Convertible

Our mission will be to restore this one back somewhat close to stock to show a little and cruise a lot!

This is a low numbers, 1967 Bench Seat Convertible with factory air, power steering and front disc brakes.  It has had a rough life, it has been a Midwest car starting it's life in Chicago.  I have no idea how many owners it has had to this point, but some have done some numbers on her along the way.  This may take awhile, but we think it will be worth it.  Follow along with us as we take on this new challenge.



I took this picture in Springfield, IL at the National Show a few years ago and I used it for my inspiration all through the rust repairs!

This is what our car looked like when it was born in it's original Springtime Yellow paint.



Click here to see photos of the beginning project. 


January 2006 and let the fun begin!


If they only went back together as quickly as they come apart right?  At this point I still had somewhat grand illusions that this could be pretty easy after working on the coupe.  But as I got further into it, I find more and more rust and poor prior workmanship (that is being very kind).  So after searching on the web on various forums for advice and a trip to a Mustang Restoration Shop, I decided to build a jig framework to support the car during it's many rust repairs.  We will be doing inner and outer rockers, complete rear frame rails, and probably one of the new one piece floors that are now available.  Lots of other projects have been keeping me away from the garage lately, but I look forward to getting back to this effort in the not to distant future!  I may need some encouragement from my fellow Central Illinois Mustang Association members as this one will be a long challenge.  This is a great hobby, a way to work out frustrations, by creating new ones!


So just how bad is it's under-side?  Well she isn't pretty.  Instead of just patching in the rear portion of the rear frame rails it will take complete rear frame rails. 



The front frame rails are bad where the front floor extensions and torque box is mounted, but otherwise the front frame looks decent.


Someone along the road did some nasty patchwork and actually chopped out the inner rocker rails and pop-riveted some pieces that did next to nothing back to the rockers.  No wonder the car had a sag to it.


So with as bad as the rust is, I needed to build a frame jig to keep the car straight while I make drastic repairs.




After a long break to work on other projects around the house this summer I'm back to the Mustang!  These pictures show some progress with the complete rear frames rails and transition panel now welded in.  I used the Dynacorn parts and I'm very happy with the fit.  The extra convertible bracing in that area is also back in now.  I have some work to do dressing my welds.  Later on I will come back to rear half and work on quarter panels and wheel housing's one side at a time.  The 2x10 was added to temporally brace the rear seat area when I removed so much of the bracing to install the new rear frame rails.  I also have a temporary 2x4 helping keep everything lined up properly.



I have one inner rocker and outer rock temporally tacked in place and most of the floor now cut out.  This last weekend I added a jig to the framework to locate the front frame rail extensions.  I patched the passenger side front frame rail and will be test fitting the torque box on that side soon.  I'm looking forward to the day I can install one of the new one-piece Dynacorn Mustang floors.  So far the jig framework has been a great asset to use to support and fit the various parts to.  The caster wheels allow me to move the project out to the center of the garage to work on it or to move it help clean up under.




This is one of the typical rust prone area's for these early Mustangs, the front torque box.  I have already cut out most of the damage in the picture below, but you can see the front frame rail is also damaged.  I cut out all the nasty area and sandblasted the area I would be working on.  I then cut out the rust and welded in new material.  At this point I'm just test fitting the extensions and I still need to trim the patch and weld on a piece of angle to finish that patch.  I will then drill holes in the extensions and weld them in.  Next I will be moving on to replacing the driver side rocker and inner rocker.  Then I will come back to finish installing a new driver side torque box.  This whole area will get painted with Master's Series rust preventive paint.




After about 12 hours of work this week (who really keeps track?).  I now have the driver side inner and outer rocker welded in place.  I also have the driver side torque box welded in.  Today I also cut the toe board pieces to fit (I'm going to try butt-welding them in) and I have this area sprayed with Master's Series rust proofing paint.  So next week I should be able to weld the top half of the torque boxes in and the toe boards.  A new front floor support should be here any day and then I can try fitting the floor.



This is my first real attempt at butt welding.  This is a process where you cut the patch to the same size (or slightly smaller) and weld it in instead of overlapping the joint.  The thought is that there we not be a lap to trap moisture and have it rust, also it becomes easier to finish the bottom side to make the repairs less noticeable.  It worked but I need more practice!!



