Kevin DiOssi
August 11, 2011

"Unlike many car guys, my father was a chef by occupation, and knew very little about carsùturn the key, put it in Drive, and go," says Deland, Florida's Paul Montgomery. "So how I got the mechanical gift, God only knows. From an early age, anything mechanical captured my attention." During his early teen years, Paul was intrigued by a friend's ability to work on cars, and he soon caught an enthusiasm that would one day lead to the construction of the GT500KR clone you see here.

"By the time I turned 16, I was your typical hot rod kid, stuffing big motors, four-speed transmissions, and 4.11 gears into my car," recalls Paul. "In my high school years, I was consumed with fast cars and great tunes. One of the changing moments in my life happened when I ran into some problems with my car. In searching for answers, my local parts store put me in touch with a well-respected mechanic. Fortunately, he took a liking to me, and I spent many days and weekends at his shop, where I met his daughter who would one day become my wife." How's that for destiny!

Though Paul's father-in-law has since passed away, he did so long after instilling his know-how in a young gearhead. "I will always appreciate the time and knowledge he shared with me," says Paul, "giving me the ability to restore a car from a rusted bucket of bolts to a prize winner."

Over the years, Paul has owned numerous muscle cars, including a pair of Boss 302 Mustangs, and a Cobra replica with a 427 side oilerùa personal favorite.

The direction of Paul's latest project came to mind while cruising home from a car show. Watching a teenager drive past him in her Honda while on the phone was just too much. After all, his Boss 302 was already cruising at an ear-splitting 3,700 rpm at 65 mph. No, the next car had to have longer legs, and be a bit more enjoyable to drive while visually reflecting the muscle car era. In creating a car guy's dream, Paul would combine the style of a vintage Shelby with a modern day suspension, big brakes, and a huge motor with lots of power, but streetable enough to run on pump gas and still wow the crowd at car shows.

"I started looking for a body that was perfect," recalls Paul. "Two months later, I found a car in North Carolina with 65,000 original miles, a six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, and not a rust spot on the car."

With the project set in motion, Paul tore the car apart, put the body on a dolly and media blasted the chassis. After taking it to bare metal, Paul mocked up the Shelby fiberglass hood, nose, trunk, and fender extensions. A great deal of time was spent correcting the panel gaps, and then the car was block-sanded to a "laser-straight" finish.

Paul then gave the factory suspension components the heave-ho and purchased a Heidts rear suspension assembly. He polished the link bars and then cleared them for a long-lasting finish. The front suspension was next on the modification list, and Paul chose to upgrade it with adjustable tubular A arms and coilover shocks.

Shortly thereafter, the convertible was disassembled and painted, top and bottom, in a custom DuPont Chromabase Red. The interior metal was covered in Dynamat to reduce rattles and cancel out some of the road noise, and then Paul installed the newly reupholstered seats and Shelby-specific appointments.

"The only modern-day convenience I added was an Alpine six-speaker stereo with CD and iPod, along with two 12-inch Kicker subwoofers and an Alpine amp that I custom installed in the trunk."

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Since Paul was going with a King of the Road theme, obviously he would need to have a substantial powerplant to move the Mustang with an appropriate quickness. To that end, Paul opted for a 427ci, aluminum-block side oiler to not only cut down on weight, but to provide a massive amount of cubic displacement. John Kaeserman of Express Engines (Deland, Florida), which builds 1,000hp offshore powerboat race engines as well as trick street rod powerplants, stroked the FE to 482 ci, and topped it of with CNC-ported Edelbrock FE aluminum heads, and a Blue Thunder 2x4 intake. Paul had Quickfuel Technology flow and tune the two Holley carburetors.

"I had asked John to build me a motor I could run on the street with pump gas, turn on the A/C, and drive down the road comfortably, but still give me big power," says Paul.

The dynamometer showed 575 hp and 573 lb-ft of torque. Paul tells us that a single four-barrel would have provided more horsepower, but the 2x4 setup sure stops the crowd. A March pulley system helps motivate the power steering pump, 100-amp alternator, and polished A/C compressor.

To ensure a proper cruise rpm, Paul backed the wickedly wonderful FE with a Tremec Transmissions TKO five-speed, and a hydraulic clutch bearing eases the pedal effort. Under considerable coercion from the manual gearbox, the Ford 9-inch rearend turns 31-spline axle shafts, a Traction-Lok differential, and 3.25 cogs. Unimpressed with the rigidity of the Mustang's 40-plus-year-old chassis, Paul welded in subframe connectors and connected them with an X brace. Wilwood binders and 17-inch vintage Shelby-style wheels round out the modifications.

"I have to say the car is a blast to drive with the steering and braking of a new car, but with the looks of a vintage Shelby, it draws a crowd were ever it goes," notes Paul. With the awesome looks of one of the greatest Shelby Mustangs ever produced, combined with the latest in aftermarket performance products, this could just be the King of the Clones.

In creating a car guy's dream, Paul would combine the style of a vintage Shelby with a modern day suspension, big brakes, and a huge motor with lots of power, but streetable enough to run on pump gas and still wow the crowd at car shows

The Details

Paul Montgomery's '68 Mustang Convertible

Engine

  • 482ci (427 FE) Robert Pond aluminum side oiler block, built by John Kaeserman at Express Engines (Deland, FL)
  • 4.250-inch stroke
  • 4.250-inch bore
  • Scat crankshaft and forged H-beam connecting rods
  • JE forged pistons with Sealed Power rings
  • Edelbrock Performer RPM FE heads, CNC-ported
  • Custom Comp Cams hydraulic roller camshaft
  • Dual Quickfuel 750-cfm four-barrel carburetors, 22-gallon stainless steel fuel tank
  • 575 hp and 573 lb-ft of torque
  • March serpentine pulley system
  • Griffin radiator

Transmission

  • Tremec TKO-600 five-speed manual
  • Quicktime steel bellhousing
  • American Powertrain clutch

Rearend

  • Heidts 9-inch rear axle housing with a 9-inch factory third member
  • Traction-Lok differential
  • Richmond 3.25 gears
  • 31-spline axles

Exhaust

  • Sanderson ceramic-coated long-tube headers, 1¥-inch primaries, 3-inch collectors, 2-1/2-inch pipes
  • MagnaFlow mufflers

Suspension

  • Front: Coilover springs, tubular control arms, 1-inch antisway bar, TCP shock tower brace and X subframe connectors, power rack-and-pinion steering
  • Rear: Coilover springs, Heidts four-link suspension with Panhard bar

Brakes

  • Front: Wilwood disc, four-piston calipers, 12-inch drilled and slotted rotors
  • Rear: Wilwood disc, four-piston calipers, 12-inch drilled and slotted rotors

Wheels

  • Front: Vintage Wheel Works V50, 17x8
  • Rear: Vintage Wheel Works V50, 17x9.5

Tires

  • Front: Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport, P245/45R17
  • Rear: Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport, P275/40/R17

Interior

  • Stock black upholstery restored by Steve McNicole, Shelby wood-trimmed steering wheel, wood-trimmed dashboard and console, Shelby shift knob, Alpine head unit, Kicker 12-inch subwoofers, ididit tilt steering column, Dynamat sound deadening, Shelby 140-mph speedometer, Shelby 8,000-rpm tachometer, Stewart Warner Greenline console gauges, Vintage Air

Exterior

  • Shelby/Maier Racing fiberglass front fascia, hood, tail spoiler, taillights; Shelby gas cap, emblems, and sidescoops; new convertible top by Steve McNicole, custom red paint in Dupont Chromabase base/clear

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