Barry Kluczyk
January 29, 2014
Photos By: Grant Cox

Time for some truth: Old cars don't drive well. Wait. Don't start tapping out that vicious email quite yet. Let us qualify that statement: Old cars don't drive very well compared to modern automobiles.

That's to be expected after about half a century of technological progress, right? Sure, but in this day and age of unprecedented performance delivered in vehicles that feel so solid and quiet—as if they were whittled out of billet titanium, it's difficult to hop in an archaic conveyance from Detroit's glory days and enjoy anything more than a drive down to the most local of cruise nights or a quick spin to the Dairy Deluxe.

Hey, there's no denying the tingle up the spine generated by a solid-lifter muscle car engine with some healthy camshaft overlap, but when it's matched to a three-speed automatic or four-speed manual and a set of 4.11 gears out back, your perception of high-performance perfection changes when you're driving on the highway.

Forget for a moment the non-existent fuel economy when you're cruising the Interstate with the engine taching around 3,000-3,500 rpm and the less-than-confident sound it elicits from a valvetrain that's much happier doing it's lopey-lope best in the Big Boy parking lot. No, the biggest item to deal with is hugging the right lane while even old ladies in Corollas whiz past like you've got a garbage truck stuck in the creeper gear. Modern cars are made to cruise comfortably at speed, which makes it a lot less comfortable to take your vintage car on a long drive.

Oh, sure. Old cars provide plenty of thrills—like the heart-stopping, "that's-it-I'm-a-goner" feeling induced by a panic stop with drum brakes, or the mind-bending, "will-she-or-won't-she" thoughts that enter your head when you enter a fast turn in a car with 1940s steering technology and no antisway bar.

But while driving technology left old cars behind like shoe-repair stores and candy cigarettes, the march of progress has never been able to improve upon heart-tugging designs of yesteryear. Improving the performance and drivability elements while maintaining the chrome-accented romance of the classics is exactly the ideology driving the restomod movement, and builder Robin Greenhagen is one of its most fervent champions.

"You can't beat the looks of an old car, but you can improve just about everything else," he says. "That's what's great about modern technology—you can adapt it and make it fit old cars to have an uncompromising blend of yesterday and today. It's definitely the best of both worlds."

Literally and figuratively putting his money where his mouth is, Greenhagen built this '67 Mustang fastback that wraps its timeless silhouette around a thoroughly modern, Coyote-fied drivetrain. It's a 620-horsepower, green-metallic calling card for his Independence, Missouri-based shop, the Restomod Store (www.restomodstore.com), which—as the name implies—is dedicated to the design and construction of vintage iron infused with late-model technology.

"Our philosophy is to deliver the driveability and features people have come to expect from newer cars in classic form," he says. "It really amplifies the enjoyment of these old cars, because you can take them anywhere."

Although Greenhagen sees the restomod movement as brand-agnostic—meaning it isn't centered on a particular manufacturer or vehicle model—he carefully selected the Mustang fastback for its iconic design. He was also trying to make a statement about certain restomod Mustangs that have dominated the landscape in recent years.

"I think the Eleanor thing has been done to death," he says. "We've attempted something that hopefully resonates with enthusiasts because they've never seen it before."

While he has no qualms about cutting up vintage tin, Greenhagen is also sufficiently reverent about the value and perception of certain cars.

"It wasn't a particularly rare, all-original car we started with," he says. "It was a pretty basic 289 car and a really rusted one at that. It wasn't anything that was going to be missed on the concours field."

Greenhagen pulled the rusty shell from his shop's store of project-car material, which includes additional Mustangs and some brand X vehicles, too. He then set his crew upon the transformation—it's a father-son-son team that came with the shop when he bought it a couple of years ago and transformed it from a run-of-the-mill, bump-and-paint business into the dedicated hot rod-building shop it is today.

Patriarch Mike McLin oversees his sons, Michael and Chris. Michael is the resident artist with an air gun, while Chris handles most of the mechanical and electrical work—and grinds on sheet metal when the need arises.

