By on August 27, 2015


Wendy 473

Envious. (photo courtesy: OP)

Stephen writes:


I drive a ’65 Falcon convertible with the 289 and a T-5, hydraulic clutch, and 4-wheel discs just like it came from the factory. (Wink – SM)

I replaced all of the rubber in the front suspension about 15 years ago and it’s past time to do it again. I’m up in the air between sticking with factory stuff or upgrading to some of the aftermarket Mustang stuff (i.e tubular A and control arms). While the aftermarket stuff is significantly improved over stock, I actually drive the car; earlier this summer I did a road trip from Denver to Bozeman, MT via Yellowstone, a total of about 1800 miles. I can go to any auto parts store and get replacement parts, while I could wait for TCI, etc to FedEx me something.

Second question. I still have the 4bbl carb on it for the same reason. Do any of the aftermarket fuel injection system use mainly OEM parts (i.e injectors, fuel pump)? I did get between 23-28 mpg on the Bozeman trip.

Sajeev answers:

First we discuss:

  1. How that Falcon is disturbingly awesome.
  2. How restomods are usually done wrong, except here.
  3. How beautiful your part of the country is.

Ahem! So, about the suspension upgrades: look at the bushings. Bushing size (diameter, thickness) and composition (rubber, polyurethane) have an impact on ride quality and NVH control.

My experience with aftermarket suspensions on old Fords is personal: take this restomod Mercury Cyclone seen in Hemmings. The stance is sinister and it’s a blast to drive in the twisties, but the aftermarket (Mustang II style) control arms with teeny-tiny, non-rubber bushings are tough on Houston roads. It’s a bad-ass persona ideal for most restomodders, and I respect that. But, if I was in charge of this project, I’d ditch the kit’s control arms for factory Mustang II control arms with big, juicy, plump and delicious rubber bushings. A regression-mod restoration, perhaps? 

Granted your roads are a far cry from mine, but I wouldn’t add an NVH-averse suspension on a droptop Falcon without chassis stiffeners like subframe connectors. I’d add those connectors no matter what! Since you can (?) grab parts designed for the 1964 Mustang, I’d recommend the stock (rebuilt) suspension with the best shocks and springs you can find.

And what about EFI conversions? Many reputable setups use GM sensors attached to custom wiring harnesses, so don’t sweat that. In the spirit of your T-5 swap, add EEC-IV from a 5-liter Mustang, provided hood clearance is no different than ’60s Mustangs. Aside from the occasionally wonky TFI module, it’s a great swap: Fox Mustangs are losing their EFI systems for LSX-FTW swaps on a regular basis! You can pick up an entire EEC-IV setup (intake, fuel rails, wiring, sensors) for a couple hundred bucks!

Fuel pumps get dicey depending on the easiest fuel tank conversion. I’d put faith in expensive Aeromotive parts, but maybe these guys got the Falcon covered better. Often these assemblies use the same tube-shaped pump available at any parts store.

Your current mileage is impressive and proves that a well-tuned spread bore (?) carb runs nearly as efficient as EFI…provided it stays in tune. Swapping to EFI nets greater consistency in all driving conditions…if that’s what you really want.

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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35 Comments on “Piston Slap: At What Rate, the Falcon’s Restomod Wings?...”

  • avatar

    Simply …wow.
    How I loved…no LOVE…this car.
    It was one of those simplistic yet beautiful designs of the time.
    I am so damn jealous!!!!

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Clean. That’s the word for this Falcon. Just… clean.

  • avatar

    The enduring cachet of such a car is to keep it as stock as possible. The car looks factory fresh, one expects a carburetor, not fuel injection.

    As well as driving like a 50 year old car.

    • 0 avatar


      For some people that is true but for many of us who were not alive when the classics were new they are sculpture. We love them for how they look and no one should be derided for trying to improve the car and make it more pleasant to drive.

      When I took ownership of my 1967 Mustang the first thing I did was replace the ancient points with an electronic ignition. As soon as I can afford it the carb will be replaced by an EFI system.

      I say let every man take his own path with his classic car and let no man judge him.

      I’d be throwing Mustang parts at a Falcon, but that’s just me.

      • 0 avatar

        True…to each his own.
        However ya gotta admit the originality of the car itself is the magnetism of it. If it had been lowered to the ground and had huge mag/slick wheels put on that stick out a foot and entirely different grills and rear end…you would not get the same universal love this car does.
        When I saw my first pimped out RR in South Beach Fl last year I almost cried. Someone was certainly self expressing but it hurt my eyes.

        Think changing some of the stuff to make it better and safer is cool.

      • 0 avatar

        I would too.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, cold starts and the first 5 minutes of driving are difficult. It is real easy to stall it. I am too young to understand how to adjust points, so I tried a Pertronix first. Now I have a Mallory Unilite, cheap swap meet find.

