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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.
Pete says, "It took a lot of fabrication work. It looks sexy and it works fantastic. I wanted the rear to be balanced, especially with the type of stuff I was doing up front with the engine and drivetrain."
Behind the 4.6L is Ford's five-speed T45 transmission. It spins a set of 3.50:1 gears in a Currie Enterprises differential.
Another challenge the young engineer tackled was enabling the 4.6L to run with Ford's EEC-V computer. For Pete, the issue was service. What if the engine had a problem on a long trip? Pete wanted the driver to be able to pull into a Ford dealer to service the 4.6L just as he would for a '99-'01 Cobra. The '67 would have an OBD-II port underdash, a check-engine light, and a mass air fuel injection system. Pete refers to the theme of the car as "built to be driven, not just to look at."
Roughly halfway through the build, Pete says "somebody stepped in and wanted to buy the car." From that point on, the new owner directed the build to suit his taste. Still, the car continued to follow the theme Pete had laid out from the beginning.
The new owner is a prominent collector who wants to remain anonymous for now. He owns original Shelbys and other musclecars, but the Reenmachine is a high-performance Shelby look-alike he can drive every day.
There was no question the GT500 would look vintage, right down to the Billet MaRodder wheels from Wheel Vintiques. A Shelby aficionado could easily mistake them for '67 GT500 Mag Stars, but they're billet and measure 17x8 inches.
The interior follows the same theme. Seats are SCAT ProCar Elites, but as vintage as they look, right down to the correct Comfortweave inserts and grain in the vinyl, they're high-backs with modern seat tracks, adjustable headrests bolstering for additional support, and the ability to recline. Overall, the interior resembles a '67 Shelby Deluxe, with some modern touches that tastefully integrate with the overall appearance. For gauges, Pete chose Stewart-Warner for its history with Shelbys and other performance Mustangs. They're modern white-face gauges featuring a full-size tach and a fully electronic speedometer.
On the outside, the Le Mans stripes feature one wide stripe with the narrower stripes on either side. Readers in the know will recognize this pattern as specific to the '67 Shelby Super Snake. When the light bounces off the hood at the right angle, the pearlescent of the white stripes pops.
Pete built his inaugural Reenmachine with a sense of history. That's what you get from a mechanical engineer who worked on the Mars Rover project. But down deep inside, he is that 15-year-old kid, still fascinated with old Mustangs and Shelbys.
The Real DealShelby American never offered a convertible Shelby Mustang in '67, instead waiting until '68 to introduce the top-down GT350s and GT500s. However, a '67 Shelby convertible was considered, as evidenced by the existence of a lone prototype. The car was passed around on a regular basis to employees of Shelby American before it was stolen in the summer of 1967. It was eventually recovered and returned to Ford Motor Company, where it was updated with '68 Shelby parts and sold as a '68 GT500 convertible.
Now returned to its original configuration, the '67 Shelby convertible prototype is currently owned by the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois.
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