Jim Smart
February 5, 2007

Tom and Cheryl Phillips bought this '66 Mustang convertible 20 years ago as a special birthday gift for their 16-year-old son. Two years into ownership, he decided he wanted a pickup truck instead. They took the Mustang back and planned a restoration they could call their own.

The timing was just right. Tom had just finished a '48 International KB-2 pickup truck-probably what inspired his son to want one. His inspiration came from his experiences with the International truck. He was hell-bent on doing this one in world-class fashion.

Because this was a garden-variety 289 two-valve convertible, Tom wasn't concerned about originality. He took it down to the bare body, media-blasting it inside and out. A lot of sheetmetal work followed; both quarter-panels were replaced along with the hood, front fenders, and more. The body was worked and massaged to prepare for liberal doses of RM Diamont basecoat/clearcoat in Twilight Blue Metallic, an '88 Ford color. The engine compartment was also painted the body color to create a striking surrounding for the 289ci mill.

Tom got serious about the car's running gear after the bodywork was wrapped up. The original 289 V-8 needed freshening. He bored the block .030-inch oversize with forged pistons and went with a hotter-than-stock hydraulic flat-tappet camshaft, which made the car a ready-to-go-anywhere driver. Great fun for a Saturday night cruise, we think. Good for tire-smoking antics at the appropriate time as well. On top is Carter's #9637 AFB carburetor yielding 625 cfm. Scavenging the hot gasses are Hedman ceramic-coated long-tube headers. We like the Mallory Unilite distributor and MSD coil, which give the engine room a period look from the good old days of traditional hot-rodding.

Because Tom couldn't envision himself motoring along with the Mustang's original C4 slushbox, he opted for something a little more fun: a vintage Borg-Warner T10 side-loader four-speed transmission coupled to the car's original 2.80 conventional 8-inch rear. Those modest gears make the car good for cruising because it's easier on fuel consumption. While it isn't Overdrive, it's as close as you can get without a late-model transmission swap. Those old 2.80 highway cogs in an 8-inch chunk keep the revs down on the open highway.

Fuel consumption hasn't been much of an issue since the '70s when a lot of us were sitting in gas lines and witnessing big increases in gasoline prices. We're revisiting these issues again in 2006 as fuel prices and availability come into question. When building a classic Mustang for cruising, most would seek ways to improve range like Tom did. On the open road, Tom's Mustang probably gets a solid 18-20 mpg with these gears, which isn't bad when gas is courting three bucks a gallon from coast to coast.

While Tom had his tools out, he covered the chassis and brakes to make the drive safer. The Bendix power-steering system was completely replaced to make things safer and more reliable. The complete four-wheel drum-brake system was rebuilt and performs decidedly well for the technology involved. A rule of thumb with drum-brake systems is to go with all-new components from the backing plate out to achieve exceptional performance without the high price tag of a disc-brake system. These are Center Line 16-inch Cobra wheels wrapped in Toyo Prowlers for a wide paw print (or is that hoofprint?), improving handling by giving Tom a better contact patch with the road.

Tom takes a lot of pride in what he has accomplished with his restorations. Aside from the bodywork, which was farmed out to the appropriate talent, Tom tackled this restoration himself with help from Cheryl; his sons, Tommy, Chris, Dan and Tim; and Bel-Kirk Mustang in the Seattle area. It took Tom 4-1/2 years to build his dream Mustang, which, by the way, was inspired by owning a brand new Mustang in 1964. That original Mustang classic is gone today, but Tom never forgot the experience-and didn't miss out on the opportunity to do it all again.

The Details

1966 Mustang Convertible
Owners:
Tom And Cheryl Phillips, Medina, Wa

Engine
289-Ci Ohv V-8 4.030-Inch Bore, 2.870-Inch Stroke Nodular-Iron Crankshaft, Forged I-Beam Connecting Rods, TRW Forged Flattop Pistons, Carter AFB 625-Cfm Carburetor, Stock Cast-Iron C6AE Manifold, Ceramic-Coated Hedman Headers, Mallory Unilite Ignition, Hydraulic Flat-Tappet Camshaft

Transmission
Borg-Warner T10 Four-Speed

Rearend
8-Inch 2.80 Gears

Exhaust
Hedman Long-Tube Headers, Flowmaster 2-1/4-Inch Dual-Exhaust System

Suspension Front:
Stock Spring-Over Upper Arm Rear: Stock Leaf Spring

Brakes Front:
Stock Drum Rear: Stock Drum

Wheels Front:
Center Line Cobra, 16x7 Rear: Center Line Cobra, 16x8

Tires Front:
Toyo Prowlers, P205/55R16 Rear: Toyo Prowlers, P225/55R16

Interior
Stock Black Vinyl Interior Five-Dial

Instrumentation
Clarion In-Dash Sound System With CD 250-Watt Amp, Two Boston Speakers, In Dash Custom Fiberglass Pods For Alpine Kick-Panel Speakers

Exterior
RM Diamont Twilight Blue Metallic Basecoat/Clearcoat GT Light Bar