1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 - Mustang On A Mission
Former Mars Rover Engineer Pete Waydo Built A Tribute To The '67 GT500 Convertible That Shelby Never Offered To The Public
What do you get when you cross a Mustang enthusiast with a mechanical engineer who helped design and build the suspension systems for the 2003 Mars Rover mission?
Answer: A Reenmachine. That's short for "reengineered," as in a restomod built to modern technical standards.
Pete Waydo grew up around Mustangs. He worked for his father, George Waydo, at K.A.R., a classic Mustang dealership in Columbus, Ohio. Pete sat in classic Mustangs before he could reach the pedals, and he even "made a living" turning wrenches on them before getting his mechanical engineering degree and accepting a once-in-a-lifetime job for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Pete says he got his engineering degree so he could "do what I'm doing now." Mustangs have been in his game plan since he was that wide-eyed kid who started out sweeping floors at K.A.R. There, he learned to be a Mustang mechanic and restorer as he built show-winning Mustangs and Shelbys.
In 2004, Pete returned to his Mustang passion, but not in Ohio. He first opened his shop in Flagstaff, Arizona. Two years later, he moved to Ventura, California. This time around, he was more versed in suspensions, to say the least. "The Rovers are still on Mars," Pete says.
This isn't to say a Mustang restomod build is a piece of cake compared to wheeled travel on other planets. Pete told us he wanted to "pack the car as full of engineering as I could without encroaching on the original appearance." Restomods may be high-tech, but they must look vintage so as not to spoil the lines.
The 30-something, experienced engineer set out to "make an impression" with his first Reenmachine build. Pete tells us the thought process that defined his goals: "All the early Mustangs have gorgeous lines that make them the classics they are. For the most part, I like to keep cars looking the way they did when they were new, but I prefer modern technology inside so they can run and drive like a new car." Pete's ride would have "some of the convenience things, such as power windows, power door locks, and modern air conditioning."
In choosing the Shelby build, Pete no doubt recalled fond memories of a Black Jade '70 GT350 that he and his buddy Shannon Brown restored and drove to SAAC-18 at Watkins Glen in 1993. They raced the Shelby on the open track for a couple of days. Exhilarated, they cleaned and polished it, won their class and the "Best Shelby" award, then drove back home to Columbus.
Pete began his '67 Shelby convertible tribute build with a plain T-code (six-cylinder), three-speed '67 convertible without a "single dot of rust or accident repair." This basic six-banger proved the perfect palate for Pete's technically advanced four-wheel independent suspension.
He chose a Heidt's Mustang II-style independent front suspension, calling it "a choice born of necessity" in reference to the engine compartment space added by removing the shock towers. Obviously, the 4.6L needed plenty of width. Pete may be right when he says the 4.6L DOHC is the widest engine ever put in a Mustang-even more than a Boss 429.
Power mongers might wonder why Pete didn't go with the supercharged '03-'04 Cobra V-8. He chose the '99-'01 4.6L because it's all-aluminum, while the '03-'04 V-8 uses a cast-iron block. The '99-'01 4.6L is gaining a reputation in the hobby for its lighter weight. For Pete, fewer pounds is an issue for the high-tech suspension up front.
The rear suspension is also high-tech. Pete describes Heidt's Superide IRS as "an Americanized version of the Jaguar IRS." He refers to inboard brakes that-in the American tradition-are "big Wilwoods" and a tough Ford 9-inch rearend with Corvette outer bearing assemblies.
Heidt's told Pete that no one had ever installed this IRS in a Mustang. It's engineered for a body-on-frame car, such as a street rod with beefy framerails, rather than a Mustang with a unibody. Perhaps this was just the challenge a Mars Rover engineer needed.