500hp 1967 Ford Mustang fastback – flashback

Troy Trepanier was the inspiration for this Aussie-built classic

Photographers: Cristian Brunelli

LOOKING for words of wisdom to hang in the garage, for those moments after you’ve impaled the walls with half the tool kit? Try this: ‘Tackling the problem is half the fun’. And make sure you credit ‘Gino Aiello, 2007’.

This article was first published in the June 2007 issue of Street Machine

Gino’s attitude while building his silver Mustang Fastback is exactly why we build street machines. We do it because it’s not easy and it’s not for everyone. It’s why we admire clever modifications and don’t drive stock Camrys for fun. It’s a doer’s mentality: find the cash and the time, and get over the hurdles.

Gino’s not fazed by having pulled the hard yards, and he couldn’t care less about the outlay and lost nights, because what mattered most was converting the ideas in his head into reality. Not surprisingly, the finished result is exactly what he wanted. And nothing was more important to him than getting the Muzzy’s looks right.

The Fastback was heavily influenced by modern American trends — Gino became animated when he saw Rad Rides by Troy’s FastForward Fastback.

“It was originally going to be a [Gone in 60 Seconds] Eleanor-style thing,” he says. “Then I saw what Troy Trepanier was doing with FastForward on his website. His stuff shits all over Chip Foose.”

Gino didn’t steal from Troy; he was inspired by early drawings but the two ’Stangs were built over the same time period, and on opposite sides of the world. Yes, there are similarities but they’re very different end results.

The Aussie Fastback is more aggressive, has more hardcore motorsport flavour with its hardware, and sits way lower on the airbags.

“The ’67 Fastback is a rare model and I thought the project would always end up looking good,” Gino says. “It was a Californian car. The body was in good condition but needed a lot of new parts.”

It landed with the front-end already reinforced, prepped for a 460 big-block.

Gino had Mark O’Connor at S&J Smash Repairs massage the panels. Although there are no major sheet-metal alterations, there are lots of little exterior modifications that make this Muzzy unique.

“There are no key entries for the doors or boot, the vents on the cowl have been shaved and the exhaust holes on the rear valance were deleted,” Gino says. The tail-lights were frenched and a custom aero-style fuel filler was added for a cleaner look at the rear. Other differences between this car and Trepanier’s include the GT500 Shelby bonnet, windows and exterior trim.

The colour scheme is also unique, a custom steely silver base overlaid with narrower Shale Grey racing stripes, all in DuPont two-pack, applied by David Tonna at S&J. And although the Muzzy is winning trophies, Gino says the paint is straight off the gun: “I haven’t gotten around to flow-coating it yet.”

So what was the hardest part of the build?

“Sourcing workshops with talented and committed mechanics was certainly the hardest task,” Gino says. “After weeks of trying to track the right people down, I discovered them in my backyard.

“I met my mate Vinni Torrelli by coincidence at the start of the project. He was sitting in the engine bay of my car, plug-welding some holes, for the love of it. He’s contributed endless hours to the car, ordering parts and running around, and comes to all of the shows. He loves the car as if it were his own.”

Bar a handful of fittings, the stunning bay continues the shades-of-metal theme, with colour-matched engine ancillaries and restrained use of raw alloy — check out the rose-jointed strut brace — and chrome. The fabricated firewall features a recessed brake booster but for all the show-class detail work, the Muzzy was built for regular street use.

The 351 Windsor is a case in point. Gino originally wanted a crate engine, then a 347 stroker. But nothing he researched guaranteed 500 horses with solid low-end torque.

On the advice of a bloke known as Mopar Mark, Gino arrive at a combination he describes as a NASCAR configuration.

Built by Marco Lauria at Lauria Performance, the engine boasts pricey big-valve Roush Racing 200 heads, forged SRP pistons and a race-prepped bottom end. Running a serious Comp Cams-ground solid bumpstick and topped by a 750cfm Holley double pumper, it dishes out the required 500hp at 5700rpm on 98RON PULP.

That sounds like a top-end screamer but Gino reckons the Windsor’s key is its midrange torque, with 475lb-ft coming on at 4500rpm.

“It’s such an awesome street car,” he says. “It’ll do donuts on a dime!”

The C10 auto runs a TCE 3500rpm stall converter to keep the bent eight on the boil, and snappy 4.11 gears in the nine-inch diff haul the Muzzy briskly off the line and help with those donuts.

While Vinny gets credit for help setting up the suspension, Johnny Barbuto at Classic Mustang Rod Stop undertook the engineering hard yakka. The nine-inch is anchored with a fabricated triangulated four-link arrangement, located using top-shelf Air Ride airbags imported from the US, and Pedders shocks. Now there’s 11 inches of rear suspension travel! The front end gets similar spring and shock hardware but uses 2.5-inch drop spindles for a crazily low ride-height at the push of a button.

Gino chose Billet Specialties SLX45 rims measuring 18×9 up front and 20×10 under the rear, a size combination that’s perfectly matched to the Fastback’s big-hipped Coke-bottle shape.

The real attention-grabbers, however, are the custom brakes. They’re six-piston units up front and four-pots at the rears, with 345mm discs all ’round and a Falcon master cylinder.

“I found R-Leigh Engineering, which makes the brakes for Elfin Sports Cars, and it custom-made everything. Stopping power is incredible.”

Inside, the Muzzy is high impact with minimal mods. The Scheel bucket seats, from an 80s Ford ESP, have been ‘tombstoned’ and redone in black leather by Carlo at Reservoir Motor Trim. Bar the custom centre console, Billet Specialties tiller, Dakota Digital gauges and modern seatbelts, it’s all classic Mustang stuff.

Despite winning trophies, Gino’s attacking the Muzzy again. He says that while it looked great air-bagged, he’s re-engineering the suspension and wheel/tyre package to improve the cornering: “I want it to handle to modern performance car levels.”

So, any other short-comings? “My partner loves the car but she gets headspins during circle-work and can’t take the g-forces!”


Colour: DuPont custom silver and grey

Engine: Windsor 351ci
Heads: Roush 200
Cam: Comp Cams solid
Internals: SPR forged pistons, balanced crank, shot peened con rods
Induction: Holley 750cfm DP
Exhaust: Custom 1¾in tri-Y extractors, dual 2.5in system with Magna Flow mufflers
Power: 500hp @ 5700rpm
Torque: 475ft-lb @ 4500rpm

Gearbox: C10 three-speed auto, TCE 3500rpm stall converter
Diff: Ford nine-inch LSD with 4.11:1 gears, three-inch tailshaft
Brakes: DBA 345mm discs (f&r), custom R-Leigh Engineering six-piston (f) and four-piston (r) calipers, Ford Falcon master cylinder

Trim: Tombstoned Scheel racing buckets, black leather
Steering: Billet Specialities GTX-01 Half-Wrap
Shifter: Quick Slider with custom console
Instruments: Dakota Digital

Suspension: Air Ride airbags with 2.5in drop spindles (f), airbags with triangulated four-link arms (r), Pedders shocks, Noltec bushes
Wheels: Billet Specialties SLX45 rims 18×8.5 (f), 20×9 (r)
Tyres: Falken 235/35 R18 (f), 265/30 R20 (r)

Wife Lisa for support, understanding and encouragement; Vinni, Dave, Mark, Mick and Frank, S&J Smash Repairs (03 9357 9944); Johnny Barbuto, Classic Mustang Rod Stop; Marco Lauria, Lauria Performance; Neil Davis, Ramsey Auto Electrical; R-Leigh Engineering; Reservoir Motor Trimmers (03 9460 4553); Rob, custom work