Route 66 is arguably the most famous highway in the world—certainly it is in the USA. As it rolls through Albuquerque, it is Central Blvd. and runs parallel with I-40. Route 66 Pony Works, located on the aforementioned "Mother Road," could be considered the early Mustang guru in Albuquerque. Chris Hotchkiss and his dad, Bob, started Route 66 Pony Works in 1987, after deciding to leave John Mackie's shop in Connecticut and head west to follow their dream of building Mustangs for a living. Chris and his wife, Jane, now run the shop and support the local street rod scene in New Mexico.
Chris and Jane's son, CJ, was 5 years old when Chris and Bob started Pony Works. CJ had a love and natural talent when it came to mechanics and loved Mustangs, just like his pop and granddad. On an early score from a local body shop going out of business in Albuquerque, Bob ended up with a car and parts collection that was equal to approximately 70 vintage Mustangs. Bob promised CJ one of them to build when it came time for him to drive.
CJ picked a clean 1966 coupe for his builder, and he worked hard flipping burgers and working at the shop to keep his hot rod on the streets and improving. CJ and Chris installed a built 0.30-over 302 with 300-plus horsepower, a four-speed transmission, and an 8-inch with a Traction-Lok diff. CJ was driving his pride and joy on his way to the shop one morning when he was blindsided by an 18-wheeler with faulty brakes—the outcome was fatal. Like any family, the loss simply never goes away. Chris and Jane miss CJ deeply, and they built the Mustang on these pages as a tribute and in remembrance of their beloved son.
Chris got his first Mustang at the age of 15. The 1966 notchback started a long relationship with the ponycar that resulted in him owning no less than eight different Mustangs before he had even left high school. Chris and Bob built at least 10 more Mustangs, right up to the birth of the shop on Route 66. Chris was "hawk-eyeing" the local Albuquerque Journal news paper early one morning and found two 1967 fastback twins for sale. The cars had very little rust, and Chris knew he had found the 1967 that would become the tribute to his son and his dream 'Stang. He decided that this masterpiece would need 400-plus horsepower to get the job done, and the drivetrain needed to be strong enough to handle his right foot temptations. Simplicity and function were at the top of the list as well.
You might have been wondering about the significance of the title, Redback. The Redback spider is a poisonous member of the Widow family and is endemic to Australia—in the U.S., we're more commonly familiar with another member of the family, the Black Widow. What caught Chris' attention was the Redback's bright red stripe down it's black back. Sharing the same color combination as Chris' Mustang, the spider would lend its name to the project as well. Chris decided that Redback would be a fitting name/theme for his aggressive street fighter and we agree. It is very cool and unique.
Redback is loaded with high-performance goodies. The heart of the car is a roller small-block Ford Windsor that started its life at 351 cubic inches. Chris solicited Doug Anderson at Automotive Machine Service, in Albuquerque, to do the machine work and assemble Redback's powerplant. According to the owner, the 396-cubic-inch mill squeezes out 450 hp. Power is put down very effectively through a Ford Racing T-5 close-ratio transmission, a Ford 9-inch rearend with a Detroit Locker diff, and 3.70 gears.
Your author asked Chris to meet up at the local speedway for a photo shoot, and Chris was delighted to put Redback on the track and wasn't bashful about seeing what it would do. Chris took a few laps to warm up the tires before he put the coals to the Windsor. Small-block Fords sound great, and this one is no exception. Redback works very well on the track. The custom suspension performs exceptionally and there is very little body roll in the corners—it only gets loose if you throttle it too hard in the corners.
As Chris' father, Bob, passed away in 2012, it's now up to Chris to carry on the Route 66 Pony Works tradition. Judging from what we've seen here, we have a strong feeling that both CJ and Bob would be proud of what he has accomplished.
Chris Hotchkiss' 1967 Mustang fastback
Small-block Ford Windsor, four-bolt mains, 395 ci, machined/assembled by Doug Anderson, Automotive Machine Service, Albuquerque, NM
Ford Racing steel crankshaft
Ford Racing 351 forged steel connecting rods
Keith Black pistons
Lunati roller cam
Ford Racing roller lifters, pushrods, and roller rocker arms
Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum heads
Weiand intake manifold
Edelbrock Thunder Series 650-cfm carburetor
MSD High Energy Ignition
Ford shorty headers
2½-inch steel exhaust with X-pipe
Borg Warner World Class T-5
Centerforce clutch assembly
Hydraulic linkage conversion
Ford Racing axles
Detroit Locker differential
Front: Heidts Mustang II-style, QA1 coilovers, 2-inch drop spindles
Rear: Five-leaf reverse-eye springs with 3-inch drop, KYB gas shocks, Shelby-style traction bars, Competition Engineering frame connectors
Front: Wilwood disc, four-piston polished aluminum calipers, vented 11-inch rotors
Rear: Ford Racing disc, single-piston calipers, Motorcraft 11-inch vented rotors
Front: American Racing Torq Thrust M, 17x9
Rear: American Racing Torq Thrust M, 17x9
Front: Hankook Ventus V4ES, P235/45ZR17
Rear: Hankook Ventus V4ES, P235/45ZR17
Auto Meter Phantom 2 dash gauges with red LED lighting; 1969 Mach 1 front bucket seats with custom upholstery; custom center console with cup holder; complete acoustic sound deadener; rear seat delete with custom rear deck speaker enclosure; Alpine CD/tuner with Rockford Fosgate two-channel 600-watt amplifier; Punch Mid/High amplifier; 6x9 quad axial speakers, Rockford Fosgate two-channel 1,000-watt amplifier; Punch bass amplifier; two RF 12-inch subwoofers; Flaming River tilt steering column, Flaming River leather-wrap steering wheel
Cobra R fiberglass front clip, Shelby hood with louvers, Tri-beam quartz halogen headlights, Shelby fiberglass upper functional scoops, Shelby fiberglass lower scoops, 1968 rear decor panel, LED taillights and sequential turn signals, billet fuel cap, black chrome door handles and side mirrors, custom paint and bodywork by David Gonzales of Bad Boy Classic Car Restoration (Rio Rancho, NM), camera case texture under hood
Scott Drake, Keith Black, MSD Ignition, Mustangs Unlimited, Auto Meter, Cobra Racing, Flowmaster, Centerforce, Hankook