Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
June 21, 2010

Merv and Pat Rego have been involved in Mustangs in some way or form since the first Mustang was displayed at the New York World's Fair in 1964. Already married and starting a family, they laid eyes on the Ford pavilion and all the new Fords for 1965 and fell in love with the sporty new Mustang. Those early years, raising a family and working for the punch clock, weren't easy, but the Regos found a way to own a Mustang or two throughout that time. Their passion for Mustangs eventually grew into a business, Central Jersey Mustang, where Merv restored countless Mustangs for customers all over the Northeast. They even started their own local Mustang club, as the nearest club to them was a several-hour drive.

Like many who shun the cold northern winters, the Regos packed up and moved to central Florida, landing in the city of Lakeland (midway between Tampa and Orlando) and setting up shop under a new name, Classic Creations of Central Florida (www.classiccreationsfl.com). Again, they looked for a Mustang club to be an integral part of and found the Imperial Mustangs of Polk County (IMPC). There, Merv has held the position of president, while Pat is still the club's treasurer and is the chairperson for its large annual car show. This is where we first met the Regos more than 10 years ago, actually, and got a glimpse of Merv's love for the Mustang firsthand, touring their garage which included a '67 Shelby GT350 (with factory air no less), an F-350 dualie, a Fox Mustang, and a Thunderbird. Later, the Thunderbird would be traded for another Fox Mustang (he now has four of those).

When the Shelby was sold off to build their new home in Florida, Merv, who also has a gleam in his eye for early Falcons, wondered why the Mustang body was never used in a wagon or sedan delivery form like the Falcon was. Ford even played with a wagon body style, but it never went into production and we've seen several examples of Mustang wagons over the years, with some better than others. Though we've never seen a true sedan delivery style (no side glass) doesn't mean it can't be done, and Merv set out to build a one-of-a-kind Mustang sedan delivery to park next to his '66 K-code fastback, '65 Falcon Ranchero, Roushcharged '04 F-150, and other four-wheeled toys. Having the rough '66 six-cylinder coupe in his inventory since the couple's days in New Jersey as a starting point was the easy first step, but what to do from there took three years of building in their shop's spare time, some of which became editorial fodder for this magazine, including the engine build, suspension modifications, and more.

Fixing all of the rust issues the coupe had was step number one. The coupe received new floors, cowl patches, rockers, and more. Where they could, stronger parts (convertible rockers, and so on) were used, or custom strengthening braces were incorporated. With the roof, transition panel, and trunk lid cut away, measurements were taken and a trip to the local salvage yard netted Merv a roof panel and hatch assembly from a Volvo 240DL wagon. The roof line, length, and hatch width were all within specs of the measurements needed to fit to the Mustang. Danny Gaydos, Classic Creations' lead metal man moved forward on the roof swap and fabbed up the sedan delivery specific sheetmetal side panels to fill it all in. Finally, the rear of the car was completely hand fabricated in steel, including the molded bumper area, taillight panel, quarter extensions, and so forth. Danny even devised a way to make the gas cap act as the hatch release (the fuel filler is in the load floor inside). The rear framerails were also moved inboard to allow wider tires out back. After weeks of block sanding and making sure the car was perfect, Gaydos applied a custom purple mix of PPG basecoat/clearcoat and then painstakingly wet sanded and buffed out the surface to a show finish.

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While the bodywork and styling exercise efforts are easy to see, what's not easy to see without opening the hood or getting on your hands and knees is the suspension and driveline that motivate the delivery and keep its shiny side up. For starters, the delivery wasn't going to be powered by some basic 5.0L swap, or even a built Windsor. No, Merv wanted people to stop and stare when the hood went up, and people certainly do when they spot the 514ci stroker that was built by Jon Barrett's Hot Rod Shop. Based off of a 385-series 460 casting, the engine was stuffed with a nodular iron stroker crank and forged rods and pistons and then topped with Edelbrock induction and a Holley 870cfm Street Avenger carburetor. To fit the big-block, a Heidts Mustang II frontend was welded into place and then reinforced for the weight of the big-block. With the shock towers in the scrap pile there was plenty of room for the big-block to reside and the Sanderson block-hugger headers help even more. The rest of the drivetrain consists of a Performance Automatic Competition AOD four-speed automatic with a 2,500 rpm stall converter spinning an aluminum driveshaft from Mustangs Plus, and a narrowed Currie 9-inch with 3.50 gears. Stainless Steel Brakes discs at all four corners help with the "whoa power" and are wrapped in Wheel Vintiques polished 17-inch wheels and Nitto rubber.

