When you grow up in the car business, the odds are good that you’re going to own some really unique vehicles.
Junior Freeman from Chesterfield Auto Body in Chesterfield, South Carolina, started working at the local Chevrolet dealership right out of high school. By the time his son, Brandon, was born, Junior had his own auto body shop and soon young Brandon was a regular visitor. When we met Brandon, he was 23 and this father/son team had already built seven cars together. This ’68 Mustang fastback is their latest creation.
Junior had already owned the car for 25 years when Brandon graduated from high school. That’s when the pair decided it was time to bring the old pony back to life. As a parts car, it had donated lots of components to other vehicles, although its sheltered life protected much of its sheetmetal.
Working nights and weekends after customer cars were complete, Junior and Brandon addressed the minor rust issues and began sourcing the components necessary to get the car back on the road. The original goal was to just create a nice street machine, beginning with a new front and rear suspension.
They used a new subframe to back-half the car, adding Strange coilovers and a four-link from Applied Racing Technology to hold the Ford 9-inch rear, which is fitted with Moser axles and 3.89 gears. The front end of the ’68 was updated using a clip from a ’99 Mustang, equipping it with aftermarket tubular A-arms and K-member, Strange coilovers, and retaining the manual rack-and-pinion steering. They also had a ’98 Mustang Cobra donor car—a valuable resource used throughout the build, as it provided its two-piston caliper disc brakes with 13-inch rotors up front and 11-inch versions in the rear. With everything apart, it was time for one more change—recessing the firewall an inch for additional room in the engine compartment. Additional body bracing was also added and hidden from view.
Brandon enjoys a positive tactile connection with the car thanks to the Budnik steering wheel, Roush Yates shifter, and Lokar ...
Lots of considerations go into the choice of powerplants, and one of the first was that Brandon wanted something to fill the engine compartment. The 460ci V-8 they installed under the hood was the right choice for power, but it had a little too much open space around it. Luckily, engine builder Jon Kaase had exactly the combination of looks and power that Brandon desired. Brandon sold an ’04 Mach 1 to fund the new powerplant, purchasing a top end package from Kaase that included the Boss Nine heads and a Comp Cam with a unique Kaase grind. A Blue Thunder intake creates the platform for the 770-cfm Holley carburetor, and Brandon retained the original high-flow Ford exhaust manifolds.
Sinister is the operative word for the body mods. All of the bright work was painted black, the driprails were shaved, the quarter vents were filled, and the door handles were swapped for units from a ’98 Honda Civic. Side mirrors from a ’65 Shelby Mustang were added and the louvers were eliminated from the cowl. The team spent lots of time redoing the hood, fabricating a tilt-forward mechanism of their own design and using gas struts to hold it open. The hoodscoop comes from a ’67 Shelby.
The front and rear bumpers were cut and mounted closer to the body, with the bumper bolts welded to the rear for a smooth look. After the front bumper was moved in, the grille was relocated slightly outward creating a styling touch as well as providing additional room for the larger radiator. The final body mod was a set of sequential taillights from a ’68 Shelby.
Once Junior wrapped up the bodywork on the car, Brandon took over, spraying the pure mix black from Dupont. Changing the brightwork to black kept costs down and accentuated the car’s sinister appearance.
At this point, not much was left from their old donor ’98 Mustang, but it was still able to provide the front seats. The later model buckets and the original ’68 factory fold-down back seat were re-upholstered in black leather. A custom leather headliner was stitched to match.
Brandon enjoys a positive tactile connection with the car thanks to the Budnik steering wheel, Roush Yates shifter, and Lokar pedals. The Auto Meter Pro-Comp, Ultra-Lite gauge package with oversize tach and speedo resides in the modified dash panel. When the big motor is quiet, the other form of entertainment available comes from the Pioneer Super Tuner III D head unit that controls a pair of 6x9 component sets mounted on the hinged trunk panel.
How does Brandon feel about his completed car? Taking moderation to the extreme, Brandon says “Our goal was to create a complete car where nothing stood out, but it took you a while to see all the changes.” After studying the car in minute detail, we believe they achieved their goal!
Brandon Freeman’s ’68 Mustang Fastback
Ford 460ci big-block V-8, bored 0.40 over
Stock Ford crank
Forged Eagle H-beam connecting rods
Forged Diamond pistons
Jon Kaase Boss Nine aluminum cylinder heads
Comp Cams hydraulic-roller camshaft with custom Kaase profile
Blue Thunder aluminum intake manifold
Holley Street Avenger 770-cfm carb
Tremec TKO 600 five-speed
Roush Yates Performance Products shifter
Moser Engineering 9-inch
31-spline Moser axles
Ford High Flow exhaust manifolds
2.5-inch exhaust system
Front: ’99 Mustang MacPherson strut, K-member and Strange Engineering coilovers
Rear: Applied Racing Technology four-link with Strange Engineering coilovers
Front: ’98 Mustang Cobra disc, two-piston calipers, 13-inch rotors
Rear: ’98 Mustang Cobra disc, two-piston calipers, 11-inch rotors
Front: SVE Anniversary, 18x9
Rear: SVE Anniversary, 18x10
Front: Hankook Ventus V12 evo, P245/40ZR18
Rear: Hankook Ventus V12 evo, P285/35ZR18
’98 Mustang Cobra seats upholstered in black leather, Pioneer stereo, Vintage Air, Auto Meter gauges, Flaming River steering column, Budnik wheel
Reverse-opening ’67 Shelby-style hood; bumpers trimmed and tucked to fit the car; shaved quarter vents, cowl vents, and driprails; bodywork by Junior Freeman; Dupont Black sprayed by Brandon Freeman at Chesterfield Auto Body in Chesterfield, South Carolina