This is the new one piece seat platform just sitting in position, it appears to be about 1/4" narrow, but not bad at all.  The picture to the right is the new floor pan support with my old transmission cross-member.  The new support is quite a bit narrower?  Too bad I cut up my old one.  I don't know if I will use spacers when I bolt this in or look at a new transmission brace or modify this one??  That is a long way down the road.  Today is Thanksgiving and tomorrow I have the day off.  I plan to start fitting the floor tomorrow.

update 11/2008 :  I have since figured out that the vendor shipped me a '65/66 floor pan support instead of a '67/68.  Too bad I didn't figure that out before it was about 50% welded into place.  It fits the pan fine, just not the cross member.  I plan to install a AOD transmission at this point and I understand that the transmission mounts about 2" further to the rear of the car, so I will need to fabricate a special transmission cross member or modify what I have anyway. 

It still bugs me that it isn't right!



The new floor is now about 75% installed.  The floor went in with minimal trimming to install around the corners of the rear seat.  Those pieces I will weld back in to complete the floor.  I needed to kind of roll or twist the floor a bit to get it to go under the inner frame rails.  After getting the floor sitting in place I put a few screws in starting in the center of the transmission hump both front and back.  I then bolted the under floor convertible bracing together into a unit and jacked them up into place.  I drilled up and spot welded the floor to the lower bracing and the front floor supports.  Then today I installed the upper convertible bracing using a few bolts through the floor to help pull everything together nicely.  I still have some welding to do at the front and rear as well as a some I will probably wait until the car is on a rotisserie or up in the air.  I don't like welding over my head any more than I have to.  The floor needed a bit of persuasion on the passenger side of the transmission support where you see I have a few bolts in place now to pull it together.  Other than that it really fit well.  I'm glad we went this route, it is a very nice reproduction floor.

If you are using this picture for reference..  I later learned that the factory installed the rear torque box covers before installing the floor.

  Not a big deal, I was able to install mine over the top with just one minor modification, but it should have been done before the floor.



It's been a year since we purchased the Convertible!!  I have a little more done over the holidays so here are some updates.


I now have the trunk drop offs installed with the new rear cross member and convertible bracing.  The rear light panel is also installed.  I used an old gas tank to help align everything.  Once the trunk area was complete I removed the rear supports that where holding the rear frame rails in the right spot and fabricated a new brace to mount to the bumper bolt area.  Later I plan to add a rotisserie to allow me to rotate the car over to finish welding the floor easier and to paint and detail the under side of the car.  It really makes a big difference to have the back of the car back together.


Next I started patching in new outer wheelhouses.  As you can see in the picture there was a lot of rust that needed to be cut out and replaced.  I approached both sides of the car a little different.  I used but welds and will dress any areas that can be seen to hopefully make the repairs unseen when done.  At this pint there is more work to do and I have decided to order inner-wheelhouses for this side to patch in as well.  Hopefully the driver side I can make my own patches.

I started rebuilding the door hinges, that isn't a lot of fun.  I need to get the doors hung again before starting to fit the new quarter panel skins on. 



This update has been too long coming!  After making some great progress the first year, several things came along that seemed to keep me from getting much accomplished on the '67 convertible project for well over a year!  Rebuilding the hinges wasn't much fun, then I couldn't find the hinge mounting plates?  Someday I will, but in the meantime I was able to track down an extra set thanks to a fellow Mustang fan.  Then I decided I better get new fenders and doors and get them bolted up before trying to fit the quarter panel skins.  Let me add I had decided to use reproduction fenders, doors and quarter skins.  I knew they would take work to get them to fit well, but I decided with the price difference for the number of pieces I needed I could spend quite a bit of time messaging the pieces to fit.

I forgot to take pictures during the most of the fitting process.  Actually several times I started to fit the quarter skins only to be frustrated and decided to take a few more days break.  The skins seemed to be about 1/4" too long and later I found out that this is pretty common.  Also the angle at the door didn't fit very well and it didn't really match the profile that well either.  This car had quarter skins put on it by someone in it's prior life.  The skins where lapped 2-4" in places with brazing done about every 5" or so was all that was holding on the skins.  They didn't bother to fix the wheel wells or the trunk drop-offs so the quarter skin really wasn't fastened very well.  They had hammered down the brazing spots and covered that whole area with about 1/4" of Bondo.   I used the approach to butt-weld the quarters in and I had to go pretty high on the quarter to remove as much of the damaged and bent up original sheet metal as possible.  Actually the day I started welding I was about to call it quits again, when I decided to just go for it and start in the lower front where the skin meets the rocker and tack weld it and start working it from there.  I wish I took more pictures but it was a heat of the moment thing.  I overlapped the skins and put sheet metal screws in about ever 6-8" or so along the upper edge of the quarter.  After some persuading I was able to get it pretty well fastened in place.  I knew the door jamb gaps looked bad but I decided I could deal with that later.  Using a cutoff wheel I gradually worked my way across cutting both the new and old metal together between the screws holding them in place.  I then started tack welding the metal that was butted together with a very small gap.  Once it was spot welded I then took out the screws and finished tack welding the panel.  Eventually I filled in the butt welds completely only working very small area at a time to try to avoid warping the panel.


