Junkyard Gem: 1965 Ford Mustang Hardtop

Early Mustangs (and Camaros) are extremely hard to find in U-Wrench-It yards.

  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
The big self-service junkyard chains of North America, such as U-Pull-&-Pay, Pick-n-Pull, LKQ Pick Your Part, and Pull-A-Part, turn over their inventory quickly and use standardized price lists for parts. A steering wheel, say, from a Kia Reno will cost you exactly the same price as a steering wheel from a Blower Bentley... that is, if you could find a Blower Bentley at U-Wrench-It. American-made vehicles much sought after by restorers usually don't show up in these yards, in my experience, which means that you won't have much luck finding, for example, 1964-1973 GM A-Body or Chrysler B-Body coupes. 1960s Mustangs and Camaros have been even more scarce during the last decade, which makes this non-rusty 1965 Ford Mustang hardtop in a Denver yard even more unusual than a junked Ford Tempo AWD.

It's a six-cylinder hardtop with automatic transmission, so it spent the first half of its life being not particularly valuable. In recent years, though, any first-generation Mustang has been worth restoring. If this is the original engine (which is unlikely, given how easy and cheap engine swaps have always been with these cars), it's a 200-cubic-inch Thriftpower straight-six rated at 120 gross horsepower. The later HSC 4 engine, base powerplant of the early Taurus, was two-thirds of a Thriftpower 200.

The first Mustang fancier (or serious eBay car-parts seller) who spotted this car here probably hoovered up 500 pounds of interior and trim components (I have done the same thing with a '41 Plymouth in the very same yard). With the booming aftermarket in reproduction parts for early Mustangs, there's not so much unobtainium stuff in a '65, but original bits are easy to sell.

Yes, this car had real wire wheels at some point. I'm guessing that point was the middle 1970s.

There's no serious rust, and we can see evidence of bodywork, sanding, and priming here. My guess is that someone began a restoration many years ago, then the car sat for quite a while, and then it was evicted from a storage yard or garage. The strange thing is that it wasn't snapped up at auction before coming to this place.

In these big self-service yards, I see many, many cars that should be highly prized restoration candidates— e.g., BMW E24 6-Series or big 1960s Detroit family wagons— but those cars just aren't worth the five-figure investments needed for a serious rejuvenation. A solid '65 Mustang hardtop is another story.

Even though it was a glammed-up Falcon at heart, the '65 Mustang proved that Detroit could make big profits selling a cheap commuter car with an adventurous image. Passing Corvettes at Sebring (with an automatic, of course), riding the range with cowboys, and catching the big waves— the '65 Mustang could do it all.

Ford Mustang Information

Ford Mustang

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