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Mike Faltesek's 1965 Ford Mustang Brings Back Lots of Great Memories
Your first car says a lot about your personality, and it says a lot about your parents if they have anything to do with the car. Some folks ended up with a Pinto or a Gremlin, but Mike Faltesek must've been doing something right as a teenager, as his dad bought him a 1965 Ford Mustang as his first car in 1974. Granted, the car was wrecked and it was nearly 10 years old at the time, but it was still cool, and his dad helped him restore it to original condition at a cost of $800, plus the car's stunning price tag of $90.
With a cool car to drive in high school and less than $900 invested in the whole thing, Mike enjoyed his time behind the wheel. It had a 289ci small-block engine and a four-speed transmission, so it was a blast to drive, and Mike decided to hang onto it, even when other daily drivers were tossed in the mix. Fast-forward a few decades, and Mike decided to restore the car again in 2000, at a cost of $12,000. Then, he got the wild idea to make a street-friendly drag car out of it in 2014, which is the configuration seen here.
Mike didn't do anything to the car that couldn't be undone, and he plans to put it back into fulltime street duty within the next five years or so. But for now, he's enjoying the car's mild-mannered combination, which is competitive in the local 7.0-second eighth-mile index class. His home track is Brainerd Optimist Drag Strip in Ringgold, Georgia, and he races as often as possible. The car still has plenty of street-friendly qualities, so he drives it on the street occasionally, but with high compression and race rubber, he doesn't push his luck with it. Despite the car's new attitude, it's still Mike's first car, so it holds a special place in his heart. That doesn't keep him from beating on it every weekend and getting every ounce of fun out of his long-term relationship.
Who: Mike Faltesek
What: 1965 Ford Mustang
Where: Ringgold, GA
Engine: It doesn't get much simpler than an all-motor, small-block Ford. Mike's powerplant starts with a Bennett Racing–built, Boss 302–based short-block, which now boasts 363 ci, thanks to a 4.125-inch bore and 3.400-inch stroke. Inside the block is a Scat forged crankshaft, accompanied by Scat forged 5.400-inch H-beam connecting rods and Ross forged pistons. A pair of off-the-shelf Edelbrock Victor Jr. cylinder heads provides plenty of airflow, thanks to 210cc intake runners and 2.05/1.60-inch valves. The 60cc combustion chambers help create a 12.0:1 compression ratio. Valvetrain actuation is controlled by an AFM hydraulic roller camshaft, featuring 320 degrees of duration and 0.576-inch lift. An Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold mounts a Holley 750-cfm carburetor, while an MSD ignition system lights the fire. The exhaust system consists of Hooker headers and Flowmaster mufflers, connected with 2-1/2-inch pipes.
Transmission: Behind the small-block Ford is a C4 three-speed automatic transmission built by Performance Automatic. The Super Competition model features bulletproof internals, as well as a Dynamic Pro Tree Trans Brake. The TCI torque converter stalls to 5,600 rpm, allowing the small-block to get in its powerband when Mike releases the trans-brake button. He operates the reverse manual valvebody with a B&M shifter.
Rearend: A Ford 9-inch rearend is packed with Moser internals and a 4.29:1 gearset. Brackets are welded to the housing to utilize the Fox-body-Mustang-style rear suspension.
Suspension: AJE suspension components are used in the front and rear of Mike's Mustang. The front features a tubular K-member, Strange coilover struts, and a Flaming River rack-and-pinion setup. Out back, the Fox-body-style triangulated four-link setup uses AJE upper control arms and Cal-Tracs lower control arms, while Strange coilovers soak up the weight transfer and keep the rear tires hooked. Braking consists of lightweight Aerospace disc brakes with drilled rotors and billet aluminum calipers.
Wheels/Tires: Rolling stock consists of Mickey Thompson wheels, measuring 15x3.5 and 15x8 inches, with 4 inches of backspacing out back. Hoosier race rubber rolls on all four corners, with 26x4.5-15 front runners and 28x9-15 rear slicks.
Paint/Body: Mike handled all of the body and paint on his prized Mustang Fastback, replacing many panels due to rust. While it was torn down, he added square tubing to tie in the front and rear subframe and offer mounting points for the custom rollcage. After the body was straightened and aligned to his liking, Mike sprayed it with PPG base/clear in Ford Performance White. The only body modifications are the fiberglass cowl-induction hood and the Shelby-style quarter windows.
Interior: An open door reveals a clean and simple interior, which is race ready, but could easily be converted to street trim. A Jaz racing seat resides on the driver side, while the passenger gets to ride in the stock Mustang bucket seat. Most of the interior is still stock, including the carpet, door panels, and steering column, with race-friendly updates coming in the form of Auto Meter gauges, various switch panels, and a smaller Grant steering wheel.
Performance: Mike races the Mustang regularly and typically tries to dial it in to a 7.0-second elapsed time in the eighth-mile. On test-and-tune nights, he's run as quick as 6.75 at 102 mph, which isn't too shabby for a 3,050-pound Mustang with an all-motor small-block that could easily make a run to the local cruise-in after a night of racing.