Jim Smart
May 28, 2015

Seems everyone has a dreamy vision of a hot Mustang they’d like to have. For some of us, it might be a factory original Boss 302 or a Shelby G.T. 350 like we had back in the day. For others, it’s a custom built, imagination-inspired Mustang restomod right out of fantasy achieved with a blank check and enormous talent. Sometimes, a Mustang project becomes a radical departure from original, such as an exotic Ringbrothers build, or it bears a striking resemblance to what it was to begin with. When we look at the 1967 “Isadora” Mustang convertible project conceived and built by Car Concepts in suburban Boise, Idaho, first impressions are that of a nice, pristine, classic Mustang restomod convertible. However, Isadora is so much more. Isadora is a one of a kind that began simple and wound up being one of the most complex classic Mustang projects in history.

Bill and Deb Eisinger’s goal was to build a classic Mustang convertible that could be driven just about anywhere. They wanted modern technology in a sexy classic. Like most Mustang projects, Bill and Deb began with a plan based on the Mustang’s original 1967 platform. And as with a lot Mustang projects it quickly took on a life of its own. The Isadora name was conceived by Deb Eisinger who has an incredible fascination with the late Isadora Duncan, who was an American dancer from California who lived from 1877 to 1927. Though she was born in California, Isadora Duncan lived most of her life in Europe and Russia before dying in a freak accident in France at the age of 50. As history has it, she was riding in an open car when her long silk scarf became entangled in one of the wheels, breaking her neck and killing her instantly.

From this perspective, Isadora presents a whole different persona. It’s those broad-shouldered 1969 SportsRoof quarter-panels that give a 1967 Mustang convertible a decidedly sexy demeanor. This modification says a lot for Scott Brideau’s artistic vision and ability to see it through.

Bill picks up the story, “The basic idea was to start with a restorable 1967 Mustang convertible and wind up with a solid car that could be driven, taken to car shows and, in general, just to have fun with. The project turned into an epic build and ended up as a very special, one-of-a-kind car.” Car Concepts’ Scott Brideau took the Eisingers’ convertible and went to work. Brideau cannot be considered a car builder, but instead an artist who applies his artistic ability to automobiles. He understands automobile structure and engineering, and he also knows how to massage sheetmetal into anything he can envision. Here, Brideau has managed to do the impossible, merging Ford’s most exciting nuances from at least three model years and generations into one 1967 Mustang convertible.

The Eisinger’s convertible entered Brideau’s shop as a rusty South Carolina transplant, shipped 2,000 miles to Boise. As you might expect from the damp Southeast, there was a lot of rust and the need for a lot of sheetmetal replacement. There was also a lot of body damage from accidents. Brideau decided if you’re going to have to replace a lot of sheetmetal, why not take the car to new heights?

Head-on this is a horse of another color. It combines all of the Mustang’s greatest nuances from more than 50 years of production. The sweet honeycomb grille of 1965 in argent contrasts so nicely behind the 1967 motif with its streamlined dynamics.
From behind, it’s a mixed message from two Mustang generations with the three-element taillights and the modified SportsRoof decklid. Underneath is an Art Morrision chassis with four-link coilover suspension.

Brideau will tell you in order to have outstanding results you must have a solid platform and methodical prep work. “One of the incentives for making a custom car build successful is proper definition of ride height, wheel size and design, and suspension system requirements,” Bill comments. “Rather than waiting until the end of the project and making these decisions an afterthought, we started with the wheel definition and design from the beginning. We worked with Boze Alloys to come up with a custom design that would define Isadora from the ground up. Basic sketches and, finally, a set of CAD drawings were produced to arrive at the final design. We settled in on a set of wheels that, when combined with a moderately low-profile tire would give Isadora an elegant, yet powerful look and, importantly, still provide a nice smooth driving experience.”

These five-spoke custom-made Boze wheels in 17- and 18-inch diameters are wrapped in BFGoodrich g-Force SPORT Comp-2 radials are as unique as the car.

“The wheel design ended up as a convex five-spoke wheel, 18x10 with a 4.5-inch backspace for the rear, and a 17x8 with a 5-inch backspace for the front. We selected BFGoodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2 tires—P275/40R18 in back and P235/45R17 in the front,” Bill tells Mustang Monthly. Brideau essentially built the Mustang around an exciting set of wheels and tires.

Brideau looked to Art Morrison for a chassis conceived and engineered for a classic Mustang body. “We selected a chassis with a coilover independent front suspension, a triangular four-bar rear suspension, a Detroit Speed and Engineering power rack-and-pinion steering, a Ford 9-inch rearend with 31-spline axles, and Wilwood 12-inch disc brakes all around. We worked closely with Art Morrison’s staff to get the dimensions exactly right, including designing the specific placement and alignment as well as rotation of the chassis internal rails to result in cockpit dimensions and floor height nearly identical to a stock 1967 Mustang convertible and still provide room for the 4.6L-3V modular engine, exhaust, and transmission,” Brideau comments.

Brideau performed custom fab work on this 1967 hood to achieve the end result. You’ve got to love the twin-scooped hood, which was inspired by the 1967 Shelby Mustang. Brideau grafted in 3 additional inches of hood, which had to come from a second hood.

