Jim Smart
October 1, 2005
Photos By: E. John Thawley, III

You've got to like the way Bob Wendling approached this blazing white '65 Mustang fastback. This is a clean, tasteful execution of a restomod-not too loud, certainly not obnoxious, and ready for just about any kind of driving imaginable. You can cruise the boulevard or chase your share of apexes. This is a driver's car, built with all kinds of driving in mind.

So how do you approach building a driver's car? Where do you begin? You begin like Bob did-thinking about what you want the car to do, and how often you're going to do it. Though a lot of us begin with the engine, or perhaps the body, Bob began with the Total Control suspension system from Chris Alston's Chassisworks. This includes heavy-duty control arms, Eibach coil springs, KYB Gas-A-Just shocks, rack-and-pinion steering, and traction bars. American Racing Torq-Thrust II 17x7-inch wheels and Yokohama tires solidify the Mustang's relationship with the pavement. Wilwood four-piston disc brakes in all four corners bring the action to a stop quickly.

Why would you address the Mustang's underpinnings first? Because it doesn't matter how much power you have, if you don't have a suspension and braking system designed to keep up with the power. Control should be the first phase of any car project.

Bob didn't snooze on the power either. He built a Ford Motorsport SVO 342ci stroker small-block with 4-inch bores and a 3.400-inch stroke. Down under is a Cola 4340 steel crankshaft designed for the brute twist of road racing. Eagle H-beam rods secure the connection between those Wiseco reverse dome forged pistons. Narrow Speed-Pro piston rings reduce internal friction and free up power.

Big 2.02/1.60-inch valves allow Bob's 342 to move greater amounts of air, fuel, and hot gasses through the World Products Windsor Jr. aluminum chambers. A hot Crower hydraulic roller camshaft manages the flow of both cold and hot gasses through the chambers. Jim Lerch of Huffaker Racing massaged, glued, and screwed it all together. Comp Cams 1.6 stainless rockers work the valves. The results were impressive at 489 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque on the dyno when Bob fired it up. That's real world power that comes from proper engine planning and building. Bob began with a rock-solid short-block, topping it with Windsor heads, port-matched to the Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold and 750-cfm Barry Grant carburetor delivering the fuel.

When you take the wheel of a Mustang like this, you might expect a Tremec T5 five-speed transmission, but Bob wasn't having any part of the late-model, high-tech scene. He opted for old-world power management: Ford's durable Top Loader four-speed transmission splined into 3.73 Currie gears in a Ford nodular iron 9-inch housing. Centerforce provided the 10.5-inch clutch system in Bob's power management plan.

If the 489hp number mentioned earlier startled you, don't let it. There's an NOS 150hp nitrous system on board to give the stroker small-block a hand. A Holley Blue electric fuel pump makes sure there's plenty of fuel delivery whenever the nitrous button is pressed.

Bob has since sold his Mustang pleasure craft to Mike Jacobs, who also lives in metropolitan Portland, Oregon. Before selling the car, and after these pictures were taken, Bob converted the rear seat to a Shelby-style two-seat conversion and had a four-point rollbar bent up for the fastback.

Since Mike picked up the car in April 2005, he has added a Custom Autosound stereo system with a six-CD changer. Mike has pretty much the same objective as Bob did: to drive, cruise, and race the slick fastback the way it was designed to be driven-white hot fast.