Like I mentioned before the panel was a 1/4" longer than needed.  To make it fit right I needed to remove that much material.  I decided to make the cuts about an inch in front of the trailing edge so I can grind and dress the welds on both sides.  You can see at this point the trunk drop-offs are still hanging to low.  I will trim and weld this up later.  I still plan to build a rotisserie and get the car on it's side hopefully this winter.  It will be much easier to do this area then.  I was able to use butt-weld clamps I found at Harbor Freight to help align the pieces as I started welding them.


This picture isn't that great, but it took some work to get the door jamb gaps to look good.  The top and bottom was too bad but the middle area was like 1/8" too long and the areas at the crease where not very crisp.  With the way the '67 quarter has the cutouts for the ornaments I decided it would be best to use the cutoff wheel and pull that whole area around until I liked the gaps.  Some more butt welds and grinding pretty well finished up the quarter skin job for now.  The butt-weld clamps came in handy in this area again since I pretty good access to the inside of the quarter panel.  All the welds will probably need a little more grinding and sanding prior to final body work.  I also have a little patch work to do the inner wheel well on this side.

I have also done the same process on the passenger side.  So the project is looking a little more like a car again.  Well for a couple days it did before I took the fenders back off.


Next I took the fenders back off and turned the car around.  The jig framework with casters sure comes in handy.  Next I will take on repairing all four front inner apron pieces (taking care to save the VIN numbers) and the front radiator support.  The car had some damage on this front corner and some pretty ugly patching and Bondo work (go figure).

Still lots of work to do.   I'm glad to have the quarter panel skins finally on the car.  To me repairing the front end will be easy now after the rockers, floor, rear frame rails, trunk, tail light panel, wheel houses and quarter skins!

Another little project when I fix up the cowls, is I plan to cut out the lower cowl sides for recessed 6" front speakers.  I haven't heard much good about the kickboard speakers and they are too shallow to mount very good speakers in.  I understand that the '68 Cougar had speakers mounted in the lower cowl.  So I plan to give it a shot and to fabricate a metal enclosure to weld on the out side.  With the fenders mounted no one should ever know they are there.

You have to love saving a Midwest rust bucket from the crusher.  Someday I can look back on all this and say man I had to have been crazy to do all that!



Starting to seriously attack the front end! 

The car had some front end damage on the front passenger side.  So it needs a new radiator support and the battery inner fender.  Bad rust on the other three inner fenders and around the shock tower tops where those pieces lap over, so I'm going to replace all the front end sheet metal.  The car is mounted to a frame in several spots so I felt safe to remove all the bad at once.  I figured I can do it all at once and have more access while I'm working on the firewall and cowl.


Click on smaller pictures if you want to see a little larger image.

Some pictures after removing the top half of the cowl and the rear inner fender aprons.


The famous Mustang rusted cowl as well as some additional work needed to repair the firewall and sides of the cowl.  Actually this isn't as bad as some of these old mustang cowls are when you open them up.  For sure one of Ford's less brighter idea's was not to paint the lower half of the cowl.  You can see what area had some primer hit it through the vent slots.  The rest was bare steel!  Bare steel and water make what now??  Free rust!  You can see where leaves or trash would settle in the corners and help speed the rusting along.  This is the single greatest reason the Mustang would have rust issues and eventually this water would soak the floorboards and cause the Mustang to rust from the inside out!

Looking better already!  I still need to finish removing some of the lower cowl along the front and ends.  I have the new one piece lower cowl on order.  I hoped to save the top piece, but when I started removing it today I found too many bad areas on both ends and along the lower edge of the windshield to mess with saving it.  So I will be ordering one of the new reproduction top panels as well now.

I will sandblast all of this and get some good rust preventive paint on these surfaces while I have access to them.



