It might be hard to imagine it, what with the serious tire and a jungle gym cage inside this 1967 Mustang coupe, but this hot track monster used to be daily transportation for Doug Chittenden of Spring Lake, Michigan, back in the 1980s. His son, Josh, wasn’t even born until July 1980, so early memories of the Mustang are foggy, but his father used to drive it every day to his job as a mechanic at the local Shell station (remember when gas stations actually did repairs?). “I don’t recall the car being daily transportation, but as far back as I can remember, it was there,” Josh tells us of his memories of the Mustang.
Doug purchased the Mustang from a family friend in early 1980, and though it was his daily driver, he didn’t hesitate to take it to the local Sunday drags and bracket race the Mustang.
“In our family, NHRA bracket racing on Sundays was, and still is, just as constant as death and taxes,” Josh explains. Josh’s father built his own fiberglass bumpers and trunk lid, added the hoodscoop, and called it “Foolish Pleasure.” Ford’s marketing slogan of the day was lettered across the rear of the decklid: Have You Driven a Ford…Lately?
After Josh’s father bought their first home, which they still reside in today, the Mustang went into storage. In the mid-’90s Josh was getting close to driving age and Doug pulled the Mustang out and started running it again. Eventually, the father and son would race brackets together; Doug in his Mustang and Josh in his father’s F-150 pickup, which was also their tow rig and ride home! In 1997, Josh stepped into the driver seat of the Mustang for the first time. Running in the 12-second zone with its mild 2V-headed Cleveland, the Mustang seemed like a rocket ship for the teenager, but quicker e.t.’s and faster trap speeds would come.
In 2003, the father and son team decided the tired Pony needed a facelift. They took the entire race season off and stripped the Mustang down, replacing rusty floors, installing a new ladder bar rear suspension, and a narrowed 9-inch to allow wider slicks (to this point Doug was running a 9-inch slick). Josh, who had now been earning a living in the paint and body trade for close to a decade, was tasked with all of the bodywork and spraying the Mustang with a fresh coat of paint. The car would run in this configuration for another year or so before the father and son drag team got serious.
“Sick of bringing a knife to a gunfight, we purchased a C4 trans equipped with a trans-brake and a Neal Chance converter. Coupled with a Cheetah shifter and Deadenbear air shift system, it helped the launch consistency and evened the playing field,” Josh explained of one of their better upgrades in 2004. The next year, their Cleveland, which they nicknamed “old faithful” and had powered the car down to the low 11s, was pulled in favor of a 351 Windsor stroked to 408ci with forged internals and AFR heads. While performance was impressive, running in the mid-10s with the new combination, the engine soon showed signs of problems.
“We spent most of 2005 racing while chasing gremlins (never a good or fun thing), which turned out to be a cracked block,” Josh lamented. With the block issue fixed, the remaining season allowed the duo to click off a best e.t. to date of 10.27 seconds.
Josh’s dad is widening the rear wheel openings in late 2009 after the crash.
In 2009, Josh and his father registered to be on the hit SPEED TV show Pink’s All-Out at the US 131 Dragway in Martin, Michigan. Arriving for a Friday-night test pass (Saturday would be in front of the film crew for final decisions on who would get a chance on the show), the guys were excited. However, the excitement went up in a puff of smoke, literally, as a broken rod bolt allowed a connecting rod to wreak havoc on the Windsor’s bottom end.
“It took nearly two months to put together another similar Windsor and there were only two race weekends left on the schedule,” Josh explained. With the new engine together and only two races left, Josh got the bright idea to hit the Martin, Michigan, event and see what the new engine could do.
The race was going well and the guys were winning rounds; that is until the fourth round of competition. The Fourth round is when Josh and Doug’s Mustang would really test their love of the sport of drag racing. The driver in the opposing lane lost control of their race car and crossed over into Josh’s lane, hitting the left front of Josh’s Mustang and pushing him into the wall, which also damage the right side. To add insult to injury, the other racer’s car spun and then hit Josh’s Mustang again in the left rear quarter. The Mustang, practically a family heirloom at this point in its life, didn’t have a single straight panel on it except for the trunk and the roof. For a month, Josh and his dad labored over what to do. The Mustang had been in the family longer than Josh! Doug had spent nearly 30 years building the Mustang up to that day. Could they rebuild it and make it better in just two short years so they could continue racing it? The team decided it was worth it and embarked on said two-year commitment to rebuild the Mustang and make it better.
Over the winter of 2009, Josh and his father stripped the car, and added an NHRA-certified ’cage (so they could go faster than 9.99). Attempting to get the car into primer and race ready for the 2010 season, the father and son team worked on replacing damaged sheetmetal and upgrading bolt-on metal to fiberglass, including the doors, and stretching the rear quarters to accept some serious 14x31 slicks. Josh had hoped to paint the car but he simply ran out of time. As such, for the 2010 season, the Mustang ran in primer and bare fiberglass to ensure everything was in working order and the car went down the track straight. As soon as the 2010 season was in the books, Josh and his father tore the car down again, finished the fiberglass work, and Josh laid down a fresh paintjob. “I wanted this car to be my business card or my rolling resume,” Josh stated. The finished build debuted at a 2011 Mid Michigan Motorplex test session and ran a career best of 9.99 at 133 mph. By the end of the season, Josh was able to shave a little more off, running a 9.985 e.t.
Josh has enjoyed many a career highlight behind the wheel of their ’67 Mustang. Many of his memorable events include winning his first race in 2004, taking a best in class award at an All-Ford & Mustang show in 2005; winning the cash and trophy at the 2006 Fun Ford Weekend no-box shootout; best in class at the 2007 ISCA show in Grand Rapids, Michigan; a full color photo spread and story in the local newspaper in 2008 due in part to a small mention in our sister magazine Car Craft; beating NMCA superstar Brian Merrick in Nostalgia class eliminations and going “runner up” at the King Ford run off both at the 2008 Fun Ford Weekend at Norwalk Raceway Park; and winning day one of the 2008 Mid Michigan Motorplex Labor Day weekend marathon at 2:13 am on day two.
351 Windsor stroked to 410 ci
Eagle 4340 forged steel crank
Eagle 4340 forged H-beam connecting rods
DSS Racing Pro Lite pistons
Bullet Racing solid roller camshaft
AFR 205cc aluminum heads
Edelbrock Victor Jr. aluminum intake
Holley 1,000-cfm carburetor by Pro Systems
MSD 7AL-2 ignition, 2-Step, and coil
C4 automatic with Neal Chance bolt-together converter
Mighty-Mite trans brake
Deadenbear air-shifted Cheetah SCS shifter (self shifting with MSD rpm module)
2x3 square tube main rails from firewall rearward
S&W Race Cars 14-point ’cage used in conjunction with Jeg’s Funny Car ’cage, certified to 8.50 e.t. by NHRA
Narrowed 9-inch rear housing with Currie center, 4.62 gears, Mark Williams spool, and 35-spline axles
ART ladder bar rear suspension with QA1 coilovers
Vector coilover conversion with QA1 adjustable shocks up front
Aerospace front disc brakes with Wilwood rear disc brakes
Weld Pro Star wheels with 31x14 Goodyear slicks in the rear
Weld Aluma-Start 2.0 wheels with Mickey Thompson ET tires in the front
One-piece VFN fiberglass nose, fiberglass doors and hood by VFN, fiberglass dash by Glasstek
Vehicle weight is 2,850 lbs. with driver
Rear wheel openings stretched 3.5-inches
Best quarter-mile e.t./speed: 9.985 at 133.78 mph
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