Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
February 28, 2007
Photos By: Jerry Heasley, Dale Amy

Originally, this special-tech feature was planned as an all-encompassing Mustang Restomod Guide. But as we delved into the subject, we realized the restomod movement has grown well beyond a single magazine section, so we decided to split the guide into four sections over four issues. This month, we're looking at some of the most popular exterior modifications for vintage Mustangs. Next month, we'll tackle the drivetrain-engine, transmission, and rearend-followed by guides to restomod the suspension and the interior.

Stock to Restomod
While restomod incorporates a lot more than appearance, looks can make the restomod. In this case, George Huisman transformed the appearance of a '69 Mach 1 from stock to restomod by replacing the 14-inch factory wheels with 17x8-inch Torque-Thrust IIs from American Racing. The car's stance was improved with lowering blocks and front springs as part of National Parts Depot's all-in-one suspension kit, PN 5000-2A. The original drum brakes weren't very impressive behind the larger, open-spoke wheels, so George replaced them with Baer four-wheel discs, filling the wheel gaps with wicked-looking slotted and drilled rotors.

Yipes! Stripes!
One of the most popular Mustang restomod themes captures the look of original Mustang musclecars, only the appearance is even more muscular. One way to obtain a vintage-musclecar look is through the use of stripes. Most utilize factory versions, such as GT or Shelby rocker-panel stripes, Mach 1, or Boss, some varying the theme by changing engine-displacement numbers or vehicle designation. Shelby LeMans stripes are also popular. Replacement stripes are available from most Mustang parts vendors. A company called Graphics Express not only offers original ones, but it also customizes them. For example, '69 Boss 302 stripes can have another displacement number replacing the "302" or '65-'66 GT stripes can come without the cutouts for lettering. They are also available in custom colors.

Over-the-top stripes are found in many forms-single, narrow/wide/narrow, and so on-but by far the most popular are the dual stripes made famous on the '65-'66 Shelbys, known as LeMans stripes. These are typically painted on. Originally, the stripes were wider at the front than at the rear, preventing the optical illusion of the stripes narrowing when viewing the car from the front. The dimensions for the '65-'66 Shelby stripes can be found in the Tony Branda Performance catalog or on the Web site at

Bring On The Billet
Restomod is stretching beyond the usual scoops, wheels, and stripes, and moving into the street-rod realm with the introduction of billet-aluminum accessories similar to these '65-'66 taillight bezels from K.A.R. Auto Group. As used on K.A.R.'s STE Classic Mustang, the bezels are a quick visual upgrade compared to the original chrome versions.

Hot Eleanor
The Eleanorized '67 Shelby blasted into our world with the debut of Gone in 60 Seconds in 2001. Now they're everywhere, even as '65-'66 models, and their popularity won't go away. Even Carroll Shelby jumped on the bandwagon with the GT500E continuation Shelby from Unique Performance, an alliance that has resulted in the availability of a GT500E body kit. The kit includes all the components needed to convert a '67-'68 Mustang into an Eleanor look-alike: hood, nose, headlight and rocker panels, scoops, rear decklid, and taillight panel. Installation and color choice is up to you.

Curses, Spoiled Again
A number of factory Mustangs utilized spoilers, starting with the rear ducktail on '67 Shelbys. With the introduction of the Boss 302 in mid-'69, front and rear spoilers became all the rage for Mustang musclecars. Factory front spoilers and rear pedestal wings are readily available from Mustang vendors, while aftermarket versions are offered for '65-'68 Mustangs.

One of the neater things about the Mustang Project sequential-taillight kits is the simple installation.

Sequentially Speaking
Sequential taillights were originally used on '67 Shelbys, but the blink, blink, blink idea can now be utilized in all vintage Mustangs, thanks to LED technology and the creative minds at Mustang Project. With these kits, adding sequential operation is as simple as replacing the taillight bulbs and flasher unit. Even better, the LEDs are much brighter than bulbs, providing a measure of safety. Kits are available for the '65-'66, '67-'68, '69-'70, and '71-'73 models. Conversions to Shelby-style taillights are also available.

