Jim Smart
December 19, 2006

When we walked up to Joe Visslailli's '65 Mustang fastback at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a year ago, we admit to the shock of seeing a big-block. At first glance, it didn't appear to be a big-block ground-pounder, like a Cobra Jet Mach 1 or Boss 429. First-generation Mustangs are small-block real estate-a close underhood environment where low-displacement iron or high-displacement strokers normally live. But when Joe raises the hood of this Azure Blue fastback, it is ironclad 385-series fat-block from fender to fender.

To get big-block power into the nimble Mustang fastback, Joe had to widen the Mustang's engine room to accommodate the displacement. He removed the shock towers and pinned a Mustang II suspension underneath from Rod & Custom Motorsports. "I found Willie Osborn at Rod & Custom Motorsports a pleasure to work with and extremely helpful," Joe tells us. They made the engine bay wide enough to accommodate a 6V-71 Detroit diesel, except Joe was more satisfied with a gasoline-fed, torque-twisty, Ford big-block displacing 466 ci. think how much displacement he could have shoehorned into this roomy engine block-as high as 560 ci with a serious stroker kit, but for Joe, something like 560 ci seemed like an unfair advantage.

When Joe was planning his big-block Mustang, he knew what he needed from the engine. He wanted a solid torque curve across a modest and respectable rpm range. Ford's 429/460ci big-blocks do that with ease in box-stock condition. When you huff them up with aftermarket performance parts and a common sense build technique, you get grunt coming right out of the hole.

Joe could have opted for a ready-made crate engine. Instead, his friend, Russ Turack of RST Performance, found a good 460 big-block core to play with. And play they did, with forged-aluminum .030-inch oversize JE pistons, Comp Cams cam and valvetrain system, big Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads, Weiand Stealth dual-plane induction, Barry Grant 750-cfm Road Demon carburetor, Weiand Hi-Flo water pump, and a specially-modified Ford Motorsport valve cover to clear the master cylinder. For an extra-added kick, Joe opted for a nitrous-oxide injection from Nitrous Express for roughly 100-150 more ponies.

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Because Russ and Joe built quite the big-block powerhouse, they needed a C6 transmission that would channel the torque without fail. Sonnax provided the special "R" servo needed to get the power to the 9-inch Versailles rearend with 3.55 gears. Joe has mixed feelings about his Versailles rearend. It hasn't performed up to par, which leaves him wondering what to do next.

What disturbed Joe most about his Mustang rocket ship was gas mileage. Just 10 miles to a gallon of gas the car's first time out. With fuel prices so high these days, it is easy to see why this captured Joe's attention at the pump.

Joe admits to feeling irritation with people who think his fastback is an Eleanor clone, which it is not. Joe and Russ' imaginations went to work on this car long before anyone ever heard of the Gone In 60 Seconds remake. These gentlemen set out to build something of a big-block '65 Mustang street rod that fits right in with the rock and roll oldies music of the '60s. When Joe fires this puppy up, you can hear the Rolling Stones, Jimmie Hendricks, The Beatles, Janice Joplin, and The Doors.