1965 Ford Mustang fastback

An expat Kiwi, living in the UK and working in F1, builds a Yankee muscle car

Photographers: Jason Dodd

SHAUN Parker calls his ’65 Mustang fastback ‘divine MADNESS’, and after hearing him explain why, it’s something a lot of street machiners can probably relate to. “I grew up sailing in New Zealand and I had a yacht named ‘divine MADNESS’,” he says. “I love the contradiction of how something or someone can be divine yet mad – maybe a bit like myself at times.”

This article was first published in the January 2020 issue of Street Machine

Shaun has put a modern twist on the classic blue with white racing stripes combo. The blue is based off the Red Bull RB8, the first F1 car he worked on, while the stripes are pearl white

Shaun’s love affair with Mustangs goes all the way back to when he was nine years old and getting dragged around a car show by his dad.

The D.M.351 logo references the car’s name – ‘divine MADNESS’ – and its 351ci Windsor powerplant. The name comes from a racing yacht that Shaun was involved with back in NZ

“It was love at first sight: the sleek styling with the long hood and grilles, which remind me of shark gills,” says Shaun. “I had met my dream car and could only dream of one day owning one. Well, 27 years later, I decided that the time was right.”

The Santa Pod sign should give you a clue that this US pony car now resides in the UK

Ordinarily, getting hold of a Mustang is a piece of piss – after all, they made millions of them – but these days Shaun spends his time in the UK working for the Red Bull Formula One team, and American muscle cars are pretty thin on the ground over there.

Shaun had been on the lookout for a fastback for a couple of years, waiting until the right one popped up. The problem was, the prices kept going up and up and he didn’t want to compromise with a coupe body style. Finally, a suitable candidate showed up at South Coast Mustangs. After checking it out a couple of times, Shaun bit the bullet.

“Initial thoughts were that she needed a light amount of engine work and I could enjoy her straight away, so I took the plunge and purchased my first classic car,” he says. ”Once I got her and started digging in deeper, I discovered that she wasn’t in the best of shape. It’s amazing how much filler, thick paint and underseal can hide. She was full of rust and rot, but I was in love and I was determined to bring her back to her former glory and more. So, the decision was made to use her as the base to build my ultimate street machine.”

The car was stripped to a bare shell and sent off to the sandblasters, and, you guessed it, only about half of it came back. Shaun reckons about 70 per cent of the steel in the car has been replaced, although Shaun and the team at Silverstone Paint Technology did manage to save the roof.

Shaun wanted to keep the Mustang fairly true to its 60s heritage, but he did make some concessions when it came to braking and handling. Control Freak tubular arms and six-spot Wilwoods are hidden by the 17in wheel and tyre package

One other thing Shaun managed to salvage was the original build sheet, which was tucked up under the dash. For all you Mustang restorers out there, the car was originally a Rangoon Red 2+2 with a black interior, 289 2V, C4 auto, a/c and a GT twin exhaust, which would have made a nice cruiser, but come on, the guy works for an F1 team so that would never cut it.

Shaun sold off the original driveline to other Mustang owners and he sourced a 1969 351 Windsor block and treated it to a new set of Ford Racing GT40X heads, Edelbrock Performer intake and 750 Holley. It’s pretty mild, but still should make at least twice as much horsepower as the old 289 made on its best day and hopefully not break the bank when it’s time to fill up the tank. Keep in mind, fuel prices are a lot higher in the UK, somewhere around AU$2.50 a litre at the moment.

The side scoops were purchased in fibreglass but didn’t meet Shaun’s exacting standards, so he 3D-scanned them and had them replicated in carbonfibre

Not surprisingly, being a New Zealander, Shaun likes his cars to go around corners as well, so he spent a bit of time updating the suspension and stiffening the chassis as much as he could.

“I’ve got a mate who is heavily involved with FIA 60s race cars for the whole European circuit, so I said I needed to get the chassis as stiff as I could, because they do twist,” Shaun says. “So we added convertible torque boxes, subframe connectors, the prop shaft safety loop has longitudinal braces as well, and we stitch-welded the shock towers in after they were reinforced to the frame rails.

“I didn’t want to go to the extreme of some of the burnout cars with a blower and stuff, but one day, if I get a bit bored with this and I want to do something extreme with it, I want to have a solid chassis underneath it.”

