Richard Baldini III
March 13, 2012

At this time, I had several friends at school that were into the Mustang scene, and we were always searching for parts and spending plenty of time helping each other out on different projects. My buddy, Rob, found a sweet deal on a '64-1/2, so I decided to buy a shell from him and do a swap out of my Bondo-bomb body. Unfortunately, I didn't even get the body to my house before my dad got into a bad accident and pretty much totaled his Mustang. I gave Dad the new shell, a fiberglass Shelby hood, and a new dashpad, sold my car to a friend, and walked away from Mustangs altogether. The year was 1988.

In 2005, Huricane Katrina changed everything. My wife was nine months pregnant. My city was under water. My business, which I had been dedicated to since 1991, was changed forever. Things were not the same. So after a while, we got our affairs in order, rebuilt the home, and moved my wife Jeanne and my new baby girl back from Atlanta to try to start over. My wife, a labor and delivery nurse, worked in the hospital unit that I was born in—Baptist Hospital is now closed. My business clientele left with the receding water, and my landscaping company slowly went with it. I lost most of my employees, then a foreman, and then my partner. Wanting to drown my sorrows, I decided it was time to find a new hobby, so I started looking at cars.

I think Dad got wind of the hole in my heart that I was trying to fill, and offered the Mustang to me. I gladly accepted and immediately had visions of the car I wish I could have built in 1984, but didn't have the technology or the money to do so. The old Mustang hadn't seen much road since 2001 and the drum brakes that took her first life made her less interesting in driving in the present. So I sold my boat to get a little capital together and we started what would be a four-year journey.

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What we began with was your typical Mustang coupe with a 289ci V-8 and a three-speed manual transmission with a Hurst shifter. The 0.040-over engine had about 50,000 miles since it's last rebuild, and was equipped with an Edelbrock Performer top end package, a Holley 600-cfm four-barrel carburetor, Hooker headers, and a dual-point distributor. The interior, transmission, and rearend are all stock. There are drum brakes, no power anything, and a stock steering wheel. It did have an aftermarket rear antisway bar, and was a great car, just not very safe.

So we started with the brakes—SSBC four-piston calipers, with 13-3/4-inch slotted front rotors make the car stop on a dime. We had to upgrade the rims because the 14s wouldn't fit, so on went a set of 17x8 Boyd Coddington Junk Yard Dogs with P225/45ZR17 Kumho tires on the front, and 18x8 rear wheels with a 245mm tire. The rear 18-inch wheels looked funny with drum brakes, so we fit the matching set of SSBC 11-1/2-inch slotted rotors on the rear. Now she would really stop, but had some handling issues. We installed 620-lb/in coil springs up front that lowered the ride height 1 inch, then removed another inch out of the spring and added polyurethane spring perches and KYB gas shocks.

Next, we installed a Flaming River rack-and-pinion steering system with a polished stainless column and tilt steering with Grant Collectors Edition black-leather-wrapped wheel. The Mustang was handling pretty well and the steering was great, but sitting in the stock seats for long was very uncomfortable, so we installed a set of Scat Elite seats in black velour to make our backsides enjoy the ride, too.