Rod Short
October 5, 2011

Bret Hollar Placed All The Right Parts In All The Right Places on this '66 Mustang

It's the bane of any enthusiast's existence: How to choose the right look and select all the right pieces to make the unique Mustang you've always wanted. Bret Hollar managed all that on a budget with research, elbow grease, eBay, and salvage parts. With all the right ingredients and some patience thrown in, he may have just found the perfect recipe for a Mustang that anybody would be proud of.

A guy who spends a lot of time spinning wrenches is always on the lookout for just the right car to provide the perfect starting point. Bret didn't have to look any further than his in-laws, when his wife, Norma's, sister was willing to trade her classic Mustang for a remodeled bathroom. It was a '65 coupe with a T-code 200ci I-6 rated at just 120 hp, with four-lug, 13-inch wheels. Although rather humble by performance standards, the car had served faithfully and remained in the family for years. At some point, the car had been cosmetically restored, while the manual transmission had been dropped in favor of an automatic transmission, but was still just a low-powered, entry-level car-that was until Bret got hold of it.

When remodeling the sister-in-law's bathroom rewarded Bret with both the keys and the title to the car, it was off to the races. Maybe not in literal terms, but maybe in Bret's mind anyway. Once the basic ingredients of a car were resolved, the next step was to see how sound everything was. An inspection revealed more than a little behind-the-scenes work would be required to keep this Pony going. Rotten floorboards and a leaky cowl were quickly remedied, while Bret continued to think and plan what he wanted this car to be.

Part of the research focused on what kind of engine should go into the car. Just as a chef looks diligently for the freshest and tastiest ingredients, Bret was looking at what would be the best parts and pieces to assemble a late-model powerplant from scratch. Inspired by a former Modified Mustangs & Fords cover car, Bret looked to equip his Pony with a modular Ford powerplant. A '99 Mustang Cobra was the donor vehicle, but the Four-Valve 4.6 had thrown a rod through the block. Research told him that the '93-and-newer Lincoln Mark VIII aluminum block was the strongest passenger car block available. With all the right parts in all the right places, Bret had a strong engine that was different from what's found in the typical first-gen Mustang that would serve reliably as well.

"I always try to research a project and get some background first to make sure that I can really do it," Bret said rather humbly. "A lot of people that do these installations use aftermarket wiring kits or a harness that they've pulled out of a wreck. Usually, they'll try to hide all the electronics that they don't use. I took only what I needed from a stock '03 engine harness and then blended that in with the car's original wiring harness. I did update the fuse box with a late-model one so I could have power windows and such. Everything was customized to fit and all the connectors are soldered for extra reliability."

Equal care and consideration went into every other part and piece also. To get the right look and stance, Bret went to Heidts for its PX-320 Mustang II front suspension package that included the crossmember, control arms, spindles, rack-and-pinion, shocks, springs, and brakes. A Ford 9-inch axle from a '58 Ford was the perfect width, and helped anchor the rearend.

Just as much attention went into putting together a modern interior that makes this Mustang just as pleasant to sit in as it is to look at. Air conditioning, power steering, power windows, a custom console, and three-point safety harnesses were all welcome upgrades that made this car better than ever. Bret pirated a pair of '07 Mustang GT leather and heated seats, ditched the headrests, and had the back seat reupholstered to match the fronts.

Joey Bivens of Impact Collision Center spent a year disassembling, massaging, and replacing every piece of sheetmetal on the car. Viper Red paint was then lovingly applied to make a finished product that was easy on the eyes.

Just as anyone with discriminating tastes, Bret was pleased with the end result and drove the car as it was for about a year, but still felt that there was something that might still be missing. The idea finally came to him about what was needed to tweak his recipe for success to make it better. Once done, he finally did indeed have the perfect combination of classic style and modern horsepower.

"I just couldn't help feeling like it needed a little something extra," Bret said with a smile. "So, I did some more research and wound up buying the '03 supercharger/intake and upgraded the fuel system. On the chassis dyno, it made 442 hp at the rear wheels with 405 lb-ft of torque-with only 6.5 pounds of boost!"

It was the missing ingredient that turned something from "good" into simply "great." The car's stance, sound, and attention to detail provided an attraction at shows and cruise-ins, but it was the awesome sight of modern technology and power that had people coming back for another look.

"Before you raise the hood, everybody remarks about how clean a car it is," Bret said about people's reaction to his finished product. "Then, they're speechless once they see the engine. People will walk by it, do a double take, and then back up to see it again. A lot of the old-school guys think it's some kind of a Ford big-block, but the younger guys tend to spot it right off. Next thing you know, they're on the phone telling somebody about it and all of a sudden you have a crowd. It's really interesting to see people's reaction to the car."

It's pretty much the same as the look on people's faces when they first taste a surprising new dish. It's all in finding the right recipe first!

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The Details

Bret Hollar's '65 Ford Mustang Coupe

Engine

  • Ford 4.6 DOHC
  • '93 Lincoln Mark VIII aluminum block
  • '99 Cobra forged crank
  • Manley rods
  • Mahle forged flat-top pistons
  • '99 Cobra heads
  • '03 Cobra Eaton roots-style supercharger, intake, and Magnuson heat exchanger
  • Fore Precision Works billet fuel rails, '03 cobra 39-lb/hr fuel injectors, 99mm lightning MAF
  • Transmission

  • T-45 five-speed with custom-built hydraulic clutch
  • Wilwood master cylinder
  • Hurst billet aluminum shifter with classic chrome shifter handle
  • Rearend

  • Ford 9-inch from '58 ford, Traction-Lok differential, Richmond Pro 3.89 gears
  • Exhaust

  • '99 Cobra cast-iron exhaust manifolds
  • Magnaflow 2.5-inch-diameter stainless steel tubing and mufflers
  • Suspension

  • Front: Heidts Mustang II-style with QA1 front coilovers
  • Rear: Mustangs Plus Grab-A-Track 2-inch lowering leaves, Monroe shocks
  • Brakes

  • Front: Heidts 11-inch disc, single-piston caliper
  • Rear: '99 Lincoln Town Car 10-inch disc, single-piston calipers, drum-style emergency brake, Hydraboost assist
  • Wheels

  • Front: American Racing Equipment Torque Thrust II, aluminum, 17x7
  • Rear: American Racing Equipment Torque Thrust II, aluminum 17x8
  • Tires

  • Front: BFGoodrich g-Force Sport, P215/45R17
  • Rear: BFGoodrich g-Force Sport, P235/45R17
  • Interior

  • Classic Air A/C unit, Flaming River tilt steering column, Grant steering wheel, power windows/door locks, '07 Mustang leather power seats (heated), modified '94 Mustang center console, Auto Meter gauges with JME billet bezel
  • Exterior

  • Shelby-style front valance with GT rear, Viper Red basecoat/clearcoat applied by Joey Bivens of Impact Collision Center in Wilkesboro, NC, Cobra gas cap