Follow this link for information about a little modification I'm working on to install stereo speakers in the Kick Panel area.

Kick Panel Speaker Project



After several more hours of cleaning, welding and grinding I have the front inner fender pieces replaced along with the front radiator support.  The newer heavier radiator support is another great new piece of sheet metal.  The newer one piece lower cowl support is an excellent reproduction part and sure makes fixing the cowls right a lot easier than before.  As mentioned before Ford didn't even paint this area originally and was probably the Mustang's worse flaw.  The new piece came with a great black paint coating on it.  I then sprayed two coats of "Master Series" silver rust paint and applied seam sealer on the hats.  The next day I painted the lower cowl with a semi gloss black paint. 



Today's project was getting the new cowl installed.

 I drilled a few holes along the front and two sides, and about every 2 1/2" along the windshield edge so I could weld the lower half of the cowl to a new top half.  I should mention that the top half of the cowl is also a great reproduction piece.  Then I drilled holes about every 2" all the way around the new cowl.  I used a small air grinder to sand away the paint around the holes and from the firewall and windshield frame where the new cowl would be welded in.  It took probably about 3 hours to prepare the cowl and get it welded into place.  Dynacorn made two very nice pieces that didn't really need any work to fit.  I simply put 1/2" bolts in the firewall to align the new parts and worked my way around the cowl clamping and welding.



With completing the cowl and the rest of the front end, I can really see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as sheet metal work and rust repair.  There are still a few odds and ends to get done, and I have to finish welding in the floor, right now it is only welded in a few spots.  I plan to either build a rotisserie or possibly only a couple stands or legs to bolt to the frame to hold the car on it's side so I can finish welding the floor and installing a few brackets that still need installed on the bottom of the floor.

If you are curious, I have around $4,200 in parts to date (that includes new doors and fenders).

At least it looks solid now.  Next project is get it on it's side and finish up the floor.  Stay tuned.


Click here to see photos of the car while on the rotisserie.


Click here to see photos of the Body & Paint



After lots of time spent doing body work and block sanding, I decided to call that work done a couple weeks ago.  I'm scheduling some paint time with a body shop so I have a little time to move onto getting some other items ready.  The project car came with a '86 5.0 block that had already been bored .030 over and new pistons installed.  It also came with a set of rebuilt ported heads and an Wieand intake.  So all I needed to do was get a timing chain set, water pump, gasket set and clean up and move over the timing gear cover, oil pump pickup, oil pan and valve covers from the old '67 motor.

The motor pulled from the convertible wasn't the original motor but a '69 rebuilt 302 block that was missing a alternator bracket and all the air conditioning stuff.

Here is what the old motor looked like after being pulled.

Not very pretty for sure.


This is the '86 5.0 block which is basically the same motor with a few minor differences.

I was planning to use the stock air cleaner and even spent a few hours blasting and painting it, only now to realize that with the taller Wieand intake that I most likely won't have enough hood clearance to use it.  I'm guessing it will be about an 1" or so too tall, bummer.  One option would be to try to modify this intake to drop it, but more likely I will go with the HIPO round chrome air cleaner with a drop base and an open element filter.  I actually bought this air cleaner off another Mustang Forum person a couple years back since our project car didn't have one on it.  Oh well time will tell if I can make it fit one way or another.

I have a complete set of late '67 early '68 air conditioning brackets and pulleys that I'm blasting and painting now as well as the rest of the brackets and pulleys to make this motor look stock.  I have a couple threaded inserts on the way from Fastenal to thread into the 5/8" upper holes in the newer heads.  These inserts will have the smaller threads needed for the alternator and power steering bolts.

I shot this engine using some Bill Hirsch Engine Enamel (He calls it Ford Mustang Blue).  This photo was taken with a flash and may be off just a tad.  I'm not sure if this color is 100% Concours approved, but I will say it is some awesome paint for sure.  It is a very high solids paint that covers great and should hold up much better than the typical rattle can paint job.  The oil pan and valve covers are the same from the above photo after blasting, bodywork and epoxy primer.  They look like new pieces.

Hopefully in a few days I will have some more photos as I start adding the accessories back to this block.  I plan to refresh the power steering pump.  I'm leaning towards a cheap remanufactured alternator that will look nice even though it won't be 100% correct.  Again we aren't going to the level of a points show car, we plan to make this a nice cruising car so I'm trying not to sweat all the fine details.



