Turnkey Mustangs: Behind the Door at Revology
Destination: Orlando Florida, Revology cars
Orlando is normally associated with vacationing. Finding a custom hot rod shop or auto restoration facility around Disneyland would seem unlikely. You can find them in most cities and believe it or not there are several all around the area, but Tom Scarpello (formally from Ford Motor Company) has created something beyond that and placed it just north of one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
I met Scarpello at his Orlando car manufacturing facility recently to look at the company's latest creations. Revology Cars is currently producing 1965-1968 Mustangs and Shelby GT replicas that are licensed by Ford and Registered at Shelby North America. A factory environment is where Revology makes a departure. The idea of building a brand-new car is rare, and the typical TV show custom shop scenario would seem more logical to some.
Scarpello says Revology has a much different philosophy and can build you a brand-new vehicle by the "same principles you would see in a Detroit factory." Much of the work is hand crafted, but that is also true if you were to order a new Ferrari. "Factory assembly with hand crafted details can make for a much more consistent, quality-built vehicle," he told us.
With 37 cars built to date, the recipe seems to be working, so much so that with the latest testing, Revology's newest Mustangs and Shelbys are upgraded to accept even more normally aspirated power than before. Raising the bar further in 2019, Revology is fitting the new Gen 3 Coyote into their cars as the top option. Tom says anticipated demand for the new power train has prompted Revology to acquire the bulk of the Gen 3 Coyotes that were in Ford's entire inventory. The year 2019 is anticipated to be a very good year at Revology—eventually the Gen 2 engine will vanish and all Revology cars will have this latest platform Gen 3.
Before I left to visit Revology, I contemplated what I would ask Tom. The Gen 3 Coyote would be something extraordinary for sure. The quality looks fantastic in the photos, but I needed to see the cars up close again. A drive was what I really needed and "getting on the horse" meant getting to Revology for some fun.
I was fortunate to be part of the early development of Revology and especially curious how the company was doing now. The technical side of the new Gen 3 Coyote is amazing by itself, but since it had been four years since I was there last, there was a lot to catch up on. I was excited to touch base with Scarpello again and to help commemorate the five-year milestone mark for the company.
Fourteen years as Ford's chief marketing executive is a big deal. Scarpello has the experience and business sense when it comes to performance vehicles, and he's not a stranger to the pressures of manufacturing. With an additional seven years at Nissan, Mexico and then Japan, he met and teamed up with Yoshi Amano. Both have much in common and take a no-nonsense approach to manufacturing and sales at Revology. Marketing can mean everything, and both say, "going global for a startup company was a quite a challenge." "Most of Revology's inventory is shipped world-wide and understanding that potential early was important," Scarpello said.
During the interview I was taken baack and a bit and surprised to hear Scarpello refer to himself as employee number one. After five years of growth, I expected him to insulate himself in a corner office, but he hasn't changed and is involved more than ever. Accessibility he says is important, and everyone htere is treated as a "team member, including myself. Being involved makes a big difference in quality when you produce at this level".
Connecting the person to the car is important and Revology produces a car that has a look and build unlike any other. Tom's strategy is unique, if you consider the number of licensed factories reproducing replica vehicles. Compare Revology's facility to shops that work day to day, or job to job. "That's where the value of working with the same vehicle in a manufacturing regiment pays off," he said. Consistency and quality come from development and improving a design as you build them again and again. "You do a car once it could be a fine car, but build a second one and it gets better." Apart from the top custom builders, with most local one-off vehicles, builders use internet-sourced parts, with little time taken to consider the combinations of those parts.
Scarpello says Revology's Guarantee program parallels that of many major US car builders. That means no part on a Revology Mustang is considered unless the engineering department approves it first with strict testing. Most importantly Scarpello says, "The price we pay is secondary."
Going back in time, Scarpello commissioned two "one off" Mustangs GT restomods from independent shops on the west coast, and then from the east coast while at Ford Motor Company. He loved the retro look and preferred those Mustangs over the company sedans. One of the two in his garage came from a major custom shop in California. Tom say's that's what put an idea in his head. Twenty years later, the time was right to make a major decision and pull the trigger. The idea left some questions though, Tom says, not because of how good the cars were, but because of how bad they were. "The look was perfect, and restomods requires a bit of tolerance, but that would change."
I met Scarpello for the first time in 2014, and at the time he asked me to come to his home in Florida to drive his two restomod Mustangs and give my opinion on each. He explained his idea to build his own and I accepted his job offer. After some objective miles that day, I recall cringing as I reported the bad news. They honestly were two of the worst driving cars I ever tested. I remember how hard it was to be up-front and had no clue how Tom would react. With two perfect test mules and a job offer, I was on board. Revology Cars was to become the idea of a re-engineering, reliability, and evolution of an original iconic brand while preserving its original design. That would be most important—factory consistency with Ferrari-like quality would be my job. Revology was born.
