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This 1965 Ford Mustang is a Linebacker in a Three-Piece Suit
Classically Trained Killer: Concours class with hardcore brass—the quintessential velvet hammer
Chalk it up to a bad decision or a check your rookie skills just couldn't cash, but most cool cars from our youth don’t survive. If you were lucky enough to get a cool car, rather than the typical beat-up truck or a hand-me-down wagon, it likely didn’t make into adulthood. Maybe it was a rookie mistake or a burnout gone badly, but most high-school cars reach the pearly gates by way of an immovable object. And if your high-school ride was a Mustang, you might as well have kissed it goodbye—rear-wheel drive, V-8 power, and youthful ignorance is a recipe for disaster.
Thankfully though, there’s an exception to every rule. A lucky few of us not only landed their dream cars in high school and managed to keep them in one piece, but those who still own them to this day. “I remember the afternoon as if it were yesterday. It was July 1983, and while I wanted the 1965 Shelby that sat next to it on the lot, we couldn’t afford its $5,000 price. Instead, the $2,000 fastback was a much better fit,” Stephen Krupey says.
As the bright-eyed 18-year-old drove home in his very own Mustang that afternoon, Stephen never could have guessed that not only would he still own the same car 30 years later, but that he’d also transform it into the unbelievable machine before you. “When I first got the fastback, it no longer wore the factory red paint and white interior, which is a rare combo, instead it was painted green and had a black interior,” he says.
As anyone can attest, used cars can hide dark secrets. Although Stephen managed to uncover glimpses into this fastback’s mysterious past, some stories will forever remain a mystery.
“After digging into the car, I found all sorts of secret compartments—relocated gas filler neck, hidden sirens, toggle switches, and secret switches. It’s as if the car was used for illegal activity,” Krupey says. While we’ll never know the extent of this car’s dark secrets, what we do know is this fastback was an early example with a mix of 19641/2 and 1965 parts. “I always found it funny that the two headlight buckets were different, one was from a 1964½ and the other a 1965,” Stephen says.
Let's be honest, high school can be packed with careless mistakes, but thankfully, Stephen and his Mustang escaped unscathed. And when he went to university to play football, his father had the wisdom to put the car in storage. “It stayed in storage for nearly 10 years, and at times it was a point of contention. Thankfully, I never sold it,” he says. Nearly a decade later, Stephen emerged a college graduate, and as a reward to himself all of his hard work, he embarked on a concours-quality resto. “I tore it down and replaced both quarter panels, floors, the rear light panel, and the trunk floor before painting it and making it entirely new again,” he says.
But storage seems to be a constant with this tale. Stephen’s decision to return to school landed the Mustang back in storage for another four years. When it emerged from the shadows this go around, he was determined to drive it. “I decided owning a concours-quality car just wasn’t that much fun, so I took the car in a new direction,” he says. That he did, with an arsenal of top-shelf drivetrain, suspension, and braking components. “I added a Currie 9-inch filled with the best components along with a G-Force T-5 transmission and a McLeod RST twin-disc clutch,” he says.
The goodness continued with a RideTech RidePro E2 air ride suspension with a custom modified canted four-bar system and a mini-tub kit. Other noteworthy additions include a plethora of bracing components along with a Scott Drake front sway bar and a TCP rear anti-roll bar and power steering rack. As for brakes, he added a Hydratech hydraulic assist system, SN-95 Cobra brakes, and an E-Stopp electric parking brake kit.
With the stage set for a helluva powerplant, you didn’t think he’d disappoint, now did you? “I built several 331 strokers to work with the Paxton Novi 1200 supercharger, and at first, I used a blow-through Holley carb. But later I swapped to a Mass-Flo EFI system with an Accufab 4150-style throttle-body and a Pro-M Racing 80mm MAF—the best combo made 585hp and 505lb-ft at the flywheel,” he says.
After grenading the first engine in glorious fashion, and then losing another to head gasket problems, Stephen finally built a bulletproof stroker. The final go-around was a Keith Craft Racing 363ci engine with a Dart SHP block, an Eagle 4340 crank, H-beam rods, Diamond pistons, and AFR185 heads that arrived at a boost-friendly 8.5:1. Other internal goodies include a custom-ground cam that specs out at 228/236 duration and .576/.570 lift at .050 with a 114 LSA, Crane Gold rockers, and AFR springs. Other additions include Hooker headers and a full 3-inch exhaust with DMH cutouts, MSD ignition goodies, a Wizard Cooling radiator with electric fans, and lots of fuel, thanks to a combo of Walbro, Bosch, Delphi, and Aeromotive components. The new combo made 687hp and 623lb-ft at the flywheel with stock-like drivability.
All that brawn is nothing without some beauty. And this fastback is undoubtedly a looker thanks to a slammed stance and perfect paint, specifically PPG Viper Red. Other exterior additions include a Shelby-style steel hood and plenty of other small details. Inside, the interior ensemble sports a killer stereo and even more custom additions like Ultraleather-wrapped Cerullo seats, custom gauge pods, power windows, and much more.
While many might marvel in the mile-long mod list, it’s clear this Mustang is much more than the sum of its parts. Instead, it brings a level of class, performance, and cohesiveness seldom seen in the Mustang world. Perhaps Krupey captures it best: “It has so much power, yet it’s so gentle and has so much class, it’s like a linebacker in a three-piece suit.”