Modified Mustangs & FordsFeatured Vehicles
1968 Ford Mustang Fastback - A Strong Appreciation
Lifelong musclecar nuts build a custom classic
As you might imagine, the inside of this Mustang is equally modified beyond stock. Rene Cornejo and Ben Lizardo of Acme Tops and Tunes were enlisted to equip the cabin with the latest in lighting, sound, and seating. The original dash now hosts Classic Instruments billet Shelby signature 200-mph gauges and brushed aluminum panels, while the upper and lower consoles contain additional Auto Meter Phantom gauges, an Eclipse head unit, Electric Life window switches and door locks, the RideTech control module, as well as the obligatory nitrous arming switch.
The factory plastic wheel gave way to a Moto Lita woodgrain steering wheel that twists a Flaming River polished stainless steel tilt column. And while the Shelby signature series leather seats were virtual bolt-ins, most all of the interior panels are either hand fabricated or modified versions of the stock pieces by Victor Chavez.
At the beginning of this project, Scott already had an idea of what he would use to propel this Pony, and he contacted Tom Lucas at FE Specialties (Sacramento, California) to solidify his plan.
"Tom had worked on our daughter’s S-code ’67 Mustang, and we wanted him to build an engine for this car that would make it unique, but stay within the original Shelby era and school of thought," says Scott. "We told him to build an engine that he would build for himself if this were his car. Since Tom is a dedicated Cobra fanatic, he decided to go back to Carroll Shelby’s roots and build an all-aluminum 427 that would produce more than 700 horsepower-enough to keep my wife happy and the rest of the family in the rearview mirror."
Lucas began by machining the 427 FE block using torque plates, and then bored the cylinders 0.050-inch over stock to 4.280 inches.
"We originally wanted the motor to run on pump gas, but after simulating some horsepower numbers, we felt the additional compression would make the motor more responsive, and of course, produce more power, so we opted for the 12.4:1 Ross custom pistons," recalls Scott. The final stroke length of the Scat billet crank set the total displacement at 490 ci.
Even though the chassis was designed to fit the FE engine, an interference issue arose with regard to the front oil sump configuration. The rack-and-pinion steering setup made a front oil sump configuration impossible, so Lucas opted for a dry sump system from Aviaid. The system begins with a custom, low-profile, 3-inch sump oil pan with internal baffling and a windage screen. From there, the four-stage Series I dry sump pump with remote filter adapter is powered by a Gilmer beltdrive system attached to the crankshaft. The Aviaid oil storage tank is a 6-inch, 8-quart oil reservoir that is now hiding under the passenger side fender well.
Once engine assembly was complete, the massive FE was sent to Rex Hutchison’s dyno facility in Elk Grove, California, for testing. Break-in procedures were completed and then the fine tuning began. Without the 200hp NOS Pro Shot fogger nitrous, the stout FE engine offered up 705 hp at 6,300 rpm and 639 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm.
Keeping the engine chilled out is a custom aluminum radiator from American Pastimes. Equipped with two 12-inch puller fans, the system keeps the FE engine from cooking itself whether at a stoplight or an autocross.
Ron Pepper performed the final assembly, and upon completion, the vehicle known as Naja 427 came to life. Naja, as it turns out, is the genus of venomous elapid snakes which consists of 21 generally accepted species, the most recognized and most widespread of which is the Cobra. While it may sound like someone reaching for individuality, the terminology comes natural to Scott, who was supervisor of the nutrition laboratories for the department of animal sciences at the University of California.
"We’re really, really happy with the car," says Scott. "We spend so much time with it that we stopped driving the other cars." Considering that, we’re surprised Scott had the time to put together his rather extensive website on the build, www.427naja.com, on which you can find detailed pictures of the build, as well as videos of this tremendously capable machine navigating autocross courses. Yes, it gets driven and driven hard. While Scott and Laura have a strong appreciation for the pedigree, it’s the driving experience that causes us to fall in love with a car, and dedicate so much time and so many resources to something that, at the outset, is nothing more than a dream.