Jerry Heasley
July 1, 2004

Bob Vervaecke's '65 Mustang fastback is a GT350 clone. He painted CLONE below the GT350 logo on the front fenders; his screen name on the vintage Mustang forums is GT350clone. He even has a web site with the address seems pretty clear Bob wants us to know his '65 is indeed a clone.

He e-mailed us, "As a play on the restomod clone theme, my car is often referred to as a clonomod. My internet buddies all refer to me as clonie," said Bob. "So it turned into kind of a fun deal just using the clone aspect." It's easy to see Bob has a great sense of humor. With almost every reference to his car, he cuts loose with a laugh. This has been a fun project for him and his wife Rhonda. Apparently, the family that clones together is the front line of a new subculture-clonomod, indeed. After our initial conversation, Bob e-mailed, "She [Rhonda] loves and enjoys this car as much as I do and has been an important part of the process."

As you might guess, this '65 fastback wasn't Bob's first horse at the rodeo. He's been building Mustangs, as well as other Fords for 25 years. His previous build was a Cougar XR-7 with all the paint daubs and chalk marks. Once done, Bob felt he couldn't drive the hot Merc and feel comfortable. What if a paint daub dropped off on the road? It would be lost for eternity along with the identity of the assembly line worker who daubed it on.

His whole goal with this build was a Mustang they could drive anywhere, play with, show, and then drive back home. this is not an exact GT350 duplicate. Bob told us, "It's a Shelby trying to take advantage of some of the advances of the past 35 years."

Those advances do little for the vintage exterior looks, where Bob said he "really had a hard time finding much to improve on." Instead of Wimbledon White, that's a late-model, bright white paint. It makes the classic body pop out and really grab your attention. Then there are the hot-looking wheels and wide tires. The 17x8-inch American Racing Hopster wheels mount 225/45s front and 245/45s rear. Had such massive tires been available in 1965, Shelby certainly would have used them.

The suspension is improved quite a bit. it uses the old Shelby trick of lowering the upper A-arms an inch. Actually, the Global West kit lowers them an inch and a half. Bob ordered "all the neat stuff Global West has got out now," including four-piston Wilwood front disc brakes. Back brakes are 1-inch Lincoln Versailles. "Global West was an enormous help. I really went through quite a bit trying to get this suspension sorted out. They helped a lot," enthused Bob. Bob also quickened up the steering by replacing the Pitman and idler arms, a la Carroll Shelby.

For help with power, Bob went straight to the Ford Racing catalog and ordered one of their 5.0 liter Cobra short-blocks. He said,"I added the E-303 roller cam that the late model guys use and the aluminum GT-40 heads. Five years ago Ford didn't make that as a complete long-block. They offer it today. It is rated at 320 hp and its been in the car five years. We have never even pulled the valve covers." Bob didn't go with fuel injection and a computer. The four-barrel is an Edelbrock 600 cfm on top of a Performer RPM intake. Do carbs fit the goal of a 21st century Shelby clone? Apparently, they do. "It keeps it simple," said Bob. "It's just dead reliable. Good, smooth power and simple. For ignition, I'm using the Pertronix 2 ignition-once again, simple and smooth."

Inside, the look is vintage '65 GT350, starting with the wood wheel. This one is a LeCarra, which looks at home in a Shelby. The Shelby pod in the center of the dash is a great place to mount the tach and oil pressure gauges. To modernize the look, Bob went with white faces, even for the horizontal speedometer. the new seats are the biggest improvement inside. He related, "I did the Hot Rod Power Tour last year. After about three hours on the road in the original '65 seats, my back was killing me." For this latest trip to Tulsa and the Mid-America Ford and Shelby Performance Car Show, Bob switched to Scat Procar seats. He told us, "It was a six-hour drive from our home in Bonner Springs, Kansas, to Tulsa, and I got out and felt great. They just hug you in there."

Hidden from view is a street-model roll bar, which permits rear seat access. Bob has it setup so he can attach shoulder harnesses.

Under the tunnel is a C4 automatic. Bob told us the automatic is wife-friendly. "I catch more crap from my car buddies about having an automatic. I went automatic because my wife refuses to learn how to drive a five-speed. And she drives this car quite a bit and loves it."

Bob's build was making a whole lot of sense. We've emphasized the fun theme here, but this is a serious build-up. Bob explained his philosophy with a pretty catchy theme: "If you're going to put stripes on the car, you better be able to back them up."

How's this for back-up? "While we primarily drive and show the car, it has run a best of 13.91 at 106 in the quarter-mile, and we have autocrossed it once just for kicks." Shelby would be proud.