Justin Fivella
September 29, 2014

Somewhere along the journey, between the countless hours spinning wrenches, busting knuckles, cursing like a sailor, and nearly throwing in the towel, our project cars become a part of the family. More than just a possession, they become a collection of memories and a piece of the very fabric from which our lives are woven. They, our muscle cars, push us to the brink of insanity, drain our bank accounts, and make everyone wonder if we're a glutton for punishment. And yet, all is forgiven the minute we hit the gas and the fruit of our labor disappears into a haze of tire smoke and rpm. For Jason-Anthony Sityar, this '67 Ford Mustang fastback isn't just special, it's family.

"I've been through so much with this car; high school, college, parties, countless state lines, a marriage, a divorce, eight other Mustangs, many races, a big crash, and yet, it was my first Mustang and I'll never sell it. I consider it family," Jason-Anthony says.

This great American novel starts with a boy and his beat-up Mustang and through the trials and tribulations it ends with a man, a showstopping thoroughbred, and great success.

"It would have been easier to clip it up, add a big-block or a GM LS motor, and a Mustang II frontend, but I chose to build it in the spirit of authenticity and while it cost me a lot more to do so, I wouldn't have it any other way," he adds.

Before delving into the intricate parts list that makes this car so special, we need to step back nearly two decades to 1996: Sityar was a junior in high school and hadn't yet owned a Mustang. That would all change the day his father handed him a classified clipping from the San Francisco Examiner. Maybe it was dumb luck, or possibly even fate, but whatever you believe, it was a life-changing moment for Jason-Anthony.

"My father is an avid car collector always on the lookout for potential, so when he tossed me the ad for the fastback with a 302 and a three-speed manual for $3,500, I knew I had to pursue it," Jason-Anthony says.

A few hours and $2,800 later, Jason-Anthony was the proud owner of a faded orange fastback with a tired 302, a seized throw-out bearing, and a little rust; but in high school none of that mattered. Instead he had a classic Mustang when others were driving Tempos and Cavaliers—it would be the beginning of a long-standing relationship between man and machine.

After the addition of a Top Loader, a front disc-brake conversion, and a budget paint respray, Jason-Anthony began religiously driving his Fastback—a pastime he still enjoys to this day. As you'd guess, Jason-Anthony was big man on campus with such a sweet ride, winning the Coolest Car award in high school. But danger was looming, as the bond between a gearhead and his car would soon be tested.

"I had wanted to go to school in Southern California, but after I let it slip that I intended to party, frequent Mexico, and the Mustang was to be apart of it all, my parents told me that my SoCal school choices were fine, but that the Mustang would stay in the Bay Area for safekeeping," Jason-Anthony explains.

Needless to say, he changed his college plans at the mere thought of leaving his beloved Mustang behind. He enrolled in an engineering program at a local college and continued to use his fastback as his daily driver. Yeah, are you shaking your head—a '67 fastback as a daily driver! Ah, the things we do in our youth!

Over the course of the next few years the classic fastback would receive a pair of engine refreshes, several blown clutches, and a rearend revamp from Rob Morell that consisted of a Ford 9-inch housing with a Truetrac differential, Richmond 3.89 gears, and Moser 31-spline axles. The starving student even pinched his pennies enough for another paintjob—I guess eating mac and cheese and ramen noodles paid off.

After graduation, Jason-Anthony built a 393 in his garage and slapped it between the rails, but not before adding proper suspension pieces to help it handle as well as it hooked. Up front, Calvert Racing shocks and Moneymaker Racing springs joined the party while Calvert Racing split monoleafs, Caltracs bars, and Rancho shocks rounded out the rear. But stiff suspension is useless without a solid structure, so a Flaming River quick-ratio manual steering box, subframe connectors, and a Maier Racing rollbar that tied the rearend together really stiffened things up. He then proceeded to drag-race, street race, and autocross the car all across the Bay Area with a best ET of 12.00 at Sacramento Raceway. Then, as in all great stories, came the pain.

"One night after a cruise, I heard a hissing sound up front, so I popped the hood to get a closer look only to have the upper radiator hose give-way as soon as the hood was lifted, spraying me with 200-degree water all over my arms and torso—I spent the next two weeks in the hospital recovering from the severe burns," Jason-Anthony explains.

Even though whispers of doubt taunting him to question his commitment to his car haunted him in the hospital, when he returned home, he was more motivated than ever, but as fate would have it, his bad luck still hadn't run out.

"I made the 100-mile trek to Sacramento Raceway many times after my burns had healed and proceeded to break something every trip, it went home on a tow-truck more than it did under its own power," Jason-Anthony says.

