Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
February 21, 2012
Photos By: Jerry Heasley

You knew it was going to happen sooner or later. With the Mustang’s new 412hp Coyote 5.0L engine now available as a crate engine from Ford Racing, it’s only natural that the hot-rodders among us would seize the opportunity to drop the best Mustang engine ever into classic Mustangs. And we’re not surprised that our friends at Gateway Classic Mustang, where Mustang hot-rodding is a way of life, are taking the concept to the next level by creating a kit to make it easier for anyone to update older Mustangs to Ford’s latest high-tech powerplant.

“We want to be the place for 5.0L conversions,” admits Gateway’s Jason Childress. “GM Performance Parts makes it easy for vintage Camaro owners to install a modern LS small-block, so we want to make it simple to drop a new 5.0L into ‘65-’70 Mustangs.”

Ford Racing’s 5.0L crate engine, offered as part number M-6007-M50, is the same 412hp powerplant found in the ’11-’12 Mustang GT. With 32 valves and variable camshaft timing, the all-aluminum powerplant packs Ford’s latest performance technology into a lightweight package that’s perfect for vintage engine swaps, offering high-revving power and sexy looks under the hood. Ford Racing also offers a wiring, PCM, and installation kit, part number M-6017-A504V, to streamline the installation into earlier vehicles, whether it’s a street rod, Cobra kit car, or 1960s muscle car like the Mustang. Thanks to the computer’s integration into the ’11-’12 Mustang, you can’t just pluck a 5.0L and its computer out of a wrecked Mustang GT and plop it into another vehicle. Well, you can, but the engine won’t run. So Ford Racing’s PCM eliminates the vehicle integration features, like ABS and key recognition, to allow the Coyote 5.0L to operate in vehicles other than a new Mustang GT.

Even with the Ford Racing installation kit, there’s still plenty of adaptation required to fit the modern powerplant and its accessories into a vintage Mustang. That’s where Gateway Classic Mustang enters the picture. Their 5.0L swap kit, which includes the Ford Racing crate engine and PCM installation kit, adds notched shock towers, Gateway Performance Suspension (GPS) strut kit, engine mounting system, power steering pump, A/C lines, custom front sump Canton oil pan, radiator, and custom Dynatech headers. Gateway also includes its own cold-air intake because the ’11-’12 Mustang induction system, as supplied with the crate engine, does not fit in the vintage Mustang engine compartment. Gateway worked with Shelby American to create an optimum engine tune for the cold-air.

But we’re getting ahead of the story. The saga of this ’69 SportsRoof began when AutoTraderClassic.com approached Hot Rod TV about putting together a video to document the restoration and build of a vintage restomod, then offer it for sale on the AutoTraderClassic.com website. Producer Bud Brutsman contacted Gateway’s Jason and Lonny Childress, who related their idea about putting a modern Coyote 5.0L engine into an older Mustang.

Gateway purchased the ’69 SportsRoof from a customer, then stripped it down to the bare body for a complete sheetmetal restoration before beginning the transformation into a Mustang restomod with a modern powerplant. In the engine compartment, the factory shock towers were replaced by Dynacorn’s notched shock towers, which provide clearance for the wide 5.0L Coyote engine while also maintaining the factory structural integrity. At the rear, the wheelwell housings were “mini-tubbed” by adding 1-inch to each side to accommodate the planned meaty P335/30R18 rear tires.

With the notched shock towers providing clearance, the Coyote 5.0L drops right into the vintage Mustang engine compartment using Gateway’s frame mounting system that adapts the 5.0L’s engine mounts to the Mustang chassis. A Quicktime bellhousing connects the Keisler RS500 5-speed manual transmission to the engine, while a stout 9-inch rearend from The 9-Inch Factory transfers the 412hp to the ground through 3.50 gears in a Tru-Trac limited-slip differential.

For the suspension, Gateway showcased its own Gateway Performance Suspension system, which includes adjustable coil-over front struts with Baer 13-inch rotors and 4-piston calipers (upgraded to Shelby versions for the Coyote-powered ’69), in combination with Gateway’s 3-link rear suspension with AFCO coil-over shocks. The power rack-and-pinion steering is also Gateway’s own design.

Visually, the ’69 remains true to its vintage roots with Boss 302 graphics and factory spoilers on the “Blue By You” paint from DuPont’s Hot Hues color chart. Of course, the rear quarter scoops on the original ’69 Boss 302s were eliminated because they weren’t functional; in this case, Gateway’s Bill Bufka opened up the scoops and created ducting to cool the rear brakes. The 18-inch wheels from Curtis Speed give the Mustang a more modern appearance while also recalling the Magnum 500s from the ’69-’70 era.

The stock ’69 theme carries over into the interior, where the seats are TMI’s supportive Sport versions with Mach 1 upholstery. The blue inserts match the exterior color and carry-over to the custom door panels, also from TMI. Classic Instruments built the custom gray-face gauge cluster with matching clock in the factory passenger side dash panel.

The Coyote ’69 build has served a number of purposes, including the Hot Rod TV segment (you can view it on YouTube from the www.gatewayclassicmustang.com website) and competing as the Gateway Classic Mustang entry in last November’s Optima Invitational Challenge (see sidebar). Even better, at press time, the Mustang was listed for sale on AutoTraderClassic.com with the proceeds going to the Alliance of Auto Artisans (see sidebar), a program that mentors young people who want to learn about restoring, repairing, and building vintage cars.

