Isaac Mion
February 1, 2010

Brian Cruz may not be considered your typical muscle car owner. While he did get his hands dirty doing the primer during the build-up of this pristine tangerine '65 coupe, he normally wields a pair of scissors and a comb rather than a spray gun or a buffer. But he's not just the guy cutting hair; he owns the salon. Which leads us to how he and car builder Dan Ambrosio of Ambrosio Concepts came together. "A friend of mine was getting her hair done by Brian awhile back and he mentioned me," said Dan. "We built him a convertible and took it to the annual Mustang Roundup in Steamboat Springs, Colorado." At said show Brian won praise for the convertible. But that wasn't all. Lady Luck laid her hands on Brian, awarding him the winning ticket to a raffle that day. The prize-a Ford Racing 351 Windsor crate engine.

"My dream of building a custom Mustang all started at that moment. The shock of winning the engine still boggles my mind," said Brian. "To make this dream come true all I needed was a solid body and frame." With the help of Dan and his shop, Brian's dream would become a reality in less than 10 months. But the road to Mustang Mecca would be filled with potholes and speed bumps. Brian and Dan found a rust-free Mustang from a private owner shortly after the Roundup. While the body was in good condition the Mary Kay cosmetics inspired color could cause most anyone to cringe. While Brian, like any other man living in the 21st Century, is in touch with his feminine side, the pink hue that this Mustang arrived with would have to go.

"Throughout the build, Dan kept telling me that one of the most important aspects to consider was the color of the car," said Brian. "I really hadn't thought about it, but after that I was on the hunt for the perfect color." But before that color could be applied there was some work to be put in. Once they got the car to the shop Dan completely disassembled it and fitted up subframe connectors, the 17x8 and 18x8 billet rims and the Rod & Custom Motorsports Mustang II front suspension with Total Control Products g-Bar four-link and fully adjustable coilovers at the rear. He also dropped in the spoils of the raffle, the 300hp Windsor engine. With the stance, powerplant, and rollers sorted, he got to work on the myriad body modifications. These include, but are not limited to, shaved driprails, a filled cowl, adding a rear spoiler, turn signals built into the headlight bucket's faux vents, custom bumpers, and a front-tilting hood. While the first two modifications may be somewhat common, the last four took a fair degree of reworking. "I actually created the rear spoiler with molding clay then made a mold of that," Dan said. The result is a subtle lip that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing, like a mini tangerine launch ramp for little skateboarders. For the front-tilting hood Dan basically had to build every piece of hardware for that. "All the hinge mechanisms and bracketry I designed from scratch," said Dan. "There was no instruction manual for that one."

While the bumper application may not be so functional in the case of a wreck, it efinitely is going to be the epitome of clean until that happens. Actually, even though the bumpers are fiberglass they may just do their job. They are filled with shock absorbing foam after all. To achieve this custom look Dan molded the front and rear valances with the bumpers, and then created a mold off of them. Dan currently has the valances for sale at his shop's website, www.ambrosioconcepts.com. Well come on, the guy deserves a plug. Every time this writer goes by his shop he's covered in fiberglass. At one point he wasn't the only one. "One of the most memorable parts of the build was when Dan let me be involved in the build," said Brian. "I got to prime the car myself and helped build the front and rear valances. Fiberglass work is definitely hard and very itchy but it looks so good when it's finished." The valances aren't the only things that look good on the body. Brian also had all the glass and chrome replaced. And how about those turn signals reworked into the headlight buckets? You just can't turn away from those indicators peeking through their pseudo-tangerine slots.

So how did Brian come up with that color which isn't quite tangerine? "As the owner of 'Tribe,' a salon in Lakewood, Colorado, I had this idea of checking out nail polish colors," said Brian. "I wanted something eye-catching, but not too over the top. I brought a few colors to Dan and asked if it was possible to have the color copied." Dan obliged by taking a Chrysler tangerine and adding a little copper pearl to match the nail polish color, aptly named "Down to My Last Penny." Brian is obviously not down to his last penny, as he's already in the progress of building yet another Mustang, this time a '65 Fastback. After all, no matter how bad the economy is, hair still grows and Brian will still have Mustang dreams, no matter the color.

The Details
Brian Cruz's '65 Mustang Coupe
Engine

Ford Racing 351 Windsor
4.00-inch bore
3.50-inch stroke
March pulley system
Ford Racing FR500S aluminum radiator
Edelbrock RPM intake
Edelbrock 600cfm carburetor
Body color Ford Racing valve covers and air cleaner

Transmission
Tremec World Class T5 five-speed
FRPP King Cobra clutch

Rearend
8-inch axle
3.80 gears
Detroit Truetrac differential

Exhaust
JBA ceramic-coated shorty headers
Flowmaster Hushpower mufflers
2 1/2-inch custom side exit

Suspension
Front:
Rod & Custom Motorsports Mustang II with adjustable coilovers
Rear: Total Control Products g-Bar four-link with coilovers, subframe connectors

Brakes
Front:
Master Power 11-inch disc, single-piston caliper
Rear: Vintage Venom, 10.5-inch disc, single-piston caliper

Wheels
Front:
Billet Specialties SLG05 polished, 17x8
Rear: Billet Specialties SLG05 polished, 18x8

Tires
Front:
Cooper Zeon ZPT, P215/40R17
Rear: Cooper Zeon ZPT, P235/45R18

Interior
Smoothed and filled body color dash, Dolphin instruments, body color steering wheel, retro four-speed-look shifter with billet shift knob

Exterior
Custom mixed basecoat/clearcoat paint color, shaved emblems/lettering, through the rocker side exhaust, custom front and rear valances, forward-tilting hood mechanism, smoothed cowl, turn signals reworked into headlight buckets, shaved driprails, and custom decklid spoiler