Jim Smart
July 1, 2007
Photos By: Frank Caddell

Frank Caddell hopped out of his '65 hardtop and immediately began telling us about his grandfather. "My grandpa was a millwright," he says proudly. "The best way to describe him is Rooster Cogburn, John Wayne's character in True Grit."

Frank adds that his grandfather was an old-school Ford man who knew how to make do with what he had. In his spare time, he tinkered with race cars and hot rods. If he didn't have a tool he needed, he'd make it. Frank remembers a lot of bench-racing at family get-togethers. Whenever his grandfather was around, Fords always won.

During an outing at a local dragstrip in 1971, Frank's grandfather saw some guys who were drag racing an old Mustang. You could say he saved this Mustang, because they were smacking it around pretty good. He bought the car for $150 and drove it home.

Although Frank's grandfather wanted a Shelby, he couldn't afford one, making the buck-and-a-half hardtop a smoking deal. The interior was trashed, but the body was perfect-a typical Arizona car. Frank's grand-father drove the car for 17 years.

The Mustang became a family centerpiece. Throughout Frank's childhood, he dreamed of one day owning his grandfather's Mustang. In fact, as a teenager, Frank spent time with his grandfather instead of hanging out with his buddies. He remembers changing its clutch in when he was 12.

Frank's grandfather eventually sold the car. Not wanting to choose between his seven grandchildren, he sold it to Frank's parents, who bought the car with the understanding that none of the grandchildren could purchase it. Frank was disappointed, but respected his grand-father's feelings.

Frank's mother eventually decided to sell the Mustang. She knew how much the car meant to Frank, but she didn't want to disrespect her father's wishes-so she bent the rules. Unbeknownst to Frank, the car was sold to his girlfriend, Seanna, who then surprised Frank by selling the car to him.

With the Mustang finally in his possession, Frank began what became an 11-year undertaking to build a tribute to his grandfather, who passed away in 1996. The deep PPG Deltron 2000 basecoat/clearcoat Vermillion Red is clad with Le Mans stripes, along with a Shelby hoodscoop and front valance, representing the Shelby his grandpa always wanted. The rolling stock is 14x6-inch American Torq-Thrust wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich Radial T/As.

The original 289 has a mild overbore of 4.020 inches and carries Speed-Pro forged pistons, custom-ported 289 heads with larger 1.94/1.60-inch valves, a Crower flat-tappet hydraulic cam, an Edelbrock intake, a 650-cfm Holley, and a classic Mallory dual-point distributor.

Behind the 289 is an old-fashioned Top Loader four-speed. The original 8-inch rear was replaced with a stouter 9-inch version with 3.50:1 cogs, 31-spline axles, and a Traction-Lok differential. Because Frank's specialty at a Tucson Ford dealer is transmissions and differentials, setting up his Mustang with the right stuff was easy.

Inside, Frank made few changes. He didn't care for the original Falcon-style instrument panel, so he swapped in a five-dial cluster from the GT model. Between the buckets is a Hurst Competition Plus shifter, which adds the hot-rodding demeanor Frank remembers well.

Before his grandfather passed away, Frank showed him the car with its fresh red paint. Frank was pleased when his grandfather said, "Yep, the right grandkid got it."