June 1, 2001

It seems that in a lot of instances, the worse condition a vintage car is in at the time of purchase, the more likely the finished product will benefit from a few nonstock upgrades. The idea-we suppose-is, it's less sacrilegious to modify rusted, worn-out iron than it is to modify iron on a fairly well-preserved car. Well, that notion may fly for some folks, but not for Michael Hall of Lee's Summit, Missouri.

In 1994 a friend told Michael about a '68 GT fastback that was sitting despondent in Olathe, Kansas. The car had only 40,000 miles and little rust. This was a big surprise, considering its Midwest locale. Factor in the GT Equipment Group, the 302 4V engine, the C4 automatic tranny, air conditioning, power steering, power disc brakes, the Tilt-Away steering column, the console, and the fold-down rear seat, and it's easy to see why Michael's interest was piqued. The only problem was, the car was not for sale. He tried to buy it once, he tried to buy it twice, and only on his third attempt did the owner give in.

Given the car's original condition and wealth of desirable options, one would believe that this Pony is a prime candidate for a stock rebuild-nah.

Michael stripped the car to its nubbins in one weekend and mapped out his vision of Mustang fun. With the help of Bill Cook and Matt Jones, the fastback received some touching up in the body department before acquiring a fresh coat of original-color Candyapple Red. After two years of downtime while Michael built a new home, the assembly process began.

Working alone, Michael gave the 302 block an 0.030-inch overbore job. To further improve performance, he added 351W heads, solid lifters, a Cobra intake, and a 750-cfm Holley carburetor. The final touch-up came with the addition of a Cobra dress-up kit and valve covers. All of this proved to be a nice complement to the C4/limited-slip 3.50:1 driveline combo.

On the outside, Michael also decided that different would definitely be better. After installing the engine, he capped his work with a '67 Shelby-style fiberglass hood and stylish '67 Mag Star wheels wrapped with BFGoodrich T/A radials. Finally, he added a Classic Auto Sound AM/FM cassette stereo to the standard black interior.

Once his Missouri cruiser was finished, Michael entered it in the 25th Mid-America Shelby Meet in Tulsa, where the car won First Place in the '67-'68 class. This performance was followed by First Place and Best of Show awards at the 18th Annual Mid-America Mustangs gig in Sugar Creek, Missouri, a short time later.

As a result of its winning ways, Michael drives the fastback only to shows and on special occasions, "and absolutely not on rainy days," he says.

Limited driving for this powerful, stylish Pony? Now that's different.