Brad Bowling
September 13, 2007
Contributers: Brad Bowling

Winning a major award at a big Mustang show with a first-ever restoration is similar to getting a starring movie role after a first audition or winning a NASCAR championship during a rookie season. Most people will tell you it's just not done.

Jimmy Voyles' Editor's Choice trophy from the 13th Annual Ford & Mustang Roundup in Silver Springs proves otherwise. Sure, the automatic transmission specialist from China Grove, North Carolina, had practice before he transformed his '66 fastback into the cool resto-rod you see here, but it was technically his first complete restoration.

"I went through my '65 Ford pickup back in 1989, and it looked really sharp," he says. "That was only a 90 percent effort. I didn't take the cab off the frame or anything. With the Mustang, every single part was pulled and replaced."

Tired of building trannies for other guys' fast cars, Jimmy had been watching for a potential Mustang project for two years when a solid '66 2+2 came along. The white fastback, which was barely in driveable condition, still had its original C-code 289 two-barrel V-8 and four-speed manual transmission. Jimmy, who has raced everything from go-carts to late-model stockers, had plans for a powertrain to make the old horse scoot.

Kenneth Troutman, of KT Engine Development in Concord, stroked an '88 302 block to 347 ci, then fitted it with a Comp camshaft, roller rocker arms, aluminum heads and intake, and a 770 Holley Street Avenger four-barrel carburetor. Doug Thorley headers, 2.5-inch pipes, a crossover pipe, and Flowmaster Hushpower II mufflers make up the exhaust system, complete with trumpet tips poking out the GT-style rear valance.

As for the transmission, Jimmy didn't take the route you might expect.

"I build a lot of C4 automatics for race cars and street rods," he says, "but I like the way a Mustang drives with a stick shift. I used to have a '68 with a manual transmission, and I've missed driving it since it was stolen from the parking lot where I worked years ago.

"A buddy of mine put together a T5 manual for a customer who never picked it up, so he offered to give it to me for my fastback."

With a late-model bellhousing and a few items from National Parts Depot, the T5 was an easy bolt-in behind the modern 347 block. A polished-aluminum driveshaft and 3.89:1 Detroit Locker rearend complete the resto-rod's drivetrain.

The suspension was upgraded and modernized with lowering springs in the front and an equal drop with new leaves in the rear. Jimmy installed disc brakes from a Ford Granada up front and a Master Power Brakes 11x2-inch drum kit at the rear. The red calipers and drums are visible through the five-spoke American Racing rims (17x7-inch on front, 17x8-inch on the rear) and Nanking tires (235/45-17 in front, 245/45-17 at rear).

Todd Hayworth, of Nobody Sheetworks in Landis, North Caro-lina, handled the metal panel replacement. Steve Duffell straightened every body panel on the fastback and sprayed the layers of '02 Ford Ranger Vermillion Red paint, while Robert Morrow of CPC Stripping & Powder Coating in Kannapolis covered the intake, grille, hood hinges, latches, and support braces.

"The car was bad in the places Mustangs normally go bad," Jimmy says. "We had to cut out the floorpans and quarter-panels, but the rest of the body was fine."

The engine compartment received as much care as the body, so the smooth firewall, aprons, and shock towers glow bright red, punctuated by stainless steel bolts and fittings.

Jimmy ran with a red-and-white theme throughout the interior, beginning with the Pony-option seat upholstery. The buckets were refurbished with pads that are stiffer and thicker than stock, so the vinyl covering remains crisp and provides firmer side support. Two-tone door panels complement the seats, and a replica woodgrain steering wheel looks at home in this environment. The new transmission and shifter line up perfectly with the factory floor opening, so Jimmy installed a stock shift boot and a clever five-speed knob that looks vintage. Opening the door activates a lighted horsehead design in the doorsill, and the white-face gauges feature a red background at night. The fastback's glass is all new, but the stainless trim was meticulously restored and reused.

Most people would relax after building a car that took home a trophy against 1,050 other Fords on its first outing, but Jimmy is working on another restoration project-a '66 Fairlane GTA with an original 390-cid/325hp engine and air conditioning.