From Mild to Wild
Mustang restomod builders are a varied group-some like 'em hot, while others prefer a stealthy look. Either way is fine with us.

Mark Binding went to extraordinary lengths to keep his '65 convertible looking factory original. Underneath the stock appearance is a restomod demeanor. The engine is painted black and has the detailing marks of a '65 289; in reality, it's a Ford Racing M-6007-XB3 long-block with aluminum heads and high-lift B303 camshaft. The drivetrain is completely restomod with a Ford Racing World Class five-speed, cable shifted, backed by an 8-inch rearend with Precision Gears' 3:80 cogs and an Auburn limited-slip differential.

On the other hand, there's nothing stock-appearing about the creations from the Ring brothers, who have become well-known for their customized vintage Mustangs. The '65 Mustang fastback shown here was Mike and Jim Rings' second creation, after their original GT-R restomod Mustang convertible was voted one of the Top Five Street Machines of '03 by the Good Guys organization. As Jim says, "Modified can't be bolted on. Modified is what comes out of your mind."

R is for Race
To funnel more cooling air through the radiator for racing, Shelby created what has become known as the R-model lower valance, a modification that continues to serve its original purpose while providing a more muscular appearance. Today, fiberglass versions are available from Tony Branda Performance for use with or without the front bumper.

Wheels Make The Machine
As we showed with George Huisman's '69 Mach 1, wheels can transform a Mustang from the restored and stock look to modern restomod. The current trend leans toward "larger is better," with 17-inch and taller wheels commonly installed. Vintage styles, such as American Racing's Torq-Thrust and the Halibrand style made popular by the Eleanor Mustang, are among the most popular. With restomod, you can do anything, which makes any aftermarket wheel fair game.

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Boys And Their Hoods
Like so many of the Mustang mods for the past 40 years, the hoodscoop is a direct take-off from the raised openings used on '65 Shelby GT350s. We've seen several variations, from production Shakers and Mach 1 scoops to more radical tear-drop and snorkel hoods from drag racing. Some function to ram cooler air into the engine, while others serve to remove hot underhood air. Tony Branda Performance offers a number of Shelby-style hoods for Mustangs.

Stock It's Not
This restomod look has a nice stance and the larger wheels from a late-model Mustang. At first glance, it's a show-worthy '68 GT fastback with modern wheels. A closer look reveals the drivetrain and suspension is from an '01 Mustang Cobra, as built by DVS Restorations. You can learn more about this car in the Feb. '06 issue ("The Ultimate Mustang," p. 20)

Lighting the Way
Brighter than standard bulbs, the halogen tri-bar headlights from K.A.R. are a functional addition to any vintage Mustang. Because older wiring harnesses weren't designed to handle these high-power headlights, K.A.R. supplies a wiring harness to provide the shortest possible distance between the power source and the lights, resulting in maximum brightness.

In the Details
While scooped hoods and big wheels generate immediate impact, the small details go a long way toward completing the restomod look. The emblems from Factory Muscleparts, available from many Mustang parts vendors, are a subtle way to show what's underhood. Engine displacement emblems, including 5.0- and 4.6-liter "High Performance," as well as stock and stroker displacement, are great for the front fenders, while the power-adder emblems, including "Supercharged" and "Turbocharged," look good on the trunk.

Scoops and More Scoops
Sidescoops are another popular add-on from the Shelby catalog of performance parts. Utilized on the '65-'70 Shelby Mustangs, the lower scoops funneled cooling air to the rear brakes-well, sort of, seeing how there was just a small opening in the rear fenderwell. The upper scoops on '67-'70 fastbacks extracted warm air from the interior. All of the scoops are available today from Tony Branda Performance.

Fastback Slats
Similar to the Shelbys, the '69-'70 Boss Mustangs also provided bolt-on components for today's restomods. Rear window slats, also known as louvers, first appeared on the '69 Boss 302, but became a favorite option and accessory for '69-'70 Mustang fastbacks. They're still available from most Mustang parts vendors.