John Machaqueiro
February 20, 2014

"I'm always looking for Mustangs," said Floridian, Kerry Kufner. "I was looking for something to make a clone Shelby, or what they now call a tribute Shelby." Upon further conversation, he pointed out that his goal was to create a clone, but with a twist. Tired of working on fastbacks, he opted to focus on a coupe, however, that was only after abandoning his original plan of creating a '67 Shelby G.T. 350 convertible tribute car. He explained that, "the '67 is my favorite year for the Shelby. I always wanted to do a clone convertible because they didn't make them from the factory, but every '67 convertible I came across was a piece of junk."

Since he couldn't find a convertible that satisfied his needs, the '67 coupe you see was actually destined to have its roof cut off when it was found. According to Kerry, after searching online, this was the best candidate that popped up. It was an Arizona car that was heavily optioned, and as an added bonus, the owner was moving to the Orlando area, and would bring the car with him.

Once money exchanged hands and the car was in his possession, Kerry began the transformation. As with many car projects, this one was not going to be a one-man show. It was a collaborative effort with both of Kerry's sons, Kyle and Clay. It didn't take long for them to tear the car down to a bare shell, but as that took place, the overall condition of the body became quite clear. Kerry explains the dilemma by pointing out that, "As far as rust was concerned, that was one of the cleanest Mustangs that I've ever disassembled. The more we tore into it, and saw the wonderful shape it was in, the more we realized that we couldn't cut the car apart."

With the car torn apart, and the body media blasted, the project headed in its new roofed direction. With the at-home work done, it also headed to a new spot for its rebuild. Kerry had a bunch of good friends that he was going to lean on for help, so a quick phone call to Sean Crockett quickly secured a spot at Crockett Auto Body in Orange City, Florida, for the needed assembly space.

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After the Mustang arrived at the body shop, Kerry began collecting the parts for the transformation. Reproduction Shelby pieces were ordered from Tony Branda for the exterior. Once those were installed, and the bodywork completed, Sean laid down the Matrix System basecoat/clearcoat paint. Kerry went with Secret Blue and a white stripe combination for the exterior.

For the interior, Kerry's friend, Tom McFadden, at Bitchin Stitchin in Deltona, Florida, was asked to do the reupholstering, while TC's in Volusia County, Florida, would do all the glass replacement. The plan for the interior was to install leather seats, and add Cobra emblems and simulated snakeskin inserts, along with an aftermarket Ford-style steering wheel, and a full complement of Auto Meter instruments.

An increase in engine displacement was also on the menu. With the original 289 mill shelved, the recipe called for the addition of more cubes. For that, Kerry built a 351 punched out to 408 cubes. That was the mill in place when the reassembly was taking place.

The work continued on the Mustang, with both of Kerry's sons, and a small group of friends helping move things along. However, as is often the case in life, we are sometimes faced with personal circumstances that force us to reevaluate things, like life itself, and deflate the significance of any material objects we place a value on, like a car. This was the case with Kerry. While all the work was taking place, Kerry suffered the blow that no parent ever wants to experience, with the tragic loss of his son, Clay. As a result of this set of events, he recalls, "I just wanted to park the car in the garage and forget about it."

And that is what he did. He walked away. However, the guys that had been working on the car realized the difficult hardship he had just faced and decided to complete the car on their own. At that point the car was almost back together, with only the interior and some odds and ends needing to be completed. Looking back, Kerry explains, "They called me one day and told me to come pick up my car. I asked if it was in the way, and Sean said, ‘No, it's done.'"

When Kerry picked the car up, it was about 99 percent completed. There were still a few bugs left in it, however, his engine choice proved to be a colossal mistake.

"I originally built the super radical 351 stroker," he recalls. "It was such a monster of a motor that you could not drive the car on the street." As a result, it was pulled and sold, and a tamer mill planned. The starting point for that new engine was a 302 small-block stroked to 349 cubic inches, with a Scat forged crank, Scat forged connecting rods, and SRP forged 10.25:1 compression pistons. Express Engine in Deland, Florida, performed this work. Kerry and his friend, Woody Woodruff, did the rest of the reassembly. They added a set of Pro Comp aluminum heads, Edelbrock RPM aluminum intake, and a Demon carburetor. This combination, while much tamer than the previous one, has proven to have the right balance of performance and road manners.

While the Mustang was originally destined as a Shelby tribute, for Kerry, it is now a tribute to both of his sons. The subsequent loss of his younger son Kyle, has made the car even more precious. It is, for him, a material possession that is more than the sum of its parts. The memories of the time spent with both of his sons working on the car are priceless.

The Details
Kerry Kufner's '67 Mustang Tribute Shelby G.T. 350
Ford 302 small block, bored, decked, stroked to 349 cubic inches
4.030-inch bore
3.40-inch stroke
4340 Scat forged steel crankshaft
Scat forged connecting rods, 5.4-inches-long
SRP forged pistons
Hastings piston rings
10.25:1 compression ratio
Comp Cams roller camshaft
Pro Comp aluminum cylinder heads, decked, ported
Milodon valves, 2.05-inch intake and 1.60-inch exhaust
Comp Cams dual-coil valvesprings
Comp Cams pushrods
Liberty roller rocker arms
Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap aluminum intake manifold
Demon Carburation Speed Demon 750-cfm four-barrel carburetor
MSD distributor with super coil
Engine work by Express Engine, Deland, Florida
Assembled by Kerry Kufner and Woody Woodruff
C4 transmission
Boss Hog Street Bandit 10-inch torque converter
B&M Transpak Shift Kit
Ford 9-inch
Ford Racing 3.55 gears
Stock 28-spline axles
Hooker Headers, 15⁄8-primary tubes, 3-inch collectors
3-inch custom stainless steel exhaust
MagnaFlow mufflers
Front: Koni shocks with lowering springs, manual steering box
Rear: Koni shocks with lowering springs
Front: 11-inch Boss 1970 discs, drilled and slotted rotors
Rear: Stock Ford drum brakes
Front: Coys Wheel C-67, 17x8, matte and aluminum finish, 4¾-inch offset
Rear: Coys Wheel C-67, 18x10, matte and aluminum finish, 4¾-inch offset
Front: Hankook Ventus HRII, P225/45R17
Rear: Hankook Ventus HRII, P245/45R18
Restored original style leather interior upholstered by Tom McFadden at Bitchin Stitchin (Deltona, FL), original seats with added Cobra emblems and simulated snake skin inserts, aftermarket Ford style steering wheel, Auto Meter instruments, aftermarket Ford style radio, Rayon weave carpet
Matrix System Secret Blue basecoat/clearcoat by Sean Crockett at Crockett Auto Body (Orange City, FL); Tony Branda Shelby trunk, hood, nose, quarter extensions, sidescoops; glasswork done by TC's Glass (Volusia County, FL)