Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
May 1, 2012

Over the years, we've seen numerous wild Mustang projects pop up. Some are built by shops looking to make a name for themselves, others are built by Ford itself to float potential design ideas, and a few others are built by inspired individuals.

As impressive as those projects can be, there's nothing quite like the passionate enthusiast who is driven to bring his own vision to fruition.

That's certainly an apt description of Michael Matkosky. What started with a thought brought a Mustang flooded by Katrina back to life in a truly unique way.

"I have owned several Mustangs over the last 35 years. I am a Ford guy, but I wanted something different on this build. I had always thought it was do-able to put '67-'68 taillights on one of these things, but I was unsure of how it would look," Michael explains.

Springing into action on such an elaborate project certainly takes a lot of confidence, and Michael seemed well equipped. He taught himself to weld and is obviously adept at fabbing stuff. He also seems to have quite an eye for design.

"I wanted to try something different; I've always been one to fly in the face of conventional wisdom. I really like the look of a nicely done Fox notch, but there just isn't anything you can do (to the body) to set it apart from the herd short of adding an aftermarket body kit. There just wasn't one that I liked enough to consider investing in. To me, they all looked dated.

"I always liked the late-'60s Mustangs, and with a '68 California Special as a model, I got out the sawzall, a 4.5-inch grinder, some sheetmetal tools, and my mig welder, and had at it."

Michael didn't go it alone though. He relied on his son Sean to bounce ideas off of and lend a helping hand during the build. He documented the build on the popular >Stangnet.com website so he could gather feedback and share the fruits of his labor. The project began with the back of the car and quickly grew from there.

"I always thought the car could support the theme. I knew I could make the look work with the rear, and had just intended to do a four-eye swap. But after seeing the rear in its final stages of completion, I knew I'd have to try and make the front carry the theme as well," Michael confesses. "I stared at it for a really long time. I always stare at some project for a long time before I ever lay a hand on it. It helps to conceptualize the idea in my head."

We've all likely stared at a project and imagined how we would like it to look. Thinking about it is the easy part. Making it happen is far more challenging, especially when it involved hand-fabbing lots of sheetmetal parts, welding, and bodywork.

"I really didn't consider any of it that difficult. The nose took the longest and required the most hand-fabrication, but I used reproduction sheetmetal where I could (headlight buckets, lower valance, and so on)," Michael says. "The rest of it was either narrowed to fit or completely custom. The grille surround is my proudest accomplishment--t is all 18-gauge sheetmetal bent over my knee."

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The result is a unique Mustang that cohesively blends a number of Mustang eras. The Fox Mustang was never a retro design like the S197, but Michael was able to bridge the generation gaps with a creative eye and plenty of talent. Still, the car can be polarizing, despite the fact that he is commonly asked if his creation is available as a kit. (It's not.)

"Well it's obviously not for everybody. For the ones that like it, they really like it. Those that don't, always start out with ‘Not my cup of tea, but I can appreciate the effort,' Michael explains. "I get the biggest kick out of the ones that try to figure out where the '89 ends and the '68 is welded on."

Of course, like any Mustang project, Michael's creation is never really done. Since we pointed our cameras at it, the car has changed quite a bit, including a new theme and color scheme under the hood. He converted the car to five-lug and added Centerline billet wheels. Inside, Auto Meter Cruzer gauges in a custom wood dash supplanted the digital units. It even gained a new wood dashpad, and Michael's not finished yet.

"I will keep modifying this project until I get to a point where I say that's enough," Michael adds. "But, as long as I keep staring at it..."

Obviously we can only scratch the surface of such a comprehensive project build. Michael posted a series of updates on www.Stangnet.com you can check out the build at http://bit.ly/ybMhvW..

5.0 Tech Specs

'89 Mach 1

Engine and Drivetrain
Block Stock '02 Two-Valve 4.6 iron
Crankshaft Stock '02 Two-Valve 4.6
Rods Stock '02 Two-Valve 4.6
Pistons Stock '02 Two-Valve 4.6
Camshafts Patriot Performance Stage 1
Cylinder Heads Patriot Performance Stage II CNC-ported Two-Valve
Intake Manifold Edelbrock Victor
Carburetor Summit 600-cfm vacuum secondary
Fuel System Holley HP 125 pump with 3/8-in hard line
Exhaust Custom-built headers w/ Flowmaster and Thrush mufflers
Transmission Tremec TR-3650 w/ Centerforce Dual Friction clutch and Summit Racing shifter
Rearend 8.8-in w/3.73 gears

Electronics
Ignition MSD
Gauges Nordskog Digital

Suspension and Chassis
Front Suspension
K-member Custom K-member
A-arms Stock
Struts Stock
Springs UPR Products
Brakes Stock
Wheels 17x6.5-in Mavromont Pony R
Tires Nitto 450 225/50-17

Rear Suspension
Shocks Strange Engineering aluminum coilover
Springs Strange Engineering
Control Arms Stock
Brakes Stock
Wheels 17x10-in Mavromont Pony R
Tires Nitto 450 275/50-17