Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
June 1, 2000

The wide, low stance over Torq Thrust II wheels combined with the classic good looks of a '68 Mustang fastback in "Bullitt" green obviously caught readers' eyes in the February issue's "Wild Street Roundup." We asked our readers to vote for their favorite cars in the special readers' rides section. From the first trickles of reader response as the magazine hit newsstands and mailboxes, Steve Murphy's "Texas Tough" fastback grabbed the early lead in the voting, finally ending up on top with more than 10 percent of the total votes. So, as promised, we hooked up with Steve during a visit to Dallas Mustang, to photograph the GT for this deserving feature.

"My plan was to create a restomod that's original on the inside and outside, but with a kick-butt engine hiding under the stock hood," Steve explains. Other than the bodywork and paint, Steve performed all of the work himself, with some help from his dad. Starting with an original Seafoam Green Mustang fastback with a well-worn C-code 289, Steve disassembled the car before sending the body to Mastercraft Body Works in Ovilla, Texas, for minor bodywork and a color switch to Highland Green--the dark-green shade made famous by the '68 Mustang fastback in the Steve McQueen movie, Bullitt. Mastercraft also lowered the A-arms one inch, per Shelby, and powdercoated the engine compartment in preparation for Steve's "Bow Tie-eating" 351.

After finally locating a rebuildable '69-vintage 351 block, Steve went to work with an .030-inch overbore for the fly-cut TRW pistons, then slipped in a Crane roller cam with 220/228 duration (at .050-inch lift) and .542/.563-inch lift, intake and exhaust respectively. Topping off the package are Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum heads, a Weiand Stealth dual-plane intake, and a Barry Grant 650-cfm four-barrel carb. Ceramic-coated Hedman headers, designed specifically for a 351 in an early Mustang, connect to a custom dual exhaust with Hooker mufflers. Other engine components include a Davis Unified HEI distributor, polished March underdrive pulleys, a Milodon 8-quart oil pan, and a Griffin aluminum radiator with electric fan. The 405 hp, as estimated on Desktop Dyno, is transmitted through a performance-modified C4 with a TCI 2,400-stall torque converter and a 9-inch rearend with a four-pinion Traction-Lok and 3.70:1 gears.

Inside, Steve installed new carpet and upholstery, then added a console and fold-down rear seat from a donor car. The "slide-up" console door hides a VDO 6,000-rpm tachometer, while a 150-watt amplifier for the Pioneer stereo is tucked away underneath the driver's seat. Originally a non-air car, Steve upgraded his GT with an in-dash R134a system from Vintage Air. Suspension and brakes are basically stock, with new components all-around enhanced by KYB Gas-a-just shocks and conversion to original GT front disc brakes. Finally, 16x8-inch American Racing Torq Thrust II wheels mount Z-rated Falken tires, 225/55x16 on the front and 245/50x16 on the rear. Backspacing for the wheels is 41/2 inches, although Steve says now he should have gone with a 5-inch backspacing on the rear to eliminate the minor tire-to-fender interference on dips and bumps.

Steve says the Mustang & Fords readers' choice voting is rewarding, but it has also fueled his desire to make other restomod-type upgrades, like an AOD or five-speed transmission, a Dr. Gas X-pipe, fuel-injection, and a supercharger. But according to the vote, our readers like his '68 fastback just as it sits--a low, mean, Bullitt machine.

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