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Building a “Day 2” Mustang with Period Performance Parts
Day 2 Mustang GT: Rob Ream builds a 1965 hardtop to his liking, proving not all restomods need to be over the top
“All my other cars I put back stock,” Rob Ream said. This time, Ream decided to go a little crazy. “I’ll do what I would have done if I had bought this Mustang brand new in 1965.” Most performance cars didn’t stay 100-percent stock for long in the ’60s—adding a bigger carburetor or a set of headers, digger gears, an ignition system, and so forth, was just too tempting. We call them “Day 2 Cars” because they are typical of a car modified by its owner two days after getting it home. Today, we are seeing more and more vintage Mustangs put back to Day 2 configurations, as that’s how many of us remember these cars.
A year and a half ago, Ream sold his 1970 Mach 1—a 428 Cobra Jet with shaker and a four-speed. “It was a fun car, all factory, Calypso Coral, white interior, and a best of show winner at a bunch of different events,” Ream said. He admits to being a little bored with stock. He had already bought a reasonably priced 1965 Mustang because it was a hardtop, but more exciting. The car was a real factory GT, which added quicker ratio steering, HD springs and shocks, a four-barrel 289 with duals, plus GT ornaments and stripes. Rangoon Red with White stripes and white interior pumped up the looks even more. The car, incredibly, was a one-owner and one of the first GTs Ford built during the early months of 1965. For the record, the GT package was a mid-model-year entry for 1965. Talking with the original owner, Ream believes this 1965 could have been the first Mustang GT sold in the state of Delaware.
Hearing all that history, Ream was tempted to go back to concours condition with this GT hardtop, which showed a little more than 60,000 miles. He would have a good story to tell at shows, but he decided to stick with his Day 2 plan and restrict mods to bolt-on stuff. Restoring to Day 1 configuration means a stock restoration, whereas, restoring to Day 2 means restoring to vintage modifications. The original owner never did modify this 1965 GT. Ream could not restore an actual Day 2 build by putting the car back to its own unique vintage modifications, but he could construct his own Day 2 build. He threw caution to the wind. Although, he did take care to store and save the original parts and restrict the mods to bolt-ons that could be taken off easily, if the mood ever strikes him.
Ream bored the cylinders sixty-over (0.60 inch) and replaced original 289 heads with higher-flow 351 Windsor heads—the good ones from 1970, with a “D0AE” part number. Bigger valves dictated a higher-flowing carburetor, and Ream chose a Holley 650cfm Double Pumper (a favorite from the ’60s) mounted on a modern Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum intake manifold.
Ream picked up the headers—he didn’t even take notice of the brand—locally for $75 that fit like a glove. He timed the engine with a Comp Cams Mother Thumper cam, which was not something around in the ’60s, but it works well with today’s technology. A set of black-finned valve covers from a vendor’s catalog looked great with their wrinkle finish and “289 Powered By Ford” lettering. Ream upgraded the single-point ignition with a dual point that had a 1967 Shelby part number.
There was no need to change many of the stock Mustang mechanicals, such as the Borg-Warner four-speed, but he replaced the stock shifter with a Dark Gray Hurst T-handle, brand new from the late ’60s or early ’70s. One of the best improvements, as far as lighting up the rear tires, was a set of 4.11 gears in a Traction Lok center section. They fit the original 8-inch rear end and are a huge improvement on the 3.00 gears in the stock open differential.
No performance person in the ’60s would have kept the stock wheels. Ream felt the same way and chose a set of American Racing Torque Thrust Ds, minus caps to look ready for track action. Ream pulled the grille for a tougher look. Of course, he saved the original grille and GT fog lamps. This GT did not come with a Rally Pac. However, Scott Drake reproduces them and Ream believed a tachometer was a necessity because his 289 now revs easily to 7,000rpm. To help get power to the ground, he installed a set of old-school Lakewood traction bars, which require no welding and are easy to remove.
The result is a hot 1965 GT hardtop that Rob Ream enjoys driving the snot out of on the street. If he ever does decide to sell the GT and the next person wants a concours restoration, Ream has the parts stored in boxes to make that happen with just the turning of some wrenches.