"Amelia" was the first prototype '65 GT replica for Revology and that would prove it was possible to assemble the Dynacorn body in a factory production environment. The unveiling at the 2016 Amelia Island Concours de 'Elegance answered the question to how Revology Cars could move forward. Though the consensus by most back in 2014-15 was that body fit would be impossible, we proved that was not the case.
"Amelia" started its own chain reaction and was featured in over 65 publications worldwide. The TV and news media coverage went beyond anything imagined. After Amelia Island, the Mustang Owners Club reviewed Amelia at their 2016 national event in Georgia and overwhelmingly praised the fit and finish. Tom says, "Amelia's success is the DNA in each Revology model built today."
What started as three employees in a small garage has now grown to over 37 in a large factory setting. The facility now has dedicated departments specializing in everything from logic wiring to leather upholstery. The Dynacorn bodies are jigged with special templates and laser aligned. Scarpello said, "the idea of working with jigs and manufacturing tolerances eliminates the guesswork and elevates the quality, while reducing assembly time" The engineering department and parts system play a critical role and are structured much like other top automakers.
Scarpello is most known for his involvement with the SVO/ SVT and Lightning program at Ford. He has a great way of interacting with just about anyone. Rarely is he misspoken or misunderstood. With his added racing knowledge, the product he produces is much more than what can be visually absorbed. He expects these cars to be driven and enjoyed, which leads us to a drive
Opening the door and sitting in the 1966 Gen 3 Shelby fastback for the first time was something special. The way the door opened and closed, and the leather surfaces with stitching reminiscent of a Ferrari reminded me of the days I restored exotic Ferraris. How perfect everything fit. I knew what Pebble Beach quality was and the detail could not have been executed better. Tom took that ball and made a huge home run in my mind, and I couldn't be more impressed with the level of quality.
I reached for the key switch, but instead a Ford GT push button had taken its place, but what, no key? Suddenly I remembered the original key arrangement and how I hated it, so I smiled, Tom understood. The brilliant push button park brake switch was explained next, that was so easy and convenient. Gripping the six-speed shifter felt perfect. positioned the same as a new Mustang GT. It reminded me of my 2015 Mustang GT, perfectly placed.
The sound may be what is most notable when you start to move forward. Revology teamed with Borla and designed an exclusive performance system in durable stainless steel. The clutch was smooth and consistent and gearing from the 8.8 felt perfect. It was hard to stay reserved, but I had to remember it was freshly off the line and ready for delivery. The interior overall is familiar but deceptively improved. Everything looks so authentic but even the carpet is Italian weave. Interior sound is quieter than I expected, and Scarpello discussed the special sound-reducing materials while I drove. No time for the radio for this ride but Tom explained the system's power and surround sound. I immediately noticed the effectiveness of the brakes and how balanced the suspension felt while accelerating, then stopping. Corners were absolutely grin inspiring and I couldn't get enough. With a couple of gear changes it was clear that the substantial horsepower and weight advantage made this car something special.
Overall the choice of wheel size, tires, brakes, and suspension settings felt perfect. The lack of rattles and annoying gear sounds made me think back to 2014. This car truly represents something significant.
After a stop back at the shop Scarpello explained all the model choices, color combinations, interiors surfaces, wheels types, brake packages, suspension upgrades, transmissions, and now the new engine option. It sounded a bit custom I thought, but Scarpello pointed out that options at Revology are much like what you get with any new car purchase. The choices come from a menu similar to what other manufacturers offer. He said, "We like to keep the quality at the highest level possible, so we don't stray from the developed options that are tested and approved. When you order from the Revology menu, options are plentiful and address most desires." Revology does offer a Custom Shop option, but that is separate from manufacturing. The company continues to explore the needs of customers and one other offering happens to be the option to restore your original donor body. Scarpello said it then has an additional option to go forward into a full Revology build process, saying that for nostalgic reasons some customers will want to have a family original upgraded.
It was exciting to experience two fantastic Shelby Mustangs made available by one of the most prestigious replica builders in the world. Personally, I could not have enjoyed the day more. The team at Revology welcomed me and Scarpello could not have been more gracious. I hated to leave but hopefully I will return soon to see what's next
Thank you, Revology Cars and Tom Scarpello, for the fantastic Revology experience.
Photography by Daniel Lee Maas