Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
October 17, 2012

Like so many car projects, this Mustang's restoration began as a father and son project. Mark Gray of Groveport, Ohio, purchased the Mustang from a co-worker for his then 14-year-old son, Mitchell. Over the next couple of years, the father/son team transformed the Mustang into a capable driver.

When it first rolled onto the Gray's property, the Mustang was in dire straights. The body was rough, there were holes in the floorpans, and even the dash was rusty. Wearing an ugly coat of gray primer, the six-cylinder, three-speed Mustang wasn't quite the open plains stallion that it should have been. However, the Grays put the pony through a restorative boot camp that got it back in shape. Wearing a blue hue with white stripes, the Mustang served as transportation for the youthful Mitchell once he had obtained his driver's license.

After graduating high school, Mitchell decided to follow in his father's footsteps, and enlisted in the Unites States Marine Corps. Mark, a 10-year veteran of the Corps decided he would freshen up the Mustang to give to his son once he finished his own boot camp. "The project grew bigger and bigger and more expensive as more ideas came to mind," recalls the elder Gray. Enlisting the help of Anthony Derouen and Bill May, Mark had the body of the car completely gone over in anticipation of a much brighter paint scheme. The glowing Atomic Orange paint was set off by a finned, cast-aluminum taillight panel and a GT-style hood.

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Under said hood, the straight six was replaced by a much more formidable 351ci powerplant. Though largely stock in nature, the Windsor was completely rebuilt by Fowler Engines (Columbus, Ohio). The only speed parts on it serve to accentuate the visual and aural senses, with a hotter aftermarket camshaft and a shiny Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold. The suspension was rebuilt to stock specifications for a vintage ride, while a Flaming River steering box tightens up the turning feel. Bob Evans of Lancaster, Ohio, is responsible for the high-end leather interior upgrades which include a custom center console, wrapped dashpad, and upholstered trunk area.

In the end, Mark decided that there was just too much tied up in the now-pristine filly to give back to Mitchell, but that has worked out well. After two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mitchell just reenlisted to be a Marine Corps drill instructor at Paris Island. And while Mark has promised to give Mitchell the Mustang once he passes (a very long time from now, considering Mark is only 53), perhaps there may be some leeway in that agreement seeing as how Mark has started on his next project, a '52 F100.

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The Details


Mark Gray's '68 Mustang Coupe

Engine

  • Ford 351ci small-block built by Fowler Engines (Columbus, OH)
  • 4.00-inch bore
  • 3.500-inch stroke
  • Stock Ford crankshaft and connecting rods
  • TRW hypereutectic pistons
  • Stock Ford 351 cast-iron cylinder heads with three-angle valve job
  • Hydraulic flat tappet camshaft
  • Edelbrock RPM Air Gap aluminum intake manifold with Endurashine coating
  • Edelbrock 600-cfm carburetor with Endurashine coating
  • MSD Pro Billet distributor
  • 9.5:1 compression ratio

Exhaust

  • Hedman ceramic-coated headers, 1-5/8-inch primaries, 3-inch collectors
  • Stainless 21?2-inch exhaust by Jim Stewart
  • Borla 2-1/2-inch mufflers

Transmission

  • C6 automatic built by Terry Toops (Columbus, OH)
  • Banks shift kit
  • Hughes 1,800-rpm stall converter
  • Lokar shifter

Rearend

  • Narrowed 9-inch Ford
  • Traction-Lok differential
  • Moser 3.73 gears and 31-spline axles

Suspension

  • Front: Stock with poly graphite bushings, Monroe shocks, Flaming River steering box
  • Rear: Stock leaf springs, Monroe shocks

Brakes

  • Front: Ford Granada disc
  • Rear: Wilwood disc

Wheels

  • Front: Edelbrock 454, 17x8
  • Rear: Edelbrock 454, 17x8

Tires

  • Front: Fuzion ZRi, P255/40R17
  • Rear: Fuzion ZRi, P255/40R17

Interior

  • Restored by Bob Evans (Lancaster, OH), two-tone tan leather with bucket seats, stainless/wood steering wheel, Auto Meter instruments, custom console, upholstered trunk, leather-wrapped dash, door panels, and headliner

Exterior

  • PPG Atomic Orange paint by Bill May and Anthony Derouen (Groveport, OH), all-new body panels, aluminum ribbed taillight panel, GT-style hood and gas cap Under the hood, the straight six was replaced by a much more formidable 351ci powerplant