Shaun wanted to keep it simple out back and opted for Maier Racing leaf springs, adjustable Viking shocks and adjustable Panhard bar

That solid shell provided the perfect platform for a few suspension upgrades, so Shaun sourced a set of Control Freak tubular arms and combined them with a set of Viking adjustable coil-overs and a Shelby spindle that features a one-inch drop. The steering has been updated with a rack-and-pinion kit from Steeroids, and there’s no problem washing off speed thanks to the Wilwood Forged Billet Dynalite brakes on all four corners.

After purchasing a fibreglass bonnet that wasn’t quite up to scratch, Shaun replicated the bulge onto a steel bonnet to make sure there’s plenty of room for the 351 Windsor

Shaun’s job title at Red Bull is Senior Buyer, so he manages all of the purchasing for the composites department. So it’s not surprising that, as Shaun puts it: “Every nut, bolt and part has been researched the life out of, and a decision made on what I believe is the best option to fit. No expense has been spared, even to the point where every non-structural fixing is stainless steel and the structural hardware is either Grade 8 and above or ARP.”

Shaun spent a lot of time researching the parts that he wanted for the car, and if he couldn’t afford them at the time, he waited until he could. That stretched the build time out from the expected two years to around four-and-a-half, but the results speak for themselves.

Shaun says the biggest challenges have been dealing with the bitterly cold English winters and the restrictions of working in a one-car garage, but he also admits he’s had some good mates help out along the way.

A neat little panel in front of the shifter mounts the important gauges and switches. The ‘EXHAUST’ switch activates the Granatelli cutouts that bypass the mufflers and let everyone know Shaun’s coming!

“I won’t deny, industry friends have been most generous in offering their time and expertise to allow me to build such a car and I couldn’t have done it without them. Lessons learnt while I was building race cars with Prodrive and Aston Martin Racing have helped, along with contacts and friends made here at Red Bull Racing F1.”

Admittedly, we don’t all have friends in F1, but it goes to show that regardless of where you are or what you do for a crust, bringing an old car back to life is a surefire way to make new friends and bring old friends closer together.


Paint: Custom Matador Blue and Pearl White

Type: Ford Windsor
Capacity: 351ci
Inlet: Edelbrock Performer
Carb: Holley Street HP
Heads: Ford Performance Racing SVO GT40-X
Valves: 1.94in (in), 1.54in (ex)
Cam: Comp Cams XR282RF hydraulic-roller; .513in (in), .526in (ex); dur: 282deg (in), 289deg (ex)
Pistons: Keith Black hypereutectic
Crank: Ford
Conrods: Ford
Radiator: Custom dual-pass aluminium radiator with PWR Performance core, Revotec fan
Exhaust: JBA Performance headers, twin 2.5in exhaust, Granatelli cutouts
Ignition: MSD 6AL, Pro-Billet distributor, MSD leads and coil

’Box: Ford AOD
Converter: Ford
Diff: Ford 8in, Eaton Detroit Locker, 3.55:1 gears

Front end: Control Freak tubular arms, Global West strut rods
Rear end: Maier Racing leaf springs and adjustable Panhard bar
Shocks: Viking adjustable coil-overs (f), Viking adjustable shocks (r)
Steering: Steeroids power rack-and-pinion
Brakes: Wilwood Forged Billet Dynalite; six-spot (f), four-spot (r)

Rims: Rocket Racing Booster Hyper Shot; 17×7 (f), 17×8 (r)
Rubber: Nitto NT555 G2; 225/45/17 (f), 245/45/17 (r)

My gorgeous fiancée Jenny; Mark Turner and the team at SPT; Rob Dowe; Pete Whitfield; Jon Payne; Quinny; Ralphy; David at Knight Engine Services; Kim at All Wheel Trim; Daryl at Osprey Metal Finishers; Andy at SPT; Adrian at DDi; Dave at LKQ; all the team at Summit Racing; Andrew Morrison; CJ Pony Parts; Pagey; Chas; Steve; Neil; ATEC Fittings; Earl’s Performance; Leon; Jas; Addy; Ian Carroll; Crafty; Stef Bridges; James at North Hants Tyres & Wheel; Damon at South Coast Mustangs; Jason Dodd Photography; Cosworth; Gareth at Surface Technology; Tim; Tom at Sweet Fabrication; Nader and Jenny; Al at Control Freak Suspensions; Vince at Mike Maier Inc; Tim at Banbury Blast Cleaning; Alan at Alders Automotive; Ringbrothers. I apologise if I have missed anyone; the support was overwhelming and appreciated