Don Roy
June 1, 2007
Photos By: Jerry Heasley

It's A Part Of Americana That Contributed To Stock Car Racing. It's Also Suggested In The Retro Heritage Of These Cars.
The legend of Junior Johnson is well known among stock car racing enthusiasts. Johnson's family lived near Wilkesboro, NC, an area sometimes called "the bootleg capital of America." His father, Robert, was one of the largest illegal moonshine makers in the area. The name 'moonshine' is assumed to come from the fact that illicit alcohol producers and smugglers would work at night to avoid arrest. Actually, mankind apparently has a far longer aversion to taxes on alcohol. Back in 1811, author Francis Grose had mentioned that, "The white brandy smuggled on the coasts of Kent and Sussex, and the gin in the north of Yorkshire, was also called moonshine."

What those smugglers missed was a method for quickly getting their product from the source to the destination. That was not the case for Junior Johnson and his contemporaries. Highly modified sedans were used to carry the moonshine (sometimes made into 'whiskey' by adding a dollop of molasses to the mix) in order to avoid federal revenue agents. Episodes of high speed runs at night, complex avoidance maneuvers and close calls developed driving skills among the younger family members, who were charged with the product delivery duties. The 'bootleg' turn was a maneuver credited to these drivers. This 180-degree turn was initiated by dropping the transmission into second gear and yanking the steering to the left. When you got it right, the car swapped ends and stayed on the road, letting you head off to where you came from - don't try this at home, kids.

Head North Young Man
You might wonder how the legends of the early South reach out to the heartland, where the Mustangs you see here are made. Tulsa and its closely surrounding area hold about a half million residents who appreciate a lifestyle that made Tulsa one of "America's Most Livable Large Cities" in 2005. Will Williams has been involved in the automotive repair and paint industry since the late 1970s. When the 2005 Mustang was released, it ignited, in Will's own words, "a bonfire of interest." The retro styling elements inherent in the design of the car begged to be aligned with a strong heritage theme. The torrent of aftermarket parts that followed the introduction of the S197 Mustang made it possible to turn vision into reality. Will knew that high quality exterior parts were available and set out to build a particular look, for a Mach I-themed conversion.

Will started with the black car you see here. It was purchased new with the red leather interior and a 5-speed. The suspension was rebuilt to settle the car closer to the ground and build on the dark, almost-evil look. Sport springs, replacement sway bars, front and rear, along with a replacement Panhard rod from Steeda Autosports were added. Performance enhancements were gained by adding a Steeda cold air kit with custom tuned SCT flash tuner and a set of shorty headers from Ford Racing.

Of course, an important part of the muscle car experience comes from the exhaust note and Will told us that he tested seven or eight different systems before finally settling on Pypes Exhaust to supply their polished crossover pipe, plus the Violator cat-back exhaust product. Together, these changes bump the output to an estimated 340 flywheel horsepower. To further enhance the car's acceleration, the Car FX people change out the stock rear axle gears for a set of 4.10s from Ford Racing.