Parents hope that when the summer comes and they let their children have reign over the town, they can stay out of trouble. Brothers Michael and Bruce Sloan grew up in Hidden Valley Lake, California--just north of Napa Valley. Mike is older by four years, so he led his little brother Bruce around town on their dirt bike adventures. Hidden Valley Lake was a popular vacation spot that time of the year, so there were plenty of other kids to run into.
One summer they met fellow dirt bike rider, Tony Tchamourian, who would become a life-long friend. The three met up every year at the lake to ride and explore. A couple years later, Tony and Mike were old enough to drive, and Tony was the first with a hot rod--a Shelby '67 G.T. 500 Mustang. When Mike took the wheel for the first time, he did what you would expect any teenager to do, punch the throttle. Not particularly well equipped with driving experience, Mike thought he might have broken something, unaware that all the smoke was coming from the tires. Tony made sure Mike knew he owed him a set, and they laughed.
Mike's first car wasn't nearly as impressive as the G.T. 500, but he made that '72 Pinto Wagon everything it could be. Tony got him hooked on the idea of having a Mustang one day, but it wouldn't be any time soon. Father, Chuck, had a couple Mustangs and an AC Cobra while they were growing up, but it was mostly for show.
Bruce took the inspiration from Tony and immediately jumped into the welding and fabrication world. He's a self-taught welder who got a gig building monster truck chassis, which then got him big into professional mud-bogging and sand drag racing. He built himself a 1,500hp, alcohol-powered truck that had him content for a long while. That changed about four years ago.
Tony took Mike, Bruce, and their father, Chuck, to the Southern California road course Willow Springs Raceway. It was a Shelby Club track day and Tony brought his '66 fastback that he built specifically for racing. It vastly out-handled everything else on the course, and Tony let the brothers drive it. The switch was flipped; there was nothing that would keep them from building cars of their own.
Bruce started preparing for the future arrival by parting out his race truck and buying an engine for the Mustang he hadn't even chosen yet. All he knew then was that he wanted a strong, street-ready stroker for the project to come. Tony quickly found a '65 fastback that was worth looking at for Bruce. Bruce sent his pops to go look at it as he had more Mustang experience at that point. Dad reported back, saying the car was trashed and that Bruce would be crazy to buy it. He did anyway.
Since Bruce was busy building his house, he commissioned the current owner to start working on it so it would be further along by the time Bruce got it. A year and a half passed, and the previous owner did a little bit of bodywork and welded in a rollbar. In that time, Bruce managed to buy and restore a coupe for his son. When he finally got the fastback home, it hadn't gotten the care it deserved. The previous owner had taken a lot of short-cuts that made more work for him. This turned out to be a good thing, as building his son's car made Bruce realize how much he enjoyed working on the cars--maybe even more than driving them. Bruce ended up doing everything himself at home, aside from applying the paint. Now that it's done, he's acquired a '73 Mach 1 Q-code to keep busy.
Mike, also moved by the track day with Tony's 'Stang, started searching for a car to build for the same purpose. It took only a couple months of searching before he chose a '65 fastback listed on eBay. Like Bruce, this wasn't Mike's first project. He built a Jeep back in the '90s that he was in the middle of rebuilding when he set his sights on the Mustang. Once the Mustang came home, the Jeep was moved to the back-burner.
Before the e-bidding began, Mike asked the Illinois-seller if there was any rust on the car. He assured Mike there was only a touch of surface rust in one spot on the frame. Being a blind California-bidder, Mike took his word for it. Upon further inspection, Mike found the underside of the car was pretty much destroyed, however, the body panels were nearly flawless.
"The best part was the car came with a lot of N.O.S. parts the owner had been collecting since the early '70s that I sold for half the purchase price," Mike tells us.
Mike spent the next several months patching the floor, repairing the framerails, and fixing some small parts on the quarter-panels. He got the body to bare metal, and mocked up the suspension and drivetrain before taking it to the paint shop. There it sat incarcerated for eight months. The paint shop was on his route to a job site, so Mike would stop by occasionally. He saw the Mustang sitting out in the rain, neglected for days at a time with little progress. Once the shop actually got to it, they churned out a glorified budget paintjob, complete with orange peel, dry spots, dirt, and sanding scratches. When confronted, the shop owner said that sanding and cleanup wasn't included in the quoted price. At this point, Mike opted to buy a book and learn how to do it himself. Bruce was very supportive, and helped Mike by keeping the fridge stocked full of beer for those long hours of wet-sanding.
Tony moved from his hometown to Hidden Valley Lake 10 years ago, after meeting his wife and getting hassled by the brothers to move up. He built a massive shop next to his house that became the wrenching and hang-out spot for the brothers. It's also where they put the finishing touches on the twin Mustangs.
The guys finished their cars around the same time, and brought them to what would be the first of many car shows. The judge at Redding's Cool April Nights couldn't decide the winner of their class, but it was between the two Sloan 'Stangs. They settled things with a coin toss in Mike's favor, something that wouldn't soon be forgotten.
Though sparked by the thrill of driving Tony's vintage machine on the track, neither Mike nor Bruce would consider taking their freshly finished Mustangs racing. They joke that they will have to accumulate a lot of rock chips before they're willing to flog them on the road course. Their cars just turned out too nice to put through the risk of venturing into the gravel pits. Do we see a set of matching coupes with a little less shine coming soon?