Dale Amy
October 25, 2006

First, some history: When he saw Jerry Bruckheimer's Hollywood remake of Gone in 60 Seconds, Don Gasiunas developed an instant and overpowering infatuation for Eleanor, the starring pseudo-Shelby. Now that in itself is not extraordinary, as something about the frenetic on-screen fastback has apparently tickled the fancy of many a movie-goer. But what is unusual is that Don was sufficiently smitten to throw himself (and his wallet) into the building of a homemade Eleanor clone of his own-an 18-month-plus project made stranger by the fact that all his previous musclecars had been of GM manufacture.

By all accounts, Don's first Mustang turned out pretty well-well enough that it was invited to many classic-car shows where it soon started raking in trophy hardware, and ultimately attracted the attention of a certain New Jersey singer/rock icon (think: "Have a Nice Day") who offered to take it off Don's hands for a reasonable wad of cash. Well, that turned out to be OK with Don, as he had already decided that what he really wanted was a custom Mustang with a convertible top. Goodbye, Eleanor, it's been nice.

This finally brings us around to the subject of our story: this topless replacement for Eleanor that Don simply refers to as "Unbridled," a cagily pony-ish name synonymous with unrestrained or uninhibited. This certainly seems like a horseshoe that fits.

Though he lives in Canada, Don wisely sought out a relatively unoxidized Southern ragtop on which to base his project. His search eventually put him in contact with a man who had been, as Don puts it, "instructed by his wife to sell off his acquired collection of rust-free California Fords in various stages of decay." After a flurry of phone calls and e-mails, Don gained title to a '67 convertible that had resided under a carport in the desert for the past 17 years. The bonus: "With fresh gas, new plugs, and a new battery, this car was able to start."

Not that it probably mattered much anyway since Don had a new power source in mind, one that was never part of the '67 Mustang's original underhood option list: a 351 Windsor stroker. Braced by an Eagle billet-steel backbone swinging a 4.00-inch stroke, the Windsor was bored 0.030-over for a healthy 408-inch displacement. The reciprocating stuff is a combination of Eagle I-beam rods (6.125 inches) and JE flat-top forged pistons, resulting in 9.5:1 compression within the chambers of Edelbrock's Performer RPM alloy heads. The intake side is all Edelbrock, too, including an 800-cfm Thunder Series AVS carb. Underneath, a custom-ground roller bumpstick from Crane Cams rules the valves through 1.5:1 roller rockers, while scavenging duty falls to 151/48-inch Hooker long-tubes feeding a ceramic-coated 211/42-inch exhaust silenced-a bit-by two-chamber Flowmasters.

Still undyno'd as we write this, the combo is guesstimated at 525 flywheel ponies, explaining the second number on its billet-carved oval aluminum air breather (guess if it turns out to produce 550 hp, Don will have to throw away this lid and whittle out another.) Whatever the exact power level, it flows downstream through a Centerforce clutch and one of Tremec's rugged, new, TKO 600 five-speeds, and gets divided in a Currie 9-inch bearing 3.50 gears for effortless topless cruising.

Underneath, the chassis is dominated by Total Control Products' utterly modern and thoroughly adjustable coilovers at the bow and stern, a combo that proves handling and ride are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Subframe connectors and shock tower reinforcement are also from the Total Control catalog, while Baer was the source of the 13-inch Track system front brakes and 12.5-inch Touring rear discs. By now, you should be getting the impression that though this thing was clearly constructed to show standards, it was just as clearly made to be driven.