Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, 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.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

To wrap up the show-worthy upgrades, John worked some magic on the exterior of the hardtop to wow the judges further. The '73 got a NASA-style hood with a Mach 1-style paint design in Argent Silver and chrome hood locks, but before the paint was put away, the chin spoiler, grille, rear spoiler, and taillight panel all got a touch of the gray stuff. The body was dropped 2 inches all around and 15-inch Magnums wrapped in BFG Radial T/As, and a set of spinners were mounted. Sequential LED taillights and dual chrome exhaust tips are what the competition sees out back.

Over the last few years, the hardtop has taken First Place awards in every MCA National and Grand National event it was entered. When not cleaning up at the show field, the '73 shares garage space with John's '07 Mustang GT/CS. Yep, like most of us, John and Anelle have a classic and late-model Mustang appreciation. It's not often we get to see one-owner rides like the Pestrichelli's '73 hardtop, and even rarer when it's a one-owner wonder like this that has seen daily driving, the dragstrip, and the show field throughout its various lives.

The Details

John and Anelle Pestrichelli's '73 Mustang hardtop

Engine

  • 351 Cleveland
  • 4.060-inch bore
  • 3.50-inch stroke
  • Forged pistons
  • Stock I-beam rods
  • Stock nodular iron crankshaft
  • Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads
  • 190cc intake runners, 60cc chambers
  • 2.05-inch intake/1.60-inch exhaust valves
  • Edelbrock Performer-Plus camshaft
  • Roller rockers
  • Moroso chrome valve covers
  • Edelbrock Performer 4V aluminum intake manifold
  • Edelbrock Performer Series 650-cfm carburetor
  • Be Cool aluminum radiator
  • Aluminum water pump
  • Cool Flex cooling hoses
  • 375 hp, 342 lb-ft torque
  • Engine work by RPM Performance Engines, Westwood, NJ

Transmission

  • Ford FMX three-speed automatic
  • Shift improvement kit

Rearend

  • Ford 9-inch housing
  • Traction-Lok differential
  • 28-spline axles
  • 3.50 gears

Exhaust

  • Stainless 2 3/4-inch dual exhaust
  • X-style crossover
  • Flowmaster mufflers
  • Chrome rolled tips

Suspension

  • Front: Stock control arms, lowering springs, power steering
  • Rear: stock leaf springs, Monroe air shocks

Brakes

  • Front: Stock 11.2-inch disc, single-piston caliper, power assisted
  • Rear: Stock 10-inch drum, power assisted

Wheels

  • Front: Magnum 500, chrome finish, tri-bar spinner, 15x7
  • Rear: Magnum 500, chrome finish, tri-bar spinner, 15x7

Tires

  • Front: BFGoodrich Radial T/A, P225/60R15
  • Rear: BFGoodrich Radial T/A, P225/60R15

Interior

  • Custom-designed seat upholstery in blue and argent silver colors, matching blue and argent silver door panels, LeCarra steering wheel, full length console, factory air conditioning, Custom Autosound AM/FM/cassette stereo, woodgrain Pony shifter handle, custom covered padded dash in blue, blue neon underdash lighting, upholstery work by Topo Customs, Saddle Brook, NJ

Exterior

  • Medium Blue Glow Metallic paint with white vinyl roof, Argent silver accents including Mach 1 hood pattern, body side striping, taillight panel, rear wing, grille, and front spoiler, NASA-style hood with chrome twist locks, polished rocker panel moldings