Jim Smart
July 1, 2005

The sound was subtle, yet effective, because it got our attention-the clatter of 16 mechanical tappets, a throaty burble from the exhaust trumpets, and the giddyup nuances of an old Ford Autolite starter. Ken Welliver's Raven Black '66 Mustang hardtop emits all those sounds, along with visuals like GT badges, fog lamps, and glistening red stripes that clue us in to the car's K-GT status. It's one of the most desirable of the early Mustangs: a GT with the K-code, 271hp 289 High Performance engine, the top-of-the-line performance powerplant for '65-'66.

When Ken arrived at the Old Pueblo Mustang Club's show last year, his concours-ready K-GT teased us from across the parking lot. We knew what it was before turning around to confirm the sound. Upon seeing the car and the extraordinary restoration effort, it was a slam-dunk for us. Not only did we want to photograph it, we wanted to chat with Ken about the car, its restoration, and his passion for all things Hi-Po.

Few things beat a Raven Black Mustang GT hardtop for elegance, but with a K-GT, it's also about what's under the hood. Although the 289 High Performance V-8 was available with an optional C4 Cruise-O-Matic for the first time in 1966, this Mustang rolled off the Milpitas, California, line with the four-speed and a 3.50:1 9-inch peg-leg differential. That means raw power, four forward speeds, and one long, black tire mark when all four of the Autolite 4100's butterflies are snapped open.

Of all the things we can appreciate about this Mustang, the car's craftsmanship leads the list. Bryan Jackson handled the bodywork, paint, and black Pony interior restoration, while Doc's Engine in Tucson, Arizona, took care of the machine work and engine rebuild. The result is the crisp sound of Hi-Po power-16 solid lifters, eight throaty pulses, and a trumpeted burble at the back bumper.

Ken did his share of work too. When he discovered the rearend was an incorrect 8-inch unit, as opposed to the Hi-Po's 9-inch, he built a homemade jig so he could cut the 8-inch apart and transfer the tubes to a 9-inch center section with a Traction-Lok differential. The car also needed the GT's front disc brakes, so Ken scavenged the setup from a donor car and rebuilt them before installation on his K-GT.

Mustangs with K-code serial numbers have always been ponycar rides bent on raw performance. But when you dip them in black, dress them in GT livery, and add Styled Steel wheels with redline tires, they really become special.