Scott Welch
November 22, 2011

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, there's a Mustang loveràKevin McGrath. Kevin has loved Mustangs all his life. Proof of that is his brand-new '11 Shelby GT500. Although we can take off writing about that car all day long, we have another treasure we are here to discuss. Sitting right next to it in the garage is a beautiful '67 GT fastback Bullitt tribute Mustang. We use the word tribute here because this car is a fine mix of the original and some subtle modern enhancements.

Kevin grew up in the '70s in the Chicago area. He distinctly remembers seeing the movie Bullitt with Steve McQueen for the first time, and then several times afterwards. As a result, he fell madly in love with the infamous green Mustang. Kevin was about 12 years of age when the Bullitt movie came out. He always hoped that some day he would own his own version of the famous 'Stang. Later in life, he told his wife, Janet, that one day he would be the proud owner of a Mustang like that. Little did he know that it would be 19 years before his dream would materialize.

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Around 1982, while working one day, Kevin came across a '67 Shelby GT500 sitting in a friend's driveway. At this point, Kevin was really unaware of the Shelby line and didn't really know the value of the car. It was a little unsightly because of a cheap paintjob gone bad. The owner wanted to sell the car to finish restoring a '64 Galaxie 500/427ci. Kevin quickly offered him $4,000 for the car and drove it home.

After researching the Shelby and its value, he decided to start putting all his extra cash and time into the car. He had the engine completely gone through by a reputable machine shop in Illinois, which balanced and blueprinted the engine, and then put it on the dyno. Kevin was delighted when the Shelby 428 Cobra Jet engine cranked out 525 hp. All he could think about from that point was finishing the car and putting the power to the ground. From then to 1988, Kevin got married. The economy was shaky and he had some career issues, so he and his wife, Janet, decided to move to Albuquerque for a new start. Struggling to keep and build on the Shelby, he had to make the decision to sell the jewel that could possibly someday be his retirement.

After starting his own business and raising two boys, Eric and Nick, Kevin decided it was time for another Mustang project. Realizing another '67 Shelby would now be ridiculously out of his price range, he began to think about his true favorite mustang, a Highland Green fastback GT like the one from his favorite movie. Instead of a Bullitt clone he was thinking that a more modern restomod version of the car would be more to his taste.

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By now, Kevin knew that he had to find a car that was rust free and had not been in a major accident. After many years of looking locally and throughout the southwest, he scored a perfect candidate in Longmont, Coloradoùa basically straight and rust-free '67 fastback. The car was perfect for what he wanted to do. His vision of the enhanced version of a Bullitt Mustang started to come to life. Fortunately, the engine in the car was fresh and strongùit just needed to be tuned correctly. The car was found with nice bodywork and a decent, fresh paintjob.

Work started with the complete removal of the interior, and installation of a complete Dynamat package from front to rear. Then he removed the dash and rebuilt it, adding custom high-end, white-faced gauges. He added the brushed aluminum dash kit like the Shelby Mustang one, along with the brushed aluminum door panels. New carpet went in over the Dynamat, and then Kevin added a set of leather seats out of a '95 Mustang GT. The driver seat is a power-equipped unit with lumbar support and works great in the car. He had the headrest cut down and recovered for aesthetics.

A new exhaust system was installed with an X-pipe and dual Flowmaster mufflers to round out the healthy big-block. Needless to say, the car sounds great! The next step was to de-badge the car and evaluate the paint. Chris Shultz at Advanced Collision Repair in Albuquerque was enlisted for the job. He felt the paint was solid enough to scuff and re-clear the surface, then color sand and buff. He then properly aligned all the panels and the result is the awesome finish you see.

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Even though Kevin respects the 390 ci in the original, he felt McQueen would be OK with the 429 ci he has stuffed in the car. The engine is a 429 Thunder Jet out of a '68 Thunderbird. It's been built with a mild performance camshaft and produces a respectable 425 hp. Said power is fed into a new Tremec five-speed transmission, and on to a 9-inch Ford rearend with a Traction-Lok differential and 3.55 gears.

Although Kevin has somewhat recovered since the loss of his prized '67 Shelby GT500 by building the '67 GT Bullitt tribute and ordering the '11 Shelby GT500, he has made it clear that we might see yet another Mustang in his garage soon. He has the bug for the new 5.0 or Boss 302.

The Details

Kevin and Janet McGrath's '67 Mustang Bullitt tribute

Engine

  • '68 Ford 429 Thunder Jet
  • Two-bolt main bearing caps
  • 4.36-inch bore
  • 3.59-inch stroke
  • Cast-iron crankshaft
  • Forged-steel connecting rods with 3/8-inch rod bolts
  • Cast-aluminum pistons
  • Hydraulic lifter camshaft
  • 2.08-inch intake/1.66-inch exhaust valves
  • Edlebrock aluminum intake
  • Holley 650-cfm carburetor
  • MSD Ignition
  • Cool Craft Custom aluminum radiator, Derale electric fan

Transmission

  • Keisler Perfect-Fit kit
  • Tremec TKO-600 five-speed transmission, hydraulic clutch cable conversion, clutch and flywheel, installed by American Automotive, Albuquerque, NM
  • Rearend
  • Quick Performance Race Cars & Components (Ames, IA) 9-inch rear axle
  • Ford Racing Performance Parts Traction-Lok differential
  • 31-spline axle shafts
  • 3.55 gears

Exhaust

  • Cast-iron manifolds
  • 2-1/2-inch custom tubing with X-pipe and Flowmaster mufflers

Suspension

  • CJ Pony Parts Big-Block Suspension and Steering kit
  • KYB shocks
  • 1-inch antisway bar front, 3/4-inch antisway bar rear

Brakes

  • Front: Ford, 11-inch disc, single-piston calipers
  • Rear: Ford, 11-inch disc, single-piston calipers
  • Steel-braided brake lines, installed by American Automotive

Wheels

  • Front: MB Old School aluminum five spoke, 17x8
  • Rear: MB Old School aluminum five spoke, 17x9.5
  • Sourced from Discount Tire

Tires

  • Front: BFGoodrich g-Force Sport, P245/45ZR17
  • Rear: BFGoodrich g-Force Sport, P275/40ZR17

Interior

  • Custom white-face gauge cluster, brushed aluminum dash and door panel accents, '05 Ford Mustang leather reclining seats and power driver seat, custom shortened headrests

Exterior

  • Custom two-stage Ford Highland Green paint by Advanced Collision Repair (Albuquerque, NM), badges removed, blacked out taillight panel