Jim Smart
May 1, 2008

Deep in the heart of Texas lives a passion for spirited, wide-open spaces, and a place to play with reckless abandon. That's what we like most about the Texas prairie-its openness and obvious freedom-the very calling that brought settlers to this region a couple hundred years ago.

Cruising through the Texas countryside is Robert Bulger, a physician who spends his time healing the sick, caring for the healthy, and nurturing his own positive mental attitude. That positive attitude comes from within. Having a '67 Mustang fastback on call doesn't hurt any. "I wanted a modern, state-of-the-art automobile that would perform, handle well, and stop like a race car," Robert says, "but I wanted a Mustang that looked stock on the outside."

At one point, he had plans for an Eleanor project, but because so many people were building them, he and car builder Steve Sanderson decided to ditch that idea and do something more conservative. They shaved the body's exterior, eliminating all Mustang ornamentation from the deck, hood, and fenders. You can't argue with the logic here. This Jet Black fastback is clearly a Mustang with a stealthy attitude, but it's not overbearing.

Robert grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, with a friend whose father was a Ford dealer. In those days, Robert watched the parade of new Mustangs we call classics today. It left a lasting impression that would accompany him for a lifetime. It was hard not to want to hang out around the dealer showroom and service department, taking in the sound of new Cobra Jets and Mustang GTs. One day, his buddy roared up in a new '70 Boss 302-the first he'd ever seen. Meanwhile, his brother's buddy had a '67 fastback, which Robert was even more taken with than the Boss 302. "It was the sexiest car I had ever seen," he says. Then, it was off to college, medical school, and other more pressing priorities for a young man with visions, hopes, and dreams. It would be a lifetime before he'd realize the dream before you here.

It wasn't until Robert met Steve Sanderson that an old memory roared to life in an instant. Steve showed him a hot Eleanor car he had built for a customer, which gave Robert a rush and the desire to build something like that himself. In fact, Robert believed he could build the car himself for less money. That assumption wound up costing him more.

Robert found this fastback in Arkansas-originally Wimbledon White in color, red interior, reshot in black. Because the car wasn't exactly what he wanted, he knew a full-scale car-building project lay ahead to build the car of his dreams. The car cost him $14,000 at the height of the Eleanor craze when he could have probably purchased a roller for six grand. He adds it just didn't matter because he wanted one so badly.

"So now I had a car, but for what?" he asked. There were all kinds of questions. Who would build the car? How to build the car? Having a budget of $60,000 to play with, Robert entrusted his fastback to a restoration shop in San Antonio. "Seemed like a nice [place]," Robert says. That is, until the restoration was well underway and the shop had no concept of budget. "I have since learned that the most reputable shops have some idea of what a restoration will cost," he says. "I learned this one the hard way."

It took the legal clout of a good attorney to rescue Robert's fastback from the unscrupulous shop. It was a costly experience-and a valuable lesson learned. That's when Robert put his fastback in Steve's care. Robert admits to feeling nervous when he turned his fastback over to yet another restoration shop, this time closer to home. He and Steve struck up a deal where Robert provided parts and Steve provided labor at an agreed-upon price. There were no surprises. Robert was very pleased with the outcome.

Inside, Robert's restomod fastback yields a nostalgic quality while offering all the features of modern transportation. Robert went all-Alpine with enough power to light his Plano, Texas, community. Big Alpine Type-R 10-inch subwoofers rock the joint along with Alpine 6x9 midrange speakers-quite the electrical load with a pair of Alpine amplifiers and an XM tuner. From the outside, would you even know it was all there? We didn't think so.

Cobra Daytona seating provides extraordinary comfort and security. The rest of the interior is black molded vinyl and brushed aluminum-striking features for 1967. That's a JME instrument cluster sporting Auto Meter Phantom instrumentation. A Moto-Lita classic British steering wheel looks and feels good. Steve Brinlee of JBS Interiors gets credit for the craftsmanship.

