You're looking at the most famous Mustang in Australia. Hands down. There is no room for argument or conjecture here; it's simply fact. Gary Myers' 1966 coupe, known by its license plates GM176, has earned every bit of respect it has been shown by Ford and non-Ford fans alike through 30 years of intense endeavor and some of the sickest, most torturous burnouts you're ever likely to witness. Now, the Mustang is being handed on to the next generation of the Myers clan, 17-year-old Jake, to carry on the tradition of wowing crowds by filling very large spaces with the sounds of a screaming small-block and thick, pungent plumes of tire smoke. But wait, let's back track for a moment...
One of the most storied histories in Australian automotive culture began way back in 1982, when a 17-year-old Gary Myers sold off his 1972 XA Falcon to follow his dream of owning an American muscle car.
"It had tatty black paint, 7- and 8-inch 12-slotter rims, a roll-back sunroof, automatic, standard 302ci—all those horrible things they did back then," Gary says. "The only consolation was that it had fresh black trim."
An apprentice mechanic at the time, Gary would go on to put himself through both a panel beating and spray painting course; skills that would prove invaluable during the restoration and modification of his new 1966 Mustang coupe. It would also help in maintaining the car's good looks after sustaining damage—Gary and the Mustang continued to build on their imposing reputation in burnout competitions around the country.
Gary's first big win happened back at Summernats 6 in 1993, having competed in the burgeoning event for four years already. Incredibly, Gary and the Mustang would take the title three years in a row before he took the car off the road for some serious improvements that included its now-iconic traditional flame job and Convo Pro rims that replaced the decidedly passé 12-slotters.
Fast forward to Summernats 13: Gary unveils the new-look Mustang to an enthusiastic crowd that screams for blood as he pushes the 302ci Windsor well past its usual 7,000-rpm limit, blowing the radiator which in turn destroys the grille and ruins the fresh flame job—the thrashing steel belts from the two shredded rear tires didn't help either. It wasn't all bad, though. Gary was crowned Burnout Champion of the World and his reputation was cemented.
Having now reached the peak of his chosen sport, Gary's world view widened and he set his sights on something new: salt flat racing. The process involved some tinkering with the setup of the car, but the effort paid off with an Australian land speed record at Lake Gairdner in 2001, having reached 170 mph with the blown 302ci Windsor—no aero mods and still wearing its Convo Pros.
Amazingly, Gary has taken out the Summernats burnout title a record seven times, also winning People's Choice awards and the go-to-whoa event; proving that the car can stop just as well as it goes. If that weren't enough, the public voted the Mustang "Street Machine of the Year" in 2001, beating out some of the country's top show and street cars for the title.
After 30 years together, Gary and the coupe's swansong would prove highly profitable; winning the 2011 Ultimate Burnout Challenge snagged the $10,000 prize. This helped Gary on the way to building the 6/71-blown 302ci 2005 Mustang GT known as 2INSANE, the new focus of Gary's attention.
And here we are, back at the start of our story. Gary's 17-year-old son, Jake, has taken the reigns of the old coupe, already putting his stamp on things with a vibrant vinyl-wrap that pays homage to the car's history, while promoting a more youthful future. Otherwise the car remains as Gary left it: The grey interior may now boast the sooty remains of burnouts past, but its stout 6/71-blown 302ci World Products Windsor, bulletproof Powerglide and severely narrowed 9-inch rearend all remain in faithful service.
With two world-class burnout cars now in the family, there's every chance we'll continue seeing GM176 destroy tires and putting smiles on thousands of rabid fans' faces for another 30 years. We should all be so lucky.
Jump onto YouTube and search "Gary Myers" to view some of his insane burnout action on film. Highlights include footage of his winning burnout at the 2011 Ultimate Burnout Challenge where he took home $10,000. See it here: http://youtu.be/MmnMfoKM6wQ.
What are the Summernats?
Australia's largest horsepower festival, Summernats sees around 1,500 modified cars and crowds of more than 100,000 descend upon the nation's capital of Canberra each January. Held over four long days, the event is one long party that includes numerous judging categories, driving events, the Miss Summernats pageant, and, of course, the hotly contested burnout competition. In 2013, a new World Record was set for the largest number of vehicles performing simultaneous burnouts; 69 of the nation's top burnout contenders crammed the competition area, churning tires for a full 30 seconds. If you think you want to go, book your plane tickets now for Summernats 27, which starts January 2, 2014. For more info visit: www.summernats.com.au.
Gary and Jake Myers' 1966 Mustang Coupe
302ci V-8, four-bolt-main World Industries Windsor
Eagle steel crank
5.177-inch connecting rods
Speed Pro "blower" pistons (8.5:1), Speed Pro chome-moly rings
Roush Performance ported cast-iron heads
Crow solid roller camshaft, 0.635-inch lift, 260-degree duration, 111-degree LSA
Crow roller lifters
Yella Terra Platinum 1.6:1 roller rockers
Crow double-row timing chain
Melling oil pump
High Energy sump
PWR oil cooler
CSR electric water pump
Aussie Desert Cooler "Burnout King" radiator
Dual 7,500-cfm Holley Dominator carburetors
Fisher 6-71 supercharger (12 psi), BDS scoop
MSD Pro Billet distributor, HVC Blaster coil, 6AL spark amp
Holley mechanical fuel pump, custom 60-liter aluminum fuel tank
650 rwhp at 7,500 rpm
11.2-second quarter-mile elapsed time
4,000-rpm TCE stall
Custom valve body
Narrowed 9-inch Ford
Custom 4/2/1 headers
Dual 3-inch mild steel exhaust
3-inch Genie mufflers
Front: Lovells shocks and springs, Lovells sway bar
Rear: Lovells coilovers, four-link, wheeltubs
Front: Wilwood disc
Rear: Ford Galaxie drums
Front: Centerline Convo Pro, 15x6 inches
Rear: Centerline Convo Pro, 15x12 inches
Front: BF Goodrich g-Force Sport, P205/ 50/R15
Rear: Yokohama 352, P295/50R15
Grey velour and leather upholstery, custom door panels, Billet Specialties
steering wheel, B&M shifter, Ford SVO gauges, six-point rollcage, gray carpets, custom rear bulkhead, Ford TX5 front buckets
House of Kolor black with flames covered by custom vinyl-wrap