Jim Smart
November 1, 2002

When this '67 Mustang GT fastback rolled off the San Jose assembly line early in the production cycle (mid-September 1966), it was Dark Moss Green and destined for Salt Lake City. Destiny is something of an understatement, though, because it's a horse of another color today.

Mike Lange of Brigham City, Utah, happened upon this Mustang more than 20 years ago when he was searching for good college transportation. He considered motorcycles in his search, but was ultimately swayed by a friend who was selling a Mustang. Looking at this car today, it’s hard to believe it was a parts car when Mike saw it for the first time. Someone was going to part it out and have it hauled away for scrap. Considering how scarce good ’65-’68 Mustang fastbacks are today, it would have been sacrilege had this one been lost to the cold loneliness of a salvage yard and subsequent crusher.

Mike got the car running, and drove it to work and school for three years. One day, the neurological wheels started turning and a restoration began in earnest. For two years, Mike worked hard. He replaced the quarter-panels, wheelhouses, floorpans, front suspension, and more. He freshened up the 289, installed a new headliner and carpeting, door panels, and all the rest of it. It was only a matter of time before Mike found out it was just another Mustang. When he looked the car over, it blended in with the rest of them. The new age of restomod was born in Mike’s mind.

When Mike started making major changes, he built a Shelby look-alike. Believe it or not, Mike worked on this project off and on for 10 years. He'd find the body parts he wanted and would work the body. When his father Rholand examined his work, he would lay down more filler and tell his son to get to work. Mike became frustrated with the time consumption of bodywork. For him, the car was good enough. But it wasn't good enough for his dad. Mike may have cursed his father then, but you can bet he thanks him now. Rholand's '36 Ford coupe street rod is a case in point for outstanding craftsmanship.

For this Mustang, craftsmanship is more than skin deep. Under the fiberglass bonnet is a warmed-up '70 302 small-block. Felt's Auto Machine Shop massaged the 302, boring the block .030-inch oversize, checking the line bore and dynamically balancing the bottom end. Stock 302 connecting rods were shot-peened for strength. Forged 7.5:1 pistons were used because the 302 has a B&M supercharger. To huff major quantities of air into the low compression chambers, Mike had the heads match-ported. Large 1.97-inch Chevrolet intake valves make light work of airflow. A Lunati crankshaft exercises the stopcocks. The B&M supercharger rests on a special intake manifold. Holley carburetion that flows 650 cfm with the butterflies pinned gets the job done nicely for street or strip. A Mallory ignition lights the fire. Those chromed Ford Racing headers scavenge the spent gasses into 3-inch pipes with Flowmasters. A four-row-core cross-flow radiator keeps things cool.

If you like to wrap your donkey in fiberglass, this is the place to be. That’s Shelby fiberglass in front and back. Mike has modified the fiberglass in places to give the car a more personalized appearance. Mike and his father continued the Shelby theme under the hood, carrying the stripes all the way through. These gentlemen have also cleaned up the engine room, hiding most of those pesky items like the voltage regulator and wiring. Items like the hood hinges, export brace, shock mounts, and other key items have been chromed for striking results.

Those are ’70 Mustang high-back bucket seats with a custom gray upholstery conceived by Chuck Howe of C&C Upholstery in Garland, Utah. Chuck is also responsible for the nice work on those door panels.

Mike has to admit feeling proud of the work he has shared with his father. A project like this gives father and son a sense of immortality because their labor of love will always be around for someone to appreciate and admire. When Mike went to his first car show with the Mustang, he was really flying high, telling anyone who would listen what went into this effort. Much to our surprise, his Mustang didn’t receive an award that first time out, but it did make the evening news.

For Mike, his Mustang has been something of a family affair because anytime he hits the road, sons Tucker and Schafer and his wife, Heidi, come along for a well-rounded experience. If Mike gets too pre-occupied and forgets to invite them along, all they have to say is “show me the way.”