Mustang Buyer’s Guide

We often get asked for advice on what to look for when buying a classic Mustang.


One of the most costly areas of repair with a 50 year old Mustang can be rust. Mustangs were originally built with an intended lifespan of just a few years and did not have have the corrosion protection of modern vehicles. Finding a 50 year old Mustang without rust can be a challenge! At Midland Mustangs, we feel it is important to buy a car that is as solid and rust free as possible. Our cars are sourced from the dry states of the USA namely Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. We believe that cars that have spent their whole life in these states are the best available. Good cars from these parts of the USA usually benefit from original, solid and rust free floor pans and solid (non leaking) cowls.

Floor Pans

It is very common to find a classic Mustang that has had parts or even the whole floor replaced with aftermarket parts. Whilst it is possible to find restored cars that have had these repairs done to a good standard, we tend to avoid cars without original floorpans. When looking at the floors (or requesting pictures of them) it is important to get good shots of both the front and rear sections. Commonly rear sections of the floorpans can be fine whilst the front sections have problems. One of the most common causes of rusted out floors is soaking wet carpets that sit untreated for years, eventually leading to rusty floors. Leaking cowl problems (which we shall come onto next) are often the cause of water ingress into the interior carpets meaning that the front floor pans usually suffer more than the rears. Leaking windscreens seals are also common and can lead to similar symptoms if left untreated. The photo below (courtesy of Virginia Classic Mustang) show the areas to inspect.

Take a good look at the front floor pan seam and lower front fire wall section to look for rust. You can sometimes find that floors have been covered with black under seal making it difficult to assess and even hiding poor repairs. Some sellers will go to considerable lengths to deceive an unwary buyer so be warned. Look for suspiciously new looking floors and poorly welded in patch panels. Also inspect the frame rails for damage (often caused by improper jacking.)



The cowl area is a sealed area that sits in front of the windshield, identified from outside the car by grilles in front of the screen. The grilles allow air to enter the vehicle as part of the heating and ventilation system via two collars, one at each end the windscreen. As water may also enter through the grilles it needs to find a way out of the cowl and it does this by drainage channels at each end of the cowl which drain out of underneath the front wings. The cowl area is sealed and not possible to easily access as a serviceable area. Furthermore the paint protection applied during manufacture was poor to non-existent. The drainage channels can become blocked with debris meaning water cannot escape, leading to rust problems. In bad cases the cowl rusts through allowing water into the car interior. If left untreated the resulting soaked carpets lead to the the floor pan issues highlighted above. Cowl repair is possible but costly. This is another reason we believe that sourcing lifetime dry state cars is important. The pictures below showing the cowl area and a drivers side cut away (with wing removed) showing the ventilation collars and rust problem areas. Right picture courtesy of Virginia Classic Mustang.

More buyer’s guide info coming soon…