Joe Greeves
July 1, 2009

Chris Muchata's ' 67 Mustang Hardtop
We'll be the first to admit a little bias toward our favorite Pony car, but our impressions are always reinforced when we interview an owner and it starts off with, "I've always wanted a classic Mustang." Since its gangbusters introduction in 1964, the stylish Pony with its two doors, bucket seats, tire-spinning power, and ear-to-ear grins, has become an integral part of the American car buyer's DNA. Those were the elements that initially attracted Chris Muchata to the Mustang, although creating the ultimate street terror and trophy magnet wasn't part of the original plan. That just kind of happened.

Chris is one of those enthusiasts we spoke of who always had a warm spot for a classic Mustang. He finally got one, but his wife decided it would be better if he sold it. After a divorce allowed for the perfect realignment of priorities, Chris began the search for the next wild Pony for his garage, leaning toward something like the beautifully restored S-Code big-block owned by his boss. The Thunderbird Special (S-Code) Mustang was the first big-block Mustang produced by Ford. It had an extra 101 ci and an automatic transmission that put it 7/10-second quicker in the quarter than the 289 small-block with a four-speed manual. Of the 50,000 produced during the three-year production run, only about 10,000 are thought to remain, making it a very desirable combination.

Chris's search began and ended quickly when he found a good-looking S-Code Mustang, complete with a 390 V-8 and automatic, less than a mile from his office on a used-car lot in Jacksonville, Florida. The car's sharp paintjob turned out to be cosmetic however, hiding lots of problems below the surface. After several weeks of negotiations, trying to convince the dealer to price the car appropriately, Chris returned with two key elements to close the deal. The first was a magnet that pinpointed where the paint had camouflaged all the body filler, and the second was a bag full of cash. The dealer finally agreed to a more reasonable price and Chris headed home with his new find. "I just wanted a nice daily driver-just a basic restoration and a nice paintjob. But then one thing led to another," Chris told us. Chris was especially thankful to his wonderful new wife for being so understanding about building his dream car.

Fresh steel patch panels for the fenders and floor restored the car's structural integrity and Chris began making the car his own. While nostalgia has its perks, new technology certainly expands the driving experience. Chris upgraded the factory front disc brakes with new four-piston caliper versions from NPD using stainless steel lines. To balance the package, the drums in the rear were also modernized using new Kelsey-Hayes discs. Suspension changes included TCI tubular A-arms with Global West adjustable coilovers in front and Competition Engineering Slide-A-Link traction bars on the rear leaf springs with QA1 shocks. The setup was designed to ensure the car launched straight and could benefit from all the horsepower produced by the big 390 V-8.

Of course, the vintage motor also needed its share of rejuvenation, but it proved too much for the local mechanic who started the process. Luckily, Chris heard about Don Barry Classics in Jacksonville, Florida, which was more than up to the task. The motor was bored 0.030-inch over, and then fitted with new rods, 10:1 pistons, and a Comp Cams cam. Putting in the automotive equivalent of a Big Gulp, the Edelbrock aluminum heads, Edelbrock Performer intake, and 750 Holley carb promote free breathing. Fire for the air/ fuel mix comes from an MSD 6AL electronic ignition and Blaster coil, sending precisely timed explosions through 8.5mm MSD Super Conductor wire. Once the power pulses are complete, JBA Tri-Y stainless steel headers duct what's left out though 2.5-inch tubes, an H-pipe, and a pair of Flowmaster 40-Series mufflers, creating the perfect muscle car rumble in the process. A polished B&{{{M}}} Super Cooler moderates oil temps while a {{{Flex}}}-a-lite Black Magic electric fan and Northern Aluminum radiator ensure water temps stay in the green. The engine is mated with a new TCI C6 Super Street Fighter transmission, upgraded with a TCI shift improvement kit and Street Bandit shifter from B&M. Power makes its way to the rear wheels through a powdercoated 9-inch Traction-Lok rear with 31-spline axles and 3.50 gears. With 500 hp available at 4,800 rpm and 525 lb-ft of torque at 5,500 rpm, the mighty motor still can't quite slow the Earth's rotation, but it's more than enough to discipline the brash Bow Tie Boys in the neighborhood!

