Rob Reaser
August 1, 2001

Many of the cars we feature are relatively short-term possessions for their owners. They are purchased, restored in a couple of years, and we magazine folks pounce on them like a hungry tiger as soon as they hit the show scene. It's refreshing when we come across a Mustang that has had a more meaningful relationship with its owner beyond that of the restoration garage. Mark Hyde's '68 fastback certainly fits the bill.

Mark, a 37-year-old home improvement contractor from Forest Hill, Maryland, received his Pony as a gift for his 17th birthday from his brother. The fact that the car was in primer and rather lacking in the fit-and-trim department was never a problem. The Mustang came with a 289 4V engine and a C4 tranny. What more could a young man want?

"It was driven all through my teens," says Mark, "and was used as my work (truck) vehicle when I was building houses. My wife dated me even though it had no back seat, bad exhaust pipes allowed exhaust gas to leak into the cockpit, the hood hinges were broken (a latch and a chain were the only things that kept the hood on), the seat covers were torn, and it had a cheap radio."

Talk about love.

Throughout the next six or seven years, Mark, with the help of brother Butch, gradually worked to bring the car to a more respectable form.

"Parts were received as gifts for Christmas and birthday presents," says Mark. "No Japanese products were used on the vehicle."

Butch handled the bulk of the bodywork and the paint, which included a slick coat of Las Vegas Gold Imron. The fastback gradually came together. The last bit of attention-serious attention-was paid to the drivetrain. The small-block was pulled and handed to Edwards Automotive for a complete makeover and upgrade. The block received an 0.030 overbore, then was fully balanced with 10:1 pistons. Added to the mix was a high-volume oil pump, a windage tray, a Milodon low-profile oil pan, and the heads were ported and fitted with a Comp Cams valvetrain and 1:6 roller tip rockers. Higher up, Mark selected a Shelby high-rise aluminum intake, topped with a 600-cfm Holley and a K&N air filter. Fuel delivery is enhanced with a Holley high-volume fuel pump, while 9mm plug wires and a complete MSD ignition system delivers the necessary spark. Headers send exhaust gasses downstream.

Further down the driveline, Mark massaged the C4 with a shift kit and dropped a 3.70:1 limited-slip equal-lock differential into the 9-inch rear. Couple these upgrades with Shelby underride traction bars, a 111/48-inch antisway bar, 620 front coils, and BFGoodrich rubber mounted on Torq-Thrust II wheels and you can see that this fastback was built for some serious street driving.

Don't let these modifications fool you into thinking this fastback is all performance and no plush. The Mustang also came with factory air conditioning, power steering, and power brakes, and also sports upper and lower consoles and a fold-down rear seat in the otherwise standard black interior. To better monitor engine functions, Mark installed Auto Meter gauges in the dash cluster, and to make up for years of driving with a cheap radio, he dropped in a respectable sound system.

Now instead of hauling lumber and home improvement products, the fastback participates in numerous automotive events, including drag racing, rod runs, shows, and cruising. Throughout the years, Mark has garnered a number of First, Second, and Third Place trophies for his efforts. The real satisfaction, though, comes from continuing the wonderful relationship he has had with this Mustang for the last two decades.

As you can imagine, this is a long-term love affair that won't run out of steam anytime soon.