July 29, 2010

When we saw these stunning images, we were stirred by both the craftsmanship and imagination that went into this Candyapple Red '66 Mustang convertible. On the other side of the world is a steamy passion for Mustangs not entirely unlike our own here in the States.

In Australia, they love Mustangs. But in Australia, it's more challenging to find, buy, and build a classic Mustang because they're scarce Down Under. In addition, parts and services for these cars are few and far between in the ironic land of plenty. And when these commodities are found, it gets expensive and often time consuming. But, be advised, the passion in Australia is every bit as formidable as it is here, with inspired Aussies lining up to buy collectible Fords every day.

Belmont, Queensland, was established in 1899 just east of Perth on the Swan River in the northeast corner of the vast Australian continent. Although Belmont is in the Perth Metropolitan Area of Queensland on the Gold Coast, it is a separate community all its own. It has prospered and certainly has struggled since its founding more than a century ago. Locals have been concerned over a decline in Belmont's population caused by inadequate family housing and other support. This has been changing in recent years thanks to innovative government and business planning. Positive things are happening around Belmont, making it a place more people want to live.

To give you perspective, Belmont has a population of approximately 31,000 people, up from a low of 26,000 a few years ago. Think of Belmont like you would one of New York City's boroughs-Queens, Brooklyn, or the Bronx-only much smaller and with fewer people. Belmont's population is rich and diverse. Nearly half is United Kingdom and from neighboring New Zealand with that modified British accent we yanks in the States like to hear. The rest of Belmont's population is a smattering of ethnic groups from all over the world because we live in an exciting new age of globalization. Most of Belmont is Australian-born and proud of its heritage.

In the Northern hemisphere, we think of the South as warm and tropical. We head there in great numbers when winter comes. In Australia and the rest of the Southern hemisphere, exactly the opposite is true. Aussies flock to the North when it's time to escape the cold. Perth is certainly tropical-warm and humid-much like Florida and the Gulf Coast here in the States. This makes it an appropriate climate for people who love collectible cars they can drive most of the time.

Marshall Perron, former chief minister of Australia's North Territory, affectionately calls Belmont home. A progressive and caring patron to the people, Marshall has done extraordinary things for Queensland's population through the years. He's an advocate for people who are suffering, primarily the elderly and terminally ill. Ever controversial in Australia and around the world, Marshall supports voluntary euthanasia-the right to die with dignity. The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 was a highly debated law Marshall was able to get passed in Australia's Northern Territory. It became law in 1996. Getting there wasn't easy, nor has keeping this law on the books been easy either. As with any controversial law people are passionate about, it wasn't easy to establish guidelines because every situation is different. What's more, voluntary euthanasia became a lightning rod for death with dignity and antieuthanasia groups around the world. Support for the right-to-die law had overwhelming support in the Northern Territory, but not enough elsewhere in Australia. He remains committed to keeping the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act alive.

Marshall has also been passionate about the rights of car enthusiasts during his many years in politics. He has fought hard against crusher legislation in the Northern Territory because Aussies have the same worries we do in the States. Environmentalists, citizens, and politicians all want old cars off the road. Marshall has been instrumental in protecting the rights of car buffs Down Under. More and more classic cars survive thanks to his efforts.

When you consider Marshall's passion for people, it comes as no surprise he would build a whole lot of eyewash for the human race. This is one of the most incredible Mustang restomods we have ever seen, and it comes from Australia. "I wanted to maintain the classic lines of the '66 Mustang while bringing the ride, performance, and comfort into the 21st century," he says. Marshall's objective was to build a classic, high-tech Mustang that looked like it could have come from a Ford Australia assembly plant. He had to reach way around the world to the United States for a potentially striking platform-a rust-free California donor convertible from the Mustang Ranch. At home in Australia, he found an '03 AU 111 Falcon XR-8 sedan, which had been totaled in an accident. Born of this combo was an Aussie-American musclecar designed to make everyone take cover, and notice.

Marshall Perron has hand-crafted a mind-bending Mustang ride that makes us weak in the knees, incorporating just the right combination of parts from not only Ford, but other automakers from around the world to achieve the perfect blend-a source for pure, wanton lust.

Fun comes from stylin'; cruising in a Mustang like this you're proof positive no one else on the planet has. Fun also comes from a well-engineered package that's a sweet combination of engine, driveline, brakes, suspension, and more. Marshall has applied nuances to his Mustang project most people are afraid to even consider. Those are '95 Nissan ZX300 eight-way power seats wrapped in rich black and coffee leather. Comfortable? Oh, hell yeah.

That's the Falcon XR8 dashboard, gently massaged (shortened six inches) to fit in a classic Mustang. We like the Aussie Ford steering column and Momo wheel. Although car and instrument panel are generations-not to mention countries-apart, they blend well with a "made for each other" persona in this affair to remember. Marshall figured out how to make it work cohesively. That's a Pioneer MP3 1000w sound system with 4x5-inch splits and a Kicker 10-inch subwoofer. Electric Life power windows from Haneline Products found their way around the world to propel Marshall's glass with class. Three-point belts dial safety into weekend pleasure cruising along the Gold Coast. Custom-made door panels work hand-in-hand with Falcon armrests and window switches for an awe-inspiring look that keeps us staring. We're convinced it's insanity that keeps us gazing from 12,000 miles away.

Marshall didn't cut corners anywhere, and much of what he accomplished wasn't a simple bolt-on effort. Most of what he did mandated fabrication work. Each step required advanced planning and forethought. Marshall could envision much of it in his mind because he has built quite a few hot rods in his time, including a '31 Willys, a '55 Thunderbird, a '46 Ford, and his daily driver, a '56 fat-fendered Ford pickup.

