Chris Muchata's ' 67 Mustang Hardtop
We'll be the first to admit a little bias toward our favorite Pony car, but our impressions are always reinforced when we interview an owner and it starts off with, "I've always wanted a classic Mustang." Since its gangbusters introduction in 1964, the stylish Pony with its two doors, bucket seats, tire-spinning power, and ear-to-ear grins, has become an integral part of the American car buyer's DNA. Those were the elements that initially attracted Chris Muchata to the Mustang, although creating the ultimate street terror and trophy magnet wasn't part of the original plan. That just kind of happened.
Chris is one of those enthusiasts we spoke of who always had a warm spot for a classic Mustang. He finally got one, but his wife decided it would be better if he sold it. After a divorce allowed for the perfect realignment of priorities, Chris began the search for the next wild Pony for his garage, leaning toward something like the beautifully restored S-Code big-block owned by his boss. The Thunderbird Special (S-Code) Mustang was the first big-block Mustang produced by Ford. It had an extra 101 ci and an automatic transmission that put it 7/10-second quicker in the quarter than the 289 small-block with a four-speed manual. Of the 50,000 produced during the three-year production run, only about 10,000 are thought to remain, making it a very desirable combination.
Chris's search began and ended quickly when he found a good-looking S-Code Mustang, complete with a 390 V-8 and automatic, less than a mile from his office on a used-car lot in Jacksonville, Florida. The car's sharp paintjob turned out to be cosmetic however, hiding lots of problems below the surface. After several weeks of negotiations, trying to convince the dealer to price the car appropriately, Chris returned with two key elements to close the deal. The first was a magnet that pinpointed where the paint had camouflaged all the body filler, and the second was a bag full of cash. The dealer finally agreed to a more reasonable price and Chris headed home with his new find. "I just wanted a nice daily driver-just a basic restoration and a nice paintjob. But then one thing led to another," Chris told us. Chris was especially thankful to his wonderful new wife for being so understanding about building his dream car.
Fresh steel patch panels for the fenders and floor restored the car's structural integrity and Chris began making the car his own. While nostalgia has its perks, new technology certainly expands the driving experience. Chris upgraded the factory front disc brakes with new four-piston caliper versions from NPD using stainless steel lines. To balance the package, the drums in the rear were also modernized using new Kelsey-Hayes discs. Suspension changes included TCI tubular A-arms with Global West adjustable coilovers in front and Competition Engineering Slide-A-Link traction bars on the rear leaf springs with QA1 shocks. The setup was designed to ensure the car launched straight and could benefit from all the horsepower produced by the big 390 V-8.