        I am back and forth on EFI. I understand it better than a carb, but I can keep a carb running with a Coke can and a rubber hose. Not something I want to do,but possible.

        If you read road trip web stories, usually the things that break are our upgrades. Last summer a recent college grad took her 65-66 Mustang fastback on a 8000 mile road trip though this part of the country. Her main problem was her Holly fuel pump(in tank I think) that crapped out. Local auto parts store did not have one.

        Last summer I drove to Kansas City for the national Falcon meet. On the way home one of my aftermarket parts failed, had to tow the car home. If you only drive 50 miles from home it is no big deal.

        I know I sound paranoid.


        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          As someone who drove lots of cold engines with carburetors and, in some cases, manual chokes, let me first suggest that you get rid of the conventional ignition. A weak spark exacerbates cold start and cold running problems. As a minimum, if you get an electronic distributor (which eliminates points, coil and condenser) and replace the high voltage spark plug wires, you should see improvement. As a general rule, my experience is that V-8 engines are much better at cold starting and running than inline engines because of the location of the carburetor and the intake manifold being on top of the engine block, instead of out in the cold air.

          Regarding the carburetor, it is necessary to rebuild these from time to time which involves replacing all of the seals and gaskets. If the gaskets have gotten old and hard, this could produce a vacuum leak which would make the engine run lean causing hard starting, difficult cold running and, paradoxically, high fuel economy.

          I once had a Karmann Ghia with a modified engine, including an aftermarket carburetor. My initial set-up jetted the carburetor a little lean, and, as a result, I got a righteous 30 mpg driving from DC to Houston at 70 mph. The downside is that running air cooled engines lean makes them run hot (I added an oil temperature gauge), so I re-jetted the carburetor a little richer and it ran much better when cold and didn’t run hot, but I lost about 4 mpg.

    • 0 avatar

      I run my 65 as original as possible despite the “make it 500 HP!” “slam it to the ground!!!” “Put in the extra fuzzy fuzzy dice off the mirror!” There is something special about running them like they did back then. Gives you an appreciation for what they had to deal with both good and bad.

  • avatar

    Nice, but I find the competition more appealing. Besides looks, the Valiant had a vastly superior engine, drivetrain and suspension.

    THe 1965 looked similar to the 1964:

    • 0 avatar

      no argument about which is better…just thank god people keep them and are enjoying them.
      my neighbor had, before he was arrested and jailed for embezzlement, an entire 7 car garage filled with Barracudas! What beauties they were!

    • 0 avatar

      Re: that cherry looking Valiant:

      My HS sweetheart had one of them, though not a ragtop. But I have many happy memories of those times, and many of them relate to the vehicle itself.

      In particular, it was sweet to be able to fry Falcons and Corvairs at a stop light, at an age when that meant a lot. They were one of the original sleepers. And beautiful handling in a variety of road conditions. Especially for a supposedly “ordinary” car.

  • avatar

    You’re right, it is beautify country. That’s why I left Houston for the mountain west, haven’t looked back (although I sometimes put my rose tinted glasses on).

    • 0 avatar

      Ditto Tex, I left New Joisey for the mountain west in 2009 and would never go back…. “This land is my land”…… Spectacular part is the country and inexpensive cost of living compared to most any major metro area or either coast………..but to each his own, most city dwellers probably wouldn’t care for it.

      BTW, great Falcon, keep it stock.

  • avatar

    Original poster here.

    Not going to change the looks, I like right down to the wire wheel hub caps. It was really challenging building a rear disk (I hate drums) setup that fit in 14 inch wheels.

    It is a non-spreadbore Autolite 4100 4 barrel carburetor.

    A cold engine with a carb and clutch is a bear to drive.


    • 0 avatar

      Update us when you have done with the next restoration.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I am/was under the impression the aftermarket fuel injection set ups are similar to the GM throttle body set ups. Again, I am not certain.

      I have a 327 still with points. I hate it. I am figuring to do the oft maligned LS swap this winter. Just can’t beat the reliability and the cost. So many wrecking yard motors available, for ridiculously cheap.

      I am also vacillating on the whole suspension swap, tubular control arms etc. just can’t seem to justify it though.

  • avatar

    The response is a little technical and intense, I like it.

  • avatar

    To the OP, how on earth did you get 23-28mpg on that trip? Isn’t there some good elevation on that route as well? Do tell. I have never seen an old school V8 anything get even in the low 20s, so I am wondering how you did it.

    • 0 avatar

      5 speed manual, 60 mph on the 2 lanes and 45 in Yellowstone. I can shift into 5th at 43, and the V8 torque will pull the hills without lugging. I suspect I had a tailwind on I25 when I was driving north to Caspar at 70.

