Eric English
December 23, 2010

When an enthusiast sets out to build a '60s-era restomod, the choice of an early Mustang fast-back is a pretty safe bet. As opposed to other body styles of the period, it's a shape that is admired almost universally, benefits from the support of a huge aftermarket, and has been done so many times, there are innumerable examples to be inspired by. Put it this way: if you screw up in the execution of a vintage Mustang fastback, you're pretty well all thumbs.

Not so safe a bet is to stay with an original color combination, both inside and out. While few factory pairings are truly awful, certain hues and combinations are clearly more desirable than others-witness how many people perform a color change. When Neil and Betty Halbert of Langley, British Columbia, set out to build this '65 fastback, they contemplated the same color issues that many a builder mulls over. The super clean 2+2 had originally rolled out of San Jose bathed in Tropical Turquoise with a white interior, and while quite fetching at the time of manufacture, the girly-man color scheme is now seldom seen. Yep, many a similar car ends up in Resale Red or as some sort of Shelby clone, but after much consulting with family and friends, you can see that the couple stuck with the factory combination, with no regrets today.

Neil chuckles when he describes how the resto effort got started.

"Initially I was simply going to detail the engine compartment, but before long it had turned into a full blown rotisserie deal. We decided to build a modified, but wanted to leave the body's stock classic style." With this guiding sentiment, the Halberts proceeded to pull off exactly what they'd hoped for, with Neil performing much of the assembly work with help from Dave Mailhiot, and son Brett lending a skilled hand in several different arenas, including the hidden underhood wiring and custom gauge cluster. Troy Campbell did a fantastic job of preparing the body and dialing in the panel fit, while Norm Green reapplied the Tropical Turquoise with two-stage BASF products.

Many a builder could use the Halbert's '65 for inspiration of their own, with "clean and simple" being among the lessons to draw on. Those who think such an approach is a cakewalk to accomplish should think again, for high standards, sweating the details, and correcting what didn't turn out the first time, are necessary to nail the look. The Halberts have dotted all the I's and crossed all the T's, and next to the flawless exterior, we're probably most smitten with the interior threads. Again, nothing crazy was needed, just a good eye and quality craftsmanship. We'll admit to loving a light-colored cabin, so the car had a nice start just as Ford assembled it. Pony interior was an upgrade on this factory four-barrel/four-speed machine, with two items standing out. First are the great looking seats with bolstered padding and headrests, and second is the previously mentioned custom gauge cluster as fabricated by Brett Halbert, owner of Langley's Creationz Speed and Sound. The R-model-esque six-hole layout provides ample space for a full array of Auto Meter Designer Black series gauges-a first rate custom touch all around.

Modern upgrades abound throughout, though again in straightforward form. The engine stays carbureted with a 650-cfm Holley, but is full of contemporary components such as a 5.0L roller block, 3.25-inch Scat stroker crank, FRPP X303 hydraulic roller camshaft, and Edelbrock aluminum heads and intake. Viewed in a body-colored engine compartment devoid of most visible wiring, the 331-incher may be simple, but it looks and works terrific.