Wayne Cook
March 15, 2010
Photos By: Jim Smart

Many of the classic Ford cars we love have some limitations when the time comes to hit the freeway and go with the flow. Most of us can agree that it's hard to get out on the interstate and keep pace with traffic in an original '65 Mustang with a Top Loader and 3.89 gears. Don't get us wrong; while we love classic Mustangs in the primal form, their limitations compared to modern iron, including the tiny tires and deep final drive ratio, can make interstate travel a buzz bomb experience. Likewise, when it comes to vehicle handling, the stock suspension, with the small diameter front sway bar, soft shock absorbers, and rubber bushings, also has its limitations. There are also those who feel that some improvements can be made to the original Mustang interior when it comes to comfort and convenience. It's true that when judged by a modern standard there is room for improvement in many classic Mustang performance categories.

Joe and Phyllis Cade of Columbus, Mississippi, are the proud owners of this extensively modified '65 Mustang fastback. In planning their project they conceived of a car that would offer the elusive combination of both classic appeal and modern performance. It's a lucky fact for the Cades (and all of us) that early classic Mustangs offer more possibilities for meaningful performance and appearance improvements than perhaps any other vehicle on the planet. Whether you're talking powertrain, suspension or interior, modern hardware abounds for whatever area you'd like to upgrade. That meant just about every category when it came to the Cade's project.

Joe started with a straight, but somewhat rusty, fastback that he located in western Texas. The dry climate had largely preserved the car, but there were some problems. To get the body completely squared away, rather than make repairs to the original sheetmetal, he decided to replace both rear quarters and the floorpan. It was at this time that the variety of tasteful exterior modifications took place, including the customized sail panel vents and modified valances. The front valance was modified to delete the turn signal lamps and improve cooling while the rear panel has been cut in the style of the '67-'68 Mustang GT. The windshield wipers have been shaved and the front turn signal lamps are now located in the headlights. A replacement fiberglass hood completed the modifications to the body. It is a custom piece where the '67 Shelby-style hoodscoop is incorporated into the '65 hood. With a now-perfect body shell Joe was ready to go to town on all aspects of the project. For starters he opted to install a complete Mustang II front suspension, which would also include rack-and-pinion steering and power disc brakes. Next, the Raven Black paintjob with Argent Silver color-fading stripes was applied by Mustang Central of Byron, Georgia. Underhood lies a late-model 5.0L Mustang engine mated to a T5 five-speed manual trans-perfect for cruising today's fast-paced roads.

Joe says he wanted the extensively modified car to still look like a classic Mustang when finished and clearly all of his upgrades were governed by an underlying element of good taste. He also tells us that many of the major improvements go unnoticed by admirers at first glance, but that all of the modern additions make the Mustang ride, drive, and stop like a new car. The great characteristics include terrific handling and effortless freeway cruising. We're willing to bet the numerous improvements are immediately evident to anybody who drives the car. It seems that he has accomplished his goal of preserving the classic appeal of the original design while incorporating upgrades that make this fastback more than capable of holding its own when it comes to the demands of fast and comfortable interstate travel in today's modern environment.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery