Parent-child bonding comes in a number of forms, and within the automotive landscape, it's often a project car that draws parents and children together. The parents often have an interest in the classics, and the impressionable teens are looking for a ride. Combine the two and you can get some quality time with your family while sharing common interests. For 31-year-old Chris Herricks of La Mirada, California, this meant a hefty 16th birthday present in the form of the '65 Mustang fastback you see here. It was Chris' first car, and it proved to be a good way for him and his father, Robert Herricks, to spend time together.
"Our family business had a shop, and we used to go down there on the weekends and work on it," recalls Chris. "It was very easy for the amateur to work on, but the later version required a more meticulous hand." Chris drove the small-block/automatic-powered Mustang through high school, while he and his father modified the 2+2 on the weekends. New speakers and stereo upgrades were complemented by a camshaft change, aluminum cylinder heads, and a fiberglass cowl-induction-style hood. A pair of '94 Mustang Cobra bucket seats and a Lecarra steering wheel made cruising in the classic a little more comfortable.
It was the aforementioned fiberglass hood that would eventually trigger the avalanche of modifications that led to the final result you see here. What started as just a paintjob to repair the damage caused by the hood flipping up at speed, became a downhill run toward a much more specialized and detailed '65 fastback that would be the envy of any car show. Though Chris and his father eventually found that the Mustang came from the factory with a bright orange finish, Chris opted to keep the red with white Le Mans stripe look that the car had when his family bought it in 1997. As they had just finished work on Chris' father's Mustang, Wasp Automotive in Oak Hills, California, was entrusted to repair the damage and refinish the fastback.
Chris never really liked the way the aftermarket hood looked with the front spoiler, and the gaps were an issue, as it never really fit well. Chris' father suggested a few mods and Wasp's Osvaldo Asencio had a number of ideas for the car that would take it to a higher level. Chris' father helped out with the first few payments to Wasp Automotive, and then Chris took it from there. While Chris had most of the stereo components in the car already, Asencio cleaned up a lot of the brackets, bezels and other minute details. In the end, Asencio ended up rewiring the entire car and upgraded the audio system, which led to a customized interior.
While Chris thought it cool to mount his Auto Meter Monster tach with shift light on the trans tunnel, Asencio complemented the rest of the Auto Meter Phantom LL instruments with a matching tachometer mounted in an R model dash pod. Chris' father had the idea to make the traditional Shelby quarter glass windows operational, and Asencio made that happen with some motorized actuators operated via buttons on the shifter console. In addition to the hood, some of the Mustang's rear sheetmetal was replaced, and the venerable 302 that was residing between the shock towers also needed a freshening up.
"You know, it just wasn't that fast. People expect the car to be [fast] and it just wasn't," says Chris of the old engine's performance. To that end, Asencio had Taylor Engine in Whittier, California, bore and stroke the '69 302 block to 352 cubic inches of displacement. With a 150hp boost from the nitrous oxide system, the small-block put down 495 horsepower at the wheels. "The new engine was so badass that it didn't seem right to use the stock rear suspension," says Chris. To that end, Asencio and the Wasp staff fitted a proprietary three-link rear suspension with cantilever coilover shocks. The front is a tubular coilover upgrade from Total Control Products.
Wasp Automotive did eventually get around to painting the Mustang, covering it in a luscious shade of Dodge Viper Red with white stripes. While Wasp did much of the heavy lifting, it was the company's attention to detail that is probably most striking about the build--nothing is left untouched. Working with Chris and his father, Asencio had custom center caps and gas cap made with a unique Herricks Motorsports logo emblazoned on them. The logo continues onto the floor mats inside the car.
After a lengthy 3-1/2-year build, the Mustang was finally completed. Chris drives the Mustang on occasion, at least when he's not wheeling a big rig for the company's trucking business. With that limited time behind the wheel, Chris reports that there are some minor teething issues that he and the staff at Wasp are working out, but he intends on slapping some sticky tires to the back and taking it to Fontana's dragstrip for some quarter-mile fun. In the meantime, we're looking forward to seeing the next project out of the Wasp Automotive garage; it would seem that Chris' father has had his '65 fastback there for some even crazier modifications. We'll just have to see how far down hill they go.