Jerry Heasley
February 16, 2011

In the sweepstakes to build a better Shelby out of an early Mustang fastback, Rod Brown's '65 is one of the latest and greatest. Builders keep topping each other to raise the bar ever higher. As time passes, enthusiasts get more innovative and vendors oblige with more parts and services.

With Rod's fastback, you can't help but notice something stronger about the body lines. Or maybe it's the House of Kolor Blue Blood Red with Ice Pearl in the basecoat. Then builder Tim Chesney explains. His shop, TAJ Motorsports, filed the edges of the fenders and shaped the metal with filler so the sight lines down the tops of the fenders, from front to rear, make a straight line.

"I wanted to go for razor sharp lines," Tim said. The father/son bodywork team of David and D.J. Barfield started by filing the round edges of the fenders so they were sharper. Since a Mustang "swoops in" at the back, they had to widen the rear end of the car about a half-inch on each side to enable those sight lines on the rear quarters to be straight as a string. The body change is subtle, but it gives the car a stronger appearance.

The straight bodylines flow into a fiberglass '68 California Special rear spoiler. Tim also pointed out the trick fiberglass rear panel from Mustang Project, made for a flush fit for '68 Shelby-style taillights with sequential LEDs.

Rod started with a '65 fastback, originally a C-code 289 two-barrel car with C4 automatic. Tim accepted the car partly in pieces at his TAJ Motorsports shop in Union, Mississippi, where he and son A.J. build cars for clients like Rod Brown in their spare time. Tim has a day job as the Lauderdale County Network Administrator in Meridian, Mississippi, yet his enthusiasm for Mustangs motivates him to maintain a shop on the side.

During this build, Rod took time out "every month or so" to drive to Tim's shop to inject his personality into the project. Rod wasn't that particular with the final build. As long as he had about 600 horsepower and the body was red with white stripes to resemble a vintage Shelby, he was happy.

On one occasion, Rod arrived to find a corncob on the breather. Tim had come up with the name "Corn Bred," a reference to one of Rod's cash crops as a farmer in the Mississippi Delta. After some thought, Rod came up with a name he liked better, "Delta Heat." As hot as the Delta gets on the farm in the summer, Rod thought about the kind of Delta Heat he really likes-a Mustang scorching down the Mississippi back roads.

Tim focused on the suspension first. Early Mustangs are prone to flex under the stress of two to three times the horsepower they were designed for. A peek under the hood at the stroked 351 (to 408 cubic inches) reveals lopped off shock towers. Tim went with a Heidts Mustang II Superide front suspension for a jump up the handling ladder. Coilover shocks and tubular control arms are a substantial improvement over the factory front suspension.

In back, Tim stuck with a tried-and-true Ford 9-inch with a Moser centersection and 31-spline axles. The gears are 3.73:1 with a Ford Trac-Lok by Moser. The vintage leaf springs and shocks certainly could not plant 600 horsepower to the ground. Basically, the components are coilover QA1 shocks, a four-link (two links per side replacing the leaf springs), and a Panhard bar to center the rear end under hard cornering and acceleration.

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