Eric English
December 1, 2006

Give Vancouver, Washington's Dave Lennartz a pat on the back for trying. You see, in an attempt to interest his wife in the automotive world he thrives on, Dave purchased this '65 GT in 1999. At the time, the gorgeous black coupe stood as a stock restoration piece or just the ticket for a woman who didn't give a hoot about compression ratios, roller cams, or chassis dynos. As it turns out, other interests never allowed Dave's better half to become enamored with the car, so he did the next best thing, tweaking it to his liking.

It's hard to pinpoint just when Dave realized the driving force behind the '65 would be distinctly masculine, but when he did, he took this first-year Pony to Larry Berkovich at West Coast Restorations for what we'd call a well-justified kick in the pants. As Dave told us, "neat as the car was, there just isn't much excitement to be had from a stock 289 four-barrel, C4, 3.00 gear combination." The project was in good hands. In addition to impeccable attention to detail, Berkovich and company have the same penchant for performance that courses through Dave. Initial plans were to perform a few bolt-ons to the factory 225hp small-block, but things quickly progressed from there. You see, Dave became enamored with a particular engine Larry had sitting at the shop, one which would do the double duty of drawing a crowd at car shows and giving an ear-to-ear grin when the go pedal was mashed.

Said powerplant is a .030 over 289, machined, balanced, and assembled by Northwest Ford specialist Dave Bliss. The innards consist of the various sundries that make for any good performer; forged flat-tops, stainless valves, top-quality fasteners, and so on. More good stuff comes in the form of a healthy hydraulic bumpstick, roller rockers, gennie Hi-Po cylinder heads, and Hi-Po exhaust manifolds. The crowning touch is the triple two-barrel carb setup offered by Ford's parts department of the era. Such induction dominates the underhood view and teams with the Cobra valve covers and oil pan for a veritable extravaganza of factory cast-aluminum. We'd be remiss if we didn't credit bodyman Randy Sargent for some expert hood-brace massaging; something we were surprised to hear was necessitated by the big oval air cleaner.

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With the nod for a new engine, the time seemed right for freshening the remaining drivetrain in the form of a beefed-up C4 and a 3.50 geared Traction-Lok 8-inch rear. Rolling stock is a distinctive "day two" period look, bucking today's trend towards big-inch castings. Remember, the largest wheel available on this car when new would've measured a whopping 14 inches, and many enthusiasts of the era stuck to the same diameter when installing aftermarket rims on their pride and joy. Such is the case with the 14x7 five-spokes seen here, a set which Dave picked up on the used market for a relative song. After all, who wants 14-inch mags in a day and age where 16s and 17s are commonplace? Guys like Dave who recognize that with something more than a rubber-band sidewall, the look is right at home with the small wheelwells of the '65/'66 Mustang.

Better-than-GT handling is due in part to the modern radial tires which wrap the classic rims, but also because of the Shelby-style suspension mods that were performed in West Coast's shop. This includes the typical 1-inch upper control-arm drop, beefy springs and sway bar, Monte Carlo bar, and under-ride traction bars, yet one of the biggest improvements is fully hidden from view. We're talking about the 2x3-inch custom subframe connectors that were cut into the floorpans by the craftsman hands of John Carlson. These beefy, box-tube pieces will put any other bolt-on or weld-in connectors to shame and come as close to creating a full frame chassis as a unibody is apt to get.

In explaining his fondness for this black GT, Dave says, "if I'd had the funds back in 1966 when I graduated from high school, this is the kind of Mustang I'd have bought and built." Sure, he'd have had to forgo the powerful sound system, LeCarra leather-wrapped steering wheel, MSD spark box, and dual-reservoir master cylinder, but the '65 is otherwise quite similar to what Dave's "dream car" might have been back in the day. And while 40 years have surely reshaped his interpretation of an ultimate ride, this triple deuce coupe aptly demonstrates the timeless allure of the original ponycar.

The Details
1965 Mustang GT Coupe
Owner: Dave Lennartz, Vancouver, WA

Engine
1965 289, Bored .030, Assembled By Dave Bliss
Hi-Po 289 Cylinder Heads
Hi-Po 289 Exhaust Manifolds
Ford Three Two-Barrel Induction Kit, 775 Cfm
Aftermarket Hydraulic Cam
Roller Rockers

Transmission
C4 Cruise-O-Matic

Rearend
8-Inch
3.50 Gears
Traction-Lok

Suspension
Front: Lowered A-Arms, High-Rate Springs, Larger Sway
Bar, Monte Carlo Bar
Rear: High-Rate Springs, Traction Master Underide
Bars,Custom Full-Length 2x3-Inch Subframe Connectors

Brakes
Front: Factory Kelsey-Hayes Discs, Four-Piston Calipers
Rear: Factory Drums
Dual-Reservoir Master Cylinder Conversion

Wheels
Front: Vintage Wheel Works 45, 14x7
Rear: Vintage Wheel Works 45, 14x7

Tires
Front: Yokohama, P225/60R14
Rear: Yokohama, P225/60R14

Interior
Lecarra Steering Wheel
Shelby Gauge Pod
Factory Full-Length Console

Six-Pack to Go
While triple two-barrel induction was a factory option on early-'60s 390s and 406s, such was not the case for the Windsor small-block. The Ford parts counter was where such gold was mined, though the rarity these setups represent today indicate they didn't generate big sales numbers. For specifics, we turned to Michael Brattland's informative Tripower Technical Bulletin, a 60-page publication chock full of pictures, schematics, part numbers, and tuning techniques for Ford small- and big-block triple deuces. The publication can be purchased for $17 through Brattland's web site, www.gerlecreek.com, which is a nice resource itself. Based on magazine ads, Brattland believes the small-block tripower was first offered during 1964 for the paltry sum of $210. Officially referenced in Ford advertising as one of the Cobra kits, the "three 2-V induction kit" for small-blocks had plenty in common with its FE big brethren, including reverse-facing Holley 2300 series carbs, identical carb spacing, and thus commonality among air cleaners. Throttle linkage and fuel logs were engine specific, yet both setups employed a progressive mechanical engagement which operates the center carb during normal driving but pins the end carbs when the throttle's nailed.

Airflow is a key difference between small- and big-block tripower carbs, and as it turns out, there were two small-block variants. Kits designed for the 260ci engine had a combined airflow of 730 cfm, while the 289 version on Lennartz's ride flows a total of 775 cfm: 265 cfm for the primary center carb, and 255 cfm for each outboard unit. For comparison, the '61-'63 FE triple 2s typically flowed 1030 cfm: 330 cfm for the center carb and 350 for each outer.