Of course, the installation of the Coyote 5.0L into the vintage Mustang has provided Gateway Classic with the knowledge needed to provide customers with everything required for the modern-to-vintage swap. Granted, Gateway’s all-inclusive kit will not be cheap. The 5.0L engine alone retails for $6,000 from Ford Racing, with the engine control package adding another $1,500. Jason Childress says Gateway hopes to retail their swap kit for under $20,000. Pricey, yes, but actually quite a bargain when you consider it allows you to inject Ford’s latest and greatest performance technology into a classic Mustang.

Buildsheet

Drivetrain

  • Ford Racing '11 5.0L Coyote engine
  • Canton front-sump oil pan
  • Spectre cold-air kit with Shelby American tune
  • Dynatech headers
  • Magnaflow exhaust
  • Performance Rod & Custom radiator with electric fans
  • Optima battery
  • Keisler RS500 5-speed with hydraulic clutch kit
  • Hays clutch and pres- sure plate
  • Quicktime bellhousing
  • Rearend by The 9-Inch Factory with 31-spline axles and 3.50:1 gears in Tru-Trac limited-slip differential

Fuel System

  • ACCEL fuel regulator
  • Phenix Fittings AN fuel line and hose
  • Tanks Inc. in-tank fuel pump conversion kit

Suspension & Brakes

  • Gateway Performance Suspension Shelby- licensed GT500 strut kit, 3-link rear suspension
  • AFCO coilover shocks with nitrogen canister at rear
  • Gateway Performance Suspension power rack-and-pinion steering
  • ididit steering column
  • Baer Brakes T-4 4-piston calipers with Shelby logo; 13-inch drilled and slot ted rotors
  • Curtis Speed wheels: 18x9 front, 18x12 rear
  • BFG g-force T/A KDW tires: P275/35R18 front, P335/30R18 rear

Body

  • Dynacorn notched shock towers
  • Ring Brothers outside door handles
  • DuPont Hot Hues "Blue by You" paint
  • JRD International door glass

Interior

  • Dynamat sound deadening insulation
  • Vintage Air A/C
  • American Auto Wire Clas- sic Update wiring harness
  • TMI Sport seat kit, headlin- er, sun visors, custom door panel inserts
  • Classic Instruments custom gauge cluster and clock

Other

  • Dynacorn sheetmetal, weatherstrip, trim moldings
  • Scott Drake reproduction Mustang parts
  • Dupli-Color spray paints, pre-paint cleaners, and guide coat

Build team: Lonny Childress, Jason Childress, Erric Smith, Bill Bufka, Mike White, Greg Moreland, Darrell Bloomner, Marty Veltrop, Dave Childress, Trevor Hughes, Cody Benham, Dawn Weber

Optima Challenge

Ever since its inception four years ago, Gateway Classic Mustang has participated in the Optima Ultimate Street Car Challenge, an annual competition held in Pahrump, Nevada, that pits the best restomods in the country against each other in timed competition, including autocross, open track, and braking. To prove their street worthiness, competitors must drive their cars from Las Vegas to Pahrump.

Last November, the Gateway gang bravely entered their Coyote-powered ’69 Mustang, even though the just-completed car had never turned a tire on the road. Immediately following its debut at the SEMA Show, the Mustang was on its way to serious competition.

“We had a lot of faith in the car,” Jason said. That’s an understatement.

With Jason at the wheel, the Coyote-powered ’69 Mustang finished 38th out of 52 cars, many of them built specifically for the Optima Challenge. Still, Jason was pleased. “We didn’t have time to dial in the car for that type of competition,” he said. “We made every segment, and the car didn’t break!”

Alliance Of Auto Artisans

In addition to satisfying AutoTraderClassic.com’s desire for a video and serving as a prototype for Gateway Classic’s Coyote-into-Mustang swap, the ’69 Mustang build also assisted a couple of young people who are trying to get into the vintage auto restoration industry. Jason and Lonny’s father, Dale Childress, is the founder and president of the Alliance for Auto Artisans, a student mentoring program for the car building industry. Two students from the program, Cody Benham and Dawn Weber, both seniors at Bourbon High School in Gateway’s hometown of Bourbon, Missouri, assisted with the Mustang’s restoration and build.

“Cody and Dawn came in everyday after school, on weekends, and their entire summer vacation to help with the Mustang,” says Jason. “They got to see and do a lot of things that other high school shop students don’t get to experience. Cody even made the trip to Las Vegas with us for the SEMA Show and the Optima Challenge (Editor’s note: That’s Cody in the passenger seat of our cover photo). Now he’s working for us part-time after school. Dawn initially wanted to turn wrenches, but she enjoyed the sheetmetal work so much that now she plans to attend school for body work and paint.”

According to the website at www.autoartisans.org, the organization’s mission is “to recruit and identify candidates who possess a strong passion for classic cars and demonstrate understanding of their significance. Our training is structured to attract students from technical and vocational schools, along with military men and women, who want to enhance their knowledge through a hands-on training program.”

Proceeds from the sale of the Mustang will go to the Alliance of Auto Artisans to provide assistance for students like Dawn and Cody.

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