Jim Lenington has the fairly thick Texas accent common in the Dallas area. The words to describe "LO 'N' Red" rolled out of his mouth in disjointed bursts with a slight trace of a drawl-"Have fun, air-conditioned, start, go."
Badgered a little more, he constructed a complete sentence, "I was trying to make it a naturally aspirated, drivable, turnkey street rod." Obviously, Lenington has the car-craft skills to do what he wants with a Mustang. Upon our arrival at his place of business, we were taken aback to see a string of Porsche 911s. The lowered, blood-red '67 Mustang hardtop with black Shelby skunk stripes provided a sharp contrast.
When we asked for the connection, Lenington was brief again and spoke of himself in the third person. "I'd like you to put that in your article-president of Dallas Euro Cars, but his hobby is Mustangs. Does 911s for a living. Owns Dallas Euro Cars, specializes in European cars, details them. Just throw something in there, a line or two. That would be fun."
Porsche, technically, has two syllables, Por-sha. Lenington shortens the name, Texas style, to one-poursh. He could have a 911 to tinker with in his spare time, so why the less expensive Mustang? "Because of the V-8. Just V-8 hp and fun, the true sound of a V-8 versus a six-cylinder. Wow, I could have had a V-8. I do."
Jim's Mustang and car building roots run deep. "Went to work for a neighbor of mine back in '77. [He] opened up a small European repair facility. he'd been working for Ford, and they wanted to send him to Detroit. He used to race Lotus Formula Vees, and he had Mustangs and Shelbys. I was just a 14-year-old kid. So that's how I got into the Mustangs. One day he said, 'I'm not going to Detroit, and we're going to open up a shop and work on cars.' That's how I got started in cars."
The '67 is Jim's third Mustang notchback. He bought it for $700 in 1984 "to make a hot rod out of it."
The first build was a four-speed, four-barrel street car. Jim rebuilt the '67 a second time with more reliable fuel injection. We like his very visual reasoning-"no more carburetor fires." We did not inquire further. The 5-liter under the hood sets this car apart from most early Mustang restomods. Jim told us the 5.0, from an '89 GT, dropped right into the engine bay with no problems using the 302 motor mounts from a '68. The mass air-flow system fit nicely into the area vacated by the battery, which, in true Shelby style, is relocated to the trunk. All Jim had to do was make a custom crossmember for the Doug Nash five-speed. The 9-inch Ford rearend is fitted with a set of 4.11s.
Since the car is obviously lowered, and since we were surrounded by German sport cars, handling seemed a likely part of the car's make-up. We were right. However, Shelby had more influence than Dr. Porsche. Jim chose Global West upper-and-lower control arms in front set up to Shelby specs.
The European theater provided the paint. Porsche's Guards Red is popular, but had too much orange in the mix. Jim didn't want to pay for Ferrari Red. He found '86 BMW Zinnebar Red had just the tint he wanted.
That's a '67 Shelby fiberglass hood and simulated side scoops. Except for the grille bars and running horse emblem, the exterior bright work is blacked out, including the bumper bolts and taillight bezels.
Jim drives the car to shows, such as the Fun Ford weekends. Although the build borders on the radical, the car can sit for weeks and will still roll over and fire the first tap of the starter.
Jim, never long on explanations, gave us the reason why as succinctly as we can imagine and still get across the absolute truth-"New technology, old body style."