Amie Williams Associate Online Editor
October 4, 2018
Photos By: Peter Linney

Whether you dig old-school iron or fancy modern-American muscle, chances are you have heard of Classic Recreations. The company, a household name in the automotive industry at this point, is owned by Jason Engle out of Yukon, Oklahoma, and it turns sleek vintage Mustang bodies into full-blown modern powerhouses. Each car is built to exceptional standards and is a piece of history transformed.

Classic Recreations starts the process with an original Mustang body and then performs a total restoration from the ground up. It’s the perfect opportunity to rock those sleek, classic body lines packed with modern punch and, of course, reliability. An original Mustang body could be a bit of a rust bucket to start off with, but Classic Recreations will perform panel replacements and whatever needs to be done to turn its restomods into brand-new cars. In partnership with Shelby, each car that is handcrafted by Classic Recreations is eternally commemorated into the Shelby American Worldwide Registry, confirming its authenticity.

These creations most likely leave classic Mustang purists with clenched fists and sweaty palms. Don Emas puts it best saying, “I love the reaction I get when people think they see just a nice Shelby from 30 feet away, and then when they get up on top of it, they’re like ‘Oh God, what did this guy do?’”

The Guasti, California, resident is talking about his 1966 Shelby GT350CR Pro-Touring edition built by Classic Recreations. The entire body of Don’s ’66 Shelby is original, but popping the hood exposes its modern Gen2 Coyote 5.0L crate engine from Ford. “I went with the Coyote and the five-speed Tremec T-5 manual transmission,” Don explains.

It’s safe to say that Don prefers fuel injection and is a big fan of the 5.0L Coyote. “One of my goals in life is to never not own an air-cooled car and to never own a pushrod car,” Don laughs. “It’s one of my goals to not have an old-style motor and to not have a carburetor.”

The engine is a 2016 Coyote crate from Ford and is stock with a Voodoo intake manifold and BBK long-tube headers; it’s fed by a VaporWorx fuel pump in an 18-gallon stealth fuel cell. With a tune, it puts 470 hp to the rear wheels. The radiator that keeps it from overheating is a crossflow type from Be Cool.

The GT350CR Pro-Touring package comes standard with BBK long-tube headers and a MagnaFlow 2.5-inch mandrel-bent dual exhaust. Don tweaked the exhaust to his liking by adding Borla resonators and an X-pipe. He also lifted the exhaust up a little higher, so he could easily get over those pesky speed bumps in his neighborhood. Living where the California sun blazes down, having creature comforts such as air conditioning is somewhat of a necessity. With original classic cars, keeping the cabin cool can be a challenge. A Be Cool aluminum crossflow radiator with dual 13-inch electric cooling fans keep the engine at a comfortable temperature, even in the dog days of summer. “It’s got an oversized radiator, good air conditioning in 100-degree heat in traffic,” Don says about the Classic Recreations build. “It’s a great drive, like a brand-new Mustang GT if you want to compare it.”

The car features a Detroit Speed Engineering (DSE) suspension front and rear, with the Aluma-Frame setup with coilovers and an oversized sway bar in front and QuadraLink setup with mini-tubs in back; Wilwood brakes are all around (six-piston calipers in front, four-piston in back) and utilize drilled/slotted rotors that help bring all those horses to a halt. The DSE mini-tubs allow far more tire clearance, and the car is outfitted with 18-inch American Racing wheels. Fuel needs are provided by a VaporWorx electric fuel pump and a stealth 18-gallon fuel cell.

Classic Recreations didn’t start with a real Shelby G.T. 350 to build Don Emas’ Mustang, but rather an original fastback body that they added authentic Carroll Shelby fiberglass enhancements to. Check out the frenched rear bumper.
The American Racing wheels are 18x11 rear and 18x8 front, with P315/30R18 and P275/35R18 BFGoodrich g-Force Rival tires.

Don felt that the stock interior Shelby Mustang was a bit lacking and needed an overhaul. He sought out Mark Lopez of Elegance Auto Interior out of Upland, California, to help create the dream interior of his car. Lopez is known for designing award-winning interiors, and he left no stone unturned on Don’s Shelby. “I went with double-stitched leather and Alcantara and wanted it to be every bit as nice as a Porsche, a new 911, or something,” he explains. “I’ve got Sparco seats with custom covers made and a Momo steering wheel. I’ve been really happy, especially since I did the interior.” Carroll Shelby signature gauges were added, and a Pioneer radio pumps out much-needed tunes.

If you visit classic-recreations.com, Don’s Shelby GT350CR is the poster child in the photo under the Pro-Touring package. The pictures on the website show the car beforehand with the stock interior. “I sponsored his SEMA car, I believe, two years ago,” Don explains. “We built it with the idea that we would use it for SEMA, which we did, and it was in the American Racing booth at that point in time.”

Don has quite the collection of cars, and most of them are of Blue Oval bloodline. “I’m a collector. My wife just counted them—10 cars,” Don says about his car collection. “At this point in time I’m pretty heavy on Ford.” Don admits that he rarely sells cars, but he just let go of a classic Camaro. It seems as if his love for the Coyote is overpowering everything else. He is also a big fan of white cars and is currently in the process of building a white big-fender Pantera with none other than a Coyote engine stuffed inside. These cars aren’t just garage queens, though. Don likes to drive. “I drive them to work and just drive them around. I just like to drive them.”

Many people build cars to take them to shows or to race them, but not Don. “I just build the cars for me. I don’t build them to show off or to show them. I just love driving, and I just love building cars,” Don tells us. Future plans involve adding a supercharger to add some extra oomph to his ’66 Shelby GT350CR.

Adding a little more flair to the body: 1990s-era SVT-style side-exit exhaust.
This car has CR’s optional electrically controlled ABS power brakes.

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Elegance Auto Interior in Upland, California, finished the interior with Sparco seats covered in leather and Alcantara, Shelby Signature gauges, a Momo tiller, and Pioneer tunes. They are also known for their custom door panels, and that shifter controls a Tremec five-speed.

Don Emas and his classically recreated Shelby.