Rod Short
July 1, 2000

Planning a restomod is often similar to a woman picking out a party dress. First, she has to choose something that's different from the others, and then it has to look good on what she's got. Statesville, North Carolina's Tom Hamilton has got that covered with his great-looking '69 ustang coupe.

"I found the car in Cary, North Carolina," Tom says. "The owner drag raced it every now and then, but he went bankrupt so I was able to buy the car. It was in real good shape, in my opinion, but after seven years of driving it needed some restoration, so I started working on it in 1995."

While an original restoration would have no doubt turned out nicely, Tom tossed in a number of street-rod ideas as he put the Mustang back together. The first involved dropping the car 2 inches with a slight forward rake to give it a more muscular look. Filling the wheelwells came next, which was done with factory, 16-inch, five-star wheels, which came as standard equipment on '94-'98 Mustang GTs. Tom used wheel spacers to mate them to the late-model front discs from Stainless Steel Brakes. Polyure-thane bushings and KYB gas shocks help bring the more-than-30-year-old suspension up to modern standards.

Eye-catching graphics and color choice is always a critical decision in making a restomod look sporty and different all at once. Tom originally wanted to go with yellow, but he was talked out of it in favor of a tangerine-and-cream combination. With this updated version of a familiar scheme, the Shelby stripes remind observers of the Mustang's racing tradition while the color carries a modern youthful appeal.

"I've never heard any complaints about it from classic Mustang owners," Tom answered when asked about people's reaction to the car. "Most of them like it because it's different. I've seen a lot of good restomods, but I haven't seen a Mustang I like any better--and I do check out a lot of other cars."

Yet good looks don't mean much without something gutsy under the hood, so Tom went to work installing a bored 289 with a beefed-up bottom end. Crane Cams provided a special-grind bumpstick to activate the valvetrain within the cast-iron 302 heads, which are topped with an Edelbrock intake and a Holley 700-cfm carb. Short-tube headers dump the exhaust gases into a pair of Flowmaster mufflers, while a three-core radiator with electric fan helps keep everything cool. Backing up the combination is a C6 automatic with a 3,000-rpm stall converter.

Taking time to look at other cars to learn what works helped Tom put this combination together. The result is a look that's ripe for the pickin'!

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