Jim Smart
March 11, 2015

Larry “Jake” Jacobs owns this really cool shop in Bountiful, Utah, known as Jake’s Radiator. Oh sure, Jake’s Radiator is all about radiators and cooling systems, but it is also about the conception and birth of terrific automobiles. “For the past 35 years Jake’s Radiator has been a place where you take a hot car to make it cool. It is also a cool place to see hot cars,” Jake explains with his favorite pun. Jake is surely all about cool cars, including this robust 1965 Mustang fastback he built several years ago.

Jake has built a number of nice rides through the years in his shop and he couldn't have done it without real help from his friends. Wayne Cottrell (who is well connected in the car business) found Jake this fastback, which was originally bucked and assembled at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan, assembly plant, which built its last Mustang a decade ago. “The car was rust free,” Jake told Mustang Monthly, “but it was still in very rough shape with a lot of body damage—waves and dings throughout the body.”

Jake Jacobs built this fastback with dual purpose driving in mind. It is surely fast as the need warrants, but it’s also a luxury weekend cruiser he can drive anywhere. It is down low to be sure and holds the road and will keep up with modern technology.
Nitto skins and Budnik Gasser 17- and 18-inch wheels yield unlimited contact patch and extraordinary adhesion for canyon cutting and brute acceleration.

One of Jake’s employees, Duke Cottam, disassembled the fastback and prepared it for bodywork and paint. It was first shipped to a reputable media blaster who took it down to workable steel. When Jake got the body back, he loaded it onto a rotisserie and went to work. The bare metal Mustang was now a blank canvas ready for anything Jake had in mind, so he installed a Rod & Custom Motorsports frontend engineered to accommodate a Ford 392W stroker, Tremec T56 six-speed transmission, and a Currie 9-inch sporting 3.50:1 cogs. Jake built a rocket ship, yet a civilized propulsion vehicle that could take him anywhere.

Jake has long understood that car building is not for the faint of heart. It is a continuing process of assembling and disassembling in various mock-up stages until you achieve perfect fit. There’s always the eagerness to get it done, tempered by the wisdom of knowing what happens when you get in a hurry. “After making sure everything fits together properly,” Jake told us, “the car was disassembled again and bodywork began.” Upon disassembly, the body was continuously worked and reworked until all surfaces were honed to perfection.

If only it was just honing that had to be done, Jake reminds us. Factory door handles were tossed aside and replaced by those from an Acura Legend to give the body an aero smooth persona. Shelby-style side scoops were hand fabricated and engineered to function as rear brake cooler scoops. The rear bumper was cut down 2 inches for a flush fit. All valance seams were filled. Once the body’s foundation was where Jake wanted it, he had generous coats of Du Pont Fresco Green two-stage urethane applied by Panella’s Body & Paint with white Le Mans stripes outlined in black for a crisp look.

A Ford 392 Windsor evens the score with Edelbrock heads and Image Injection with excitement ignited by MSD billet ignition. We like the Billet Specialties serpentine accessory drive system, which pulls everything in nice and tight.
More personalization with custom-painted valve covers and a splash of Carroll Shelby’s enduring persona, which makes Jake’s 392W a one of a kind.
This is Billet Specialties’ Tru-Trac serpentine belt drive system encompassing alternator, power steering pump, and air-conditioning compressor. The Tru-Trac system makes things compact and clutter free. What’s more, it looks terrific.

A hot body this good needs to have the power to back up the looks. That’s a Ford 392 Windsor stroker bored 0.030-inch oversize by Pro-Stock Motors with an aggressive hydraulic roller from Comp Cams, Edelbrock Performer cylinder heads, and Image Fuel Injection on top. Spline this powerful small-block into a Tremec T56 six-speed and you have a real road-going beast ready for just about anything. Jake tells us the most challenging part of the powertrain was getting the Image Fuel Injection dialed in to where the car ran well.

Power is a good thing only when handled responsibly. On the ground are huge Wilwood disc brakes mated to Budnik Gasser 17-inch wheels in front trailed by 18-inch in back. Nitto rubber puts Jake’s low-down fastback in solid contact with the road and a complete airbag suspension system enables Jake to control ride height and handling.

A Pioneer entertainment system keeps Jake informed and entertained whether he’s driving or cooling his heels at a car show. A Hot Rod Air climate control system gives Jake all the comforts of a modern Detroit ride while keeping him intimate with the road.
Jake’s inner world is a masterpiece of personalized fabrication and features he can call his own. This is a specially fabricated instrument cluster sporting Auto Meter gauges, which look as though they were on the car from the factory. They’re that good. That’s an ididit steering column with a Billet Specialties wheel.

Inside, Jake went all custom with a specially fabricated instrument cluster with Auto Meter gauges—it is easily one of the best executions of aftermarket instrumentation we’ve ever seen. A complete Pioneer in-flight entertainment and navigation system has been installed mid-dash. Nigel Cuttler is responsible for the handcrafted nature of this fabulous black leather interior sporting Acura Integra bucket seats, a Billet Specialties steering wheel, and the ididit steering column. Those are Lokar billet pedals down under. Hot Rod Air handles the climate control.

When you take the wheel of Jake’s extraordinary Mustang fastback, it feels like no other classic Mustang you’ve ever driven. Gone is the Falconesque suspension system with its buckboard ride and sloppy handling. The Billet Specialties steering wheel feels good to hold in your hands. When you grab the T56 six-speed stick and feel the raw power of this heavily breathed-on small-block, you feel invincible, ready to take on anyone and certainly ready to drive anywhere. And when you ask Jake about the feeling, he just smiles and readies himself for an extraordinary mental vacation.

Snap Shot

  • 1965 Mustang Fastback
  • Dearborn, Michigan, assembly plant
  • DuPont Two-Stage Urethane in Fresco Green with white Le Mans stripes
  • 392W stroker small-block built by Pro-Stock Motors
  • Tremec T56 six-speed transmission
  • Currie 9-Inch Traction-Lok with 3.50:1 gears
  • Wilwood disc brakes
  • Budnik gasser wheels
  • Nitto 225-17 front, Nitto 247-17 rear
  • Coilover shocks front, leafs with airbags rear
  • Custom black leather interior by Nigel Cuttler
  • Acura Integra bucket seats in black leather
  • Custom Auto Meter instrumentation
  • Pioneer entertain/ navigation system
  • Hot rod air climate control
  • Custom-fabricated center console
  • Biller Specialties steering wheel and ididit column