When it comes to performance, there has never been an adequate substitute for displacement. At one time, it meant having a big-block and the weight disadvantage. Today, a Keith Craft Performance Engines 351W-based small-block stroked to 408 ci (thanks to a Scat 4340 steel crank, 6.250-inch H-beam rods, and forged flat-top pistons) fits the bill. When you combine the right parts with a perfectly machined block and heads, the result is a confident, reliable, powerful engine ready for cruising and racing. Deep in the valley is a Comp Cams hydraulic roller bumpstick with nearly 0.600-inch lift and 319/320-degree duration. When you mix that cam profile with AFR heads with port work, that's a huge lung full of air, fuel, and power. A DaVinci-built Holley 750-cfm four-throater does the induction work beneath a K&N air cleaner.

Like most of us, Robert wanted the sweet combination of performance and efficiency. In reality, he couldn't kid himself. He knew he was never going to see 25 miles to a gallon of gasoline from 408 ci. However, he wanted to cruise across Texas with greater range between fuel stops. That's why he chose Tremec's World Class T-5 five-speed transmission and a Currie 9-inch rear with 3.25 gears.

Robert handpicked his Mustang's suspension system, going with what he felt worked best at the time. It's an interesting mix of Global West, Total Control Products, and Flaming River components that seem to work well together in a coilover rack-and-pinion package. In back is a Total Control Products pushrod coilover racing suspension system that dances circles around conventional leafs. Those are PS Engineering 17-inch wheels greeting the ground via Goodyear Eagle F1 radials for super-sticky performance. Aerospace Components disc brakes offer immediate stopping action.

The blacker-than-black Jet Black Glasurit classic-car finish was carefully applied by Street Works' Steve Watkins and Mark Gallardo in Denton, Texas, just north of Dallas. This is the super-hard finish we're used to getting from Glasurit. Not only does it offer a deep, rich shine, but it's also durable.

Robert teaches us something important about dreams with his story from deep in the American heartland. He demonstrates there's a lot to be learned when you get ahead of yourself. It's important to first have a doable plan and to know something about who you're doing business with. Once Robert found Steve, a lifelong dream and plan fell into place, and this seasoned physician found his own seventh heaven.

The Details
'67 Mustang Fastback
Owner: Robert Bulger, Plano, TX

Engine
408W stroker
Built by Keith Craft Performance Engines,
Arkadelphia, AR
Scat 4340 steel crank with 6.250-inch H-beam rods
Mahle forged flat-top pistons
Comp Cams hydraulic roller (0.576/0.596-inch
lift, 319/329 duration)
AFR CNC-ported aluminum heads
2.08-inch intake/1.60-inch exhaust valves
Scorpion 1.6:1 rockers
Edelbrock Performer RPM Air Gap
DaVinci-prepared Holley 750-cfm 4V
Ford Racing Performance Parts cast-aluminum valve covers
MSD billet distributor with vacuum advance
Powermaster alternator

Transmission
Tremec World Class T-5 five-speed

Rearend
Currie 9-inch
Limited-Slip differential
3.25 gears
31-spline axles

Exhaust
JBA shorty headers
2 1/2-inch custom dual exhaust
Flowmaster Delta Flow two-chamber mufflers

Suspension
Front: Global West upper and lower control arms, coilover shocks, Total Control Products rack-and-pinion steering
Rear: Total Control Products pushrod suspension (torque arm, Watt's link, coilover shocks)

Brakes
Front: Aerospace Components disc, 12-inch rotors
Rear: Aerospace Components disc, 12-inch rotors

Wheels
Front: PS Engineering, 17x8-inch
Rear: PS Engineering, 17x9 1/2-inch

Tires
Front: Goodyear Eagle F1 GS, P245/45ZR17
Rear: Goodyear Eagle F1 GS, P275/45ZR17

Interior
Cobra bucket seats in black leather, Alpine IVA-D310 head unit, Alpine N872A GPS, Alpine 6x9 and 10-inch subwoofers, Alpine MRP-M450 amp, Alpine MRA-D550 amp, Alpine XM tuner, four-point racing harness, custom roll bar, Moto-Lita steering wheel, JME instrumentation, Steve Brinlee of JBS Interiors did all interior work

Exterior
Rich Jet Black Glasurit paint, shaved for a clean look