It snapped a driveshaft, the newly converted C4 transmission swap broke twice, a pair of rocker arms snapped on the 393, and on the last trip it spun a rod bearing. The last broken bit pushed him to the point of breaking, but a good friend encouraged him to persevere. Instead of giving up, this friend recommended that he start with a clean slate—wise words indeed.

"I decided to finally build a proper motor so I called Shaun Perry at Advanced Engine Development (AED) in Shingle Springs, California, who is regarded as one of the best engine builders and tuners in Northern California, to see what he had in mind," Jason-Anthony says.

What he had in mind was a reliable Windsor that would run on pump gas and get his fastback in the 10.40s. Pump gas and mid 10s are impressive, but the key word in that sentence is reliable.

"I wanted something that ran mid 10s without me having to do anything but change the oil, so Perry traded some horsepower in exchange for a bulletproof combo," Jason-Anthony says.

A string of small-blocks have been through the fastback’s engine bay and the latest, a 410-inch stroker, makes 579 hp and 560 lb-ft of torque.

That combo consisted of a '70s 9.5-inch Windsor block punched to 410 ci, filled with a forged rotating assembly, including Probe pistons, a custom AED-spec'd billet cam, and topped with a ported and extrude honed Victor Jr. heads along with a matching Super Victor intake manifold and a Pro-Systems 950 carburetor.

As if building a proper bullet for this gun wasn't enough, while the motor was being built by AED, Jason-Anthony was dead set on making the body as nice as the new engine.

"I was tired of the stripes from the last paintjob and it was finally time to fix the rust in the lower quarter-panel, the driprails, around the rear window, trunklid, on the fenders, the aprons ... but the floorpans were perfect," he says. How's that for optimism?

His next call was to Scott's Speed & Custom in Antioch, California, who proceeded to fill in the holes and fix the bodywork. Speaking about filling in the holes, Jason-Anthony got the bug to take a deeper look into his car's history and as luck would have it, his fastback was rarer than he thought.

"A Marti Report showed that it was a Ski Country Special, a model only available in Colorado that was outfitted with factory options like a limited-slip differential, a ski rack, and all-season tires to help it handle the snow," Jason-Anthony says.

Although he didn't have the car sprayed in the original Aspen Red only available on the Ski Country Special, he did pick another rare red from FoMoCo, Performance Red from the 2000 Mustang Cobra R.

Before throwing the big-inch Windsor under the hood, Jason-Anthony bolted it to an engine dyno and let it run in anger; it made an impressive 579 hp and 560 lb-ft. Shortly after installing the engine he paid a visit to Sacramento Raceway where the new 410 yanked the flawless fastback to a traction-limited 11.10 at 126 mph in blistering 98-degree heat. Determined to break into the 10s, he waited a few months for cooler temps and returned with stickier tires, what followed was nothing short of heart wrenching.

"I had a bad feeling that day, but I ignored it and after a new personal best pass of 11.00, everything became inconsistent and when pulling up to the line, the throttle hung up and in an attempt to save the people at the tree, I put the car into the wall—thankfully nobody was hurt," he explains.

Jason-Anthony had the foresight to keep everyone safe, but at the expense of his beloved fastback.

"It was one of the saddest days of my life, the car was totaled, the impact was so great that it twisted the frame," he explains.

But after such deep history with the car you didn't think Jason-Anthony was going to give up now, did you? Nope! He proceeded to spend the next three years bringing his baby back to life. This revival was no small undertaking though, as everything from the passenger seat forward was replaced, including the metal, the front clip, and even the frame needed to be straightened. After dozens of hours of hard work the body and frame is now straighter than it was from the factory.

While under the knife for its third restoration, he had his good friend and fabricator Joe Debattista smooth the engine bay before Jason-Anthony laid the best rattle-can spray job we've ever seen. Yeah, take another look at that bay, it's rattle can! Jason-Anthony also spent copious amounts of time rewiring the entire car with an American Autowire harness that Jason-Anthony tucked and routed out of plain view. Along with a rewire, a Tremec TKO-600 transmission from AMP Performance in Arizona joined the party as did Wilwood big brakes at all corners and 18-inch front and 19-inch rear Rushford custom wheels.

When it was all said and done this fastback and its owner have been through (are you ready for this?) seven engines: a 302, three 306s, two 393s, and a 410. Five transmissions: a three-speed, a Top-Loader, two C4s, and a TKO. Twelve sets of wheels, three paintjobs, and three restorations. And yet through it all, through the highs, the lows, and the tens of thousands of dollars he's invested, Jason-Anthony persevered. Perhaps if there was the quintessential tale of a man and his Mustang, this would be it. We'd consider it our version of The Great American Novel.