If you thought the metalwork needed to create such a vehicle was a head scratcher, then you have to realize the interior wasn't any easier. Sure, from the front seats forward it's still all Mustang, and the M-Detail Flo Fit seats, Dakota Digital Gauges, Lokar shifter and more all pretty much bolted in without any fuss. But look rearward and you've got another problem. With the framerails moved inward, which of course moved the wheelhouse inward, the fold-down seat assembly had to be cut down to size and custom upholstery made for it. Same goes for the extended length custom headliner all the way to the rear hatch. While the stock fiberglass side panels worked up front, to finish off the side walls of the delivery a second set of original panels were trimmed down and reversed to fit at the back of the load floor. Extra bulk carpet from Auto Custom Carpets was ordered to finish off said area as well.

Since the sedan delivery has been complete, it has been getting lots of attention at shows that include the MCA 30th anniversary bash and many others. Merv is always ready for the deluge of questions, with many looking at the craftsmanship and wondering if it's a factory piece they've just never known about. True, it's not everyone's cup of tea, but that's what makes this hobby so great-that we can build whatever we want that makes us happy every time we get in it and twist the key, and what other people think shouldn't matter. As for Merv, well, he has some deliveries to make and more cars to build, including a mid- or rear-engine-powered Mustang he's been dreaming of for several years.

The Details
Merv Rego's '66 Mustang Sedan Delivery

Engine

  • 514ci 460 big-block-based stroker
  • Assembled by Jon Barrett Hot Rod Engines
  • 4.440-inch bore
  • 4.150-inch stroke
  • Nodular iron crankshaft
  • Eagle 4130 forged I-beam rods
  • Probe forged pistons
  • Total Seal rings
  • Clevite bearings
  • Comp Cams flat tapped hydraulic cam
  • Comp Cams Pro Magnum roller rockers
  • Edelbrock Cobra Jet aluminum cylinder heads
  • Edelbrock Victor Jr. single-plane intake manifold
  • Holley 870cfm Street Avenger carburetor
  • MSD Pro Billet ready to run distributor
  • MSD plug wires
  • Edelbrock Victor Series water pump
  • Saldana Racing aluminum radiator
  • Flex-a-lite twin fan system
  • PA Performance PMGR starter
  • March Performance serpentine beltdrive kit
  • Tuff Stuff Performance Products alternator and power steering pump
  • ARP internal engine fasteners
  • Totally Stainless external fasteners

Transmission

  • Performance Automatic Competition AOD
  • 2,500 rpm stall speed 10-inch Pro Launch converter
  • Mustangs Plus aluminum driveshaft

Rearend

  • Currie 9-inch housing, narrowed 4 inches
  • Traction-Lok differential
  • 31-spline axles
  • 3.50 gears

Exhaust

  • Sanderson Street Rod block-hugger headers, 1 7/8-inch primary, 3 1/2-inch collector
  • Bassani universal street rod exhaust kit, 2 1/2-inch tubing, X-crossover insert
  • Bassani Quiet Thunder mufflers

Suspension

  • Front: Heidts Mustang II, power rack-and-pinion steering, Heidts power steering control valve
  • Rear: Eaton Detroit Spring five-leaf mid-eye springs, KYB Gas-a-Just shocks

Brakes

  • Front: Stainless Steel Brakes Force 10 disc, 11-inch slotted rotor, four-piston caliper
  • Rear: Stainless Steel Brakes Force 10 disc, 10.5-inch slotted rotor, single-piston caliper

Wheels

  • Front: Wheel Vintiques polished Bullet 105 Series, 17x8, 5 1/2-inch offset
  • Rear: Wheel Vintiques polished Bullet 105 Series, 17x9 1/2, 5-inch offset

Tires

  • Front: Nitto NT555 Extreme, P245/45R17
  • Rear: Nitto NT 555 Extreme, P275/40R17

Interior

  • M-Detail Flo Fit high-back seats with Pony interior inserts, Auto Custom Carpets dark tan carpet set and bulk carpet for load floor, LeCarra steering wheel on Flaming River tilt column, Custom Autosound head unit, 4-inch dash speakers, power windows using window cranks for switches, power locks, Dakota Digital instrumentation, Lokar shifter and parking brake, Lokar pedal pads, illuminated doorsill plates, Hot Rod Air Elite heat and A/C system

Exterior

  • Custom mix purple metallic PPG basecoat/clearcoat, fiberglass Shelby front valance from Tony Branda Performance, fiberglass hood from Mustangs Plus, Mustang Depot billet grille, Scott Drake billet taillight bezels and gas cap, GT rear valance, '71 Mustang door handles, Tri-bar headlamps