Once the suspension, brakes, and engine were up to modern safety and reliability standards, the team at Don Barry prepped the car for paint. Chris had a few design touches in mind that the team used to create sketches of the final look. With just a few adjustments, it coveredthe car with Glasurit 3-stage paint beginning with a custom-mixed gunmetal gray on top, maroon on the bottom, and silver flames on the fiberglass hood. As the perfect Pony accent, Advance Window Tinting in Jacksonville created the flaming Mustang mural on the side glass. Raceline Striker wheels, 17x8 up front and 17x10 in the rear were wrapped in Nitto 40- and 45-series rubber, adding style as well as traction, should an unsuspecting {{{Camaro}}} be foolish enough to challenge

The interior got its share of TLC beginning with a pair of black Corbeau seats sporting custom red inserts. Rear seats were upholstered to match. The dash was outfitted with a set of Auto Meter gauges and an Old Air Products A/C system. The driver keeps hands and feet in close touch, thanks to the Billet Specialties steering wheel and pedal set. The car was complete except for one thing.

Since you can't have a cool custom without a hot stereo, the all-Pioneer system begins with the touch screen DVD player in the dash that feeds the pair of 12-inch subs in a custom enclosure in the trunk. Two pioneer amps are also visible in the trunk with a third hidden behind the forward panel. The same panel also hides the car's multiple Optima batteries. There are four 6-inch component sets in the rear package tray and two more positioned in the kick panels. Dynamat insulation throughout minimizes unwanted sonic intrusion.

What does the future hold for what started out to be just a nice daily driver? Chris is serious about taking it to the next level and has his eye on a new Roush, all-aluminum 468 V-8 to replace the current engine. If you think the current crop of Corvette drivers in the neighborhood are already a little uneasy, stand by. Their day is just going to get worse!

Don't let the custom paint fool you into thinking this is just another pretty face. This '67 S-Code runs a rejuvenated 390 V-8 pumping 500 horsepower into a bulletproof TCI three-speed automatic. Suspension changes, disc brakes, and sticky Nitto rubber ensure that it goes as good as it looks.

The Details
Chris Muchata's '67 Mustang Hardtop

Engine

  • 390ci FE big-block
  • 4.05-inch bore
  • 3.78-inch stroke
  • Comp Cams hydraulic cam
  • Edelbrock aluminum heads
  • Edelbrock Performer intake
  • 750 Holley four-barrel carburetor
  • MSD 6AL ignition
  • MSD Blaster coil
  • Flex-a-lite Black Magic electric fan
  • Northern Aluminum radiator
  • Concept One serpentine drive system

Transmission

  • TCI Super Street Fighter C6 three-speed automatic
  • TCI shift improvement kit
  • TCI 10-inch 3,500-rpm stall converter
  • B&M Street Bandit shifter

Rearend

  • Powdercoated 9-inch
  • Traction-Lok differential
  • 31-spline axles
  • 3.50 gears

Exhaust

  • JBA 1¾-inch primary stainless steel headers
  • 2½-inch dual exhaust
  • Flowmaster 40-Series mufflers

Suspension

  • Front: TCI tubular A-arms, Global West adjustable coilovers
  • Rear: five-leaf springs, Competition Engineering Slide-A-Link traction bars, QA1 shocks

Brakes

  • Front: 11-inch rotor, four-piston caliper
  • Rear: 11-inch rotor, single-piston caliper

Wheels

  • Front: Raceline Striker, polished, 17x8
  • Rear: Raceline Striker, polished, 17x10

Tires

  • Front: Nitto Extreme NT555, P235/45R17
  • Rear: Nitto Extreme NT555, P275/40R17

Interior

  • Corbeau seats, Billet Specialties pedals and rearview mirror, Billet Specialties steering wheel with custom engraved horn button, Auto Meter Ultra-Lite gauges, Old Air Products A/C system, Pioneer touch screen DVD stereo with two Pioneer amps, 12 component speakers, and two 12-inch subs, three Optima batteries

Exterior

  • Glasurit basecoat/clearcoat finish with maroon and gray two-tone and silver flames, all stock sheetmetal, fiberglass hood, all emblems removed, billet grille