Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
July 1, 2009
Our coupe, er, we mean fastback, with all sheetmetal in place and tack welded for mediablasting. Once it's mediablasted and finish-welded, Drake Customs will wrap up our project by installing its own inner structure kit, fastback trim and seat mounting kit, and our Heidt's Superide II front suspension crossmember. You can see all of that next month.

Last month we got under way with our '68 Mustang project by shipping it to Arizona for the boys at Drake Customs to tear into. Not only were they going to find and fix every inch of rust on our northern beauty, but they were going to perform their specialty--converting our tired coupe to a fresh and ready-to-roll fastback body--for our project. The issue was, before they can work their presto-change-o on our body they had to have a solid foundation to work with. This meant many hours of metal repairs and panel replacement just to get to the point Drake could start the fastback conversion itself. We tackled the rusty stuff last month, so now we're ready to move forward with our fastback conversion this month.

Last month we tackled the Mustang's main structure; the floorpan, trunk floor, and rear framerails. This month we're going to install the front framerails and floor supports and start on the actual fastback conversion. The floor supports are welded in first. These are from Dynacorn as well and fit their floor perfectly. Careful measurements were taken before all of our rusty metal was cut away so Ramon knows exactly where they need to be before striking an arc with the MIG welder.

By now you're probably asking is it worth the cost to do a fastback conversion? "Why didn't you just start with a fastback?" we've had a few people ask us. There are several reasons we're taking this route. First and foremost, it's tackling something new. We're in an era where all of the sheetmetal to make this conversion is available in reproduction. No more cutting up a damaged fastback to use for a conversion. Secondly, coupes were built by the tens of thousands and are the most plentiful body style out there, meaning they're cheap and easy to come by. Sure, fastbacks are out there, but are often out of the financial reach of the typical buyer, and how often do you find a fastback shell only for sale? It's usually a complete project or a rusty original needing a lot of work. So you're going to pay a premium on the fastback and then put thousands into it to fix it up, while the coupe will set you back easily half the cost of the fastback (and often less), leaving you plenty of green left over to pay for the conversion.

Now you also have the option of a Dynacorn complete reproduction body shell (and one of the reasons we should be thankful for all of the available sheetmetal now on the market). The Dynacorn body is a work of art and is the right choice for some people. Unfortunately, several states make replicas, kit cars, and Dynacorn-body-built projects very difficult to title and register. Building from a coupe, like we are, means we have a Ford VIN (albeit for a coupe), and a clear title, before we pick up the first hand tool.

Ultimately, the decision is between you and your accountant (make that wife), but for our project the Drake Customs conversion was the perfect answer. We got into a Mustang coupe for cheap (mainly due to the rust and accident damage), the conversion cost less than buying a solid fastback to begin with, and the coupe VIN doesn't bother us when we're building a modified car anyway with cut shock towers, Heidt's Superide II frontend, 4.6L modular power, and other goodies. So hold on to your hats as we go from coupe to fastback in the next eight pages with the crew from Drake Customs--Ray Carmody, Ramon Aguayo, Jesse Villaroel, and Len Harris.

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