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1968 Ford Mustang Fastback - Born Into the Sport
It’s always best to get an early start
Some folks become enthusiasts during their retirement years, looking for a project after the kids have flown the nest and with time and money to spare. Others get started sooner, becoming dedicated enthusiasts on the day they get their driver’s license. And then there are guys like Tim Ledogar. He smiles when he says that “oil and gasoline run through my veins!” Born into an enthusiast family, Tim’s father was a mechanic and raced modifieds. Young Tim was thrilled when Dad first allowed him to help out in the pits at Freeport Raceway, near their home in Long Island. At the ripe old age of 10, Tim was elbow-deep in oil, grease, and rubber dust, loving every minute. He parlayed those skills in high school, working at a local garage that allowed him to earn school credits as well as a paycheck. It was a natural that the talented young kid would build his own car, a ’67 Mustang fastback with a 427 FE big-block V-8 and four-speed transmission. Tim drove the car for about a year and in 1972, joined the Navy, taking his Mustang with him to Pensacola, Florida. Two years later, he married Barbara, his high school sweetheart, and they moved back to Long Island after his hitch in the Navy.
Adept when it came to automobiles and multitasking, Tim soon built up a daytime business of repairing cars, augmenting it with a nighttime passion for converting rusty shells into dream machines. A few years ago, Tim’s brother told him about a friend who had a ’68 Mustang fastback project car that he wanted to sell. Old memories die hard and that first Mustang left an indelible impression, so it wasn’t long before the two brothers headed to Brooklyn with a trailer. After a brief conversation, they returned home with the latest Ledogar project vehicle. The rebuild did not start right away, however. Tim says, “It’s an old story. You either have time and no money or money and no time.” Eventually, all the necessary elements came together and the ground-up rotisserie restoration began by stripping the car to bare metal. It needed a new one-piece floor and cowl, followed by some attention to the 45-year collection of small dents and dings. Overall, however, the car was fairly solid. The next step was a personality infusion that Tim had been contemplating for some time. He wanted the car to have a Shelby look and ordered a collection of fiberglass additions to complete his vision. Unfortunately, he spent weeks trying to make the parts fit; frustrated, he concluded that they must’ve been designed for some other car! Fortunately, he found a second source for his Shelby fiberglass needs with Tony Branda. The pressure-molded parts were a perfect fit with little or no bodywork required. The combination of side scoops, hood, rear spoiler, and full-width sequential taillights blended perfectly with the new American Racing Equipment 17-inch Shelby wheels and single “Supersnake” stripe from front to rear. The suspension on the car is relatively stock with the exception of Boss 302 springs up front and new factory leaf springs in the rear. A Monte Carlo bar and a shock tower brace team up with urethane bushings to keep everything rigid, while KYB gas shocks stabilize all four wheels. The combination produced superb road manners.
When it came time to power the car, a friend told Tim about a crashed Cobra kit that had a 427 FE, exactly what he was looking for to power the car. Tim sweetened the package, adding dual quads, JBA headers, and a stainless exhaust with Pypes mufflers. The traditional Top Loader four-speed turned out to be difficult to live with, turning 3,000 rpm at 60 mph on the highway. It wasn’t long before Tim swapped it for a Tremec TKO five-speed and now the car is a pleasure to drive. The estimated 450 hp packs more than enough punch in the lower gears to spin the Ford nodular iron 9-inch, Traction-Lok rear, while the 3.25 gears ensure a low-rpm cruise at 70 mph.
Inside, the car was fitted with bucket seats from a later model Mustang with shorter headrests designed to clear the new Shelby rollbar. Both front seats and the fold-down rear were upholstered in matching black leather. The brushed aluminum ididit tilt column holds a Billet Specialties wheel while the Stewart-Warner instruments in the Shelby console monitor underhood activity. The Mustang was already a factory A/C car, so Tim added the later-style Sanden compressor and components to match up with the original package. Power steering and power disc brakes add to the fun.
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The finishing touch was paint and Tim always did his own paintjobs until he met Mike G of Mike G’s Perfection Auto Body in New York. “The kid is phenomenal,” Tim told us. “He lives up to the name of the shop. His work is perfect. I brought the car to him on the rotisserie after all bodywork was done and he sprayed the PPG Viper Red paint with a single white stripe running the length of the car.” Working on his dream machine after work and on weekends, Tim spent about two years on the build. He and Barbara have been driving and showing the car for the past four years, still gratified that it turns heads wherever they go. We saw it at the Silver Springs Ford & Mustang Roundup where it was given an Editor’s Choice award. Now that it’s been done a while however, Tim is getting the itch to build something new. He’s already found a ’67 fastback and is working out the details of a rally-style car. It will have big tires, big brakes, sit low to the ground, and be powered by a NASCAR small-block and six-speed. We can’t wait!