The underlying story that swirls around Ken Holden's '66 Mustang fastback rings a familiar bell. It's the tale of a cash-strapped teenager/young adult who has a succession of none too impressive classic Mustangs, and then gets out of the hobby as real-world responsibilities take precedent. In Ken's case, he met his future wife, Karin, while driving a decent '67 coupe, but later sold it as marriage, reliable transportation needs, and two children justifiably dominated his life. At least the early coupe gave Karin the realization that Ford's ponycar was intertwined in Ken's DNA, so it wasn't entirely out of the blue when Ken returned to his roots nearly 20 years later. In this case, the common thread between Ken's experience and so many others is that the renewed interest results in a car which could only have been a dream in one's youth. If there's any good that comes with age, we suppose this ranks right up at the top.
It was 2002 when Ken stumbled across a forlorn-looking '66 fastback being marketed near his Snohomish, Washington, home. Dilapidated might be a better term, for the fastback was bathed in multiple colors, had butchered homemade floorpans and seat risers, typical modest rust, and an engine that smoked like a chimney. Considering the less than cherry condition, Ken didn't rush into things. But over a several-day period, he decided the time was right for a return to the fold. It turns out that the seller, Tom Plemons, was an all around good guy, resulting in a friendship that was instrumental in Ken achieving the results seen here. Interestingly, Ken calls the progression of his project a metamorphosis rather than pure planning, a sort of shoot from the hip approach that sorted out specifics over time.
Despite his history, Ken had never really delved into the mechanics of his previous Mustangs, a theme that changed as soon as Tom delivered the '66 on a flatbed. We were surprised to hear that this was Ken's first attempt at bodywork, paint, and welding, of which he accomplished the majority on his own. He's quick to credit several buddies for lending a hand and showing him the ropes, but the time-consuming portions were pretty much Ken solo. Among other things, sheetmetal surgery involved proper new floorpans, trunk floors, a rear framerail, and an outer wheelwell. Hours of body prep preceded the custom mixed metallic blue PPG polyurethane, followed by stripes in '04 Nissan Silver. The car was shot in Tom's new shop addition, which Ken helped build in exchange for using the space for the project. Body mods are limited to the fiberglass decklid and endcaps, a cowl hood, and an updated R-model front valance that allows for fitting a stock bumper. In retrospect, the decision to run the bumper version likely saved Ken a fair bit of work, as he reports hitting a cougar--the animal, not the car--while returning from a show in Eastern Washington. The bumper helped minimize damage to the front end of the Mustang, though we can't say with certainty what effect it had on the big cat. Ken wisely didn't pull over to inspect the damage until he had traveled well out of range, just in case the animal survived.
Perfectly complementing the sparkling exterior, the interior came about because Ken wanted something different. The result certainly sets this car apart from the legions of stock interior rides, but was actually quite simple to accomplish. The dash sets the tone, what with its body-colored metal, deleted pad, and white-faced factory gauges. Recaro buckets are sourced from a BMW and upholstered in a black/carbon-fiber combination by Larry's Upholstery in Gold Bar, Washington. The same shop performed a like treatment to the rear fold-down and door panels, while the new carpet is simply standard repro.
Despite little tuning on the...
Despite little tuning on the 347-inch stroker, Ken put it through the paces on a Mustang MD250 chassis dyno at a local show. The resulting 290 rear wheel horsepower and 302 lb-ft of torque would indicate there's some room for improvement--likely candidates being more timing and a larger carb, yet it's enough to have plenty of fun for the time being.