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.

Neil made sure the suspension and brakes were well matched for what we're told is a healthy 397hp output. The big players are from Total Control, Global West, QA1, and Baer-to name but a few. Ford Racing "Bullitt" wheels mount P245/45ZR17 Goodyears, and in case the power is laid down hard and early, CalTracs traction bars maximize the bite of the modest sized rubber.

The Halberts love driving and showing off their version of Mustang nirvana, and have apparently struck a chord amongst those who've had the time to go over the car closely. "Everyone comments about how clean the car is," says Neil, which is exactly the attribute that drew us to feature the car herein. That, and the great Tropical Turquoise over white-there's no question that Neil and Betty made the right choice there.

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The Details
Neil and Betty Halbert's '65 Mustang fastback

Engine

  • 5.0L (now 331 cubic inches)
  • 4.030 bore
  • 3.25-inch stroke Scat cast crank
  • Scat connecting rods
  • SRP forged pistons
  • JE rings
  • FRPP X303 hydraulic roller camshaft, 224 degrees duration at 0.050, 0.542-inch lift
  • Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum heads
  • Comp Cams Pro Magnum rocker arms
  • Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum intake
  • Holley 650-cfm Double Pumper carb and HP 125 electric fuel pump
  • MSD Billet distributor and 6AL ignition box
  • Canton oil pan

Transmission

  • Ford Racing T-5Z five-speed manual King Cobra clutch

Rearend

  • Ford 9-inch housing 3.50 gears
  • Detroit Truetrac limited-slip differential 28-spline axles

Exhaust

  • JBA shorty headers
  • JBA H-pipe
  • Magnaflow mufflers and tailpipes

Suspension

  • Front: Total Control rack-and-pinion steering, Global West upper and lower control arms, Global West strut rods, shortened big-block springs, QA1 shocks, 11/16-inch swaybar
  • Rear: Stock replacement leaf springs, QA1 shocks, 3/4-inch swaybar, CalTrac traction bars, Total Control engine compartment bracing, Total Control subframe connectors

Brakes ul>

  • Front: Baer 13-inch disc, two-piston caliper
  • Rear: Baer 12-inch disc, single-piston caliper
  • Wheels

    • Front: Ford Racing Bullitt, 17x8, 6.295-inch backspace ('05 and up Mustang)
    • Rear: Ford Racing Bullitt, 17x8, 6.295-inch backspace ('05 and up Mustang)

    Tires

    • Front: Goodyear Eagle ZR, P245/45ZR17
    • Rear: Goodyear Eagle ZR, P245/45ZR17

    Interior

    • TMI Pony upholstery and Sport Foam seat, upholstery by Moe's Auto Service, TMI door panels and headliner, custom gauge cluster by Langley's Creationz Speed and Sound, Auto Meter Street Rod Designer Black gauges, Grant Elite GT steering wheel, Flaming River tilt steering column

    Exterior

    • Original color Tropical Turquoise, BASF basecoat/clearcoat paint sprayed by Norm Green, body prep by Troy Campbell

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