Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
February 9, 2011
Photos By: Bill Erdman

It was December 1972, and John and Anelle Pestrichelli were expecting their second child. They purchased this Blue Glow Metallic hardtop from Neal Pope Ford while living in Buford, Georgia. They figured the well-optioned hardtop would make for a nice, safe ride for Anelle's daily travels, carpooling, and more. We're sure it was indeed a smooth ride with power steering, power disc brakes, A/C, tinted glass, a 351 Cleveland V-8, and an FMX automatic. The hardtop served its first life as a daily driver well, never letting Anelle down in the 18 years of daily use. But toward the end of their second decade together, the hardtop started to show its age. The Pestrichellis had moved to River Edge, New Jersey, in 1976 and the winter snow and salted roads did their worst. The typical rust began creeping up in the rear quarters and the bottom of the doors as well. Anelle finally moved on to another daily driver-a new Ford Taurus-but the Mustang stayed with the family.

In 1999, John, who was then president of the Garden State Region Mustang Club, dragged the Mustang out of storage and decided he wanted to restore the family Mustang and add a few modifications. The rust repairs came first. New quarters and doorskins took care of the visible rust, but John found more in the trunk floor and taillight panel as well. Those were cut out and replaced with the help of friend Don Blake. A fresh rebuild of the Cleveland by friend John Pyrros made the '73 road worthy again and John was satisfied with the '73 being an occasional driver and cruise-night contender. But after a few years of driving it easy, John had other plans, and that's when the hardtop began its second life as a race car.

The Clevo was pulled once more in 2008 to give it the beans it would need to traverse the quarter-mile in a respectable time. First up was a set of 0.060-inch over forged slugs, followed by a conversion to an Edelbrock cam, which activates roller rockers bolted to a set of Edelbrock RPM aluminum heads. The induction was upgraded to an Edelbrock aluminum manifold and an Edelbrock four-barrel carburetor. The upgrades netted John 375 hp and 342 lb-ft of torque for the efforts of the crew at RPM Performance Engines in Westwood, New Jersey. The FMX trans was freshened as well with a shift improvement kit. Finally, the original 2.75 open diff 9-inch was swapped out for a 3.50-geared Traction-Lok and a full 2 3/4-inch dual exhaust system was fitted. The '73's dragstrip days also included traction bars to help put the 375 hp to the track surface, rewarding John with consistent 14.30s at 99 mph at New Jersey's Raceway Park. Happy with the hardtop's performance, John and Anelle set their sights on Mustang Club of America (MCA) show competition, and so entered the '73's third, and current, life as a show car.

Showing the '73 in the MCA's Modified Driven class means John and Anelle have been free to upgrade the hardtop as they see fit, including enough chrome that you can probably see the '73's engine bay from the International Space Station! Yup, the chrome plater probably put his kids through college with the Pestrichelli's chrome work, including hood hinges, air cleaner, Monte Carlo and export bars, alternator, ignition coil, and much, much more. But the lavish addition of chrome isn't the only thing John and Anelle did to impress the judges. Taking a look inside the '73, you'd notice the custom two-tone interior by Topo Customs of Saddle Brook, New Jersey, right away. Custom seats, door panels, and custom covered dash all work well together and are complemented by a LeCarra steering wheel, blue underdash lighting, and a Custom Autsound system. The trunk is just as detailed as the interior and features full carpeting, a trunk lid-mounted tool kit, a polished aluminum battery box, more blue lighting, and a trunk divider with a chrome running pony logo.

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