How to fit a larger radiator into an early Mustang | Project Vintage Race Mustang

Update by Tim Suddard to the Ford Mustang Fastback project car
Nov 8, 2021

Photography by Tim Suddard

Our 1965 Mustang’s engine compartment was almost ready for fresh paint. First, though, we wanted to fit our new radiator.

Or, rather, we should say used radiator. We picked up one of the Griffin aluminum radiators custom-built for Cobra Automotive. These radiators are larger than the stock pieces and feature an integral oil cooler.

[Who's the boss? Cobra Automotive's Boss 302 Mustang]

To install this radiator, however, we would need to cut the radiator core support. Cutting up a real Shelby Mustang would be considered sacrilegious, but fortunately, our car started as a base, six-cylinder model.

The first step: Carefully test fit the new radiator and notice what cuts will be needed for fitment. Here’s where we noticed that our Mustang’s core support was cracked at the top, so we’d need to weld that as well.

Ford mounted the Mustang’s radiator at an angle when viewed from the side, and we decided to retain that slight tilt. As the Griffin radiator is wider than the stock piece, we decided to move it a little closer to the core support.

We also decided to follow Ford’s lead again and mount the new radiator slightly to the driver-side of the car. (We didn’t want to get it all done and find problems when mounting other components.)

Small side thought here: Whenever you are working on a race car, you need to think about mounting components low and towards the center of the car. While we weren’t going to mount the radiator right in the middle of the car’s floor, where you do put weight can impact handling.

We used an air-powered saw to quickly cut the stock sheet metal as required to fit our new radiator. Then we tack welded new brackets and test fitted the new piece.

Once we saw that everything sat well, we welded the pieces into place. Then we covered any rough areas with seam sealer and painted as necessary. Very soon we’ll paint our engine compartment.

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View comments on the GRM forums
jerel77494 New Reader
11/5/21 7:53 a.m.

Nice work!

P.S.  Early Mustang front suspension is double A-arm.  It only looks like a strut because the shock bears on the upper control arm.

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