I shot these with the same satin paint I tried using on the bottom of the car and they still look too glossy.  I decided the next day to pull the black parts off and rattle can them with a Satin Rustoleum.  I need to get the correct clutch fan and still get the A/C pump rebuilt and the power steering pump installed.




The front end starting to come together!

Rebuilt steering box installed, new upper & lower control arms, springs, Opentracker roller perches, rotors and '67 style 4 piston calipers.  Next week I should have the center link ready to go in, and my the power brake booster is on it's way back from getting rebuilt.



I found a new style of LED tail lights that actually have the boards sealed into the new lens.  I thought this looks a little better than the set I have in my coupe that tend to rotate some as I drive.  These should really light up the whole lens with a total of 84 LED's.  The only drawback I see is that these don't have the sequential lighting feature that some have.  The price isn't back and other than the word PREMIER instead of the FOMOCO logo, they are pretty much still dead on from the outside.

Nothing like a little chrome to start making everything come together!

These are available several places, but I ordered mine from Virginia Classic Mustang so I could pickup new bezels, gaskets and all from one place.




This weekend I finished putting most of power steering, and tie-rods together.  Still waiting on some new hoses (hopefully those go on fine in place).  I had to throw on some front wheels for the first time since January of 2006!

This is a freshly rebuilt '69 gearbox from chockostangclassicmustang.

Flashback about 3 years..  yuck!  It's nice to be cleaning smaller items now and doing the small things that might actually get seen.  Next up brake booster, lines and steering column.



This past few weeks I got the rear-end back together and under the car.  New brake and fuel lines ran.  The fuel tank, filler tube and cap installed.  I just need to get my trunk rubber installed.  A lower rear panel and bumper will pretty well have this end looking complete!


The rear end was rebuilt with 3.55 gears.  That coupled with the AOD should have a nice combination of get up and go with nice highway overdrive cruising.


Along with this project car, came both an '86 5.0 motor and AOD transmission from a Mustang in it's prior life.  The previous owner had already paid to have some machine work done on the motor and heads and had it about half back together.  He didn't really know what shape the transmission was in.  I know it hasn't been running in a car for at least 10 years.  Since this was the only part of the car I hadn't taken apart I couldn't really pass up a chance to tear into it. 

So after doing a little reading online, I ordered a 3 DVD How-To Video set from http://www.badshoeproductions.com .  It seemed rather straight forward for the most part and only a few additional tools needed from what I already had.  All in all it should save me about $1000 from farming this out.

This is pretty much everything apart except for the valve body.  No signs of damage, just some dried out rubber pieces.  Next up I will clean everything in a parts washer and get a rebuild kit on order.


After a talking to a few folks and doing a little more reading I think I have a shopping list.

AOD-450 Rebuild Kit from www.SilverFoxTrans.com

ReCal Pro™ AOD Valve Body Recalibration Kit & AOD Pressure Regulator Boost Valve Kit from www.becontrols.com

I plan to send my old Torque Converter to www.dirtydogperformance.com to get cleaned and rebuilt.


I'm sure when I start putting this all back together I will have to take my laptop and DVD to the garage to have Kenneth Collins walk me through it step by step.  If I can follow instructions, this should make a fine AOD for this car for hopefully years of Sunday driving and a planned cruise to the Mustang 50th birthday bash in 2014.

With the price of gas these days, if this works well I might just have to pickup another AOD for my '68 Coupe since it's transmission needs some work too.

Here is a break-away diagram of the AOD transmission I found on the web.



Transmission is all back together, it took a couple weeks to order and receive the rebuild kit once I knew what shape it was in.  It seemed to go pretty straightforward with the video to walk me through it.  I also rebuilt the valve body and a few minor shift modifications as well.  My torque converter is off to Dirty Dog Performance to get rebuilt and checked out.  So once that is back I will be looking to mate up the AOD to the motor and get it ready to drop in.



Well it took awhile to get all the odds and ends needed to put this all together.  I have a nice new AOD pan but thought I would wait to install it after everything is mounted in the car.  I will also need to get a AOD conversion cross-member or do some fabrication work.  But here are a few pictures of the 5.0 and AOD going in this morning!

A big thanks to my son-in-law Aaron for taking some time out of his day of in the 100 degree heat to help get this motor and transmission into it's new home.


Another big hurdle crossed.  Now a bunch of little items to work on and start getting this front end together.


This is the Marti report for our '67 Bench Seat Convertible that confirms what options were originally ordered on our car.


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