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1966 Ford Mustang Fastback R-Model Clone - Best Laid Plans
This R-model clone took a right turn when it met Gateway Classic Mustangs
We’ve all had them: best laid plans. Whether it’s trying to get the yard done before going to the movies or swapping out that transmission before the next track event, things don’t always go as planned. But in some cases that’s a good thing. One of those cases that turned into a good thing is the ’66 Mustang fastback you see here owned by Steve Kreiger of St. Louis, Missouri.
Steve is a one of those car guys who likes a little bit of everything. While his main love is early Porsches, he’s also into Ford street rods and muscle cars. Steve toured the Shelby plant at LAX back in the ’60s when he was an aerospace engineer for Douglas (before it was McDonnell-Douglas). He always liked the look of the Shelby fastback and even owned a Mustang for a while, but he primarily bought that one because it had air conditioning and none of his Porsches did.
Steve will often catch a bug on a certain car and pursue it. In this case, he was looking for a ’65-’67 fastback, though he tells us he actually looked for a builder before the car. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves in our story. Steve was at a local Ford dealer’s car show with his longtime car pal, Wayne Coleman, and said, Nice car to his friend while pointing at a Mustang. They walked over and took a closer look.
"The car looked brand-new, like somebody really knew what they were doing when they built it," Steve tells us. He grabbed a business card off the wiper arm, thinking it was for sale, but it turned out to be a customer’s car for Gateway Classic Mustang and the card belonged to GCM’s Lonny Childress. Steve had already looked at more than a dozen shops (most of which told him the waiting list was two-years-long, and then still wouldn’t call when the work slot opened up), so he figured he’d stop by the GCM shop, and he liked what he saw. Now to find a car.
Steve did the same thing most of us do in the 21st century; he hopped on eBay in search of a Mustang. He found a ’66 fastback in Indiana and won the auction. When Steve went to pick up the car, he felt it wasn’t represented properly and would be in for more work than he had anticipated. Steve tore it down himself, but then dropped it off to GCM.
At 67 years old, Steve’s not the most spritely person these days, and years of AMA motorcycle racing and crashes have taken their toll on his hands as well, so having a competent shop to handle the things he could no longer do was extremely important to him. He also hadn’t built a car of his own in a long time and was out of touch concerning today’s technology and product contacts. Steve originally planned to build an R-model Shelby clone, with gutted interior, vented rear window, and all. However, after discussing the project with Lonny, it blossomed into a restomod.
"I plan to drive it and I want to turn the key and go anywhere I want in the United States," Steve explained.
When GCM started on the car, the floor was pretty eaten up, Steve says, needing a half dozen patches. That helped GCM decide to do a one-piece floor, the first one it did. Approximately 60 percent of all of the sheetmetal was replaced, and Steve was very pleased with GCM’s work on the body and paint. It was about this time that GCM was coming out with its own line of suspension systems under the Gateway Performance Suspension brand. Lonny felt Steve’s car would be a great candidate for the new coilover strut setup. With Steve’s approval, the fastback got the full complement of handling upgrades and actually became sort of a development car for GCM, seeing plenty of track testing during development. Of course, handling is nothing if you can’t get the car slowed for the next corner, so GCM made sure the fastback was ready to stop with a four-wheel-disc setup from Baer and then shod a sweet set of Billet Specialties wheels with sticky BFG g-Force T/A rubber.