      To you guys from the more crowded parts of the country, once you get north of Cheyenne, you will see 20-50 cars per hour on the interstate.

      On the 2 lane from Cody to Thermopolis, my daughter and I saw zero cars in over 70 miles. Reliable is important to me.


    • 0 avatar

      His fuel mileage does not surprise me in the least. Back in the 1980s I remember when one of the car magazines took a new carb’d T-Bird or Cougar with the 302 and built it for maximum fuel economy. They were reporting similar numbers.

    • 0 avatar

      Overdrive T-5s are a wonderful thing.

  • avatar

    I like fuel injection, I cannot lie. But the combo you have sounds like the winning ticket. IIRC the Autolite 4100 is about as good as you can get for a carburetor (never messed with one, but I’ve heard good things). How much tuning/adjust has been done? I wonder if a touch of tweaking would get the cold performance more in line (adjust the choke, make sure the hot air is working etc). The modern EFI retrofit systems sound great to me, but they don’t have the same R&D done as a OEM system.

    As for the suspension, stuff can be re-welded on location. But, do you want better performance out the car or a better ride or ? I’m guessing good OEM type stuff will give the best ride, and performance will involve alot of cutting.

  • avatar

    It’s not the conversion to a Mustang II front suspension that would make this hard to repair on the road. It’s the components used in the suspension that could make it hard to repair on the road.

    You can buy a stock Pinto/Mustang II rack anywhere. A tricked-out billet custom power-steering repop? Not so much.

    Go for the Mustang II update, with stock Moog bushings/links. If you can’t get them immediately, I can’t imagine that there’s a place in the Continental US where you wouldn’t have them the next day.

    If absolute parts availability is your overriding concern, don’t purchase the track-rod delete updates because eliminating requires some custom fabrication. In many ways the update is worth it, but the basic systems with track rods can use all stock parts from the subframe out.

    • 0 avatar

      What do you mean by track-rod delete?

      A Mustang II is one of the options I am considering.


      • 0 avatar

        It is not a track rod it is a strut rod. The lower control arm in a MII suspension is very similar to what is in there currently except that the track rod goes to the rear of the car. Some aftermarket suspension systems based on the basic MII suspension geometry supply a lower control arm that is an A arm instead however in my opinion the way they mount the inner points is way to close together in most cases. This makes the lower A arm less stable, more susceptible to fore-aft deflection than the wide mounting points of the simple control arm and strut rod.

  • avatar

    And yes, to everyone reading, I am well aware there’s no 1964 Mustang. They made them technically in 1964.5 but I had no interest in going down that wormhole when we are discussing so much technical Ford-geekery already.

  • avatar

    Am I the only one who thought Mr. Regular emailed TTAC?

  • avatar

    The best way to go with EFI is to use stock components. I agree with Sajeev that the factory SEFI 5.0 would be a great option. Another which I consider a little blasphemous is to use a GM TBI system. You can get all the components at the wrecking yard and they will be in stock at the nearest parts store or junkyard for many years to come. There are companies that will sell you kits to individual parts if you don’t mind paying a little more, don’t want to modify the harness yourself, or just don’t want to go to the wrecking yard. Done right at a good you pull, one price style wrecking yard the components can be had for $200-$300.

  • avatar

    Sajeev ! where have you and your Evil Twin Sanjeev been hiding ? .

    Stephen ;

    Nice car , I too think you should tinker the tuning first , since you’ve added electronic ignition , did you remember to open the spark plug gaps up to at least .045″ ? many neglect to and are amazed at the extra power and easier starting hot or cold it gives .

    Me , I’d stick with the stock suspension and use poly bushings every where plus Bilstin HD shocks as it’ll still ride nice and handle far better .

    No need to make a race car out of it , touring seems to be what you , like I , enjoy doing most far and away .


  • avatar

    Hey Stephen, I love how you are upgrading and using your gorgeous Falcon. I have been on a similar path with my 86 GT Convertible, trying to make it as reliable, comfortable, and safe as possible while maintaining a reasonably original appearance. 95 Cobra discs and Bullet wheels are the only outward clues to what lies beneath.

    With 285,000 miles now on the clock, it has reliably served my wife and I in our travels through all of the Canadian provinces and territories except Nunavut, and all of the US states except Hawaii.

  • avatar

    I am eyeballing EFI for a ’76 Buick Park Avenue 455 to alleviate its one glaring problem- vapor lock on 95+ degree days. (I once saw gas literally BOILING in the carb one hot day.) The big block Buicks have had this problem going back to at least 1968 and probably farther.
    The car is your baby, customize it the way you want and don’t give a second thought to what a ‘purist’ would think, after all it is your car, not his.

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