June 2, 2011

It would seem that most muscle car enthusiasts grew up during the ’60s and ’70s, when the first wave of Detroit muscle was busy selling four-speed this, and big-block that. In wanting to remember those times, many restore these cars to their original condition. However, Modified Mustangs & Fords readers know that we can make these cars much better, while keeping the classic lines and authoritative exhaust notes that made them so distinct in the first place, and Scott and Laura Taylor are two such individuals.

"I got my license in 1966, when muscle cars were taking off," recalls Scott. "We’ve always had muscle cars throughout our life. This ’68 was a retirement project for me, as I just retired. My wife, Laura, wanted a car, and she liked the Eleanor fascias and body style." With that, Scott began looking for a ’67-’68 fastback, and located one in Southern California.

"The ’68 A-code Mustang was being driven by an 18-year-old high school senior who was reluctantly selling the car to support his future college education," says Scott. The car showed well, so they made the purchase and drove it 450 miles to their home in Sacramento.

Once Scott began to look into the car further, he found out it was originally from the Midwest, and a thick, gooey coating of rust proofing was hiding a bit of history. Not only did it cover up all of the body panel numbers, but it also covered up a great deal of previous bodywork. Realizing this was going to be a big job, Scott called upon David Henry of Henry’s Hot Rods in Shingle Springs, California.

It was determined that everything from the firewall forward had been replaced, and as Scott had plans for an extreme powerplant, he didn’t want to take any chances with framerails that may not be up to the task. David Henry’s first suggestion was to put an Art Morrison Max G Muscle Car frame under the car, as it would be more than capable of supporting the underhood firepower, as well as providing the handling capabilities that Scott sought.

With that decision, Ron Pepper of Pepper Fabrications broke out the oxy/acetylene torch and cut out the entire bottom of the Mustang unibody. The Max G chassis was CAD-engineered to accept the FE engine specifications, tire and wheel size, front and rear suspension components, and braking requirements. The 2x4 beam frame is mandrel-bent, and includes passages for the side exhaust and the driveshaft. This allows one to lower the ride height, thus improving the center of gravity. With the RideTech suspension system, Scott tells us that he can drop the Pony within a scant 2 inches of the pavement.

Pepper Fabrications then put hammer and saw to metal and melded the Mustang body with the Max G chassis. The floors, trunk, firewall, wheelwells, inner and outer fender panels, engine mounts, transmission crossmember, rollbar, and radiator support were all custom fabricated.

Once the Mustang was whole again, the bodywork could commence and the project would resume looking like a Mustang. This included fitting the Eleanor body kit, the side exhaust, and the side pillar gas cap. Henry and Pepper also fabricated the side-opening hood hinges and hood-release pins, and hid all of their handiwork beneath the inner fender panels. Advanced Composite Engineering in Temecula, California, fabricated the custom carbon-fiber hood, which Scott tells us saved 42 pounds over the fiberglass piece that he was originally going to use.

Once all of the body components were properly fiberglassed to the metal, Rodd White, Troy Costa, and the crew at Gold River Auto Body in Rancho Cordova, California, were employed with the task of laying on the color and custom striping.

"Rodd and Troy are perfectionists and wanted everything flawless," says Scott. They purchased a stock GT decal side stripe kit and had it reproduced in vinyl, but in its reverse image, which enabled them to mask off the stripes and then paint them on the car.

Scott knew the car was going to be black, but the stripe color was a bit of a conundrum. White and Costa tried a number of color combinations before PPG’s Candy Apple Red sprayed over silver metallic offered just the right contrast. It’s a unique combination that really sets the visual tone of the exterior.