After the new job that started back in '96, the priorities shifted again. I was still racing sailboats, but the new job reinvigorated my career. I was at Epson to help start their big push into the projector business. We built a great team, grew the business to $100M with zero personnel turnover (something I'm very proud of) and became the #2 brand in the US. So working on the Mustang took a back seat.
I decided to get started again slowly by refreshing the interior. This was a pretty easy project as everything (EVERYTHING) is available in pretty good reproduction. Except the arm rests, but I'm getting ahead of the narrative. So off to buy new carpet, front seat upholstery (the back seat that I first sat on in 1967 was still in near perfect condition), door panels and dash plastic.
I took the seats and new covers to West Coast Motoring in Dana Point. I had met the owner at Taco Surf across the street (where we spend almost every Friday evening) and had visited the shop, watching as he recarpeted a Ferrari boot and inspecting a '69 Mustang upgraded to stock looking leather interior. I wanted mine original, and he told me that the best way to do it would be to use the TMI kit, as it would match better than any he could otherwise get, and he'd install it for me. So I brought the kit and new foam for WCM to install.
Back to the garage, where I stripped the interior. I was hoping to find the build sheet under the carpet, but so such luck. I did find some miscellaneous fasteners, a doorjamb domelight switch, and a defect tag for scratched glass.
Nothing was too bad in the interior, just worn. A few splits in the driver's seat, but even that was good for a 38 year-old seat. But back to those arm rests. These are made by applying vinyl to a mold, filling it with foam, putting the frame into the still liquid foam, and curing it. I don't know how they make the reproductions, but it's surely not the same. I had bought these from California Mustang (I hadn't yet found Mustangs & American Classics in Mission Viejo), and these were returned for refund. West Coast Motoring sealed the cracks inside the pulls with color-matched goop, and they were better than the repros.
The biggest job was the door mechanical disassembly. I wanted all new weatherstripping and window channels, so that meant the windows and wing-window structure all needed removal.
While the door was apart, I repainted the door interior panel in the stock red, with paint I bought at Mustangs & American Classics - yeah, I'd found them - so when that was dried for a couple of days, reassembly began.
The dash panel replacement was straight forward, but the panels needed some hand work first. The masking of the matte black paint over the chrome finish was nowhere near as precise as OEM. Lots of time with an x-acto blade removing the paint from where it shouldn't be, and a tiny brush and Testor's Flat Black adding it when it was missing. The original gauge surrounds were painted on the back in flat white to help diffuse the gauge lights, so this needed to be added. I found later that the high-beam indicator lens was blue, but the light overwhelmed the tint and it looked white, so I darkened the tint with blue paint. A little Meguiars plastic polish on the clear sections, and it's concourse quality.
Yup - that's 170,432 miles. The only thing that's not "period correct" is the dash cover, but that's held in place only by the shape of the dash. The steering wheel wrap i installed in 1977 (I did a crappy job, but it's a reminder of my skills at 18 years old, and I can remove it anytime I decide. The floor mats are identical to the ones dad bought in '67, but I don't recall if they were bought at the dealer. My memory says 'no', but I bought these as reproductions of Ford mats.
I was really looking forward to dad coming to visit to see the work on the way from Washington to Arizona in 2005. I'll simply write that his 85 year-old heart had other ideas, which forced him to travel directly to Tucson. He never made it out, and after saying our final goodbyes two days after Thanksgiving, 2005, the Mustang project was shelved for a while. It was his car, after all...