For most people, there comes a time when the daily driver must be replaced. Maybe the lease is up. Maybe it has become unreliable. Maybe it's just time for a change. In the case of Anaheim, California, resident Renee Breads, the daily driver was handed down to her daughter, Dyann, and later to her son, Clinton. So went the '87 Toyota Corolla, and Renee was now in need of a ride to work.
What she decided to replace the econocar with was something she fell in love with in high school. Though teenage romances may have come and gone, Renee's infatuation with Ford's Mustang was much longer lasting. After deciding on the original ponycar, Renee, and her husband, Clint, set out in search of the right Mustang.
A friend of theirs knew of one for sale, so they went and took a look at it. Though it was a running and driving car, it was pretty rough, wearing three different colors on its panels and having a worn out interior. Going on the "you don't buy the first one you look at" premise, Renee and Clint looked at quite a few others before coming back to the first one.
"It was pouring rain the night we bought her, and by the time we got home, the floor of the car was covered in water," Renee told us. "That's when we learned about rotting cowl vents." After a repaint, new cloth upholstery, a transmission rebuild, a disc brake upgrade, and a generator-to-alternator conversion, the 289-powered colt was ready to tackle the daily commute. That was 1994.
Renee drove the Mustang until 2009, with it needing little else other than basic maintenance. Originally an A/C-equipped car, the artificial breeze wasn't working, nor was the heat, but it was livable in their southern California climate.
"She kept a blanket in the car to throw over her legs when it got really cold," recalls Renee's husband, Clint. Eventually, the Pony grew tired, however.
"I'd have to put it into neutral at a light to keep it running, otherwise the car would stall," says Renee. The engine started overheating and the transmission eventually started slipping. The suspension was worn out as well. Renee parked the Mustang, commandeered Clint's car keys, and told him that she wasn't going to drive it until it was more dependable.
With dependability being a key part of the Mustang's overhaul, Clint did some research on a shop in Auburn, Washington, that specialized in late-model engine swaps. After many conversations with Bryan, the owner of The Mustang Shop, the car was shipped up north and into the staff's capable hands.
"An '08 Shelby GT that had been rolled came in on a flat-bed tow truck," Clint recalls. "The only salvageable things on it were the engine and transmission—just what I wanted. The Three-valve 4.6 had just 2,800 miles on it, and was backed by a five-speed manual transmission—Renee's Corolla was a stick shift, and she preferred to have one in the Mustang as well.
In order to fit the Modular engine, The Mustang Shop staff installed a Rod & Custom Motorsports independent front suspension, removed the shock towers, and added power rack-and-pinion steering. They also installed a new Painless Performance wiring kit—hiding most of it whenever possible—and smoothed out the engine bay. They also fitted the car with a new HVAC unit from Classic Auto Air.
Clint and Renee were planning on a complete repaint, so they had the Mustang Shop paint the engine bay for them with the drivetrain out of the car. When Renee and Clint bought the Mustang, it was yellow, with a black hood and white painted top. They eventually gave it a slick coat of white to even things out, and now it was two colors again, but not for long.
With a new and reliable drivetrain under the hood, the Mustang was put back into daily driver rotation in 2010 while more changes were made.