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Change of Pace: 1979 Indianapolis Pace Car
In a sea of fully restored Four Eyed Fox Bodies this 1979 Indianapolis Pace Car has turned its full attention elsewhere. Giulia Levenduski and Zac Love, of Love Kustoms, took a large step outside of the box Jack Telnack built and created this truly custom example of what a Fox Body can be. You’re looking at what can happen when a hot rod builder twists the arm of a young Fox Body enthusiast to send their build in a direction often reserved for classic models.
This amazingly custom fox had pretty humble beginnings after the failed pursuit of a 1982 GT, in Ahoskie, NC, left Giulia and her dad taking their pick of 5 1979 Pace Cars being sold from the same collection. This particular example was driven to and from college by the original owner and stood out from the crowd with its original Indianapolis pedigree and 302 swapped engine bay. Once the sale was landed and they got it home, the Father/Daughter duo began tackling the cleanup by getting the car running, starting a 5-lug swap, and cleaning up the engine and interior to make it presentable. Following the cleanup, Zac Love came into the picture and finished off the 5-Lug swap with an 8.8 rear, buttoned up the suspension geometry, and the three of them got it moving under its own power with full intentions of making it a mild daily driver. It wasn’t until after it was mobile that Zac and Giulia put their heads together to completely change the pace of the build.
“I’m not a fox body person and I wasn’t intrigued by the idea of restoring a Fox Body, because it didn’t excite me” said Zac who let us know that he wasn’t a fan of Giulia’s original plan to restore the car. He went on to tell her that “the thing that makes this one cool is the patina. If you paint this car it becomes every other car.” and being one of the original 6 Pace Cars we couldn’t agree more. Once they got on the same page, preserving the original look of the car was a main goal leading them to enlist painter, Wayne Anderson, and pin striper, Michael Hall, to fix a patch panel, from the previous owner, on the driver’s rear quarter. Split right down the middle of the rear Indianapolis decal, Wayne Anderson flawlessly matched and blended the paint while Michael Hall came in to replicate the aged cracks and line work of the original Indianapolis Motor Speedway decal. Every other part of the paint, aside from the black on the the grille, cowl, window trim, and below the body trim, is original. Every decal crack, every spot of surface rust, every faded stripe is there as a testament to the car’s life before Love.
As the build began taking shape they focused on the wiring, mechanics, engine bay, and drivetrain to prepare the car for something different. Zac first used his fabrication skills on this build to begin the development of the custom engine bay panels along with the NASCAR Style Air Cleaner bringing his hot rod styling abilities to the table. The flawless look of the engine bay made its way past the dash into a freshened-up interior featuring TMI Pace Car Replacement Upholstery and a fully custom dash and gauge panel. They kept with their mild “Daily Driver” intentions by adding Vintage Air and a hidden sound system to provide creature comforts and cruising tunes to the driver without dating the build with a specific head unit or modern climate controls. The wildest part of the original plan was to set the car down on a set of staggered 18”x9 and 20”x10” SVE Series 3 wheels from Late Model Restoration. Waiting on the wheels delayed their progress, but allowed the car to take a turn in a new direction.
Midway thru the process, they stumbled upon the Goodguy’s 2017 SEMA Pace Car Build at the Goodguy’s show in Raleigh, NC. They sparked a conversation with Ed Capen and Johnathan Ghoolsby, of Goodguy’s Garage, about Fox Pace Cars. It only took a few photos for the Goodguy’s staff to fall in love with their ideas and ask them to debut their car at Goodguy’s Ohio 2018.
“Her having more ambition than me, she said ‘yeah!” Zac said. “We’ll make sure we get it done’ and at that point we had to get it done.” And from April to July 2018 they began to transform the car. Reevaluating their original plan, they began by setting out to do everything that Goodguy’s didn’t with the full intentions of making some purists ask, “why would you do that to a fox body?”
Zac said, “One of the biggest issues we had from day one was the fact that those cars (1979-1982 performance models) didn’t have a full body-kit and we didn’t want to do the same old late-model cobra kit as everyone else” so, building fully custom ground effects was the only option. Using his napkin drawn designs and a pile of sheet metal he developed each rocker panel by hand. They were designed to install like a factory pair including mounts in the wheel well that mimic the mounting points of a stock 1987-93 kit. They take the ride height about 1.5” below the stock rocker panel to give the car a lower appearance adding to its already aggressive stance.
Once the couple turned their attention to the sagging rear bumper, they quickly realized they had a problem. The Goodguy’s Ohio show was quickly approaching and none of the donor cars had the part they needed. So they went back to the drawing table – literally. Zac grabbed another napkin, on the Sunday before show time, and went to work putting his dreams on paper. At this point of the build none of the pieces had been seen on the car all together, but they pushed forward with the drive to get it assembled and ready in a week’s time. Somehow, they pulled it together in a wild thrash towards the finish line. Before the show there were no running hours on the powertrain, the trim paint ran out at the shop forcing them to paint the cowl in the trailer the morning of, and the fully assembled build hadn’t seen the light of day until they rolled it onto the show floor. When it finally pulled out of the trailer it was as if the rest of the world slowed down and got in line to check out the finished product. The combination of the staggered 18”x9” and 20”x10” wheels aired out on the fully custom body panels turned detractors into believers and solidified Giulia and Zac’s place in the ranks of the Goodguy’s Young Guys and SEMA’s Young Guns.
I guess we forgot to mention that Guilia is only 22 and Zac isn’t far ahead at 26 years old. With that being said they’ve built this ride on a mighty small budget by doing it themselves with the philosophy that “Nothing is too much work.” They’ve used the full potential of their custom-building knowledge, worked with the resources they had, and created a car that truly subverts the expectations of the masses. Zac described the build process as a “Second Job” with him balancing daily shop duties while Guilia worked for local law enforcement which only allowed them to work on the car, after hours, in their own spare time. Their excruciating efforts are obvious in the quality of their finished product and we can’t wait to see what they build next. We can only hope that the process of this build brought Zac into the league of “Fox Body Guys” and Giulia’s project has sparked the first of many Fox Bodies to grace the shop floor of Love Kustoms.
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Photography by Harris Lue