Mike DeFord
November 1, 2002

The Carlisle Automotive Classrooms Foundation Mustang project has come a long way. In the beginning, a project of this size is always a bit scary. There are factors involved that cannot be controlled by one person.

The major variable in the project is the people performing the work and, in this case, we have teenagers who are learning as they go. This Mustang is not their car, so the question of their commitment has been raised a few times. How much heart and soul would the students give to a car they'd never get a chance to drive? Then there are those who see the future of America as a scary place, being in the hands of today's kids. I, for one, am not the least bit worried. This project and the future of America are going to be fine.

In three short months, the team of students at the Dauphin County Technical School (DCT), in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has taken the worn '65 Mustang and transformed it into quite a capable roller. Since the kids had put so much time and effort into the car, we decided to show them what makes the automotive aftermarket turn.

A trip was planned to CJ Pony Parts in Harrisburg, the official sponsor of the project. Students were given a no-holds-barred tour of the impressive facility, and the parts and services available was astounding to many of them. Before going to CJ's, a couple of the students had approached me and asked about what types of jobs are out there, how to get them, and how to get involved further in the industry. Upon taking the trip, their questions were answered. CJ's has a spot for anyone with a skill, from retail sales and warehousing to rebuilds and repairs. Some of the kids were asking for applications before we left. To their surprise, along with a bunch of goodies in their gift bags, were employment applications.

Back at the shop, it was time to transfer the Mustang from DCT to the Carlisle Center for Careers and Technology in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. This is where the suspension, drivetrain, and other mechanical systems of the car would be refreshed. A local towing company, John's Towing of Carlisle, showed up to transport the car. The towing operator was met with a number of sad faces. The students at Dauphin County had really become attached to the car and were sad to see it go, if even for a short time. The school in Carlisle will have the Ford for only two months, after which it will be returned to DCT for the finishing touches.

The work started right away once the car got to its new temporary home in Carlisle. The front suspension is nearly complete, but a couple of parts are on back order. Otherwise, the elements of the project are ready to go. The school has taken possession of the 302 long-block and has already started to bolt on a host of Edelbrock components and other performance goodies to the engine as it sits waiting for its new home.

The Carlisle students made the decision to turn the automatic Mustang into a five-speed, and from a six-cylinder engine to an eight-cylinder. While the school has never done a conversion of this sort, the students and class instructor Dave Appleman feel confident that it will be pretty easy.

Appleman is using the knowledgeable staff at CJ Pony Parts to the utmost. Questions about suspension upgrades necessary when converting a six-cylinder car into an eight were a key point. "The guys at CJ Pony Parts have been a great help with some of the stuff that I was unsure of," replied Appleman. "It is a tough task to start when you get a chassis that's bare, and have no idea of where to begin and how everything was once attached."

When this project started, I was a little nervous about what to expect and the pace at which the work would get done. When you team up with great organizations like the Carlisle Center for Careers and Technology and the Dauphin County Technical School, it becomes really easy. Watch for the next installment of the Carlisle Automotive Classrooms Foundation project coming soon. The Mustang will be moving under its own power and will begin its final stage of completion.