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Steve McQueen’s Bullitt Mustang Meets 2017
Shamrock Shelby: Raised a Chevy fan, Peter Hambling sought greener pastures and found them in a Ford
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote.
It’s not likely that Peter Hambling knew that quote as a boy, but it’s pretty clear he operated by it. “My best friend lived across the street,” Peter says. “He and his dad were into Fords, but I liked Chevys at the time. The debate went on forever, so that’s what initially got me thinking maybe there is something to these Fords.”
An opportunity to see presented itself during 2012 in the form of a 1967 fastback he purchased. You could call it the ideal candidate. “The car was originally from Arizona and had very minimal rust, and nobody had ever modified it,” Peter says.
After Peter delivered the car to Craig Wick at Wicked Fabrication in Auburn, Washington, the Wicked crew completely disassembled the fastback. They reimagined it as a latter-day version of the Mustang Steve McQueen drove in the movie Bullitt, but with some Shelby flair. “It was a bit of an inspiration for this car,” he says.
The crew replaced the front suspension with a complete Griggs Racing GR350 unequal-arm system. The tubular K-member mounts adjustable control arms, Koni adjustable dampers, Hyperco coils, a modified Fox-body steering rack, and an anti-roll bar. Gone are the leaf springs in the rear. In their place is a three-link system similar to the torque-arm suspensions of ’80s and ’90s GM F-bodies. It, too, has an anti-roll bar and rides on Hyperco coils and adjustable Konis.
Though modified to work with the suspension, the 9-inch housing remains largely stock right down to the gear case. Internally, it’s a different story: a 3.70:1 mounted on a Detroit Tru-Trac spins 31-spline Strange shafts.
What drives that axle is a little inspired by the Bullitt car. On the other side of the aluminum Inland Empire driveshaft is a Tremec T-56 gearbox, while the input side has a crate-sourced Ford four-cammer. But this is no ordinary Modular. It’s a 5.4L from a Shelby GT500. It remains largely stock—1 7/8-inch headers withstanding. Wicked fabricated those to fit the engine compartment and built the remainder of the 2 1/2-inch exhaust system with stainless tubing, mandrel bends, and Hooker Aerochamber mufflers.
The first-gen Mustang doesn’t lend itself to intense body modifications because, well, Ford did a pretty good job. The Wicked crew concentrated largely on eliminating the concessions Ford had to make so this car was viable for mass production and regular use. For example, they tuned up the gaps and narrowed and tucked the bumpers close to the body. They also produced a G.T. 500 hood that was unlike any stock one. It’s steel. Byers Custom in the adjacent shop applied the Aintree Green, a PPG DBU-formulation of a late-model Land Rover color. It largely resembles the green on McQueen’s car but just a bit brighter and more dynamic.
Like the rest of the car, the interior looks the part of a restoration. Tony Miller at Stitches Custom Upholstery in Poulsbo, Washington, trimmed everything—door panels included—in parchment-colored leather. He also used Mercedes-style wool carpeting, rather than the coarse nylon loop-pile. The dash remains stock save for an ididit tilt column mounted to a Scott Drake reproduction of the legendary F.I.V. steering wheels. While wood-rimmed, this one sports a leather cover made by Tony at Stitches. Peter may have started life as a Chevrolet fan, and he still has other makes in his stable (an Olds and even a Lotus). But at the end of the day, he has a Ford. And if you ask us, that alone is a sure-fire sign of intelligence.