Modified Mustangs & Fords
1967 Gateway Classic Mustang - The New Red Rocker
Sammy Hagar Still Can't Drive 55 In His Mustang
There's probably no more popular rock 'n' roll star in the St. Louis area than Sammy Hagar. In the late '70s he wrote a song called "Red," in which he sang about how he liked the color. This led many of his fans to wear all red to his concerts. So when the folks at Gateway Classic Mustang looked for a celebrity to help publicize the car they were building, it made perfect sense to consider Sammy-the Red Rocker.
Lonny Childress of Gateway says, "This is Sammy's biggest town. I don't know what it is about fans here, but they just click with him. St. Louis has the oldest rock 'n' roll station in the world, KSHE 95. Basically, they always supported him and played his music. He sells out every time he comes to town. A lot of the albums and DVDs he has done over the years, he has done live here."
Sammy is a car enthusiast. We chatted with him at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in January 2006 when he was selling his '67 Shelby GT500 fastback-red, of course-through the world's most prestigious classic-car auction. Sammy couldn't have been friendlier, signing autographs and talking to everybody. When we asked him why he was selling, Sammy waited for us to get our tape recorder positioned. He said, "OK, you ready? The reason I'm selling it is because I've kind of outgrown it. I've had it a long time. My wife and I have a couple of girls-she won't let them ride in it. She won't ride in it. Nobody in my family will ride in it. After one or two trips, they've had it with me; I scare everybody to death. It needs to be driven really hard all the time, so you can't take it out for a Sunday cruise. You have to take it out and beat the hell out of it, and every time I do, I get pulled over. The cops just want to look at it. They want to give you some love for it- say, 'Gee I wish I was off duty today,' and I'm going, 'Me too, you wouldn't have pulled me over.' Ruined my day, but I never have had a ticket in [this car], and I've never, ever been beat on the street."
Sammy even gave us the location of his 14-car collection and his phone number in case we ever want to visit Northern California to do a feature. In other words, he was as friendly and enthusiastic as any other collector who isn't a celebrity.
Meanwhile, Gateway Classic Mustang's Lonny and Jason Childress were looking to sell a new series of Mustangs. They knew about Hagar's collection and his interest in Shelbys and Mustangs. In their first six years in business, Gateway focused on classic restorations. For the last three years, they have, in Lonny's words, "really started getting into the restomods."
Probably the most popular Mustang to build into a restomod these days is the '67 fastback. This model worked great for Gateway's series build because the company wouldn't have to worry about finding classic Mustangs to repair. "One of the reasons we chose the '67 fastback is we knew Dynacorn was releasing a new reproduction body. We wanted to build a 100-percent new car, not a restored body." As with other restomods, the lines had to remain classic.
Gateway took styling cues from the '05 Roush Stage 3 Mustang. "We wanted to see if we could blend that new technology into an older car. We also knew we were going to go with Roush crate engines," says Jason, Lonny's brother. In fact, Gateway first went to Roush with the idea of creating a classic Roush-looking Mustang, starting with a custom-built Gateway body kit.
Up front, Gateway installed PIAA foglights at the outer edges of the wide-mouth opening, set against their own custom-built honeycomb grille. The hoodscoop is also a Gateway original. Jason and Lonny demanded their custom scoop be functional, the same as the sidescoops on the B-pillars and in front of the rear tires.
With its many years of restoration and building experience, Gateway wanted to make sure the components of the body kit were easy to install. "Upper and lower scoops take about an hour to get ready for paint; the same with the hoodscoop," Jason says.
The body kit, which Gateway will sell separately, also consists of a set of fiberglass rocker panels, wheel flares, front fascia, and a rear fiberglass valance panel. Astute Mustang enthusiasts will recognize the black back panel grille-a stock accessory in 1967-that matches the black rear spoiler, both part of the body kit. "We've had some people say they would rather see it [the rear spoiler] body color, but I think it makes it snap," Jason says. Maybe the final opinion comes from the Red Rocker himself. Sammy says he digs the rear spoiler, along with the rest of the car. Gateway plans to build and sell 100 of these '67 Mustangs, coded GCM-R.
The good news is a steady flow of '67 Mustangs from Dynacorn. Gateway won't have to go to the used Mustang classic-car market. It's not a good place to be these days, what with rusty fastbacks fetching $5,000-$10,000 and cherry '67s easily going for double.
Apparently, this '67, which is an early build, is the first Dynacorn-built Mustang completed and on the road. Gateway is delighted with the car, calling it a "direct replacement for an original body but with some beefier metal." Basically, the team could apply the skills they learned over the years restoring and building restomods to the Dynacorn '67 Mustang fastback.
"Suspension-wise, we used RRS components," Lonny says. "It has a Phase 3 front brake and strut suspension system; an RRS power rack-and-pinion system; RRS rear brakes with discs; and an RRS coilover, three-link rear suspension."