Eric English
January 26, 2012

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It would be easy to dismiss David Cole's '66 coupe as nothing more than a nicely painted early Mustang with a big set of wheels and tires. After all, with a basic hardtop silhouette, dark paint, and stock sheetmetal, this isn't a car that'll reach out and grab your attention like a slap in the face. Rather, it draws you in only when observed closely, whereupon it surely won't disappoint sharp eyes who care to review the details. It's a Mustang that might not even draw a crowd at a large show, yet for those who understand that great cars aren't defined by bright colors and big scoops, this one will reward a thorough inspection. More importantly, it rewards the owner every time he slips behind the wheel. Call it subtlety at its best.

David initially bought this particular '66 for that classic father/son project we all dream about. His son, Devon, had the desire and got down the road a considerable distance before reality set in. In truth, what happened to the Coles is the story of many an endeavor, where optimistic goals, a lack of experience, and other interests/commitments conspire to end the project long before completion. David explained, "By the time Devon went to college, the engine, transmission, and many other parts were just laying around the garage floor with no sign of being put together. I realized that if I wanted my garage back, I had to either sell the '66 for parts, or find someone to restore it since I lacked the talent for that." David obviously opted for the latter, with the shop of choice turning out to be West Coast Restoration in Snohomish, Washington. There, David brainstormed with Larry Berkovich and Zac Thureson, and came up with the ideas that are manifested here.

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Right up front, we're going to give major props to the whole gang for flat out nailing the all-important rolling stock and stance of David's coupe. While it seems like plenty of enthusiasts trip up in this arena on an otherwise great ride, this one is a veritable slam dunk, so take a cue and look close. The wheel/tire combo consists of Wheel Vintiques Billet Magnum 500s--17x7 inches in front and 17x8 inches out back, and all shod in Michelin Pilot Sport rubber. We love the updated look of the big Magnums, and also find them historically at home on this chassis--recall many '66 G.T. 350s were Magnum-equipped, albeit in a comparatively diminutive 14x6-inch stamped steel iteration. It's not that mismatched era wheels can't look good given the right combination, but you're on firmer ground when there is precedent. The oh-so-right stance comes from a suspension setup consisting predominately of Global West components, including the company's complete front coilover system and rear leaf springs. The coilovers allow for the exacting ride height, while the reverse-eye rear springs were chosen based on experience--resulting in the nigh perfect combination!

More driveability improvements come by way of Total Control Products' rack-and-pinion steering, Baer four-wheel discs, and a Tremec T-5 five-speed for comfortable freeway cruising even with a 3.91 ring-and-pinion. Fronting the overdrive gearbox is a 5.0-liter roller motor bored and stroked to 347 cubes. The late Gaines Markley machined and assembled the reciprocating assembly, capped the bores with AFR's 185cc aluminum cylinder heads, and opted for Ford Racing's popular E303 roller cam for strong and reliable performance. On top of the stroker Windsor sits a triple two-barrel setup from Barry Grant, with a unique combination of impressive appearance, two-barrel part throttle economy, and plenty of total airflow.

The understated exterior should not be misconstrued for a simple down and dirty paintjob. On the contrary, Randy Sargent and crew at Sargent's Auto Rebuild went the extra mile for David, spending copious amounts of time dialing the fit of the body panels while the car hung from a rotisserie, and finessing all gaps to 3?16-inch. Once accomplished, fresh Nightmist Blue was laid down using two-stage PPG products, resulting in a beautiful, if not overlooked, finish. Considerably more obvious are the multitude of changes that were lavished on the interior.

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Stock seats have a carbon-fiber--look material insert that matches the door panels, Auto Meter gauges reside in a JME instrument cluster, and a trick custom console was fabricated by Benchmark Motoring in Bellevue, Washington. The console hosts a Kenwood touch-screen head unit, which controls the tunes that emanate from a quartet of Focal speakers and twin JL Audio subwoofers. Says David, "I had considered going with a more classic look for the audio system, but figured what's the point of having a bad sounding radio in such a neat car?" Indeed. Benchmark also did the finish work in the trunk, transforming it from mundane to the equal of a high-end new car.

Today, Devon is out of college, and David has a vintage Mustang that neither father, nor son, could have quite imagined at the outset of the effort. Both get to experience the perks of the finished project, and younger brother Brennan is looking forward to seat time some day as well--the Mustang proving to be a family car extraordinaire. Obviously, it's treated far better than would daily transportation, but David does vow to expand his requirement for driving the car beyond nice days only, to include "semi-nice days." He didn't exactly define what this meant, but being a Seattle area resident, we suspect it translates to not being afraid of threatening clouds that can open up with the Pacific Northwest's famous liquid sunshine. We say more power to him, and encourage all readers to do like David Cole--dare to be seen in your classic Ford!

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The Details

David Cole's '66 Mustang coupe

Engine

  • 347ci, Ford 5.0-liter roller block
  • 4.030-inch bore
  • Eagle cast crank, 3.40-inch stroke
  • Eagle I-beam rods
  • Keith Black hypereutectic pistons
  • AFR 185 aluminum cylinder heads
  • FRPP E303 camshaft
  • Crane 1.6 roller rockers
  • Barry Grant Demon carburetors (three twos)
  • Barry Grant SixShooter intake
  • Pertronix billet distributor

Exhaust

  • Ford Powertrain Applications (FPA) 1-5/8-inch full-length headers
  • MagnaFlow stainless mufflers, 2-1/2-inch stainless mid and tailpipes

Transmission

  • Tremec T-5 five-speed
  • FRPP King Cobra clutch and pressure plate
  • Hurst shifter

Rearend

  • Currie nodular 9-inch rearend
  • 31-spline axles
  • Detroit Truetrac differential
  • 3.91 gears

Suspension

  • Front: Global West Negative-Roll coilover kit, including tubular upper and lower control arms, QA1 double adjustable coilovers, strut rods, and 1-1/8-inch antisway bar, Total Control Products rack-and-pinion, Total Control Products engine compartment bracing
  • Rear: Global West reverse-eye leaf springs, shackle kit, and Del-A-Lum bushings, QA1 double adjustable shocks, custom subframe connectors by Sargent's Auto Rebuild

Brakes

  • Front: 13-inch Baer disc, two-piston calipers
  • Rear: 12-inch Baer disc, single-piston calipers

Wheels

  • Front: Wheel Vintiques Billet Magnum 500s,17x7
  • Rear: Wheel Vintiques Billet Magnum 500s, 17x8

Tires

  • Front: Michelin Pilot Sport, P225/50ZR17
  • Rear: Michelin Pilot Sport, P245/50ZR17

Interior

  • Stock bucket seats with carbon-fiber-look vinyl insert by Hoglands Top Shop; JME six-gauge cluster w/Auto Meter Phantoms; Classic Auto Air A/C; Mustangs Unlimited three-point seatbelts; custom console, stereo, and trunk by Benchmark Motoring, Bellevue, WA

Exterior

  • Body and paint by Randy Sargent, PPG Nightmist Blue two-stage, all panels fit to 3/16-inch gap, shaved emblems

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