"They're great," says Greenhagen. "Each has easily a thousand hours into the Mustang and the results are stunning."

Indeed, they are. Michael's body- and paintwork is amazing. While retaining the classic '67 form, the car features custom front and rear spoilers, lowered rocker panels, custom sail panels, filled quarter-panel scoops and more. It's all steel, too—no fiberglass-formed body parts on this filly. The paint is a custom blend of the shop's creation, too. They started with Dodge Viper Snakeskin Green Metallic paint and mixed in some pearl to create a unique hue that looks simultaneously period-perfect and contemporary—and it extends to the inside of the body panels.

Asymmetrical black stripes also contribute to the period appearance, while the big Boze Forged 18-/19-inch wheels with outer rims painted to match the body color definitely lend a more modern appearance to the car's road-hugging stance.

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It's the same mix of old and new inside the Mustang, too, where the original dashboard and basic design of the cabin were retained, but refitted with 21st century technologies and conveniences, such as a navigation-equipped Kenwood head unit and modern sound system, re-trimmed Procar seats, Vintage Air climate system, and Dakota Digital instruments.

The Restomod Store crew opted for contemporary materials, too, with Ultra suede complementing the leather trim for a rich, premium feel we haven't encountered too often, even in high-end Pro Touring cars.

"As I mentioned, we want our cars to make the owner comfortable, and cruising down the highway in these well-trimmed seats with the A/C on delivers the conveniences and comfort of a new car," says Greenhagen.

Driving performance is where the Restomod Shop's Mustang leaves even today's sophisticated sedans in the dust, because few can hang with the performance of a Sean Hyland supercharged Coyote engine in the comparatively lightweight body of a '67 Mustang. There's even a four-wheel-independent suspension system that gives this 'Stang the slither of a snake.

The front and rear suspensions come from Heidts and the rear is one of the company's new independent setups for '64-'70 Mustangs. It uses a familiar 9-inch center section, heavy-duty CV joints, and inboard disc brakes, similar to the old-school Jaguar IRS systems. It's all mounted on a subframe designed for the Mustang chassis, and includes forward struts that ensure the axle stays located during hard acceleration. It's not exactly the least-expensive bolt-on you can buy for a classic Mustang, but its effect on the driving characteristics of the car is stunning.

When combined with the Heidts front strut-type suspension—the increasingly popular upgrade that not only improves and sharpens handling traits, but allows for the elimination of the shock towers under the hood for easier installation of Mod-based engines, like the Coyote—and a contemporary rack-and-pinion steering system, the behind-the-wheel feel of this classic Mustang reinforces every reason for taking the restomod route with a project car. It feels planted and connected to the road.

It also feels very responsive, thanks to the Sean Hyland Motorsports supercharged 5.0-liter Coyote engine. The blower is filled with Eaton's landmark TVS four-lobe, high-helix rotors, which greatly expands the effective range of the Roots-type supercharger, enabling more low-end torque—which the Coyote can use—and extending the power-enhancing boost higher in the rpm range, making the most of the DOHC engine's high-revving capability. It's an intercooled system, too, which lowers the temperature of the intake charge to build more power and lessen the chance for detonation.

Nestling the Coyote into an older Ford is getting easier these days, but still requires some taps here and there with a "persuasion" tool (and perhaps a grinder and welder) to make it fit. Exhaust clearance and chassis clearance for the oil pan are the biggest obstacles to overcome, but it's much easier with the suspension conversion that eliminates the shock towers.

Indeed, with more than 600 horsepower on tap and controlled with a five-speed overdrive transmission, this independently sprung pony car is all about quickly clicking off the miles on the freeway.

"We never trailer it to events," says Greenhagen. "We had just gotten the car finished when we drove 200 miles to Iowa for the Goodguys show and captured a Builders Choice award."

With its modern powertrain, suspension, and interior comforts, it's no surprise Greenhagen and his shop crew are eager to roll up the digits on the odometer, but with the stunning attention to detail throughout the car, it could easily be mistaken for a trailer queen. Believe us, we mean that as a compliment, because every square inch on the car has been smoothed, painted, or powdercoated. The firewall and inner fenders are completely smooth. The chassis is cleaner than most hospital rooms. And we mentioned that they painted the inside of the fenders, didn't we? It's a stunning level of detail for a car intended for the highway.

