Jerry Heasley
February 16, 2011

In the old days, tubbing and replacing leaf springs with a four-link and a Panhard bar was pretty much Pro Street and extremely radical. Today, the hot rod arts keep moving into the restomod scene. For Rod's '65 Mustang, TAJ Motorsports utilized the new Rear Mini Tub Suspension from Martz Chassis, which allowed him to retain the rear seats. With the mini tubs, he was able to tuck 18x10-inch wheels under the rear end, with no fender work needed. The tubs for the P295/35/18 BFGoodrich drag radials protrude into the rear seat area unnoticed. Tim chopped an inch from both ends of the rear seat, which still folds down and looks stock. The seating is obviously tight for rear passengers, especially considering the custom four-point rollbar extending from the inside top of the roof into the trunk.

Due to his height, Rod asked Tim to move the front seats back six inches. For even more comfort, Tim and his son A.J. used '00 Dodge Stealth bucket seats. They also modified the structure under the floorpan to drop the seats for more head clearance. The emergency brake handle is also from the Stealth. The Dodge's seatbelts with shoulder harness actually retract into the rollbar in the manner of the '68 Shelby inertia-reel harnesses.

Tim had issues fitting the 408 under the fiberglass hood. Rod wanted to stick with a vintage Shelby appearance, which required the low profile and wide scoop from Maier Racing on top of the fiberglass hood. Lowering the engine in the chassis helped, but that created clearance issues with the oil pan. Tim cut the custom Hamburger oil pan and installed an external oil pump at the front of the 408. Moroso's small-block Chevy pump mounts via a tooth-driven belt to the crankshaft, but Tim had to install the pump on the driver side instead of the passenger side, spinning the pump in the wrong direction. Moroso reversed the flow to get it all to work.

Up top, Tim fabricated a Spectre induction system by selecting various parts from their catalog to install the side-mounted air cleaners. The Edelbrock Super Victor Air Gap intake is a tall one, necessary to achieve the desired horsepower numbers but leaving Tim with less than two inches of hood clearance.

Now the 351 looks trick. One has to wonder how many '65-'66 fastbacks with low-profile Shelby-type fiberglass scoops have a stroked 351 that pumps out nearly 600 horsepower.

To unleash this fury, Rod slips the AOD into drive and hammers the throttle. For the transmission, Rod went with Lentech Performance's Strip Dominator AOD, which converts the 596hp into rotary motion at the rear wheels without shredding clutch packs, gears, or valves.

Rod says the '65 "rides like a new car," but admits that it gets sideways when stomping the gas pedal at 30-35 mph. He's put the car through the eighth-mile with a best time of 7.26 at 98 mph, assisted by the 3,000-rpm stall speed Hurst Roll Control Line-Loc. The quarter-mile should e.t. in the low 11s.

Rod drives his '65 on days when the spirit moves him. He takes the stunning fastback to shows, like the Good Guys event at Texas Motor Speedway in Dallas, where we caught up with him and builder Tim Chesney. The pair put their heads together to build a Shelby-style '65 fastback, and in the process turned up the heat on the Mustang restomod trend.

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