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A 1967 Ford Mustang for a Champion Skier
Ski Racer’s Diversion: Everyone needs an escape from the daily routine; Paul Stutz found his escape plan with a 1967 Mustang
Not many people are lucky enough to make a living at what they love to do, but Paul Stutz has. Growing up in Banff, Alberta, Canada, Paul learned to ski about the time he could walk, and stayed with the sport until he was at the top of the mountain among Canadian downhill skiers competing on the World Cup. When most of us want to relax and get away from our day jobs, we do fun stuff that’s totally unrelated to the daily drill, including skiing. But when he is on skis 200 days a year for his career, the last thing Paul wants to do on his day off is put the boots back on, so he decided to build a car.
Paul’s father had a 1969 Mustang convertible when Paul was born and it cemented his love of Mustangs, so it was natural that when he got the bug to build a car about six years ago that’s what he went looking for. After a lot of eBay and craigslist searching in Canada and the U.S., he found an S-code 1967 GT fastback for sale in Alberta and went cash-in-hand to buy the car the next weekend. From the beginning, this was going to be a budget-based project. Paul said, “Since I am not a football or hockey player making the big bucks of professional sports, I paid for and rebuilt my Mustang with saved-up change and a lot of passion for cars.”
A lot of nights spent in European hotel rooms over the last decade while climbing the ski racing ranks and competing in World Cup events gave Paul time to research parts and modifications, and plan the project out while he saved money to make it happen. The budget-based nature of the build and his relative newness to working on cars meant that good friends were critical to the car’s execution. “I have had great friends who have supported me through the ups and downs of learning how to restore a car,” Paul says, “but I owe a lot to my mechanic, the online forums, and especially magazines. I became great friends with Tim Elemans, a classic car mechanic who taught me so many invaluable lessons. He’s especially interesting because he is a rare breed: a fulltime classic mechanic who is only 27 years old with his own business. I was surprised what two young guys in their twenties with no real budget came up with.”
That lack of budget meant that Paul has had his hands on every bolt on the car, doing as much of the work himself as he could. Starting with the engine, the original 390 was treated to a 410ci stroker kit and outfitted with the usual compliment of speed parts, and there’s a 100 shot of squeeze that “gets things going when that isn’t enough.” Paul even did most of the body and paint prepwork, but had Terry Levair at Investment Vehicle Restorations spray the deep black paint.
All of those lonely nights in hotel rooms planning custom tricks on his dream car is especially apparent in the interior, most notably the radio custom fit to the center console. At a quick glance it looks like a stock radio is still there, but it’s actually a double-DIN Pioneer deck with GPS and all the other bells and whistles. Paul is a self-described technology lover and spent a lot of time at his kitchen table with the console and electronics trying to figure out how to bring his vision into reality. The screen saver on the touch-screen is a photo of an original radio—touching it allows you to control the GPS, radio, or whatever entertainment/information option you’re looking for, but it always reverts back to the old radio pic as a screensaver. The knobs are functional; Paul rigged it up so that one knob turns the system on and the other knob is actually a wired remote to the head unit and functions as a volume control. Cool, huh?
The car is Paul’s driver when the Canadian summer comes around, and though he hasn’t raced it and doesn’t have any performance numbers, he says the car is a rocket ship. He’s going to have more time to spend with his Mustang in the years to come, saying, “A couple of things changed in my life: I’m 31 now and this last season, the body was taking its toll, and this is the first season that I’m not fully competitive on the World cup circuit. I’m still staying involved in the sport, but the main career in Europe is definitely over. But I’m really happy with a career that was such a very special part of my life, one that taught me patience and work ethic, which has translated into this car hobby. My sport is incredibly taxing on the brain and body, and to have a nice diversion like my Mustang has been pretty phenomenal. With struggling to find sponsorship to fund my athletic pursuits, let alone money to complete a project like this, I will say I am quite proud of what I have accomplished.”