"Our cars are purposeful and well-engineered for an uncompromising driving experience, and while we're also fanatical about the appearance and details of our cars, we're not going to let the thought of a rock chip affect the end product," says Greenhagen. "The purpose of a restomod is to make an old car more driveable, regardless of how much time you've spent on the paintwork."

If Greenhagen's goal was to highlight the capabilities of his new business, we believe this green fastback is an unqualified success. It's one of the most well executed examples of the restomod trend we've seen.

"Restored muscle cars are great, but when it comes to really enjoying old cars, you can't beat mixing modern technology with vintage styling," he says. Absolutely!

The Details


The Restomod Store's '67 Mustang Fastback

Engine
Ford Racing 5.0L Ti-VCT "Coyote" crate engine
Aluminum cylinder block and heads
3.63-inch bore
3.65-inch stroke
Forged steel, induction-hardened crankshaft
Forged steel connecting rods
Hypereutectic aluminum pistons (with piston-cooling oil jets)
11.0:1 compression ratio
Aluminum cylinder heads with dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder
1.45-inch intake valves and 1.22-inch exhaust valves
Hydraulic camshafts with 0.472-inch (intake) and 0.433-inch (exhaust) lift
Variable intake/variable camshaft timing
Roller rocker arms
Sean Hyland Motorsports 2.3L Roots supercharger with Eaton TVS four-lobe rotors producing approximately 10 pounds of boost
High-flow fuel rails with 47-lb/hr fuel injectors; fuel pump voltage regulator
Custom air intake system and intercooler by The Restomod Store
Twin-bore 60mm throttle body
High-energy coil-on-plug ignition system
620 hp at 6,500 rpm
545 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm
Transmission
Tremec TKO600 five-speed manual (2.87 first gear) with 26-spline input shaft
Ram PowerGrip heavy-duty clutch
Custom transmission crossmember
Lokar shifter
Rearend
Ford 9-inch-type
Heidts axle housing
Strange locking differential and 31-spline axles
Strange 3.70:1 ring-and-pinion
Exhaust
Crate engine exhaust headers
MagnaFlow mufflers
Custom stainless steel 2.5-inch exhaust system by The Restomod Store
Suspension
Front: Heidts Pro-G independent front suspension with coilover shocks; tubular upper and lower control arms; 2-inch dropped spindles; billet shocks and springs
Rear: Heidts Pro-G independent rear suspension, with tubular upper and lower control arms; CV joints, front pinion support and forward struts; Heidts subframe connectors
Steering
Heidts power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Flaming River steering column
Brakes
Front: Heidts/Wilwood 12-inch discs with Wilwood four-piston calipers
Rear: Heidts/Wilwood 10.5-inch discs with Wilwood calipers
Wheels
Front: Boze Forged Pro Touring, 18x8-inch
Rear: Boze Forged Pro Touring, 19x9-inch
Tires
Front: Hankook Ventus R-S3 P255/35ZR18
Rear: Hankook Ventus R-S3 P305/30ZR19
Interior
Original-appearing, restored by The Restomod Store; Procar bucket seats trimmed with black leather and gray Ultra suede by Vintage Fabrication; Ultra suede-trimmed instrument panel and center console; ACC gray carpet; Billet Specialties steering wheel with Ultra suede trim; Dakota Digital VHX analog instrument insert with fully lit needles and digital odometer and clock readouts; Kenwood head unit with Kicker speakers; welded-in rollbar; five-point seat harnesses; power windows; rear seat deleted
Exterior
Shaved door handles; custom front spoiler; shaved driprail moldings; custom sail panels; filled quarter-panel scoops; flush-mounted bumpers; shaved hood and upper fenders; custom taillight panel; custom green exterior color by The Restomod Store, black asymmetrical graphics and black taillight panel