Wayne Cook
January 27, 2010
Photos By: Mark Houlahan

After completing a '65 Shelby GT350 replica, using a '64 1/2 Mustang as a foundation, Gary Bennett of Lilburn, Georgia, was on the hunt for a new project. His intention was to build another Shelby replica, but he wanted to create something more extraordinary in the process. According to Gary, the first car turned out great but it was rather ho-hum when the hood was opened, looking like most garden-variety 289ci engine bays. With the new project, it would be important to take the engine bay, as well as the whole car, to the next creative level. Gary also wanted to include his son Parker in the new restoration project.

After a prolonged hunt Gary spotted a fastback for sale in the local paper, an original Georgia car. When Gary and his son Parker went to see the Pony, its engine had given up the ghost at the dragstrip and the overall mileage was over 100,000. However, this Mustang was an original GT 390 FE car and it was mostly straight and rust free. Because it was a GT, and an original big-block car, it came equipped with several important things such as a 9-inch axle and disc brakes. Indeed, the fastback was a perfect platform for a father and son restoration project.

The car was purchased and for the next three years the two worked a total of 3,500 labor hours. During that time Parker aged from 12 to 15 years, so the timing was perfect for a young man coming of age to learn the ropes of the classic Ford world. The father and son team shared in the trials and tribulations that go hand in hand with any complicated restoration project, and both are understandably gratified by the impressive result. The results also confirm Gary's belief that such a large undertaking by a father and son builds a lasting bond that is of tremendous value to any family.

Aside from the late model Bullitt-style wheels the car is an authentic replica on the outside from the pinnacle of Shelby greatness, where power and styling ruled the design table. Under the hood, Gary and Parker decided to stay true to the Shelby GT500 theme with a 428 FE engine. They hunted down a 391 truck block, had it sonic tested and bored out to the stock 428 bore size of 4.130. However, they wanted something a little more impressive than the usual four-barrel carb so they chose to run a TWM Performance eight-barrel fuel injection set up. In the old days these eight-barrel setups were a can of worms to get running right, but now with modern computer-controlled engine management systems, they have the car running fine.

Although Parker was only 12 years old when the project began, he soon proved his mettle by taking charge of many of the more complicated aspects of the project. The wiring and instrumentation became his areas of specialization and he had to modify the wiring harness from a Ford LTD, shortening it to fit the smaller Mustang, and he completed the complex instrument installation successfully. Another area the team was concerned with was the cleanliness of the installation underhood. For example, the standard A/C compressor was tossed in favor of a smaller Sanden compressor which was mounted on the bottom side of the engine near the crankshaft pulley using specially made brackets custom-made by the two team members. Once the compressor was installed, the air conditioning lines were routed inside the fenders for an extremely sanitary installation almost invisible to the casual observer. The clean theme extended to the engine control wiring, which was routed underneath the fuel rails and exits the engine bay in one orderly bundle directly behind the engine at the center of the firewall.

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When we tell you that this car was constructed entirely by the two men we're not kidding. When it came to the excellent paint and body condition you see here no detail was overlooked, and yet no professionals were employed. To achieve the beautiful result, Gary decided to brush up on his painting skills. He enrolled in automotive painting classes at the DuPont training center in Atlanta to learn about the latest in painting techniques while using DuPont's most advanced materials, including the DuPont Premier two-stage paint system. Armed with this knowledge, Gary and Parker then constructed a complete paint booth on their property. They installed the many Shelby fiberglass parts required of a GT500 and then applied the outstanding Jet Black finish, which was then adorned with Argent Silver stripes in the best Shelby tradition.

Parker's love of Mustangs is another result of this project that might have been anticipated, especially since he will be getting his driver's license soon. He now has a big interest in the '05 and newer Mustangs and on today's roads, Dad wants his son to enjoy all of the safety features found on the modern car. With the handwriting on the wall there may soon be yet another Mustang in the family stable. The beautiful car you see here shows what can happen when a father and son combine forces in a common passion. We know from personal experience that Gary was right when he suspected that the experience of creating this car together with his son would be something that they both will remember vividly for the rest of their lives.

Under the hood, Gary and Parker decided to stay true to the Shelby GT500 theme with a 428 FE engine. The beautiful car you see here shows what can happen when a father and son combine forces in a common passion

The Details
Gary and Parker Bennett's '67 Mustang Shelby GT500 replica

Engine

  • 428ci constructed using sonic-tested 391 truck block
  • 4.130-inch bore
  • 3.98-inch stroke
  • Internally balanced
  • Ford 428 Cobra Jet crankshaft
  • Ford LeMans connecting rods
  • TRW forged aluminum pistons
  • Compression ratio 10:1
  • Perfect circle rings
  • Ford "Police Interceptor" cast iron cylinder heads
  • Hardened exhaust valve seats
  • Adjustable shaft rockers
  • Comp Cams hydraulic flat tappet, 0.501/0.501 lift, 275 advertised duration, 110-degree lobe center angle
  • MSD distributor and ignition
  • TWM aluminum eight-barrel EFI intake manifold
  • Eight 58mm TWM throttle bodies
  • FAST engine management system
  • Idle speed motor custom fabricated by Gary and Parker Bennett
  • Engine wiring by Parker Bennett
  • AFCO oversized aluminum cross-flow radiator

Transmission

  • Tremec five-speed manual
  • Centerforce Dual Friction clutch
  • Stock 428 bellhousing modified to accept hydraulic clutch arrangement
  • Mustangs Plus Tremec adapter plate
  • Short-throw shifter

Rearend

  • 9-inch axle
  • Detroit True Track differential
  • 3.25 gears

Exhaust

  • Sorensen headers with 1 7/8-inch primary tubes
  • 2 1/2-inch stainless steel exhaust system
  • Magnaflow Super 44 mufflers

Suspension
Front: Owner-installed Rod and Custom Motorsports Mustang II system, Gabriel adjustable coilover shocks, 2-inch drop spindles
Rear: Four and one half leaf mid-eye leaf springs, polyurethane bushings, Gabriel adjustable shocks Sub-frame connectors

Brakes
Front: 11-inch rotor, single-piston caliper
Rear: 11-inch rotor, single-piston caliper

Wheels
Front: '01 Ford Bullitt, 17x8
Rear: '01 Ford Bullitt, 17x8

Tires
Front: Kumho radial, P245/45R17
Rear: Kumho radial, P255/55R17

Interior
Deluxe interior, TMI black vinyl upholstery with custom silver inserts, TMI carpet kit, Grant steering wheel, Auto Meter gauges, OE fold-down rear seat, Sony Stereo with CD and iPod, Boston Acoustics 500-watt amplifier, Boston acoustics speakers, 12-inch subwoofer in trunk

Exterior
DuPont Jet Black with Argent silver stripes, Shelby fiberglass nose, Shelby fiberglass GT500 hood, hoodpins, upper and lower Shelby sidescoops, fiberglass trunk lid and spoiler

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