Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
September 1, 2008

There is a wicked smile on Dominic Greco's bearded face as he asks, "Want me to do a burnout?"

Dominic is an anomaly as a vintage Mustang owner. We've run across many owners who strive for concours perfection, right down to the correct date-coded hose clamps, and we've seen plenty of others who prefer function and performance over originality. Dominic wants both for his '65 GT fastback.

"I didn't want to change the car's appearance," Dominic explains as he admires the twin piles of rubber on the pavement after his cover-shot burnout. "All of the updates were made to modernize the car without changing its persona. I've never been a 'bling' person and the thought of opening the hood after dusting someone and saying, 'It's just a little 289,' rang through my head. Staying true to this throughout the build has impressed more people than making it an in-your-face type of restomod."

There are more than 70 hidden modifications in Dominic's fastback, and until you look closely, it's hard to spot any of them. What looks like a nice little '65 GT fastback is actually a beast in disguise, powered by a 352ci stroker dressed like a concours 289. You certainly don't expect to see smoke billowing out of the rear wheelwells of such a stock-looking '65 Mustang.

Lured by the Silver Blue color and matching Pony interior, Dominic bought the fastback in 2004 after a five-year quest to obtain the car from its original owner. "It was nearly rust-free," Dominic says. "And all of the original parts were there. It even had the '65 Mustang trailer hitch that was available as a Ford accessory."

For the next six months, Dominic drove the unrestored Mustang almost daily. Then someone backed a Blazer into the rear end, crushing the rear quarter-panel into the tire so tightly that Dominic was forced to use the jack to pry the sheetmetal away so he could drive the car home. That's when he hatched his plan to restore the car with a twist: He would add modern performance, only you wouldn't be able to see it.

Dominic relayed his vision to Chris Dobbs at Hot Rods and Restorations, then in High Springs, Florida, just up Highway 441 from Dominic's Gainesville, Florida, home. He had admired Chris' paint work on other Fords at the Silver Springs Mustang & Ford Roundup and figured Chris was just the guy to help him build the fastback into a stealth flyer. For 11 months, Chris applied his restoration expertise while Dominic took care of the mechanical aspects and guided the build toward his vision of a stock-appearing fastback with enough power to burn down the hides. From time to time, Bob Cornelius jumped in to help, and Dominic acknowledges "Logan at National Parts Depot's Gainesville store for pointers and parts advice."

"From day one, I let Chris know that all of the original colors and coatings would be used," Dominic explains. "As parts were added, we would paint, blend, or hide them to make the car look as original as possible. We went to great lengths to remove powdercoatings, glass bead, and use paint remover to make the aftermarket parts look stock."

After storing the original engine and transmission, Dominic rebuilt a Falcon 289, boring the cylinders to 0.060 over and dropping in a 3.40-inch stroker kit for a well-hidden 352 ci. The cam is a retrofit roller from Competition Cams. For improved breathing, the Windsor heads were treated to CNC-porting, along with added durability with screw-in rocker studs, bronze guides, and chrome-moly exhaust seats. In preparation for a concours look, the block and heads were painted black, like all 289s in 1965. To clear the roller rocker arms, Dominic modified the baffles inside the factory 289 valve covers and bolted them on using 1/4-inch rubber-on-steel gaskets for added height. They were then painted gold, again to match Ford's original color scheme for '65 289 four-barrel engines.

For induction, Dominic started with an Edelbrock RPM air-gap aluminum intake, then ground off the lettering and painted it black. Well hidden under a gold factory air cleaner with a free-flowing K&N filter tucked inside, its aftermarket status is rather inconspicuous. The carburetor is an Autolite 650 four-barrel reworked by Pony Carburetors for optimum performance with the cam specs and modified with a throttle arm that provides connection to the AOD's throttle-valve linkage.

A PerTronix Ignitor electronic ignition module hides inside a stock distributor. The coil is also from PerTronix, painted black like a stock replacement. Externally, the engine and engine compartment have been detailed with all the concours touches-decals, spark plug wiring looms, plastic wire hangers, an Autolite Sta-Ful battery cover, tower-style hose clamps, and a red Rotunda oil filter.

Those in the know will notice a couple of obvious external engine mods. The A/C compressor is a modern Sanden unit, which runs smoother and requires less horsepower to operate, but it's painted black like a factory York unit. The disguise is completed with a concours-correct "Ford Air Conditioning" tag. Peering down the shock towers reveals a set of long-tube headers from MAC Performance Products, which have been modified to clear the larger AOD transmission.

The AOD itself is a street/strip Terminator from LenTech with a 2,800-stall converter and a Performance Automatic shift linkage kit to retain the factory shifter and its location. The Overdrive switch, usually located on the shifter in newer Mustangs, is neatly hidden under the instrument panel. The 8-inch rearend is fitted with a nodular carrier-painted in red oxide, of course-with 3.80:1 gears bolted to an Auburn Posi-traction differential.

A number of suspension and chassis modifications are visible, but only if you crawl under the car. Dominic and Chris strengthened the Mustang unibody by welding in '67 Mustang torque boxes and adding Total Control subframe connectors with an X-brace. They also painted the body color like the floorpans for the stealth factor. Front springs are progressive-rate versions from Pro-Motorsports, coated in cast gray like the factory springs. The front A-arms have been treated to the ever-popular 1-inch Shelby drop and polyurethane bushings are used all around, in black instead of the usual red. At the rear, mid-eye leaf springs, also in black, have a solid aluminum bushing in front. Dominic says he boxed and welded the rear spring perches "after twisting the original pair off the axle housing when my 7-year-old daughter said, 'Daddy, go fast!'"

