Restoring Biting The Bullitt’s Exterior With Mustangs Unlimited

Going fast is great, but looks are what draw the eyes of enthusiasts. Project Biting the Bullitt, our 1965 Mustang is making over 1,000 horsepower and runs in the nine-second zone at the drag strip. We’ve been prepping BTB to go even faster, but the car has been saddled with some dismal looks ever since we purchased it as a lowly six-cylinder years go.

We recently remedied much of the car’s appearance by having all of the body’s woes corrected and several new coats of paint applied to our pony. It is often the small details that are easily overlooked at this stage of a build and those are the ones that can make or break the appearance of the car. The final touch for BTB’s exterior was to turn to Mustangs Unlimited for the pieces and parts we need to finalize BTB’s exterior transformation.

All of these seemingly minor pieces can make a major difference in a car’s appearance.

Unlimited Parts

We have over 20,000 Mustang parts in our catalog, however there are also special order parts, or variations of a part that can increase that number in the catalog. -Anthony Coles, Mustangs Unlimited

“We have over 20,000 Mustang parts in our catalog, however there are also special order parts, or variations of a part that can increase that number in the catalog,” says MU’s Anthony Coles. MU operates two warehouses, their primary headquarters located in Connecticut and their southern operations in Georgia. The two locations are necessary to handle the demands for the wide assortment of parts that MU stocks and carries.

With a vast catalog available in both paper and electronic format, MU has parts for every Mustang that has rolled off the assembly line since 1964. They can accommodate customers with builds that range from concourse restorations to pro touring and even late model performance.

Small Details

With a fresh and shiny coat of paint on Project Biting the Bullitt, we needed to turn our eyes to the little details, and this is one of those places that Coles says customers call MU looking for parts. “Parts that replace something that was in a non working state due to wear, age, or breaking, or parts that perform better than the original are some of our best sellers,” he says.

Items like these hood hinges and springs are often overlooked, but are easy to replace and can make a difference both functionally and aesthetically.

There’s also those visual updates, “Anything you put your hands on, that you touch or feel, those items are extremely popular.” This includes carpet, door handles, trim pieces and other surfaces. It was just these sorts of parts we ordered from MU and you can find a complete list in the sidebar on the left along with links to those parts.

Up Front

Starting with our underhood area we ordered a new set of hood hinges and springs. The hinges are part numbers 6797A and 6796A, while the springs were part number 6789R. Over the 50 year life of Project BTB the hood hinges have taken a beating, and quite frankly our hood didn’t align all that great or want to stay in position any more. Replacing these parts allowed us to further improve things both cosmetically and functionally under the hood.

The new hood hinges are installed with new hardware.

We also replaced BTB’s headlamps with a seven-inch ultra clear upgrade, part number 70477R. Who knows when the last time the old sealed beam lamps were replaced. The SoCal sun, dust, and sand have taken their toll, and sealed beams just aren’t as bright at night as newer style capsule bulbs. Sealed beam lights are also becoming increasingly difficult to locate at local parts stores.

This kit from MU converts BTB to the popular H4 capsule bulb. Doing this will give BTB vastly brighter headlights for heading home from the track on a late evening. This increase in visibility obviously also makes the car safer at night.

Long ago BTB’s front end was also damaged. MU set us up with a new front fender to replace the original that matches the factory lines.

The new headlights and marker lights not only look better, but offer improved illumination at night.

Down The Sides

With our slick new paint job we couldn’t just stick the original ratty looking door handles, locks, and trim on the sides of BTB. MU sent us some shiny new hardware to go along with our fresh paint.

The new chrome door handles, part number 22404, are made by Scott Drake. These are new parts not recycled. The fresh chrome and new buttons will not only make the outside look better but also ensure we can always open the door to get in.

The new door handles are assembled and installed.

’65 and ’66 Mustang coupes received the famous quarter panel trim that is unmistakable to any enthusiast. MU sent us a pair of Scott Drake concours quality replacement quarter panel ornaments, part number 59076C. The installation of these requires removing the panels around the back seat of the car.

Helping us keep an eye on things and dressing up the exterior a little is a new chrome rearview mirror, part number 6441C. This replaces the well worn and pitted stocker, keeping us legal for the road, and matching the rest of BTB’s exterior upgrades.

Completing the look and adding a little security to the outside of BTB is a new lock and key set, part number 2205C. This set includes two new exterior door locks, a new ignition lock, and the matching keys. While it’s certain to dress up the outside of BTB, it also adds to convenience, keeping the door locks and ignition cylinder keyed alike. This means one key will operate our doors and ignition. The keys are stamped with the running horse logo on the end.

