Chris and Robin Benz are active Ford enthusiasts living in Jacksonville, Florida. Chris is a commercial parts broker at Advance Auto Parts, meaning that cars are both a hobby and profession. While business leads him to many different brands, he has a personal preference.
"I"ve always had a love for Fords. I owned Fairlanes, Galaxies, and LTDs, but Mustang fastbacks are a particular favorite." Chris also likes to cover ground a quarter-mile at a time, and has owned several drag vehicles over the years. His current Maverick runs a 351 Windsor small-block, punched out to 445ci and turning 9.71 seconds in the quarter at 138 mph. Robin shares his passion for high-performance cars and has also spent time behind the wheel of the family Maverick. With their 25th anniversary soon approaching, Chris was looking for the perfect anniversary present—and in 2008, he found it. A friend told him about a collector who owned several Mustangs, one of which was a "65 fastback. Originally built as an SCCA road racing car, the Mustang had wide fender flares and lots of good parts, but it also had more than its share of rust. They struck a deal and Chris began building a car for Robin.
The process began with Chris making a detailed assessment and then purchasing new body panels from the CJ Pony Parts catalog. A&B Body Shop in Jacksonville was tasked with rejuvenating the car"s sheetmetal. Initially, it was expected to be a speedy process but as they got deeper into the build, more problems surfaced until virtually the entire car was replaced with the exception of the decklid and A-pillars. Over a 2-year period, A&B installed a new roof, both doors, both fenders, the quarter-panels, taillight panel, battery aprons, core support, and cowling. When they were through, the hard work was worth it, with the Mustang looking like new and now sporting a beautiful Ford D6 Screaming Yellow and black paintjob—the color came about after Robin saw a friend"s F-350 4WD pickup truck, painted bright yellow and knew that was the color.
Chris brought the car home and began installing the interior, suspension, and powertrain. The engine is the original 289 block, bored 0.030-inch over and fitted with ported aluminum Edelbrock heads, a Comp roller cam, and an Edelbrock Performer intake teamed up with a highly modified Pro Systems 700-cfm double pumper carburetor.
An MSD ignition with a Street Fire ignition box incorporates an rpm-activated switch that trips a subtle yellow light on the dash so that Robin knows exactly when to shift. The 1-3/4-inch Hooker headers flow into 3-inch collectors, an aluminized H-pipe, and a pair of DynoMax Turbo mufflers. Keeping everything cool, the custom aluminum radiator runs a 16-inch electric Flex-a-lite fan. Chris estimates the engine makes about 320 hp and about 340 lb-ft of torque.
Handling upgrades began with subframe connectors and a chrome cowl brace in the engine compartment. The car runs a 9-inch Lincoln Versailles rear with disc brakes and 3.50 gears. Discs up front came from a '66 Mustang. Monroe coilover shocks were added to all four corners and the manual rack-and-pinion steering box from Total Control Products made carving corners fun. Chris equipped the car with 15x7 American Racing Torque Thrust rims up front and 17x8s in the rear wrapped in Falken P205/60ZR15 and P275/40ZR17 rubber respectively.
Moving inside, Chris brought touches of the bright yellow into the black Pony interior, now equipped with new seats, door panels, and carpet. The dash uses Auto Meter Sport Comp gauges that fit nicely into the factory instrument cluster thanks to an ABS plastic adapter housing. The inside rear quarter vents were fitted with a delete kit to clean up the interior and Chris and Robin went so far as to install the 476-piece interior screw kit from CJ Pony Parts. Entertainment comes from the DEH 4300UB Pioneer head unit that plays CDs, MP3s, and has iPod capability along with a wireless remote. The trunk-mounted Pioneer GM-6400F amplifier makes everything loud and clear, sending signal to the two 4-inch speakers in the dash, two 6.5s in the kick panels, and two 6x9 three-ways in the rear hatch.
That same careful attention to detail occurs in the trunk, symmetrically arranged with the amp in the middle and flanked by a pair of Optima Yellow Top batteries. The Optimas are actual left and right batteries in custom billet holders from Williamson Machine. The trunk-mounted location frees up room in the engine compartment and adds a little extra weight to the rear.
As you can guess, the rejuvenated car is great fun to drive but the personalizing process may never end. Originally, the car had an automatic but Robin realized that she prefers to shift gears for herself. After about three months, the automatic was removed and a T-5 five-speed from a '93 Mustang replaced it, accented with a Hurst pistol grip shifter. Somewhere down the road, plans call for adding a Vintage Air A/C unit and swapping the 289 for a 331 stroker. Robin loves her 25th Anniversary present and she and Chris are regulars at Friday night cruise-ins. We also have the feeling that Robin thinks Chris and the car are keepers! Great cars are not created in a vacuum. Special thanks goes to Jack Nichols (interior), Lance Andrews, (engine), David Gill (a little of everything), and especially daughter Katelyn and wife Robin (for their continuing help and support).
Robin Benz' '65 Mustang Fastback
- 289 V-8 bored 0.030-inch over
- Edelbrock heads
- Comp Cams camshaft
- Edelbrock Performer intake
- Pro Systems 700-cfm Double Pumper carburetor
- MSD ignition
- '93 Mustang T-5 five-speed manual
- Zoom clutch and flywheel
- '77 Lincoln Versailles 9-inch with 3.50 gears
- 31-spline Moser axles
- 1-3/4-inch Hooker headers, 3-inch collectors
- DynoMax Turbo mufflers
- Front: Stock with Monroe coilovers
- Rear: Stock leaf springs with Monroe coilovers
- Front: Stock disc
- Rear: Stock Lincoln Versailles disc
- Front: American Racing Torque Thrust, 15x7, 3.75 backspacing
- Rear: American Racing Torque Thrust, 17x8, 4.75 backspacing
- Front: Falken Ziex ZE-912, P205/60ZR15
- Rear: Falken FK452, P275/40ZR17
- CJ Pony Parts seats, door panels, and carpet; Pioneer stereo; Auto Meter gauges
- Ford D6 Screaming Yellow paint accented with black stripes, fiberglass hood, Shelby R-series bumper, custom grille insert