Ben Hosking
December 31, 2013

When 44-year-old Australian Keith Kiely was recovering from a serious accident, it wasn’t necessarily physical therapy that got him through the months and months of recuperation—it was a Mustang. While the injury forced him off work for an extended period, he needed something to keep the brain active and with his wife’s blessing, Keith went searching for a car to rebuild.

What he found was this ’66 Mustang coupe that had previously been spending its time working as a wedding car in Port Macquarie—about five hours north of Sydney, Australia. Luckily for Keith, the ’66 was in pretty good condition to begin with.

“When I went to sign the papers to buy the car, it was still wearing the ‘MUSSY’ (Mussy being affectionate slang for ‘Mustang’ Down Under) number plates,” Keith says. “I felt certain the seller would want to keep them for one of her other Mustangs, but the lady selling the car told me to keep them.”

With custom license plates like these costing the average Aussie more than AUS$400 a year in government fees, and with unique examples like these being offered up for sale in classified papers for ridiculous amounts, this was a good omen that certainly seems to have followed Keith throughout the build up. “You hear bad stories about cars taking years to build because of bad paintjobs or dodgy engine builders,” Keith says. “But I’m glad to say I was lucky with all of the workshops I dealt with. No part of it was too difficult and the results speak for themselves.”

Much of the build was completed by Kevin Clark of Kevin Clark Racing. “In fact, Kevin kept the car in his own shed at home so he could spend more time on it,” Keith says. “He probably took care of 90 percent of the entire project.”


“I’d never seen the process of tuning an engine on an engine dyno before. Kevin had built the combo to make 500 hp, and when it made 512, it was a sweet feeling.”


The first job on the list was to give the Mustang a new heart. This came in the form of a 1990-vintage Windsor small-block that was stripped down and completely rebuilt. Stroked out to 347ci thanks to a Scat crank, H-beam rods and forged SRP pistons, the small-block’s breathing is handled by a 670-cfm Holley, Edelbrock dual-plane manifold and ported aluminum heads. With an aggressive-yet-streetable solid roller valvetrain controlling the air going in and out, and a 3,000-rpm stall converter working away in the full-manual C4, Keith’s ’66 is built for cruising and sees plenty of it.

“The most memorable part of the entire project for me was probably the dyno testing,” Keith says. “I’d never seen the process of tuning an engine on an engine dyno before. Kevin had built the combo to make 500 hp, and when it made 512, it was a sweet feeling.”

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Another memorable moment came when Keith watched the Sting Red two-pack being sprayed onto the freshly smoothed sheetmetal. It was a moment Keith says “really brought the car to life” in his eyes. Indeed, you won’t find a single dent, ripple, or scratch on the entire car and the panel gaps have clearly had plenty of time spent on them. With the lowered stance and classic 17-inch American Racing Torq Thrust II wheels that hide 13-inch rotors and twin-piston calipers up front, the result is a timeless aesthetic that isn’t going to look dated six months down the line.

Similar levels of detail can be found once you step inside the long doors of the coupe. DNA Motor Trimming handled the re-trim of the ’66, tying the bright red of the exterior into the cabin with a tasteful combination of red and black Italian leather that covers everything, including the headliner. Keith grips a Flaming River steering wheel that’s connected to a matching column, while controlling the speed with a set of billet pedals. This same mix of modern and classic touches continues with the white-faced Auto Meter gauges and the venerable B&M Quicksilver shifter.

“It’s been an amazing car,” Keith says of the completed project. “I was expecting to have to sort out a few bugs at first, but it drives like a dream—it never gets hot in traffic and it’s totally comfortable on long trips.”

With the Mustang now finished, Keith has been letting his imagination get a little crazy with thoughts of other things he could do to the car, like bigger wheeltubs and supercharging. “I think it would ruin a perfectly neat ride though,” he says of the car that’s taken home trophies at just about every show he’s entered since completion. “I might have to start another project instead.”


The Details

Keith Kiely’s ’66 Mustang Coupe

Engine

’90 347ci Windsor stroker

Scat crank, Scat H-beam rods, SRP forged pistons

Ported aluminum heads, stainless valves, Isky valvesprings

Crower solid roller camshaft (0.575-inch lift, 250-degree duration, 112-degree LSA), Crower lifters, 1.6:1 roller rockers, ARP head studs, Rollmaster timing chain

Edelbrock water pump

Gilmer beltdrive

670-cfm Holley Street Avenger carburetor

Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap dual-plane intake manifold

Dual electric 16-inch fans

Aussie Desert Cooler aluminum radiator

MSD 120A alternator, MSD electronic distributor, MSD Blaster coil and 6AL

11.7:1 compression ratio

512 hp, 500 lb-ft

Transmission

C4 automatic with manual valvebody

3,000-rpm stall converter

Rearend

Ford 9-inch rearend

3.50 gears

Strange aluminum center

Detroit TrueTrac differential

Custom 3.5-inch heavy-duty driveshaft

Exhaust

Ceramic-coated Pacemaker 4-into-1 headers

Dual 2.5-inch stainless steel exhaust with X pipe

Flowmaster mufflers, Di Filippo catalytic converters

Suspension

Front: Pedders shocks and springs, Pedders antisway bar, Flaming River steering column

Rear: Reset rear leaf springs, Pedders shocks, custom subframe connectors

Brakes

Front: 13-inch rotors, PBR two-piston calipers, Ferrodo competition pads

Rear: 12-inch rotors, PBR single-piston calipers, Ferrodo competition pads

Wheels

Front: American Racing Torq Thrust II, 17x7-inch

Rear: American Racing Torq Thrust II, 17x8-inch

Tires

Front: Toyo Proxes, P225/40ZR17

Rear: Toyo Proxes, P255/40ZR17

Interior

Flaming River steering wheel; red and black Italian leather trim; B&M Quicksilver shifter; Auto Meter Phantom gauges; leather headliner; black loop pile carpet; billet pedals; Alpine head unit, Alpine 4-inch front speakers, Alpine 6-inch rear speakers

Exterior

Holden HSV Sting Red basecoat/clearcoat, rechromed bright work