The trained eye will spot the adjustable Competition Engineering traction bars, painted low-gloss black but visible in front of the rear tires if viewing the car from the side.

All '65-'66 GTs got front disc brakes, so the Stainless Steel Brakes four-piston calipers look right at home in cast-gray paint. Also per the factory, the rear brakes are drums, but in this case, Dominic used larger Galaxie versions, also painted cast gray. At the firewall, a dual master cylinder is a safety upgrade and the added power-assist booster is painted black to match its underhood surroundings.

Dominic is a tall guy, so before the interior assembly, Chris modified the seat pans, lowering them 2 inches and moving them back an inch to give Dominic more leg and head room. The Classic Auto Air Perfect-Fit A/C registers are minor alterations from stock, as is the Custom Auto Sound AM/FM radio, which also controls a 10-disc CD changer in the trunk. Dominic also added an original-style remote trunk release beside the driver seat, and in his typical style, he went to great lengths to conceal the cable as it makes its way from the trunk to the trunk lid.

"The car came together well and without any significant problems due to a well-understood plan and a clear vision of what the final car would be," Dominic says.

Step By Step

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70 Hidden Mods

  • 289 w/4.060-inch bore and 3.40-inch stroke for 352 ci
  • Forged-steel crankshaft
  • Mahle 16cc dished forged pistons
  • Billet-steel girdle
  • Comp Cams 270 HR retrofit roller cam; 0.533 lift, 270 degrees duration
  • Port 51cc 289 heads
  • CNC ported
  • 1.94x1.60 stainless steel valves
  • Chrome-moly retainers
  • Dual valvesprings
  • Screw-in studs w/guideplates
  • Hardened chrome-moly exhaust seats
  • Bronze valveguides
  • Cat forged-aluminum 1.6:1 roller rockers
  • Valve covers w/welded baffles and 1/4-inch rubber-on-steel gaskets to clear roller rockers
  • Edelbrock RPM air-gap manifold
  • Letters removed
  • Smoothed and ported, painted engine black
  • Pony Carburetors Autolite 650 reworked to cam specs
  • Throttle arm converted for throttle valve AOD linkage
  • K&N filter element inside stock air cleaner
  • Stainless steel polished 3/8-inch custom fuel line
  • PerTronix Igniter II ignition module, extra wires wrapped in black to conceal
  • PerTronix Blaster Coil painted black like stock replacement
  • MAC full-length headers, modified to fit around AOD
  • Custom 2.5-inch H-pipe and exhaust by Dale Eastman, Jet-Hot coated
  • Flowmaster 50 Series mufflers
  • Classic Auto Air Perfect-Fit A/C w/Sanden compressor, painted engine black
  • Four-row radiator w/hidden overflow
  • Evans waterless cooling fluid
  • NAPA flat-top, service-free battery w/retro cover
  • Drivetrain

  • LenTech AOD street/strip Terminator
  • 9-inch converter w/2,800-stall
  • Lokar braided stainless steel throttle valve cable, hidden by air cleaner
  • Performance Automatic shift linkage kit to retain stock shifter and location
  • Concealed overdrive switch underdash
  • Custom aluminum driveshaft by Denny's Driveshafts, clearcoated
  • Ford 8-inch nodular carrier
  • Auburn 4-spider Posi-traction
  • 3.80 gears assembled by Major Seay
  • Suspension

  • '67 torque boxes welded into both sides to tie inner/outer framerails together
  • Total Control subframe connectors w/X-Brace, painted body color
  • Black (vs. red) polyurethane bushings, spacers, and isolators
  • Pro-Motorsports progressive rate front springs, painted cast gray
  • Pro-Motorsports Wedge Kit
  • Upper A-arms relocated, per Shelby
  • 1.25-inch front sway bar painted low-gloss black
  • Mid-eye rear leaf springs
  • Solid aluminum bushing installed in front spring eye, painted low-gloss black
  • Competition Engineering Adjustable Slide-A-Link traction bars, painted low-gloss black
  • 1-inch rear sway bar, painted low-gloss black
  • Rear spring perches boxed and welded
  • Wheel Vintiques' 14x7 wheels
  • 235/70Rx14 Cooper tires
  • Brakes

  • SSBC 4-piston front calipers, painted cast gray
  • SSBC slotted front discs
  • Large rear drum conversion, painted cast gray
  • Dual master cylinder w/power assist, painted low-gloss black
  • Flex lines: Russell braided stainless
  • Hard lines: Polished stainless steel
  • Silicone racing brake fluid
  • Interior

  • Stock appearing 8,000-rpm Scott Drake Rally-Pak
  • Custom Autosound AM/FM radio w/10-CD changer in trunk
  • Seat pans dropped 2 inches and moved back 1 inch
  • Remote trunk release w/concealed cable routed to trunk
  • Rear seatbelts for passenger safety
  • Exterior

  • Foglights are aircraft landing light bulbs in stock housings
  • MAC stainless exhaust tips