Modified Mustangs & FordsFeatured Vehicles
1965 Ford Mustang GT Fastback
Michael Kiley's '65 Mustang Fastback Is A Fully Independent Ferrari Beater Wrapped In Vintage Tin
As the muscle car scene grows at an explosive rate, more projects are being built with modern components and cutting-edge style than ever before. A bumpy ride and crude handling were once dismissed as part of the "charm" of owning an old car, but huge leaps forward in technology have made it possible to build a classic Mustang that can run circles around most modern European sports cars while retaining the unique style and classic lines that have made Ford's ponycar a winner for the past four decades. Green Bay, Wisconsin, resident Michael Kiley seems to agree, and the current climate that makes it OK to modify virgin steel for improved performance and practicality has lit a fire inside him to own the ultimate fastback-a car capable of blistering speed and awe-inspiring power while cradling the driver in climate-controlled luxury and comfort.
His first attempt at assembling the ultimate Blue Oval brawler came in the form of a '67 fastback that was painted Highland Green and stuffed with a killer drivetrain engineered by the racing experts at Maeco Motorsport in Northridge, California. The street-driven Bullitt replica turned out well, but it still didn't satisfy Kiley's urge to own a car capable of tackling the Silver State Classic and local cruise nights with equal aplomb. After consulting with Maeco owner Mike Eisenberg, Kiley decided that a ground-up build utilizing new fully-independent suspension and a bevy of custom one-off parts would be necessary to achieve his mile-high goals. A six-figure budget was set, and the Maeco crew began its search for a clean old fastback to serve as the foundation for the project.
After a little research the crew found a rust-free '65 fastback shell that was disassembled during the Reagan administration for restoration, then never touched again. This served the purpose perfectly, since the entire platform was going to be re-engineered from the ground-up anyway. Maeco-spec 14-gauge main framerails and torque boxes were integrated into the body for added strength, as was a rollcage that ties the firewall, floorpan, and trunk area together into a single unitized structure. The crossbars were fabricated to be as unobtrusive as possible while entering and exiting the car. Total Control provided one of its fully independent suspension setups along with power rack-and-pinion steering, and Maeco modified the system with its own adjustable front sway bar and heavy-duty Trans Am-spec front spindles that allow for adjustable bumpsteer. The fully-independent rear suspension was designed by CTM Engineering, utilizing a bulletproof Ford 9-inch rear housing stuffed with 3.50 gears and a 31-spline Detroit Locker, hung on custom halfshafts and control arms that bolt to the stock Mustang pickup points. Hypercoil springs and Koni adjustable aluminum shocks reside at all four corners, while custom PS Engineering 17x8 inch Trans Am Racing series five-spoke wheels wrapped in Hoosier tires keep the car planted.
Once the high-zoot suspension was figured out, the Maeco crew realized that a hopped-up 289 or 302 just wouldn't do, but it didn't want to use a 351 Windsor because of the added weight. The solution was to obtain a (then) new Ford SVO R302 four-bolt race block and stuff it with goodies like a King 3.300-inch stroker crank, Carrillo 5.300-inch rods, and Bill Miller Engineering 10:1 pistons. The proper mixture of air and fuel is provided by Air Flow Research aluminum heads, a Crower roller valvetrain, and an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake topped with a Holley 750 carb. An MSD 7-series ignition lights the fire. Spent gasses are dumped into custom-fabricated stainless steel headers with 1 5/8-inch primary tubes and 3-inch collectors, all flowing through custom 3-inch stainless pipes with an X-crossover and MagnaFlow mufflers. The result is a 330-cube high-winding small-block that shrieks like a flat-out race car at speed and manages to pump out 430 hp and 386 lb-ft of torque on the dyno, with redline coming in at a heady 7,500 rpm.