It's never that simple when you're putting a car together. It doesn't matter whether your changing a set of spark plugs or rebuilding a transmission, the process never goes according to plan. Jeff Colvin knows this only too well. He owns a fistful of vehicles, including no fewer than seven early Ford Broncos and four Mustangs ... well three and half perhaps as one of them is currently a rolling shell. What is interesting is that two and a half of the Pony collection are four-light 1985-86 GT cars and out of all them, it's the one on these pages that is nearest and dearest to Jeff, because it's the one he's had the longest. Today, it looks stellar, but when he first picked this thing up it wasn't in quite such good condition, in fact it was a bit of mess. The car really wasn't that old either. "I found this one back in 1993. My first car had been a 1966 Fairlane with a 390 and after playing around with Toyota Mini Trucks and later a first gen Mazda RX-7, I wanted to get back into the muscle car scene, but I wanted something with good driveability that had the creature comforts like air, power windows etc. - I thought a 5-liter Mustang would be the way to go."
Like many of us Jeff had a budget, so a new or pristine example was a little out of his range. This '85 wasn't. "It belonged to a buddy of mine when I worked at Crutchfield. It had been used for Pizza delivery and I worked out a deal with him to get the car because he needed reliable transportation. The car had been hit in three corners and the nose needed replacing, so what was left of the original paint had a few large patches of primer over it. The motor was also in need of a rebuild. The car would start up, but above 3000 rpm it would start knocking. Still, the previous owner had driven the car like this for a couple of months." Despite these issues, Colvin saw this car as a diamond in the rough. "Although it had no carpets, the rest of the interior, including the seats, was mint."
Back On The Road
Nevertheless, what Colvin had on his hands, even if it was only eight years old at the time, was a project. One that he needed to get running. "I had a friend port the stock heads and intake and then managed to get a local shop to build me an engine - a 302 punched .030" over. I added aftermarket headers to the motor and put a 3.45 ring in the 7.5-inch rear." With the '85 back up and running, Jeff thought it was time to go and have a bit of fun with it. "I took it to the local test and tune nights at Summer Duck Dragway Park." However drag racing can be hard on cars and parts, and eventually, something else broke. "I was at my first street car shootout. I launched the Mustang and twisted the output shaft out of my stock T-5 trans on the first pass." That was followed up by shattering the 7.5 on the street. Now broken parts were one thing, but back in the early mid 1990s the late-model Mustang movement was still in its infancy in some areas and finding specialists and replacement parts wasn't always that easy. "I wasn't on the super highway then, so a lot of stuff came by trial and error and reading car magazines, there just weren't that many people in my area building 5.0s."