Chuck James
July 1, 2001
Contributers: Chuck James

Car-show judges have found something to agree on. This car wins Best Engineering everywhere it goes. Or Best Paint. Or Best Interior. Or Best of Show. You get the idea.

Shannon Kelleher's '65 2+2 has seen its share of changes. You can see that simply by looking at this car. Would you believe it was a sedate and unassuming car in its original configuration? Can you imagine this car as a white (with red stripes) machine riding a float, the proud proponent of a high school car club? Well, that's what it was before Shannon decided to push the envelope to the max.

The Pompano Beach, Florida, resident acquired this car when he was 13. It made its first car-show appearance at Miami's World of Wheels, where the 15-year-old Shannon became the youngest to enter a car. It went through a few displays and a little fun before finding a garage for a while. It rested comfortably until 1990. In the meantime, Shannon had built and designed award-winning machines of the non-Ford variety. Perhaps he saw the evil in his ways and converted to a Ford man again. Regardless, his talents honed on other marques easily show on this creation.

A tube frame was built with a 16-point rollcage and a Funny Car subcage around the driver adding top safety. Every single weld on the frame and 'cage was ground smooth, which took a lot of time and effort. The body was set back and channeled 5-¾ inches, which made for flush-mount floors without the loss of head room.

Next in line was the sheetmetal fabrication. Everything was done in .0090-inch aluminum. All the roll beads were done backwards on purpose. That way, they faced inward for a different appearance. Hard lines for the brakes and nitrous system went into place with the help of Rob Spena and Rick Burgess. The engine was dropped into its new home, a foot and a half behind where Ford had decided it should go.

And what an engine, too. The original block was used, but everything else was truly different. The block was bored 60-over and decked. Trick Flow crank and rods assist the drive. Dart heads, a Pete Jackson geardrive, an MSD ignition and distributor, and a Holley 780 dual-feed carb handle their respective chores. A Torker intake is port-matched to the heads. It was all built to handle nitrous, and a two-stage NOS system is in place. The only thing that hasn't been done (yet) is pushing the nitrous button and leaving some unsuspecting sucker in the wind.

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The elements of beauty in the beast start with the body itself. Shannon shaved the door handles, driprails, cowl vents, wipers, emblems, gas cap, side vent windows, etc. The rear quarter-panel extensions were worked to match up to the billet taillights. The rear bumper was pulled in and narrowed. The rear quarter-panels were bulged out to make room for the extra tire clearance. The list goes on and on. The bodywork alone took one year.

The color is noticeable, too. That's PPG Concept paint. Shannon did the work himself (a former body shop owner), using black, bone, lilac (for striping), and featuring Peach Sherbet.

Jeff Phipps was entrusted with the interior, using seven hides of leather and one hide of suede. There is extensive use of carbon fiber throughout the interior. Custom molding was needed for the center console and amp panel. Door pulls on the door panel are from a billet steering wheel. One rule--no shoes are to be worn in the car. It's a wise move to protect the beauty.

The owner is driven to excel, and he has done it with this ride. It has set a standard in restoration/modification to make more backyard engineers think about their own projects. To this day, no one has been able to walk by without wondering or looking at the car. It's certainly an eye-catcher. Call it a work of art, but it's three-dimensional proof of how dreams can become reality.