Isaac Mion
December 18, 2013

With its ebullient red paintjob and molded front clip, you can see why this shining example of a '641⁄2 Mustang coupe caught MM&F's eye at last year's Good Guys show in Loveland, Colorado. It doesn't hurt that under the immaculate body and paint rests a Pro Touring setup with all the trimmings. From its blown 347-stroker engine to the trick paddle-shift gearbox, this rare half-year is dressed to impress. Of course, it wasn't always in this good of shape. In fact at one stage, before G3, one of North Dakota's premiere performance/luxury restoration shops, got a hold of it, the car had a hornet's nest in it and mold growing on the seats. Now, those seats, covered in leather by Roy Keith Classics, grow on you instead.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Owner Rocky Hamley has had 20 years for this car to grow on him. Working for his dad in the oil fields, Rocky learned to drive at a very young age, and he also knew a lot of people with classic cars and helped them out when they were building them. However, his classic car, well, how he fell into it is a story best told by Rocky himself.

"I worked as a bus boy at a local diner my senior year in high school," said Rocky. "There was a group of guys that would come in and one of them drove a Rangoon Red '64½ Mustang coupe with white GT stripes. When he (the previous owner) had gotten the car, it needed a new engine and paint, so he painted it and dropped an old 302 motor in. As soon as I saw the car I knew I wanted it. I talked to the guy and he told me it was for sale. I told my dad about the car and he went to look at it one evening. My grandfather had a baby blue '64½ Mustang coupe, so I knew my dad had a soft spot for Mustangs. He also knew how much trouble they could be for a teenage kid. He loved the car, but told me no way. I would get in too much trouble or hurt myself or someone else. I thought I would never own the car."

Rocky continues, "A few nights later, my family and I went out to dinner. As we were pulling into the parking lot, I saw the Mustang parked out front. I pointed it out to my mom and dad, still begging them to change their minds. We went inside, sat down and ordered. I wouldn't let up and kept on bugging my parents about the car, but they didn't seem interested in discussing it anymore. Then, the waiter came out with a tray full of food for our table, he served everyone their food, but when he got to me, it was just an empty plate with a set of keys on it." Needless to say, the keys fit the Mustang and more than likely, the empty plate was not a concern as eating was probably the last thing on Rocky's mind at that point.

"It was one of the best memories of my life," he said. Coincidentally, Rocky met his wife, Kristin, that same day.

Soon after getting the car, Rocky graduated, joined the Navy, and was deployed overseas.

"I couldn't take the car with me, so rather than store it, I dropped it off to a company that specialized in restoring Mustangs," said Rocky. "Originally, it was to be a very simple restoration with slight modifications for safety and performance. But the guy that started the work on my car got in some sort of trouble and wound up in prison. His lawyer contacted me and told me that I needed to pick up my car and any parts that belonged to me."

When Rocky arrived, he was shocked. The car was outside, left to the elements with the doors open and windows down. With a hornet's nest inside and mold growing on the upholstery, the Mustang truly had reached the depths of despair. Adding insult to injury, the four-speed transmission, cylinder heads, 9-inch rearend and exhaust system were all missing. Rocky also lost all the money he had paid the guy for work that he thought was being done. Not one to be discouraged, Rocky towed the car back to a friend's house in Wyoming and stored it until he got out of the Navy.

Once out of the Navy, he and his wife moved to Rapid City to go back to college. He put the car in storage so he could work on it in his spare time.

"At this point, I was just trying to get it back on the road so I could at least drive it," said Rocky.

After graduation, they moved to the mountains of Colorado where they tried out yet another mechanic and another in Casper, Wyoming, before they finally found Tyler Woods, owner/operator of G3 Rods of Rapid City, South Dakota.

When a local body shop in Rapid City couldn't do some of the work that Rocky asked for, they referred him to this rapidly growing four-year-old shop that specializes in higher-end rebuilds like the '47 Lincoln Continental with a new Ford Racing Coyote motor they're finishing up now.

