ACC’s gears are turning as we prep for issue #39 — and that means its time for another Wrenching column. So today, Auction Editor Chad Tyson and I have snuck out of the office and are in my shop, working on ACC’s 1966 Ford Mustang. I’m writing this from my workbench.

Here’s the thing about the Mustang: It’s a low-miles original that isn’t completely original. The previous owner added stainless headers as well as an aftermarket intake and carb. Some of the hose clamps are OE, others are not. The water pump has been replaced and wasn’t painted. It’s now covered in some flash rust. But under 50 years of grime, the 289 still wears its factory-applied Ford blue from the day it was assembled: February 25, 1966.

We’re working on a few things today that will require underhood component removal and replacement. That creates a car guy dilemma: Should we consider painting these parts or just clean them before reassembly?

I’ve been on the fence about this for a few days. Some of these items clearly need attention, such as that water pump. But once you paint it and reinstall it, it will stick out like a bright blue sore thumb. Then again, flash rust doesn’t look right, either. It’s a tough call to make.

Ultimately, whatever you do is up to you, but it pays to have an overall plan for your project before you turn the first wrench. Is an engine compartment restoration your goal, or are you going to preserve what you have?

I don’t see any reason to eliminate original finishes here, at least not now. So today we’re cleaning and replacing what we’ve got. What would you do? Preserve or restore?

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