The plan for this Mustang was always a 4.6L modular V-8. When Brideau began researching how to get the modular engine into a classic Mustang, thoughts turned to embracing even greater aspects of late-model Mustang technology, including sheetmetal and interior. Brideau liked the S197’s 4.6L SOHC three-valve V-8, which wasn’t too radical, yet it provided plenty of power. He found a 2006 Mustang GT crash recovery, which wound up being more affordable than a new crate engine. What’s more, he quickly discovered the S197 is similar dimensionally to a 1967, a discovery that led to the use of more and more S197 components in the 1967.

Inside, Car Concepts created a thought-provoking environment where the ’60s meets the new millennium with incredible precision. Brideau learned the 2006 Mustang shares similar dimensions with the 1967, to where minor modifications enabled near perfect fit.

If you study this Car Concepts creation closely you will see an intriguing mix of 1967 and 2006 wrapped up into one car project. Check out the S197 firewall. Drop the top and check out the 2006 Mustang GT dashboard and steering column. Brideau learned the S197 instrument panel is a near perfect fit between the 1967 A-pillars and kick panels.

But make no mistake; this was not an easy conversion to pull off and surely not for a novice. Brideau had to make extensive modifications to the dashboard and steering column. The S197’s firewall was modified in order to make it compatible with the 1967’s A-pillars and cowl.

Brideau added at least 3 inches of hood and headlight door to Isadora’s grille mouth to make the body more elongated and slippery.

Bill explained, “Considerable effort went into determining engine placement. Too low and we wouldn’t have sufficient clearance. Too high and there isn’t enough hood clearance. Too far back and it encroaches into the dash panel, also known as the firewall. This process established proof of the concept. Next, we had to undertake a trial fitting of firewall and driveline tunnel structure from the 2006 Mustang GT. Critical interior pieces, such as the dashboard, console, and seats were placed to ensure interior dimensions would be correct. Front fenders were hung to verify engine location and basic requirements and determine location radiator core support location and inner fenders.”

As Brideau began finalizing body and frame structure, the hard-core artist in him went to work. He wanted the body to have a padded shoulder look sporting a stylish posterior with a slightly up-kicked spoiler-style decklid. Testfitting 1967 fastback quarter-panels on the car improved the convertible’s lines, but just weren’t doing it for Brideau. Ultimately, he went with 1969 Mustang SportsRoof quarter-panels and decklid, which made the drop-top sexy as all get out. This segment of the build required huge amounts of fabrication, including the merger of two SportsRoof decklids.

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Ford’s fiercely reliable and powerful modular V-8, displacing 4.6-liters and topped with the three-valve heads that arrived in 2004 on the redesigned F-150 cannot be considered an engine swap by most standards since Brideau had to fabricate all of the frontend sheetmetal you see from fender to fender. That’s a 2006 Mustang firewall behind the engine, which enabled Brideau and Bill to make this marriage work.

In front, Brideau had to create fenderwell panels from scratch that resembled factory stampings. He had to marry a 1967-’68 radiator core support to custom-made inner fenders. In front, Brideau didn’t care for the stock 1967-’68 valance, which was when he went to work creating a special radius designed to allow more air to the radiator. The 1969 SportsRoof quarter-panels received a cool scoop treatment designed to enhance the quarter-panel’s sexy demeanor.

Underhood is the S197’s 4.6L SOHC three-valve engine with plenty of power on tap for cruising and getting after the twisties in Boise’s nearby mountains. The 2006 GT had a 5R55S five-speed automatic overdrive, which was installed with the high-tech modular V-8. In back is Ford’s legendary 9-inch rear axle with 3.25:1 cogs, which, when tied to the 5R55S keep rpm quite conservative at interstate speeds. Brideau opted for Wilwood 12-inch disc brakes fore and aft for extraordinary braking performance. Brent Rule tuned this package to work together.

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Brideau gets the credit for massaging this Mustang redesign to perfection. That’s a rock-hard slickery Glasurit finish from Southern Polyurethane. Beneath this finish is Brideau’s incredible fabrication ability. Where Brideau really shines is the final perfecting of surfaces before the Glasurit basecoat/clearcoat finish went on. Bear’s Workshop in Caldwell, Idaho, outside of Boise performed all of the interior work.

As Brideau reflects on one of the most extensive car projects he has ever worked on, he tells Mustang Monthly final assembly was the toughest, with hundreds of pesky details he had to work through. “To see the pure reflections run smoothly from one panel to the other, the chrome bumpers being added, and other important issues were that final bit of jewelry in the finished product,” Brideau comments. “A couple of the unique finishing details were custom foglights in place of the factory parking lamps, the custom-formed grille, and bezels for side scoops.” He adds, “Bill and Deb were wonderful to work with. They gave me artistic freedom to create the car they were dreaming of.”

Bill Eisinger (left) and Scott Brideau teamed up as customer and car builder to achieve a classic Mustang like no other in the world. Because both gentlemen had the same vision, it made doing the impossible enjoyable with a great sense of accomplishment.
Bill Eisinger wanted a good looking Mustang classic that he and Deb could enjoy together and drive anywhere. It feels better than a late-model, thanks to the Art Morrison chassis underneath. Ford’s 4.6L SOHC three-valve engine gives the 1967 late-model twist and shout.