The father and son effort began with a sporadic six-month disassembly of the Mustang, but the team soon realized that the needed repairs went far deeper than minor mechanicals and new paint. While Steve knew his way around the Mustang from handling the general maintenance and keeping it on the road, everything underneath was rusted and frozen in place. Garage space was also an issue, so Steve contacted John Dinger at The Mustang Shop (Chandler, Arizona) and asked him to take a look at his project.
"This Mustang must have some sentimental value," Dinger ventured. You can just about rebuild any Mustang these days, so Steve went ahead despite the major rust issues. "I had planned nothing exciting," Steve recalls. "I just wanted to get the car structurally sound, rebuild the 289 and C4 transmission, and repair the suspension and brakes."
Then, Steve started finding out about all of the modern upgrades that were available for classic Mustangs, while keeping it original looking and safer to drive. He also came to the conclusion that his garden-variety C-code coupe wasn't exactly a rare Mustang, and would be better off with the upgrade path.
From that point, The Mustang Shop hauled the carcass off and completed the teardown. Ricardo Miranda of Phoenix, Arizona, was put in charge of turning 40-plus years of dents, dings, rust, and rot into a pristine form that could accept the deep PPG two-stage paint. Though many advised him against it, Steve opted to update the exterior green hue with a more vibrant Sherwood Green Pearl from an '01 Nissan Maxima.
"My son and I visited Ricardo every couple of weeks and took in the entire transformation--an amazing process," says Steve.
Back at The Mustang Shop, Steve's coupe received a suspension and drivetrain overhaul. The original 289 was replaced with a rebuilt '65 piece with a mild camshaft upgrade. The C4 was ditched in favor of a T-5 overdrive five-speed manual, and the 8-inch axle was traded for a stout 9-inch with a Traction-Lok differential and 3.50 gears. The sloppy manual steering was replaced with a custom Mustang Shop rack-and-pinion using a Taurus setup as the basis. The chassis was fortified, the exhaust was upgraded with Hedman and Flowmaster components, and the exterior was upgraded with GT-model flair, all with Steve and Nathan taking in every twist and turn. "We became regular fixtures at the shop," notes Steve.
The interior update was a home restoration, with Steve and Nathan installing new Deluxe Pony upholstery and trim. The cabin was layered in sound deadener, a 200-watt sound system was dropped in, and Steve used real walnut to adorn the steering wheel, instrument bezel, glovebox door and center console.
As Steve and Nathan continued to modify the Mustang, Steve realized that the engine just wasn't peppy enough. The problem was easily solved with a 347ci crate engine from Smeding Performance. With 413 hp and 433 lb-ft of torque on tap, acceleration has been greatly improved.
"It's a thrill to drive and never fails to draw stares on the road and at car shows," Steve notes. "That unique dark green color seems to catch everyone's eyes. The car gives my son and me immense joy and satisfaction, and every once in a while, I have to pinch myself to be sure it isn't a dream that my first car will likely go on to outlive me." With family and Mustang being so loyal to each other, we don't see the relationship ever ending.
Steve Naranjo's '66 Mustang Coupe
- 347ci small-block built by Smeding Performance
- Dart 8.2-inch-deck cast-iron block with splayed four-bolt main caps
- 4.030-inch bore
- 3.40-inch stroke
- RPM forged 4340 steel crankshaft
- RPM forged steel 5.385-inch connecting rods
- Keith Black forged aluminum pistons
- Smeding Performance hydraulic roller camshaft, 212/222-degree duration at 0.050, 0.493/0.510 valve lift, 112 LSA
- Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum cylinder heads, CNC port matched, hand-blended bowls, 2.02-inch intake/1.60-inch valves, Scorpion 1.6:1 roller rocker arms
- Edelbrock Performer RPM Air Gap intake manifold
- Demon Carburetors Speed Demon 650-cfm carburetor
- 9.7:1 compression ratio
- MSD billet aluminum distributor, 6A ignition and high-energy coil
- 412 hp at 5,700 rpm/433 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm (flywheel rated)
- Ford Racing Performance Parts T-5 five-speed manual
- Ford Racing Performance Parts Cobra clutch and billet steel flywheel
- Modern Driveline clutch cable conversion
- Scott Drake shifter
- Ford 9-inch
- Traction-Lok differential
- 3.50 gears
- 28-spline axles
- Hedman Shorty Elite headers, 1 5/8-inch primaries, 3-inch collectors
- Flowmaster 50-series mufflers, 2 1/2-inch aluminized exhaust tubing
- Front: Stock upper control arms, boxed and Heim-jointed lower control arms, adjustable strut rods, 620 lb/in coil springs with 1-inch drop, 1-inch antisway bar, custom-built rack-and-pinion steering from the Mustang Shop (Chandler, AZ), KYB Gas-Adjust shocks
- Rear: Five-leaf, mid-eye leaf springs, KYB Gas-Adjust shocks
- Framerail connectors
- Monte Carlo bar
- Tank Armor
- Custom export brace
- Front: Wilwood disc, four-piston calipers, 12-inch rotors
- Rear: Wilwood disc, four-piston calipers, 12-inch rotors
- Front: American Racing Equipment Torq Thrust II, 17x7, 4-inch offset
- Rear: American Racing Equipment Torq Thrust II, 17x8, 5-inch offset
- Front: BFGoodrich g-Force Sport, P225/45ZR17
- Rear: BFGoodrich g-Force Sport, P235/45ZR17
- Ivy Gold and White Deluxe Pony interior, TMI Sierra-grain upholstery, Auto Custom Carpets 80/20 loop carpet, original Deluxe Pony wood steering wheel with owner-built walnut trim, Custom Autosound stereo, TMI center console, B-Quiet sound barrier insulation, owner-built walnut veneer on original five-gauge bezel, reproduction column-mounted Rally-Pac, Classic Auto Air A/C
- '01 Nissan Sherwood Green Pearl basecoat/clearcoat paint, color sanded and hand buffed by Ricardo Miranda (Phoenix, AZ), GT emblems, foglights, exhaust trumpets, white rocker stripes, quarter-panel and rocker molding deleted, GT gas cap