The Sophomore Slump: Three San Diego State Engineers Rebuild a Totaled Mustang From Scratch

Ninety-nine percent of the time when I drive this into a car show, as I’m parking, the first thing I hear is: “What is it?” I’ve heard that about 10,000 times. They’ll see the stock dashboard or they'll see the throttle body somebody will realize, “Oh, it's a Mustang” and then they’ll say, “…well that's cooler than a Honda Civic”. We bought it totaled for 600 bucks. My friends and I really wanted a project car. There are three of us: my identical twin brother who is an electrical engineer, my roommate who is a mechanical engineer, and I’m a mechanical engineer. We had all the components to make everything work. We just really wanted to build something and this just looked like the perfect project to us. We had like a professional welder come in and do all the welds for us. Other than that, everything was designed and built by us.

A lot of the design and the crazy-looking stuff going on in the front is a result of having to shorten the engine bay. We cut off about a foot off the front end and about two or three feet off the back end. There were a lot of complications with rerunning the brake lines, deleting the ABS, deleting the air conditioning, and moving everything back. It is mostly a stock Mustang engine, puts down more than enough horsepower for what we want for it or probably what’s even safe for it. We have the cold air intake that we're thinking about maybe getting a turbo for because we would like a little bit more top end power. We have a new triple radiator fan setup because we need that cooling when we're at high RPM doing doughnuts or whatever. We've done a ton of stuff to this car and learned so much from the experience, everything from how to rerun fuel lines, to how to get a gas tank to work, fuel pumps and EVAP lines. All in all in this car was about $3,000. So anyone who wants to build one out there: it’s awesome, fun, and cheap. You learn a lot about cars and might even teach yourself to drive stick along the way.

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