Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
August 6, 2007

Gary and Kay Bennett are the proud owners of this sharp '65 Mustang convertible. As you might have guessed, it didn't always look this good. The Pony has come full circle, making the journey from decrepit back to beautiful. The replica of the Shelby GT350 soft-top you see here is the result of several years' hard work. Gary joined forces with his son Parker, and together they made the project a reality. Since the beginning, the father and son team have invested more than 2,000 hours in the creation of this exciting Shelby replica.

Gary and his son Parker stand in front of the completed Shelby GT350 convertible replica project. It's Parker's generation that will be running the show a few years from now, and our hat is off to Gary for getting his son started early in the hobby.

You've all heard the "I found it in a barn" story, but a classified ad led the pair to a barn where the Mustang had been stored for 22 years. The seller was the second owner, who bought the car in 1968. Relatively minor front end damage had sidelined the convertible for much of that time, and now it was for sale. New front fenders, still in their dusty Ford boxes, were also in the barn and part of the sale.

Whoever ordered this Mustang in early 1965 knew what they were doing, as the best options were carefully selected from the list. First, the K-code 289 engine was chosen-it was the top-of-the-line powerplant for the new Mustang. A four-speed Top Loader transmission was included on the buildsheet as well. All K-code Mustangs came equipped with a 9-inch axle, and this car had one geared at 3:89. Another important choice on the option list was the two-tone, blue-and-white deluxe interior. This car was fully loaded with the right stuff, and the Bennetts felt it was too good to pass up.

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Certainly, Gary and Parker started with a good example of the breed. The project began with a clear picture in mind, and the vision was to create a Shelby GT350 convertible replica that would be true to the looks of the original but have better steering and brakes, more power, and even air conditioning and a full-tilt stereo. All of these improvements and upgrades "were to go unnoticed to the untrained eye." Although Gary will tell you that he and his son had a lot of fun building the car, the project also had another dimension of truly lasting value-the time spent together working as a father and son team.

The Details
'65 Mustang convertible
Owners: Gary and Kay Bennett, Lilburn, GA

Ford 392 Windsor
Ford Racing Performance Parts Sportsman block
Steel crankshaft
4.030 bore, 3.85 stroke
Hypereutectic pistons
9.7:1 compression ratio
FRPP GT40Z aluminum cylinder heads 1.94/1.64 valves
Hydraulic roller camshaft 0.566 intake, 0.576 exhaust
Roller rocker arms 1.6:1 ratio
Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake
Holley 750 carburetor
K&N air filter
MSD 6AL ignition
430 hp at 5,500 rpm
450 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm
Quarter-mile performance: 12.96 at 109 mph on street tires

Having an Optima battery installed in the trunk is definitely the way to go. Any weight taken off the front and added to the back helps contribute toward a more neutral balance. The new battery location over the rear wheels aids in traction by putting the weight where it's needed. With a 392 Windsor in this car, traction is certainly an issue.

Tremec TKO five-speed manual
Centerforce Dual Friction clutch
Cable clutch system
Lakewood bellhousing
Custom aluminum driveshaft

Detroit True Track differential
3.89 gears
28-spline axles

FRPP stainless steel shorty headers, 1-5/8-inch primary tube 2-1/2-inch dual exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers

Front: Rod & Custom Motorsports Mustang II, 2-inch dropped spindles, 1-1/8-inch antisway bar, rack-and-pinion steering
Rear: Reverse eye leaf springs, Shelby under-ride traction bars, subframe connectors, 7/8-inch antisway bar

Front: Disc, 11-inch
Rear: Disc, 11-inch

Front: '01 Bullitt wheels, 17x8
Rear: '01 Bullitt wheels, 17x8

Front: Goodyear Eagle, P245/45ZR17
Rear: Goodyear Eagle, P245/45ZR17

Gary had this French seam stitched into the deluxe door panels to add a bit of a custom touch to the otherwise stock ones. It's subtle, but it gets noticed.

Blue/white deluxe interior
Grant steering wheel
Auto Meter Carbon-Fiber Ultra Lite gauges
Custom Autosound stereo with kick panel speakers

GT Rear valance
Shelby front valance
Shelby GT350 hood
Complete repaint by owner as a Shelby GT350 convertible
'64 Guardsman Blue/white Shelby stripes
Built Dearborn Assembly Plant, February 6, 1965