Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
January 4, 2012
Photos By: John Machaqueiro

"It all started on Christmas in 1989 when my cousin mentioned he had a '67 Mustang for sale," recalls Don DeRienzo. When stories start out like that, you just know it has to be a good one.

"I jumped all over it and with a little help from my dad, it was mine."

So began Don DeRienzo's lifelong relationship with his '67 Mustang coupe. Inspired by his father's own '67 Mustang that he used to ride around in when he was a little boy, Don has always had an interest in cars from the muscle car era, and especially the products that came from the Ford/Shelby relationship.

The coupe you see here started off as a 289ci/C4 automatic coupe with a vinyl top and four-wheel-drum brakes.

"My dad wasn't totally sold on the idea of buying it in the beginning--he told me how much work it would be, but I reassured him I could handle it," says Don.

It sounded like everything was going to work out OK, that is until the stock drivetrain let go. Before Don even had his full driver's license, the engine just stopped one night.

"We towed it home with a rope and it sat immobile in front of my house," Don recalls. "My neighbor, Mr. Cunningham, knew a bit about mechanics and when he saw me with the hood up, he was nice enough to come by and ask what had happened. When I shrugged my shoulders, he offered his assistance." The initial assessment was a lack of spark, and a subsequent inspection revealed that the pin holding the distributor gear on had been sheared off. Mr. Cunningham gave Don a parts list and off he went to the store.

"I went to the local Mustang parts guy, Perry's Pony Express. It was my first visit, and it certainly was not my last," says Don. "Perry was a nice guy and informed me that the distributor was probably not my only problem. If the oil pump had seized, it would cause the distributor damage that we were looking at. Once I got back to the car with a new oil pump and distributor, Mr. C and I were on our backs replacing all of the parts. I remember the satisfaction I felt when we started it up and had fixed it ourselves. After that, Dad and I went out and got my first set of tools."

Don's first upgrade to the Mustang was OE front disc brakes.

"I did the work in January with a foot of snow on the ground," recalls Don. "It had to be the coldest week of the year--I remember everyone on the block, including my own family, looking out their front windows through the condensation thinking I was nuts. I had a big smile on my face and was just happy to be working on my car, as only a car guy can understand."

Don drove the car pretty much everywhere until 1993, when he decided to restore it and make some Shelby modifications to it. Being a perfectionist, Don went all in on the project, starting off by putting it on jackstands in his dad's single-car garage, where it spent the next 12 years.

New Ford quarter-panels and outer wheelhouses were installed, and some repair to the floorboards, cowl, and other areas commenced. While Don and his wife, Lisa, were on their honeymoon, the crew at K&M Autocraft in Deer Park, New York, worked in the Shelby body components, and then laid on the Ford True Blue Metallic with Satin Silver stripes. Keith and the boys at K&M sent Don and Lisa frequent email updates charting the progress.

After paint, it was Don's turn once again. The 289 was long-gone, having been replaced with a hopped up, late-model 302. That engine eventually failed and has now been replaced by a DSS Racing-built 363ci small-block that puts down a stout 421rwhp and 405 lb-ft of torque--a tall order for the Tremec T-5Z transmission

"By the time it was ready for the road again, it was a completely different car, and I was 35 years old and married," Don notes. "My son recently turned two years old, and some of his first words were 'Daddy's blue car.'"

Taking time off from his day job as an NYPD detective, Don celebrated Father's Day in 2011 by taking his family in the Mustang to its first show, a Mustang Club of America event on Long Island, New York. Don's G.T. 350 SR took first honors in the modified class, and caught our eye as well.

"I had the best Father's Day ever," says Don. "Not only was I immensely proud of what I had accomplished, but my whole family was as well, after witnessing all of my hard work."

Inspired by his father's own '67 Mustang that he used to ride around in when he was a little boy, Don has always had an interest in cars from the muscle car era, and especially the products that came from the Ford/Shelby relationship

The Details

Don DeRienzo's '67 Mustang Coupe

Engine

  • 363ci Level 20 small-block built by DSS Racing
  • 4.125-inch Bore
  • 3.40-inch Stroke
  • DSS Racing 4340 forged-steel crankshaft, forged steel connecting rods, forged aluminum pistons
  • Anderson Ford Motorsport hydraulic roller camshaft, 232/240 duration at 0.050, 0.576/0.576-lift
  • Trick Flow Twisted Wedge 205 CNC-ported cylinder heads, 2.20-inch intake valves, 1.60-inch exhaust valves
  • Edelbrock Victor Jr. polished intake manifold
  • Holley Ultra HP 750 carburetor
  • Fuel Safe aluminum fuel cell
  • MSD 8582 billet distributor, 6AL-2 Programmable ignition box, HVC-2 coil and 8.5mm wires
  • Custom aluminum radiator by Bill Kydd, Meziere electric water pump, dual electric fans
  • 421 rwhp, 405 lb-ft

Transmission

  • Tremec T-5Z transmission
  • McLeod billet aluminum flywheel, McLeod clutch and steel bellhousing
  • Modern Driveline cable clutch conversion
  • Hurst shifter

Rearend

  • Powdercoated Ford 9-inch, limited slip differential
  • 28-spline axles, 3.55 gears

Exhaust

  • Ceramic-coated Hooker long-tube headers 1-5/8-inch primaries, 3-inch collectors, stainless steel 2-1/2-inch exhaust with X-pipe and Magnaflow mufflers

Chassis

  • Rollcage built by MI Performance
  • Shock tower reinforcement plates
  • Driver and passenger torque boxes
  • TCP export brace
  • Monte Carlo bar and truss brace
  • Subframe connectors
  • Driveshaft loop

Suspension

  • Front: Global West tubular upper and lower control arms, '70 spindles, 1-1/4-inch lowering springs, Flaming River manual rack-and-pinion steering, Koni shocks
  • Rear: Global West leaf springs with 1-1/4-inch drop, Del-A-Lum bushings, Koni shocks

Brakes

  • Front: Baer disc, 13.5-inch two-piece rotors, PBR two-piston calipers
  • Rear: Baer disc, 13-inch two-piece rotors, single-piston calipers

Wheels

  • Front: American Racing Equipment Torque Thrust II, 17x8-inch
  • Rear: American Racing Equipment Torque Thrust II, 17x8-inch

Tires

  • Front: Goodyear Eagle F1, P235/45ZR17
  • Rear: Goodyear Eagle F1, P235/45ZR17

Interior

  • Scat Pro Car bucket seats, JME Auto Meter Phantom gauge cluster, custom sound system, Infinity Basslink subwoofer, Moto Lita steering wheel, Boston Acoustic speakers, Alpine receiver, G-Force five-point cam-lock harness, Flaming River polished steering column

Exterior

  • Painted by K&M Autoraft (Deer Park, NY) PPG Ford True Blue basecoat/clearcoat; PPG Ford Satin Silver striping; G.T. 350 SR lettering; Shelby hood, front fascia, side scoops, taillight panel, trunk lid, and quarter-panel end caps sourced from Tony Branda; sequential taillights; chrome plating by Victoria Plating LTD (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada)

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