Darrel Arment
February 1, 2008

Step By Step

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Mufp_0802_09_z 1966_ford_mustang_fastback Front_view
It's the stance and the paint that really set this Mustang apart from the rest. The tri-bar headlights and the billet grille bring slight changes to the front of the car.
Mufp_0802_04_z 1966_ford_mustang_fastback Engine
The mildly cooked 302 has enough power to keep life interesting, while the paint and chrome add flash.
Mufp_0802_07_z 1966_ford_mustang_fastback Interior
The '00 seats and console changed the entire look of the interior without losing that true Mustang feel. Bullocks Interiors applied the '00 fabric to the '66 rear seat, and it looks right at home in the cabin. The '00 Mustang center console houses the power-window switches, Air Ride controls, shifter, and cup holders.
Mufp_0802_14_z 1966_ford_mustang_fastback ConsoleMufp_0802_06_z 1966_ford_mustang_fastback Steering_wheel
The Billet Specialties steering wheel and the '66 instruments blend together nicely.

When Matt Nieters ran across a really good deal on a solid '66 Mustang, he jumped all over it. He'd wanted one of the little fastbacks for as long as he could remember, but for one reason or another they were always just out of reach.

Well, not this time-the body and drivetrain were solid, most of the pieces were there, and the price was good. This time it would happen; this time the deal was right. Money changed hands, papers were signed, and the only question that remained was, in what direction should Matt take the car?

Sure, it always seems a Mustang is worth more if it's a true, hard-core, bottom-up restoration, and yeah, you can always find those obscure Mustang parts if you want to search. The only real downside to a full-on restoration is that the finished product is so damned predictable. On the other hand, if you turn up the volume on the color, shave some chrome, spice up the interior a bit, and slam that baby, you can have a real one-off, get-some-attention piece of road art.

Well, road art it is. First on the list was a little chassis work because, as we all know, making the car set right is the key to making it look right. The rear springs were replaced with an Air Ride Technologies triangulated four-bar system and a pair of Shockwaves. Up front, the coil springs were replaced with Shockwaves, while all height adjustments are controlled by an Air Ride Technologies Ride Pro control system. As a part of the modernization, a pair of Stainless Steel Brakes rotors and calipers were added to the front prior to the installation of the 18x8 Eagle 304 wheels to the front. At the rear, standard drum and 20x8-1/2-inchers fill out the wheelwells nicely.

With all the critical suspension components in place, it was time to think about getting the car down the road. Engine options today range from mild to wild, with the amount of power available being limited solely by the amount of money you're willing to spend. But this car was meant to be a laid-back, no muss, no fuss, down-the-road cruiser rather than a fire-breathing, late-night thumper, so Matt backed away from the mega-horsepower ground-pounders and chose a relatively mild Showcase Custom Automotive-built 302ci powerplant backed by a Transmissions To Go C4 automatic to arrive at a comfortable blend of power, performance, and pleasure.

At this point, the car has stance and power-the rest is the fun stuff. To kick things off, the body received new front sheetmetal, and all the gaps were properly aligned. Most of the exterior trim was removed, the drip rails shaved, the door handles knocked off, bumpers fitted, valance molded, and a billet grille fitted to the opening. The most notable change, however, was the smoothed C-pillars. This seemed to accentuate the smooth-flowing line of the top and remove some of the visual turbulence that was originally built into the design. When Crawford Custom had all the bodywork completed, Dallas Hamilton turned up the volume on the color chart by laying down a slick coat of House of Kolor Lime Time Green over the entire exterior.

The only question that remained was, what to do with the interior? It had to change significantly to blend in with the overall look yet not lose its pure Mustang identity. While the head scratching was in progress, Matt came across a wayward '00 Mustang interior, and the problem was solved-the items to update the interior were all right there. The '00 bucket seats and console were fitted to the front of the '66, while Bullocks Interiors in Columbia, Illinois, fitted the '00 leather to the '66 rear seat and cleaned up the rear sail-panel area with a bit of vinyl. All the pieces are out of the Mustang family, so the look is right, but the seats are much more comfortable and supportive, so the driving experience is greatly improved.