Jim Smart
May 4, 2007

Ray Barsanti never intended to build a '67 Mustang hardtop (usually mistakenly referred to as coupes by notchback enthusiasts). His hardtop experience began with a '71 Mustang that was totaled in an accident with a deer.

During his many frustrating moments with the insurance company, Ray decided to cruise the classifieds to see what he could find to replace his '71. He found a young man who was headed off to college and couldn't take his '67 Mustang with him. When Ray found this car, it was well on its way to being a regional drag racer. It was worse for wear, badly mismatched color-wise, and needed a fresh look. It also needed a gallant return to the street.

Because Ray was familiar with street rods, he decided to adapt this approach to a different kind of coupe. More and more, through efforts of guys like Ray, street rodding is finding its way into the '50s and '60s cars. Enthusiasts are doing more things that make a '60s classic look more like a '30s or '40s vintage hot rod. Check it out-Ford's Raven Black over Dodge's Viper Yellow, with a checkered-flag approach to graphics we envy. Mission accomplished and job well done.

It was hard not to notice Ray's '67 hardtop at the '06 Restomods In {{{Reno}}}, hosted by Mustangs Plus. It stood out among the masses, ready to be positioned before our cameras. We have to admit to a passionate, personal attraction to a Mustang such as this. When Ford redesigned the Mustang for 1967, it produced an exciting persona not many could ignore. It had a wider track, more elongated lines, and those cool simulated sidescoops at the rear quarters that looked functional. It was a fresh approach to the Mustang that thrilled buyers and kept people coming back for more. The all-new '67 Mustang had a rich look that has kept us in love with it for 40 years.

Ray didn't fall in love with this slippery body immediately. When it was time to lay down the cash, he hauled it home and went to work in earnest. While Unique Auto Body transformed the body, Ray found himself entranced with Ford's sporty Mustang ride for 1967 and thought of ways he could make a winning design even better. He added a chin spoiler and a fiberglass decklid from Mustangs Plus for a Shelby/ California Special demeanor, as well as a billet-aluminum grille and Tri-Bar headlamps, also from Mustangs Plus.

Inside, Ray went with what worked for him-rich leather over '95 Mustang bucket seats. A Dakota Digital cluster yields a richness unmatched by anything else in the industry. It's the only digital instrument panel out there. A Flaming River steering column adjusts and tilts to ease driving comfort. It also looks terrific topped with a Grant steering wheel, which feels good to hold in your hands. Custom door panels flank driver and passenger. Do you like the thick-pile, color-keyed carpeting? We do.

Ray's focus wasn't so much on power-but on cruisability. He wanted a civilized engine and driveline long on distance, without much attention being paid to the fast-quick, boy-racer crowd. Ray didn't care how fast it was, just how much fun it could be. He kept the 302 mild with an automatic overdrive to improve fuel economy and reduce wear.

What matters most to Ray is appeal. He wants his Mustang to grab you without having to grab rubber. That's why he took the approach he did to a striking '67 Mustang hardtop. Call it cool street-rod nuances without having to buy a post-war hot rod.

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