Our classic and collector car expert continues today with the second part of his four-part series on the restoration of public relations executive Laura Ballance’s rare 1967 Ford Mustang T5 by 360 Fabrication in Abbotsford…

The restoration business has changed a great deal – in the past, most auto body repair shops would only take on such work when their collision work dried up.

Now, it’s very specialist work and I’m often asked if I could recommend a restoration shop. To be honest with you, I would be hard pressed to come up with enough names to fill the fingers of one hand.

But I have no hesitation in saying that I doubt there is one in the entire country that restores and builds as many custom cars as 360 Fabrication, in Abbotsford. They control the costs and track the daily progress by using a number of management systems and a Gantt chart.

The secret to controlling the work is to perform all of the tasks in-house with perhaps the exception of chrome plating.  During my time in the trade, costs kept mounting up and either the customer or the technician, who worked on a flat rate (piecework) basis, was short changed resulting in ill feelings between the shop owner, his staff and the customer mainly caused by the lack of communication and too many assumptions!

Laura Ballance’s original plan was to have a sympathetic restoration performed, replacing only what was necessary. But cars are no different from houses, boats and planes, so when the Mustang was disassembled and stripped they discovered that probably the only thing holding the car together was Laura’s father’s DIY welding!

The Mustang is a relatively easy car to restore in terms of obtaining new parts. In this case, by the time the air chisel and plasma cutter was put away the only major sheet metal components left was the roof, “A” pillars, rocker-panels, bulkhead and the two front frame rails and the rear section of the floor. I have heard the expression “better than new” a few times over the years and have often wondered how can it be better than new? But it can.

Today’s  restorations have improved with the help of new technology such as compression fit welding equipment, seam sealers and paint products including epoxy primers, spray on polyester fillers and the waterborne color coats with a clear coat finish. These products are far superior to anything that came off the production line during the ‘60s.

Rick Francoeur and his team at 360 always allow the customer to be in control and understand customer needs and expectations, even down to the smallest sentimental detail. However, sometimes they have to advise the client for their own benefit, sometimes financial, safety related or future re-sale value. Laura wanted the Mustang refinished it its metallic blue, all the rage during the ‘60s and the car she remembers. But if the car is to retain its value and to represent how it came off the production line as a rare T5, it had to be painted its original Ford Paint Code Z, an interesting colour called Sauterne Gold Irid. This colour combined with a black interior and vinyl roof will make the car a real eye catcher.

Next week, we will look into the mechanical component restoration and exterior trim replacement.

*Nigel Matthews is the director of sales and marketing for Hagerty Insurance Canada. nmatthews [at] hagerty [dot] com

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