In recent years, and probably due in large part to the remake of Gone in Sixty Seconds, Shelby Mustangs have really taken off in popularity, and subsequently, value. Auction prices for restored or survivor cars are astronomical, and you could probably buy two or three new cars for the price of a barn find. There are a select few who have had the privilege of owning and/or driving a real Shelby, but thankfully, many of us can have that same experience by building a clone. Kenny Hiemstra of Franklin Township, New Jersey, has done both, and the car you see here was payback for selling his original '67 Shelby GT500.
As with many Mustang enthusiasts, Kenny was originally inspired by the movie Bullitt, and the now-legendary Mustang Steve McQueen drove in the film. As an impressionable teenager, Kenny also frequently referred to his father's tale of speed and fright as a passenger in a '68 convertible Shelby-the fastest car he'd ever been in, according to Kenny's Dad. With a newly printed driver's license, Kenny set to the streets at the age of 16 behind the wheel of a '69 Mustang SportsRoof. By his senior year of high school, Kenny put down a healthy (by '80s standards) $17,500 for a '67 Shelby GT500.
"I bought it at the fall swap meet at Carlisle," recalls Kenny. "It was a good, clean car with new paint. I pulled the engine, detailed the bay, and showed it a bunch." Kenny had the car for 10 years before deciding to sell it to fund his own business venture. While he did make some money by selling it for $25,000, a few years later, the Shelby market skyrocketed shortly after the aforementioned Gone in Sixty Seconds remake. "During the early 2000s, the price of the car hit the six-figure mark," notes Kenny. "You win some and you lose some, but thankfully my business does well enough to bring me into the next chapter."
Kenny is in a niche business as a safe and vault specialist. Whether it's cracking open safes where the keys or combinations have been lost, or the security device has just malfunctioned, Kenny is the guy they call. Primarily working with commercial accounts, Kenny sure knows a thing or two about value, and keeping it safe.
In forging this new business, Kenny's car hobby went through a dry spell until 2004, when he picked up a '69 SportsRoof. Packed with a 460 and a C6 transmission, the Pony was a clean driver, but Kenny kept thinking about that elusive Shelby that got away.
"The car that really caught my eye was the Super Snake that Shelby and Unique Performance were selling," says Kenny. "The problem was the cost of $225,000! After speaking to my wife and getting the green light from her to go forward on a high-end build, my goal was to build a Gone In Sixty Seconds fastback that met, or exceeded, the specifications of the Unique Performance Super Snake."
With that, Kenny purchased a clean shell off of eBay and he and his high school buddy Glen Mitchell stripped it down to bare metal. The chassis was extremely clean and no major metalwork was needed. Kenny treated the undercarriage to Eastwood's chassis black paint, and throughout the following summer, he and Glenn installed the body kit and other exterior components. The trunk lid, tail light assembly, headlight buckets, and fender extensions were sourced from Tony Branda, while the flared fiberglass fenders came from Unique Performance. Kenny wanted to limit the fiberglass-to-metal bonds, so the side skirts are actually hand-fabricated metal instead of fiberglass. From there, the rear wheelwells were widened to accommodate the P315/35R17 rear rubber.
Holding up the Fab9 rearend housing is a Total Control Products pushrod suspension system. The torque-arm-style setup uses Varishock coilovers, while up front, a TCP front coilover system is employed and uses '70-model spindles for greater strength.
Where the factory sidescoops don't do much more than look good on production Shelby Mustangs, Kenny ditched the back seat, built a seat delete, and routed the ducting from the scoops, into the car under the delete panel, and back out to the rear Wilwood 12-inch disc brakes. At the front, there's a matching set of Wilwood binders, and slotted and drilled rotors.
To provide adequate cooling for the monstrous powerplant that Kenny had planned, the front radiator support was cut out so that a Ron Davis Monster radiator could be maxed out from framerail to framerail. Kenny explained that he's seen way too many high horsepower cars that tried to make the factory cooling systems work-his was going to be overkill.
Right before the car went to paint, Kenny and his friend Rob Stern hand bent the six-point rollbar for the interior, which includes an X-brace on the rear down bars for added rigidity. In a stroke of true backyard engineer-ing, Rob and Kenny fabricated a mount so that the tubing bender could be installed in the class 3 hitch of his F-350 pickup-Kenny told us that free space in his 1 1/2-car garage is hard to come by. Rob then welded in the bars and tied them into the subframe connectors underneath the car.
A year had gone by at this point, but the Mustang was finally ready for paint. Eddie Gaczek of Eddie's Auto Restorations (Morris Plains, New Jersey) spent countless hours handling the fine bodywork, and with Kenny's inspiration coming from Cage's Eleanor and Shelby's Super Snake, you just know there would be some stripes and some Pepper Gray involved. Eddie first laid down several coats of Jaguar Black, and the single Pepper Grey stripe and accompanying trim stripes were put down next, before several coats of clear sealed the colors in. "To, me, there's nothing tougher than a black car," says Kenny.
