Four years and three editors ago, Mustang & Fords magazine got wind of a super-stealth, top-secret project called Mustang In Black, or MIB. First leaked to readers in the Dec. '01 issue, the MIB project goal was to meld late '90s SVT Mustang technology with the styling and classic lines of a '68 Mustang fastback. The anonymous "Ford guys" in charge of the project snuck details to us on a regular basis. Although these details held enough notes and spy photos to create technical articles about the Mustang's conversion progress, the "Ford guys" were careful to protect their identities.
The Aug. '03 issue included information from their last transmission, after which, we heard nothing. We couldn't continue the project without their help and feared the worst had happened.
However, the project was declassified in April 2005 at the Columbus All-Ford Swap Meet, and we learned that the Ford guys were none other than Dave Stribling and his talented crew at DVS Restorations in Crawfordsville, Indiana. As more information became available, we determined that the owners of the project car are Doug and Amy Allen of Crete, Illinois. Now that the MIB project is declassified, we can give our readers the complete details of the MIB project as well as newly released images:
Like many of us, Dave Stribling would dream of his ideal fun car while holding down a day job. It would have the classic good looks of a Mustang, yet all the comforts, features, and performance of a modern sport coupe. Sound familiar? Sure it does. Many of us think about building the same car, but let me tell you, the average builder would be hard pressed to build something that works as well as this fastback.
Although Dave started thinking about such a project 10 years ago, it wasn't until five years later in 2001 that Dave met with Doug Allen to perform a concours restoration of Doug's '6411/42 Indy Pace Car hardtop. Doug is from the Chicago area and owned a Chevelle in school but always wanted a Mustang. When he had the funds, he purchased a '67 fastback, then the pace car.
Dave knew about Doug's '67 fastback, and while on the phone one day discussing the pace-car build, he said, "Too bad that '67 Mustang is so nice. I have a great idea for it." After discussing the idea, Doug went for it hook, line, and sinker, especially since his wife asked, referring to the pace car, "Why would you restore a car to the way it used to ride?"
So the project was born, but the '67 didn't make it very far into the build process. Dave felt it was too nice to cut up for the project. Instead, a '68 fastback was purchased for the build, and a '67 hardtop "mule" was purchased for fitting purposes before hacking away at the '68.
The project's early plan was for a modern rendition of Frank Bullitt's Dark Highland Green fastback from the movie Bullitt, but Ford beat Dave and Doug to the punch with its own Bullitt Mustang in 2001. After some discussion, the focus settled on a question: If Ford's Special Vehicle Team was around in 1968, what would they build? They decided that SVT, known for building high-performance, great handling, yet understated-looking late-model Mustangs and other Fords, would build just what you see here, a stealthy, almost-stock looking, '68 fastback with class-leading power, handling, and braking.
Dave worked his magic over the course of several years, formulating the build into one of the cleanest we've seen in a long time. This isn't your typical Mustang II front-suspension and mod-motor swap. No, this fastback is way more sophisticated than that. The MIB features the same Mustang engine cradle and front-strut suspension found on any '96-and-up Mustang. This is not a bolt-in; many hours were spent measuring, tweaking, and re-measuring before a single cut or weld was made. The fastback sports the Cobra's IRS out back as well. With a kit devised by DVS, the IRS for a '67/'70 Mustang is now almost at the status of bolt-in.
Of course, the drivetrain itself and the completed installation are amazing, but that's a small part of the overall picture. This Mustang features all of the comfort, safety, and conveniences of the modern Cobra Mustang. Have a desire for anti-lock brakes on your classic? They're on it. How about traction control? That's there, too. Even the original Cobra cruise control is installed, actuated through an NOS '68 cruise switch. The wiring alone on this project would be enough for most of us to crawl into the corner of the garage and curl up in the fetal position. This fastback now sports over 50 fuses, a big jump from the original six.
The classic styling of the Mustang itself wasn't forgotten either. Both floor and overhead consoles were added during the build, along with tilt-a-way steering, a fold-down rear seat, and more. The original AM radio still resides in the dash, while a hidden Alpine head unit, speakers, and a trunk-mounted CD-changer now provide the tunage, all controlled by an infrared remote.
The fastback's body doesn't have a single GT or Shelby-styling add-on. Dave and Doug didn't think the fastback's classic lines needed any help, and they left well-enough alone. The exception is a set of Hella Black Magic driving lights in the grille, and the grille corral was removed for a more modern look. The topcoat is BASF black in a 12-layer base/clear configuration. The ghost-painted charcoal C-stripe matches the wheel paint and is a classic nod with a modern flair. Finally, the Mustang GT Premium/Bullitt wheels are the perfect mix of old and new for this project.
When Dave finished the car and shipped it to Doug for approval and inspection, you might think Doug rolled this black beauty into his garage and shut out the lights. You couldn't be further from the truth, but it's OK, we thought the same thing. Instead, Doug took his new toy for a weekend of driving, racking up over 100 miles. When he returned it to Dave for some minor detail work and prep for another show, Dave found french fries in it. Now that's our kind of car owner! Since then, the fastback has since been to the 2005 All-Ford Show in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the 2005 SEMA Show, and a few other appearances. For 2006, there are a few more show commitments, and then Doug will finally get to enjoy his fastback, while Dave and the DVS crew move on to the next project, including an all-aluminum, blown Cleveland build and several mod motor projects, as well as another project for Doug. We can't wait to see what's next.
1968 Mustang fastback
Owner: Doug and Amy Allen, Crete, IL
'99 Cobra 4.6 four-valve engine
320 hp at 6,000 rpm
315 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm
57mm throttle body
K&N Generation II FIPK
Tremec T-45 five-speed
'99 Cobra flywheel
'99 Cobra clutch
'99 Cobra H-pipe
'99 Cobra mufflers
Custom-bent 409 stainless dual exhaust
'68 rolled-tip dual outlets
Front: '99 Cobra Macpherson strut, Ford Racing lowering springs, Koni adjustable struts, '99 Cobra lower control arms, '99 Cobra rack-and-pinion steering, Hotchkis caster/camber plates
Rear: '99 Cobra IRS, Hypercoil 600 lb/in coil springs, DVS Restorations 2-inch lowering conversion on IRS subframe, Koni coilover single adjustable shocks
Custom-made subframe connectors
Stainless steel strut-tower braces
Front: '99 Cobra, 13-inch rotor, production '99 Cobra brake pads
Rear: '99 Cobra, 11.65-inch rotor, production '99 Cobra brake pads
Front: Ford Racing GT wheel, 17x8
Rear: Ford Racing GT wheel, 17x8
Front: Goodyear Eagle, P245/45ZR17
Rear: Goodyear Eagle, P245/45ZR17
Deluxe interior, Interior Dcor Group
Roof and floor console
Fold-down rear seat
Woodgrain steering wheel
Tilt-a-way steering column
Custom-designed offset shifter with five-speed pattern, reverse lockout used to engage traction control
Auto Meter digital speedometer grafted to 160-mph-style gauge face
Power windows and door locks
BASF Glasurit 22 black urethane with BASF Glasurit 930-455 clear, C-stripe under clear
Pop-open gas cap
Hella grille-mounted Black Magic foglights