But execution was the heart of the matter, not to mention cold, raw persistence. For example, imagine fitting a Jaguar independent rear suspension to your Mustang's underpinnings. Marshall did it and found a way to make it work. Australia-based Revelation Racing provided the MacPherson strut front suspension, power rack-and-pinion steering, and huge 13.2-inch, two-piston front disc brakes, which was easier to infuse than the Jag underpinnings. Those are Budnik 17-inch rims wrapped in Falkens. Koni adjustables get the job done in front. Aldan adjustable coilovers complement the Jag rear suspension. The Jag rearend sports 3.54 gears-perfect for an overdrive application. It also keeps the 11-inch disc brakes close to the differential instead of at the axle flange.

Michael Suman worked the body and laid down the rich House of Kolor Candyapple Red epidermis, which challenged an extraordinary body guy. There was the Shelby front air dam from Tony Branda to fit and paint. Mustangs Plus stepped up with a Shelby fiberglass decklid and end caps. Have you ever tried flushing in late-model door handles and gotten them to work in a classic Mustang door? Marshall did, with exceptional results. Aero smooth, lying just below the slipstream. Check out the stainless grille and reflector tailpanel that's as functional as it is good looking.

When Marshall bought the Falcon XR8 donor parts car, it had just 7,000 kilometers on the clock, which meant he didn't have to rebuild the 5.0L small-block fuel-injected V-8 destined for his Mustang. The Aussie Falcon XR8 has a lot in common with our Saleen Mustang in that it is a modified specialty vehicle built by Tickford and sold by Ford dealers in Australia.

Marshall fabricated this cool, stainless steel tubular intake manifold, which improved torque and looks sharper than the factory manifold. Note the smooth execution of this serpentine beltdrive with an Australian-sourced power steering pump, reverse-flow cooling system, Denso alternator, and air conditioning compressor. "I kept the engine stock because I wanted to drive into any Ford service center for electronic fault finding, spare parts, and repair," Marshall says. And this is something for each of us to consider in building our restomods. How serviceable is yours if you take it on the road? Marshall says, "Besides, 295 hp is enough for me to cruise the freeways."

Behind the 5.0L engine fitted with Ford's distributorless ignition is Tremec's BTR T50D five-speed manual transmission with 2.95, 1.94, 1.34, 1.00, and 0.73 overdrive. This is the Falcon XR8's gearbox, designed with performance in mind. It will bolt right into any Mustang, including Marshall's.

Marshall Perron has envisioned and conceived a Mustang restomod designed to leave a lasting impression on the world, much as his political career has. Both have been rewarding for him and beneficial for the masses in a world of wonder from Down Under.

The Details
'66 Mustang Convertible Owner: Marshall Perron, Belmont, Queensland, Australia

Engine
5.0L SEFI High-Output V-8
4.000-inch bore, 3.000-inch stroke
Nodular iron crankshaft
Forged I-beam connecting rods
Forged pistons
Iron block with aluminum heads
Custom-fabricated tubular intake manifold
Port fuel injection
Crank triggered coil-pack ignition
K&N conical air filter

Transmission
Tremec T5 five-speed

Rearend
Jaguar XJS
3.54 gears

Exhaust
Custom stainless dual exhaust system

Suspension Front: Revelation Racing MacPherson Phase 3 Koni adjustable struts Rear: Jaguar IRS, Aldan coilovers, RRS rack-and-pinion steering, subframe connectors

Brakes Front: Revelation Racing 13.2-inch disc, two-piston calipers
Rear: Jaguar 11-inch disc

Wheels
Front: Budnik LZ5, 17x8 inch
Rear: Budnik LZ5, 17x8 inch

Tires
Front:Falken P215/50ZR17
Rear:Falken P225/50ZR17

Interior
Full custom interior with Nissan ZX300 eight-way power seats in coffee/black leather
Pioneer 1,000-watt sound system
'03 Falcon dashboard shortened by six inches
Custom door panels with Falcon armrests and switches
Momo steering wheel
Three-point seatbelts

Exterior
Electric rearview mirrors
Reflective tailpanel with LED brake lights
Led Mustang taillights
Stainless steel grille
Shelby hood and racing valance
Fiberglass trunk lid

The Rights Of The Terminally Ill Act 1995
Why would anyone be an advocate for a person's right to die? If you have ever cared for or loved someone who was dying of a terminal illness, you understand the desire to see him or her not suffering anymore. This is what voluntary euthanasia is all about, a person's right to choose when they die. Former chief minister and Mustang enthusiast Marshall Perron worked hard to get right-to-die legislation passed in Australia's Northern Territory. Here's why he pushed so hard for the rights of the terminally ill.

• An increasingly educated and assertive population
• An aging community that thinks more about death and dying
• Less traditional religious influence
• More liberty and a strong belief in the right to choose
• Increasing numbers of deaths from AIDS and cancer, and ongoing limitations in what can be offered in terms of care
• Tremendous advances in sustaining human life that, in some instances, prolong the dying process

For Marshall, the right to die isn't a political issue but a human rights issue. He says, "I began preparing this bill after searching about the rights of those who face a distressing, undignified, and possibly painful death and the dilemma of confronting them and their medical advisers on the question of whether or not to actively terminate life.

"Through the laws in place today, society has made an assessment for all of us that our quality of our life, no matter how wretched, miserable, or painful, is never so bad that any of us will be allowed to end it. I am not prepared to allow society to make that decision for me or those I love."

Marshall proposed strict guidelines for the terminally ill who wanted voluntary euthanasia.

• Must be an adult
• Be terminally ill and diagnosed to die within 12 months
• Be mentally competent
• Must make the request in writing

He remains an advocate for rights of the terminally ill, pushing to improve quality-of-life issues for those in Australia's Northern Territory.