After the spray guns were set down, it was time to tackle the wiring. Fellow Garden State Regional Mustang club member Mark Signorelli offered Kenny many great tips and assisted in wiring up the Pony, including hiding the engine harness and fuel lines up under the front fender. An MSD ignition box was installed and mounted under the glove compartment, and inside, Kenny installed a trunk release button. The cigarette lighter made way for an engine start button from a Ford GT, and the radio was sacked in favor of a Painless Performance switch panel that controls the fuel pump, PIA foglights, line lock, and nitrous oxide system.
The interior is laden with such luxuries as deluxe door panels, a custom gauge cluster with a built-in shift light, a 200-mph speedometer with Carroll Shelby's signature, the proper wood-grained Shelby steering wheel, billet pedal covers, and a modified console that houses the control switch for the Halon fire system. The carpet is a factory replacement, but the stiff factory seating was swapped out for a pair of Procar leather buckets with Simpson racing harnesses. Kenny also topped off the Tremec TKO-600 five-speed transmission with a Reen Machine billet aluminum shifter handle, and the requisite "Go Baby Go" shift knob, replete with nitrous button. Kenny says that the McLeod twin-disc clutch makes driving the car quite enjoyable, while being able to harness the power.
After consulting with the folks at Proformance Unlimited in Freehold, Jew Jersey, Kenny opted for a Dove Manufacturing aluminum side-oiler block to support his goal of 1,000 hp. Proformance subsequently bored and stroked the engine to 454 cubic inches using Eagle forged-steel H-beam connecting rods, SRP pistons, and a Scat forged-steel crankshaft. Proformance then milled out the Edelbrock cylinder heads that utilize 2.19-inch intake and 1.73-inch exhaust valves. Actuating said valves is a Comp Cams single-pattern, solid roller camshaft, which features 0.674-inch lift, a duration of 262 degrees at 0.050-inch lift, and a 110-degree lobe separation angle.
The combination is topped off with an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold, an NOS Big Shot nitrous oxide plate, and a Demon 850-cfm carburetor. Kenny estimates horsepower to be around 950 with the full 250-shot of nitrous flowing past the valves. He topped off the side oiler with a custom air cleaner that he designed based off the Unique Performance piece. Glebar Precision Grinding Solutions (Franklin Lakes, New Jersey) milled the air cleaner from billet aluminum.
With the paint, wiring, chassis, and engine complete, it was time for final assembly. Kenny tells us that Mikey at Auto Parts Source in Oakland, New Jersey, was a great help, as he was in the store almost weekly buying this bolt, that fastener, and whatever else he needed to screw everything together.
"We were shooting to make the Mustang 45th anniversary event in Birmingham, Alabama," says Kenny. "It was mid February and the event was in April-we burned the candle at both ends. The glass, trim, interior, engine, electrical, fuel system, and exhaust was all done about a day or two before the event. The first time it was driven was when we pulled it out of the trailer and drove it down the road to the show."
After a feverish three-year build, Kenny has finally replaced his original GT500, no doubt with something a bit better. While many of the mods mimic Unique Performance's Super Snake Mustangs, some of the mods are even more impressive. Kenny is quick to point out that the build would not have happened without the help of his friends, and the support of his wife Kim and daughters Heather and Nicole. We think what makes Kenny's Mustang better than unique is that he built it in his own garage.
Kenny Hiemstra's '67 Mustang Fastback
- Dove Manufacturing 427, bored and stroked to 454 ci, built by Proformance Unlimited, Freehold, NJ
- 4.250-inch bore
- 3.980-inch stroke
- Eagle forged-steel H-beam connecting rods
- SRP forged aluminum pistons with file-fit rings
- Edelbrock Performer RPM FE heads, ported and polished 2.19-inch intake, 1.73-inch exhaust valves
- Comp Cams Magnum mechanical roller camshaft 33-782-9
- Dove roller rockers
- Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold
- Demon 850-cfm carburetor
- MSD Pro Billet distributor and coil
- Rick's Hot Rod Shop 22-gallon fuel tank, Aeromotive fuel pump
- Tremec TKO-600 five-speed
- McLeod Twin-Disc clutch
- Aluminum driveshaft
- Fab9 rear housing, nodular iron center
- Lenco differential
- 3.73 gears
- 35-spline axle shafts
- JBA headers
- 2 1/2-inch custom side-exit system from Heartthrob Exhaust, HPC-coated
- Front: Total Control Products coilover suspension
- Rear: Total Control Products pushrod suspension with torque arm
- Front: Wilwood 12-inch drilled and slotted rotor, four-piston caliper
- Rear: Wilwood 12-inch drilled and slotted rotor, four-piston caliper
- Front: Team 3 AC III, 17x8
- Rear: Team 3 AC III, 17x10
- Front: BF Goodrich G-Force TA KD, P245/40R17
- Rear: BF Goodrich G-Force TA KD, P315/35R17
- Custom cluster with aftermarket gauges, Procar bucket seats, Simpson racing harnesses, six-point rollbar, radio delete panel for Painless switches, Halon fire system, deluxe door panels
- Unique Performance fenders and hood, Tony Branda Shelby fender extensions, trunk lid and headlight buckets, hand-formed metal side skirts, Shelby Cobra gas cap, Jaguar Black with Pepper Gray Super Snake striping