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"When we received the car we just had some minor body work to do," said G3 Rods' Tyler Woods. "Until the front clip came into the picture, which needed lots of modifications and other work. Once that work was done we decided to carry the Pro Touring theme to the rest of the car by building the rockers and rear portion of the body."

G3 may have a short name and they may not be from a Metropolis, but the quality of the rocker panels, along with the custom-built front clip and the molded rear portion speaks at length as to the bright red splash that the boys from Rapid City are making.

The quality workmanship carries over into the engine bay where the supercharged 347 stroker built by Johnson Machine waits to come to life through its custom 3-inch mandrel-bent intake system and out its 2½-inch exhaust, eventually putting a claimed 625 horsepower to the ground.

"The decision to put in the supercharged stroker resulted in a lot more work in order for it to fit correctly," Woods noted. "This resulted in lowering the engine in the subframe in order to clear the new BBK intake manifold. We also ran into problems trying to run the 3-inch intake tubes to the intercooler and still keep a clean look under the hood. Now by switching to fuel injection, we had to find somewhere to mount the Big Stuff 3 engine management system."

With power at a super car level, the suspension had to be upgraded to handle it. Heidts Hot Rod and Muscle Car suspension parts and Wilwood Dynalite calipers help modernize the underpinnings, and the slick coupe rolls on an updated set of 18x8 Rushforth rims wrapped with BFGoodrich g-Force KDWs fore and aft.

After serving his country, going to college, and getting a raw deal from an unsavory shop, Rocky Hamley persevered and the restomodification of his red-hot inferno of a coupe has resulted in something well worth the 20-year wait.

The Details
Rocky Hamley's '64 ½ Mustang Coupe
347ci small-block built by Johnson Machine (Rapid City, SD)
4.030-inch bore
3.40-inch stroke
Scat crankshaft
Probe pistons
Crane hydraulic roller camshaft
Airflow Research 185cc Renegade aluminum cylinder heads
Vortech V-7 YSI supercharger, 12 psi
BBK SSI Intake manifold
Spearco air-to-air intercooler
Edelbrock water pump
TCI Rattler harmonic balancer
Big Stuff 3 engine management system, tuned by Dynotune (Waterton, SD)
625 rwhp at 6,000 rpm
Weldon fuel pump, Holley adjustable fuel pressure regulator, Red Horse black anodized fittings
Sanderson headers
Imco mufflers
Ceramic-coated, mandrel-bent exhaust built by G3 Rods
Gearstar 4R70W four-speed automatic
2,800-rpm stall converter
Compushift transmission controller
Twist Machine paddle shifter
Currie 9-inch housing, narrowed
Eaton Detroit Truetrac differential
Currie 31-spline axles
Mark Williams 3.55 gears
Front: Heidts independent front suspension with coilover shocks, power rack-and-pinion
Rear: Heidts four-link with Panhard bar
Front: Wilwood disc, Dynalite four-piston calipers, 12-inch rotors
Rear: Wilwood disc, Dynalite four-piston calipers, 12-inch rotors
Front: Rushforth Super Spoke, 18x8
Rear: Rushforth Super Spoke, 18x8
Front: BFGoodrich g-Force TA KDW, P225/40ZR18
Rear: BFGoodrich g-Force TA KDW, P235/40ZR18
Custom interior designed by G3 Rods; Dynamat sound insulation; ididit steering column; Vintage air and heat system; Auto Meter instrumentation; custom stereo system with Alpine head unit, Alpine 4- and 6x9-inch speakers, two Rockford Fosgate 12-inch subwoofers, dual Alpine amplifiers; custom leather upholstery by Roy Keith Classics (Hot Springs, SD); Lokar billet pedals; Billet Specialties Monaco steering wheel
Steel body panels smoothed and highly modified, custom front and rear fascia, shaved emblems, PPG Red Spice base/clear paint, custom mesh grilles
The quality workmanship carries over into the engine bay where the supercharged 347 stroker built by Johnson Machine waits to come to life through its custom 3-inch mandrel-bent intake system and out its 2½-inch exhaust, eventually putting a claimed 625 horsepower to the ground