Scotty Lachenauer
December 4, 2015

Chris Payne of Clover, South Carolina, isn’t your run-of-the-mill Mustang fanatic. Sure, he has the signs and symptoms of a typical Stang junky: overfilled garages of project cars and finished masterpieces, pertinent parts piling up in the kitchen, and of course weekends of long hours spent at every Ford show within a day’s drive. But there’s more to this Mustang Maverick than meets the eye. Payne has got a twisted way about him, and it shows brightly once you get a good look at his favorite.

Payne has been in the hobby a long time, and that’s not easy at his age. He just started way early and worked his way through it, on a learning curve that has exponentially blossomed with age. Early on he realized that he had a flair for creating something outstanding out of minimal materials, and positively possessed a need to shine brightly in a hobby full of many magnificently made (and reinvented) Mustang models.

Payne got his first Mustang when he was just 15, a six-cylinder 1968 he shared with his sister. The underpowered pony was just fine for his first year out on the road, but soon the need for speed started to hound him. He found a sweet 1989 GT, a car that luckily had two extra cylinders under the hood—and a lot more promise as far as he was concerned. Suffice to say, young Payne was hooked on the sporty Fox-body Mustang from the start.

As the years went on, he had built up a small army of Ford goods. But the affliction was something he just couldn’t control. He wanted to build more and cull less. Things got pretty tight in the shop, so Payne expanded, renting more space to store his finished hot rods and make the room needed to build more. And one of those “need to build now” projects was something he had thought about for some time.

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“We had built a 1979 Capri and put all 1993 GT parts on it. I had always told my wife Rhonda that a Mustang coupe with Capri fenders would be awesome, but we never acted on it,” says Payne.

Well, that didn’t last long. A year later he was in the shop putting a Two-Valve mod motor together, and he stuck it in Rhonda’s Capri. The sporty Merc was a blast to drive. It was the turning point in Payne’s mind. He decided that the Coupri would be his next project to take on.

The following year he started blending 1979 Capri parts onto an 1987 Mustang body. The key to the look was the rear quarter panels. He had never seen it done, but thought that concept would fly. And he was right. Payne grafted the quarters on and was impressed with the styling change. It was a truly a different beast in his eyes, and he liked what he saw. From there he fit the Capri’s fenders onto the Mustang’s front end. The styling was interesting, the work seamless. He was definitely impressed with the way the two looks came together to form a truly original bodyscape.

He added a 1982 GT pace car front end to the mix, as the four-eyed Fox front fascia was his favorite of a long line of Mustang styling cues. A 4-inch H.O. Fibertrends cowl hood was sourced to cover the engine bay. For motivation, a 2008 Three-Valve engine was chosen to push the little Fox-body. A Ford Racing Hot Rod cam gets the valves jumping, and OBX shorty headers get rid of the spent gases in a hurry. A T-45 trans does the shifting for this one-off build.

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Payne knew that he wanted big meats out back to get the power to the pavement. He decided to live on the wild side and try something he hadn’t done before. He decided to mini-tub the car because the tires he chose just wouldn’t fit under the car. He went with this particular method because he didn’t want a big bulky fuel cell in view with the coilovers.

By doing it the stealthy way, the car retains a little bit of originality, even though it has some major metal-surgery on its flanks. Payne admits you really need to know your Fox-bodies to pick out all the subtle changes that he pulled off with his one-off metalwork.

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All the rough bodywork was done by the owner, and then the shell was sent out to Taylor’s Body Shop right there in Clover. Owner Tim Taylor laid down a PPG base/clear skin on the pristine car. The paint has hue changing characteristics, going from a deep Kona blue to nearly black depending on the light. From there, attention was directed to the wheelwells. A set of 18x8 XXR wheels up front and 18x11 out back gave Payne the look he was after. He also had enough rim for the big rubber he wanted on the car. The front rims are shod with 245/35/18 KDW skins, while the rear received a pair of 335/30/ZR18 meats—plenty enough surface area touching the pavement.

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Payne installed the final interior touches the night before Mustang Week 2014. It was exactly one year since he started the project on his return from Myrtle Beach and the previous year’s show. A lot had happened since then, and his hard work was about to pay off.

Today Payne swears that he is done building cars, but you can never hold this guy to a promise like that. And that’s just fine with his wife Rhonda, who also participates in the Mustang hobby. She’s always by his side during the long haul builds and on the car show scene, and usually has their sons, Paxton and Banks (yes, one supercharged son and one turbo’d), in tow. This family is submerged in the Mustang hobby, and Payne wouldn’t have it any other way. Look out for his next big build. It’s bound to come to fruition, and we’re sure it will turn heads and twist necks, just like this beautiful Mustang does every day it’s on the road.

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