Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Real Deal?

I'm taking a few minutes respite from a busy morning.  Sometimes my mind goes into brain "lock" and I have to divert to something else just to reset my feeble little head.

Whenever a "car person" starts to look over a classic like my Mustang, and particularly when buying one, you want to make sure that what the owner says is true.   Yes, you can check the VIN, and in the case of Fords, the "door tag" which is mounted on the driver's door, to make sure it is what it says...the exterior color, interior color, transmission type, rear axle ratio, engine type, etc.

When I first looked at the Mustang, I checked the VIN.  OK.  A "J code" 302 V8 (High Performance!!!!   Premium Fuel!!!).  That's good.  The door tag options seemed to match.  Good again.   But it was hard to check if the engine and transmission were ORIGINAL to the car due to the location of the engine block number.  You see, it was common during the muscle car years of the late 60's and early 70's to swap engines.   If you didn't have enough horsepower, put in a bigger engine, especially if you ran yours hard and basically blew it up.    So there could be a possibility that the original engine had been replaced a long time ago.   The only way to find out was to pull the engine...and depending upon the outcome, it could be "numbers matching" or it could be another engine from around that period which could affect the ultimate value of the car.

So, a year ago this past summer, (Wow! That's 2 years this summer!)  I pulled the engine and transmission together as a unit.  I bought an "engine balancer" which is attached between the engine and the hoist and allows you to change the center of gravity (balance point) to make getting it out of the car much easier.  All the accessories, such as the power steering pump, air conditioning compressor, carburetor, wiring, fuel lines, cooling fan, exhaust pipes, etc. were removed.  The transmission rear mount was removed (4 bolts) and the engine mounting bolts were removed (2 bolts).   Here's the start of it after everything "came loose".  The balancer is that red and black device if you're curious.  It's worth all $39.

Here's what it looked like afterwards....

Now came the moment of truth.  Was this the original engine???   Well....I scraped the crud off the back of the engine and here's what I found....

Let's see...."8.....R...1...4....3....2....9...1.   YES!   That's the sequential VIN number for the car.  IT'S A MATCH!   (Happy dance...happy dance...happy dance).   So now this discovery cemented the car going back to original.   Ford only made less than 13,000 of these engines.  They were the base engine in the Shelby Mustang GT 350's and were used in Ford's first year of Trans Am racing.  Called the "tunnel ram" 302, they were not the most reliable engine on the race track and many teams blew engines right and left that year.  So Ford decided to beef this engine up for 1969 and hence the next year saw the birth of the Boss 302.  And Ford dusted the competition with it for the next 2 years.   So this engine is special.

Here's some more post-pull pictures....

The original "C-4" automatic transmission

The car is on it's way to being totally gutted

And if you want to see the actual video of the end of the engine pull, you can check it out here....

 (Notice the "period correct" music playing in the background)

Next time, I'll update the continuing saga of replacing the front cross member and radiator support.


  1. LOVE Mom cheering in the background as she shoots the video! What a good lil' wifey. :)
    You two are cute.

    (Double love the S&G in the background. The Boxer is my fave.)

  2. congrats on the number matching 1 of 1. I gotta find out if my 68 also has matching numbers.

    1. David, send your VIN to Kevin Marti. You can get his report that will tell you. I'm not sure of the price these days, but you can find out on his website. Just Google his name and you'll see it.