Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
September 28, 2012
Photos By: John Machaqueiro

Like many vintage Mustang enthusiasts, Mark Campbell of Frederick, Maryland, started with a classic. His first Mustang was a '67 coupe that he purchased for a mere $400. At one point, the Mustang was rear-ended, and the insurance company gave Mark $350 plus the car; Mark banged out the dents and drove it for a few more years before he eventually sold it for $250. Like many vintage Mustang enthusiasts, Mark also got out of the car hobby for a while, preferring to focus on work and family obligations. And like many enthusiasts, it was the 2000 remake of Gone in Sixty Seconds that got Mark excited about cars again. He had always liked the vintage Shelby Mustangs, and seeing one similar to that being driven purposefully on the big screen provided him with the necessary inspiration to get back into the hobby.

This time around, Mark wanted a fastback. He looked at a lot online, but wanted to find one local. Eventually, he found a suitable '68 fastback through a friend of a friend. It was a rusty example--selling for $2,000--but it was relatively intact considering its age. Mark planned to do the Eleanor conversion from the start, so there would be a lot of customization from the get-go. The restomod aspect was appealing to Mark since it still holds its value, yet provides the newer features of a late-model car. With a lot of repair work needed before the project could be turned into a restomod, Mark did his research and formulated a buildsheet with a particular budget number. Not wanting to go cheap on the parts, Mark purchased the right parts when funds provided for such expenditures. "My enthusiasm ran high and I was excited to see this project going, thinking it would only take about a year or so to complete."

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To get the project rolling, Mark enlisted the help of his brother, James Campbell, who is a little more mechanically inclined than Mark. They wanted to restore it together from the ground up, and the duo managed to get the suspension installed, but eventually, scheduling proved difficult for the pair to work on it. As Mark also stated, "Time and money are precious commodities." So he decided to find a builder that specialized in restomods to complete the build. "By happenstance, I read an article in the local paper about a shop nearby that did restomod Corvettes," Mark recalls. "After talking with them and seeing what they did in person, I contracted with them to complete what was needed from a body standpoint." The shop in question is His Place Automotive in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and after the staff replaced a myriad of body parts, massaged the body and Mustangs Unlimited Eleanor body kit into one car, it also mini-tubbed the Mustang to fit the very wide 315-series tires Mark planned to use. After eight months of bodywork, Mark brought the primered chassis home until the next phase of the build could commence.

Paying for quality bodywork had taken its toll on Mark's project fund, and the Mustang sat for another 20 months while Mark outlined what he would do to it next. After a while, Mark's wife, Kimberly, encouraged him to finish or sell it. So, with renewed enthusiasm and a break in the budget--their son, Tyler, had just finished private schooling--Mark had the necessary funding to begin the next phase. That phase began with the drivetrain. Originally gunning for a full-tilt 427, Mark contacted Pro-Formance Unlimited of Freehold, New Jersey, which assembled a potent 425hp 347 stroker engine. Steve Lejda of Pro-Formance dressed the engine out with all of the necessary accessories and after three months, delivered it to His Place Automotive where Bill Kuhn and staff set to installing the powerplant, along with the Tremec five-speed manual transmission and 3.73-geared, 9-inch rearend.

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For the exterior colors, Mark's first choice was shiny black with flat black stripes, but that later changed to black with Pepper Grey stripes (the reverse of the movie car). Red with white stripes and blue with white stripes were also tossed around, as Mark and Bill Kuhn thought about going with a more traditional look. In the end, Wimbledon White with dark blue striping won out, though a modified Super Snake stripe would be used on the top side. With that decision made, the His Place staff set about making sure the drivetrain fit perfectly before tearing the car down for the long and arduous task of completing the final gapping of the panels and applying the paint.

"The final assembly seemed like it took forever," Mark recalls. That being said, the result was certainly worth the wait. Mark tells us that gas fill-ups often take half an hour or more, as he usually gets a lot of folks stopping to talk about the car. Though Mark's father has long since passed, his mantra of "Do it right, or don't do it at all," has stuck with Mark throughout the build. Following that, Mark redirected funding from his 401k, which was losing money, to fund the build. "At least I can see and touch my investment this way," Mark notes. This is one investment, however, that won't sit in the bank. The dividends pay by the mile.