Jim Smart
June 1, 2008

Have you ever had a moment where you felt like your fate was preordained, for better or worse? Sometimes, fate has all the earmarks of a train wreck, leaving us feeling befuddled, lost, and discouraged. Other times, it's a divine moment when all of the cosmic tumblers fall into place and everything goes not to plan, but better than we could've ever come up with given all the best logistics. The latter describes Tom Anderson's experience when he unearthed this '65 Mustang fastback.

Tom's wife, Lexine, left her '96 Mustang convertible at an upholstery shop for rear-window replacement. The shop shared the same building with a restoration business. When Lexine went to pick up her convertible, she spotted the '65 fastback in the restoration shop. She called Tom immediately. The fastback was everything her husband wanted-red with a black interior, just like Lexine's late-model convertible. A week later, Tom drove his fastback home. Upon arrival, he felt confident he'd made the right decision. The next hurdle was how best to approach his newfound car project. It would have to happen in phases.

There's nothing quite like the excitement of a fresh car project. It's a blank canvas on which to paint anything your imagination can conceive, and Tom was never short on imagination. The cool thing about building a restomod was what Tom knew could be done with his fastback. He envisioned a good-looking driver he and Lexine could enjoy and show. During that first trip home, Tom understood the car had a fundamental problem-stopping. With four-wheel manual drum brakes at 65 mph on the freeway, the car was unwieldy-all over the place-unsafe at highway speeds. His first order of business was a set of 11-inch slotted Stainless Steel Brake Corp. disc brakes and a dual braking system. Just the front disc brakes alone greatly improved stopping power and stability.

Tom was faithful to his priorities in planning and execution. He didn't need a rocket ship. He wanted a good, streetable cruiser that delivered healthy low-end torque-something snappy for the freeway and mean surface streets. The Mustang's most trusted performance platform, the nimble 90-degree Fairlane small-block V-8 introduced in 1962, was selected for Tom's performance agenda. Nothing fancy here, just an affordable, healthy, 302ci small-block. Tom had this engine built when the car's 289 spun a bearing during a trip to Hot August Nights in Reno early in the going.

When Tom had the engine out for a complete rebuild by Van Gordon Racing in Upland, California, he evaluated rebuilding the car's original four-speed transmission. The repair estimate came to more than $1,000. That's when he ordered a Tremec five-speed from D&D Performance in Wixom, Michigan, and put his four-speed on the shelf.

A Centerforce Dual-Friction clutch makes shifting a breeze because pedal effort is greatly reduced thanks to Centerforce's flyweight technology. Tom likes that clever balance of performance and efficiency offered by Tremec's T-5 transmission. First through Fourth gears yield great acceleration, while Overdrive gets the revs down and efficiency up when it's time to hit the open road. Bill Thomas Enterprises of San Bernardino, California, built Tom a bulletproof 9-inch rearend sporting a 3.50 Traction-Lok with 28-spline axles-perfect for Tom's master plan of both performance and reliability.