Justin Cesler
November 2, 2012

Not every 13-year-old has the cash to buy a '65 Mustang fastback--but this was 1980 (when the prices were much lower) and the fastback was pretty rough, further lowering the entry point for a young Shannon Kelleher of Pompano Beach, Florida. The fastback, owned by a neighbor, was part of a deal that was made when Shannon's dad sold his '65 Vette to the neighbor. Shannon was supposed to get the GM sports car, but the neighbor made an enticing offer and Shannon's father countered with a "yes," stipulating that the fastback had to go to his son for a fair price.

Shannon drove the car from the neighbor's shop back to his parent's house (and no, 13 is not the legal driving age here in Florida, so we didn't go there!). En route, one of the 289's head gaskets decided it didn't like keeping the oil and water separated and gave up its sealing properties. Normally this would have dejected any new owner, let alone one at just 13 years of age, but instead, it put a smile on Shannon's face, as he now had a reason to pull the engine out and rebuild it for more power. "That's where all the madness began," Shannon tells us.

The first build of the fastback started right then and there. It took Shannon the better part of two years and change to build the fastback into a white and red striped Shelby G.T. 350 clone (what 15-year-old doesn't dream of a Shelby fastback?). The fastback emerged with a dual-quad-topped 289 fully rebuilt with a hot cam, Keystone Vortex wheels, and more. Shannon hit the 1983 Miami World of Wheels indoor car show circuit and was the youngest owner on the show floor with his Mustang.

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While the indoor show circuit became Shannon's calling for many years, and Shannon picked up other rides to build, including a Fox-era Mustang, after several years of showing the fastback, he lost interest. Now in his early 20s, he toyed with the idea of selling the Mustang. But his parents offered their garage as storage instead. "They told me ‘just keep it, it's your first car,'" Shannon remembered, and figured he'd take them up on their offer. None of them knew it would be more than 10 years before Shannon would pull the Mustang out again in earnest.

It was 1990, a new decade was under way, and Shannon felt it was time to do the Mustang right (remember, he built it as a 13-year-old, including doing the paint himself). This second iteration would have more of a street machine vibe to it, which was popular with the indoor show-crowd at the time. The build, like many, took longer than expected. Shannon logged nine years of 20- and 30-hour weeks--working on it nights and weekends, building the Mustang into most of what you see here (yes, that beautiful paint is from the second build, and is 13-years-old!). The Mustang did well on the show circuit, as you'd expect, but after three years of raking in the trophies, Shannon got bored with the shows and put the car in its trailer--for another eight years.

Yet another decade begins, and it was 2011 before the car saw sunlight again. This time because Shannon's son, Will, came home from school with some interesting news. It seems one of Will's classmates was bragging about his father having the "baddest Mustang in town" and Will knew his dad's Mustang was something better. "The Mustang was an '05-up style with Lambo doors and big-ugly 20-inch wheels," Shannon stated. Will asked his dad to drive him to school in the fastback so that everyone could see who really had the baddest Mustang. When Shannon swung open the trailer doors, he was greeted to a show-winning Mustang--with four flat tires, a dead battery, stale gas, and a shot carburetor. Shannon aired up the tires, flushed out the gas, rebuilt the carb, dropped a new ignition box in place, and the car fired up. But it needed some cleanup work if he was going to drive his son to school.

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