New keys and new locks to match for the doors and the ignition, converting everything to a single key.

Behind The Scenes

The Parts

  • 6797A Hood Hinge LH
  • 6796A Hood HingeRH
  • 6789R Light-Tension Hood Spring
  • DHK1 Door Hinge Kit
  • 62220D Door Latch Striker
  • 2205C Ignition and Door Lock Kit w/keys
  • TLH1 Trunk Lock Housing
  • 22404 Exterior Door Handle Kit
  • 6441C Standard Outside Mirror, Chrome
  • 59076C Quarter Panel Ornaments, Pr
  • 3149K Windshield Molding Kit
  • 42404 Rear Window Molding Kit
  • DRM1 Drip Rail Moldings, Pr
  • PS012SS Exterior Trim Screw Kit
  • PE758 Window Molding and Clip Kit
  • 65650 Weatherstrip Kit
  • 70477R Halogen Headlight Kit Pr
  • 53450KIT Complete Tail Light Kit
  • 13560 License Plate Light Kit
  • 155111 Back Up Light Kit
  • AMK241 Fender Tops Fasteners
50 years has taken its toll on BTB’s doors in ways that aren’t purely cosmetic. Closing the doors on an older car such as this is often a trick of holding the door at just the right angle while grimacing appropriately as you force it shut. There are generally two culprits here and we replaced them both so that BTB’s doors open and close the way they should.

Our door hinges were deteriorating due to age. The pins were bent, and the hinges themselves may have been bent. This leads to a misaligned door that is difficult to open and close, as well as increasing the likelihood of paint damage from interference.

We also chose to replace the door strikers. Beat up, and damaged from years of abuse they not only were an eyesore when you opened the door, but we weren’t sure how well they’d latch any longer. These new strikers, part number 62220D, are made from stainless steel and were easily installed to replace our original parts.

Bright Backside

We had to address a few items on the rear of the car as well. We want the backside of BTB to leave an impression as it lays waste to competition on the drag strip. So we didn’t stop short by not updating and upgrading things at the rear of the car.

Tail Lights

Earlier this summer we published a story on the Dakota Digital LED tail light upgrade we installed on BTB. “When you go to an LED you’re basically letting people know you’ve got your brakes on,” says Coles. Let’s face it, the stock lights were dim at best, and in the daylight it was difficult to tell if our brake lights were even on.

Helping us complete the exterior restoration of BTB’s tail lights is a complete tail light kit from MU, part number 53450KIT. This includes all new parts for both rear lights, including new bezels, housings, lenses, trim, and gaskets.

We also replaced our trunk lock with a new one, part number TLH1. Rounding out our lighting upgrades were new backup lights, part number 15511, and new license plate lights part number, 13560. Both will keep us legal for the street, and replace the worn original parts.

Finishing touches

Even in a place where the climate is as temperate as southern California time and sun light eventually take their toll on some parts. That includes our weatherstripping. While we don’t plan to drive BTB in the rain, it’s rather annoying to hear the wind try to make its way in as we cruise above 30 mph. To replace our failed weather stripping, MU sent us part number 65650, a complete coupe weatherstrip kit. This will also ensure that on the rare occasion Editorial Director Gearhart decides to have a member of his army of interns wash BTB, the inside of the car won’t be inundated with soapy water from the process.

Additional parts and pieces that played a role in restoring BTB's exterior include new weather stripping, new fiberglass front bumper, a new right front fender, and new drip rails and moldings

MU also sent us all new moldings for our windshield, drip rails, and rear window. They hooked us up with all the hardware to finish those installations and the rest on the car as well.

The small details really add up on a project when it’s at this stage. New hardware, and small touches can mean the difference between looking at your car and smiling, or thinking “if only I had done this too.” Whether you’re restoring a classic, building a restomod, or just trying to breathe some new life into a Mustang that’s showing its age, be sure to check out MU’s web site and catalogs for a list of everything to get your Mustang looking and running like it should.

With the exterior complete, Biting the Bullitt looks as good as it runs.

About the author

Don Creason

Don Creason is an automotive journalist with passions that lie from everything classic, all the way to modern muscle. Experienced tech writer, and all around car aficionado, Don's love for both cars and writing makes him the perfect addition to the Power Automedia team of experts.
Read My Articles

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