Eric English
April 1, 2009

The underlying story that swirls around Ken Holden's '66 Mustang fastback rings a familiar bell. It's the tale of a cash-strapped teenager/young adult who has a succession of none too impressive classic Mustangs, and then gets out of the hobby as real-world responsibilities take precedent. In Ken's case, he met his future wife, Karin, while driving a decent '67 coupe, but later sold it as marriage, reliable transportation needs, and two children justifiably dominated his life. At least the early coupe gave Karin the realization that Ford's ponycar was intertwined in Ken's DNA, so it wasn't entirely out of the blue when Ken returned to his roots nearly 20 years later. In this case, the common thread between Ken's experience and so many others is that the renewed interest results in a car which could only have been a dream in one's youth. If there's any good that comes with age, we suppose this ranks right up at the top.

It was 2002 when Ken stumbled across a forlorn-looking '66 fastback being marketed near his Snohomish, Washington, home. Dilapidated might be a better term, for the fastback was bathed in multiple colors, had butchered homemade floorpans and seat risers, typical modest rust, and an engine that smoked like a chimney. Considering the less than cherry condition, Ken didn't rush into things. But over a several-day period, he decided the time was right for a return to the fold. It turns out that the seller, Tom Plemons, was an all around good guy, resulting in a friendship that was instrumental in Ken achieving the results seen here. Interestingly, Ken calls the progression of his project a metamorphosis rather than pure planning, a sort of shoot from the hip approach that sorted out specifics over time.

Despite his history, Ken had never really delved into the mechanics of his previous Mustangs, a theme that changed as soon as Tom delivered the '66 on a flatbed. We were surprised to hear that this was Ken's first attempt at bodywork, paint, and welding, of which he accomplished the majority on his own. He's quick to credit several buddies for lending a hand and showing him the ropes, but the time-consuming portions were pretty much Ken solo. Among other things, sheetmetal surgery involved proper new floorpans, trunk floors, a rear framerail, and an outer wheelwell. Hours of body prep preceded the custom mixed metallic blue PPG polyurethane, followed by stripes in '04 {{{Nissan}}} Silver. The car was shot in Tom's new shop addition, which Ken helped build in exchange for using the space for the project. Body mods are limited to the fiberglass decklid and endcaps, a cowl hood, and an updated R-model front valance that allows for fitting a stock bumper. In retrospect, the decision to run the bumper version likely saved Ken a fair bit of work, as he reports hitting a cougar--the animal, not the car--while returning from a show in Eastern Washington. The bumper helped minimize damage to the front end of the Mustang, though we can't say with certainty what effect it had on the big cat. Ken wisely didn't pull over to inspect the damage until he had traveled well out of range, just in case the animal survived.

Perfectly complementing the sparkling exterior, the interior came about because Ken wanted something different. The result certainly sets this car apart from the legions of stock interior rides, but was actually quite simple to accomplish. The dash sets the tone, what with its body-colored metal, deleted pad, and white-faced factory gauges. Recaro buckets are sourced from a BMW and upholstered in a black/carbon-fiber combination by Larry's Upholstery in Gold Bar, Washington. The same shop performed a like treatment to the rear fold-down and door panels, while the new carpet is simply standard repro.

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As it should be, Ken derives most of his enjoyment by driving the '66, thus the sound system was a critical piece of the puzzle. To this end, he installed an Eclipse head unit, JL Audio amps, and a custom enclosure filled with Focal speakers and a JL subwoofer that takes the place of the stock trap door behind the rear seat. Should the instrumental tunes ever come up short, there's another sort of melody at Ken's beck and call in the form of the 347-inch small-block under the hood. While hardly groundbreaking stuff these days, the stroker is surely a powerful combination thanks to Aussie Pro Topline aluminum heads, Edelbrock/Holley induction, a Comp Cams retrofit hydraulic roller, MSD ignition, and FPA step headers, all backed by a Z-series T-5 trans and 3.89 geared 9-inch.

Performance mods didn't stop with the drivetrain, as the suspension and chassis received typical beefing, including convertible torque boxes up front, and the braking system was upgraded with Wilwood front discs and a dual-reservoir master cylinder. All these goods were put to use this summer when Ken hit an open track event put on by his local club, Mustangs Northwest. While the lap records at Pacific Raceways are still very much intact, Ken had the time of his life and fully realized the fruits of his labor. He says he'll definitely be back for more track activities, including some blasts down the 1,320.

Ken has clearly returned to Mustangs in a big way, and with one highly desirable restomod under his belt, he's moving on to its stablemate--a '65 coupe. With a family of four still under his roof, such efforts don't come without considerable understanding on the home front. Likewise, the fastback project opened Ken's eyes to a resource that wasn't present during his Mustang experiences in the late '70s--the Internet. In particular, Ken praises the participants at Vintage Mustang Forums (www.vintage-mustang.com) for all their help--not just in words, but with hands-on help via local members, many of which have become good friends. Sounds like a perfect ending to us: supportive family, great cars, and good friends. Who could ask for anything else?

The Details
Ken Holden's '66 Mustang fastback

Engine

  • 347ci stroker
  • '66 289 block
  • Eagle 3.40-inch cast crank
  • Eagle SIR I-beam rods
  • SRP forged flat-top pistons
  • Pro Topline aluminum heads, 2.02/1.60 valves, 180cc intake port, 64cc chambers
  • vHolley 670-cfm carb
  • Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap intake
  • Comp Cams 281HR hydraulic roller, 0.512-inch lift, 220-degree duration at 0.050
  • Crane 1.6 roller rockers
  • MSD Pro Billet distributor and 6AL ignition

Exhaust

  • {{{Ford}}} Powertrain Applications step headers (1 5/8 to 1¾)
  • Flowmaster 40 series 2½-inch mufflers

Transmission

  • Tremec T-5Z five-speed, 2.95 first gear
  • Lakewood scattershield
  • Spec Stage II clutch
  • Hurst billet shifter

Rearend

  • 9-inch
  • 3.89 gears
  • Detroit Locker

Suspension

  • Front: Upper control arms lowered 1¾-inch, Pro Motorsport negative wedge kit, Street or Track adjustable strut rods, KYB shocks, Prothane bushings, export brace, Monte Carlo bar
  • Rear: Five-leaf reverse eye springs, KYB shocks, Total Control Products subframe connectors, underride traction bars

Brakes

  • Front: 11-inch Wilwood four-piston Dynalite discs w/Wilwood proportioning valve
  • Rear: factory drums

Wheels

  • Front: Intro Exposed 5 Series Vista, 17x8-inch
  • Rear: Intro Exposed 5 Series Vista, 17x8-inch

Tires

  • Front: Nitto NT450, P225/45ZR17
  • Rear: Nitto NT450, P225/50ZR17

Interior

  • Painted dash
  • deleted dashpad
  • white-faced gauge appliqués
  • APC steering wheel w/Grant quick release
  • custom door panels
  • '85 BMW/Recaro seats w/custom upholstery
  • custom sub/speaker box
  • Eclipse head unit w/AM/FM/CD/MP3
  • JL Audio amps - {{{300}}}/4 and 250/1
  • Infinity (3-inch) and Focal (6-inch) speakers
  • JL Audio 8-inch sub

Exterior

  • PPG polyurethane base/clear
  • custom medium blue metallic w/silver ({{{Nissan}}} Chrome Silver)
  • Fiberglass Specialties cowl hood
  • Maier Racing fiberglass decklid and endcaps
  • Tony Branda front valance