Mustang Coral Wall Plaque


This little project has been bouncing around in my head for a number of years now and I finally got round to doing something about it. When my car was restored I kept the original Mustang Coral from the grill for a while even though one of the support legs was broken. But, I repaired it and fitted back to the completed car as i wanted the original on the car, people kept saying “why the old Coral it’s a bit knackered?” Eventually seeds of doubt were sown, then I got worried that the Coral would fracture again and fall off causing all sorts of damage. It was a sad day when I took it off, but I replaced it with a nice shiny one and I stopped getting the same question. So, I still had the original Coral, and some original emblems that were on the fender. Those 289 emblems were pitted and in a poor way but I kept them regardless. To me the “Coral” was the “soul” of the car and that image was to become an instantly recognisable icon around the world. I wanted something different, this was that idea.

Firstly I bought a plinth of wood from eBay that was a few inches bigger than the Coral itself. This can be any wood you like of course, but I wanted something dark(ish) to show of the chrome.

The Coral it sits slightly higher up than the anchor points or legs that secure it to the grill. So if you want the Coral to sit in the middle you need to measure closer to the bottom. You can clearly see the step here in this picture.

In my case it wanted it to sit slightly higher up as there was going to be a custom plaque at the bottom with the car’s details, more on that little later. I measured from the legs to each side the centre point and marked the spots. I used tiny pilot holes to make sure that the holes lined up with the holes on the bottom of the Coral legs. Once everything was spot on I drilled to a larger hole for the screws and counter sunk the holes so the screw head would not sit proud of the wood.

The Coral legs were held to the grill by fine thread screws, but one of the legs had been stripped and wasn’t very good at holding anything. A self tapping screw was the way to go now with the soft metal inside the legs. The depth limit was checked and then cut down the screw had a max depth to hold it firmly in place.

The wood was untreated and would need a coat of varnish. The decision was to go for a quick drying clear satin with a couple of coats all round. Starting on the back to see how it would look and application before the front attempted. To avoid any brush marks a large foam brush was the way to go, that decision turned out to be an inspired choice. An old piece of plastic packaging was used to hold the varnish that I would need.

I have marked the area that was untreated as I was applying the varnish. Once the varnish had dried (which only took twenty minutes a coat), I applied a second coat and allowed that to dry. The process was repeated once the wood was turned over ready for the front and sides.

The front came out really well, perhaps the very fine sand paper of the surface helped with that. The wood’s grain was pulled through by the varnish and a turned a bit darker to compliment the chrome.

From the back of the wood the screws were tightened up to hold the coral in place.

Next up was the V8 289 fender emblem. This was obviously pitted from fifty years of road and weathering, which also had a broken stud on the back. This wasn’t a problem this time as the studs needed to come of anyway in order to sit flush on the wood. I used various chrome cleaners to get it as best as I could, The chrome plating was starting to go thing in few places so I had to be careful.

The emblems are cast and it didn’t take too much to break the remaining stud off with a pair of proper aggressive cutters. As long as the stud was below the surface all would be fine for what I had in mind.

I also have the old original running horse fender emblem from the right hand side that is in effect facing the wrong way when placed anywhere else other than the fender. This too was pitted and a couple of studs on the back broken. The other problem was that it is to big for the plaque so it was to be plan B. I wanted a smaller emblem and that means  it was going to be the glove box emblem. This presented two choices; 1) remove the original from the glove box and replace that with a new one. This means the original wasn’t in the car, however I wanted as many of the original parts in the car as possible. 2) put the new emblem on the plaque which then means that it’s not all original parts from the car. As the car is way more important I was to put the new one on the plaque. I could have got a bigger wooden back, but then there would have been a lot of wood and the Coral would seem to be floating around in the middle.

The same principle as the 289 emblem was to snip the studs of the back. The remaining stumps were to be ground down flat with the ever useful Dremel.

Measuring up the plaque for polish plaque for the wood was simple enough, it was to be in the middle of the Coral and look aesthetically pleasing from the bottom. Once that was marked out and temporarily held in place by a little poster tack putty, I could step back and check what it looked like from a distance. Once I was happy with it, just peel the backing of and stick it down into place. Yes I did measure it three times before I marked it out, it would have done my head in being on the wonk or off centre when the OCD kicked in. The metal plaque that I used was ordered from eBay and cost me £2.50 a very modest price indeed. There was a choice of sizes, finish of the metal (brass of silver), font style and the colouring of the lettering being a choice of silver or black filled. I chose to have the simple basics of the car make and model, where it was made, and the date of manufacture or as I like to think – the day she was born. My thinking was that the silver finish would match the polished chrome of the Coral, and the lettering colour would match the metal of the Coral.

“Ford Mustang Coupe”

“Dearborn Michigan”

“11th July 1966”

The positioning of the 289 fender emblem was to be in the middle of the metal plaque height and evenly spaced from the Coral leg to the edge of the wood plaque. My hot glue gun was fired up ready to fill the back of the emblem with hot glue. This allowed me a few vital seconds to get the emblem into the position marks before it cooled and set hard.

The glove box emblem was the positioned at the same height from the bottom as the 289 emblem, but it was again located so that its “looks right” position in relation to the Coral without crowding it, the poster putty being used again. The emblem was again hot glued into place and allowed to cool.

The final result was pretty good and exactly the look that I was after. It’s not to everybody’s taste, but at least I have the “soul” my car proudly on display.

The back of the wood also has some stick on rubber pads, for the “desk tidy” option. Next I will get some flush fit brackets ready to screw to the wall when I figure out just where to display it for best effect. I do have an idea that I will put to the wife first.