Barra-swapped 1967 Mustang convertible

This California-style Mustang cruiser was rescued from a rusty demise and now hides a boosted Aussie heart

Photographers: Ben Hosking

Matt Roberts had his first encounter with an early Mustang as a wide-eyed apprentice mechanic. “I had to drive a ’66 GT coupe into the workshop, and I thought it was such a nice car. I’ve wanted one ever since,” he says. More than 20 years later, Matt has realised that dream and taken it quite a few steps further, turning this 1967 Mustang convertible into much more than just a nice resto.

First published in the May 2022 issue of Street Machine

This isn’t Matt’s first rodeo. He’s done a wide variety of engine conversions for other people, and even piloted a Mk1 Escort pano with a nitrous-huffing 202 and big tubs back in the day. But it wasn’t until 2016 that he decided it to revisit his desire for a Blue Oval pony car. “I was originally looking for a coupe, but this convertible came up on eBay and my wife Tina said, ‘Put in a bid; let’s see what happens,’” Matt says.

The ’Stang arrived on a tilt-tray from Adelaide, but it was immediately apparent that what had been described as a car with “the usual rust spots” was, in fact, a Windsor-powered colander. “My brother gave me shit for buying a compliance plate, not a car, and he wasn’t far wrong!” Matt laughs.

Matt knuckled down and spent the next three years crafting the bright blue cruiser you see before you. The first job was to replace all the rusty tin with fresh metal, and it would be quicker to list the parts of the body that weren’t consigned to the scrap bin. While he was in there, Matt replaced the entire front suspension with a Heidts Mustang 2 weld-in jobby for much- improved handling and a substantial increase in engine bay real estate.

Although Matt knows his way around anything mechanical, he reckons his panel beating skills leave a little to be desired. So, he called on his mate Kerry to straighten out the panelwork before the now rust-free shell was lathered in Brittany Blue from the 1967 Mustang colour chart.

Tina stipulated that the ’Stang’s operation had to be fuss-free, so Matt went looking for something modern to replace the crusty 302. Enter an Aussie favourite: four litres of Ford Australia’s finest force-fed six-cylinder shove. Squeezing the Barra into the relatively diminutive Mustang engine bay was no simple task, but Matt, suitably armed with a MIG and grinder, got stuck in. The firewall was pushed back and the shock towers were removed so that the low-mount turbo and standard inlet manifold could fit. The engine is a stock-standard BA item with a Process West plenum and some extra boost, but since the Mustang weighs a good 500 kilos less than the donor Falcon, it scoots along at a fair clip. “In a straight line, it leaves our 2017 Mustang GT for dead,” says Matt.

Matt rebuilt the BA’s BTR auto with High Energy clutch plates and replaced the Mustang’s diff with a shortened nine-inch filled with 4.11 gears and the Muzzy’s original 28-spline axles. The BA that so generously donated its driveline also gave up its brakes. so this Mustang stops a lot better than they ever did in the 60s. Burnt gases exit the turbo through a 3.5-inch cat and custom 2.25-inch twin system that Matt tucked up as high as he could under the floor.

While the interior looks basically like a standard ’67 Mustang’s, there are lots of little details that mark it out as special. A safety upgrade was necessitated by the drastic increase in pace the Barra delivers over the original Windsor, so Matt went to a lot of trouble to fit modern inertia-reel seatbelts for all four occupants. The column was binned in favour of a collapsible Ididit unit, and the tiller is an item plundered from one of Matt’s trips to SEMA that really matches the 60s styling. The ’69 seats were given a birthday by Jason at Technic Trims & Sunroofs before he wrapped them in brand-new Mustang vinyl, along with the dash, console and rear-quarter trims. Mustang buffs will note that the dash is not original: “I wanted the woodgrain dash, so I had to change to one from a ’68,” Matt explains. “There are little differences between them, and I didn’t want to drill any holes in it, so I moved things like the wiper switch into the centre console.” Cruising tunes are provided by a Pioneer head unit hidden in the boot and speakers tucked into the kick panels.

“We originally wanted to build a nice daily driver, and somewhere along the way that turned into a true restomod,” Matt says. The car even picked up the People’s Choice trophy at the first show Tina and Matt took it to, even though it wasn’t quite finished at the time. Now Matt has turned his attention to his next engine swap: a 1UZ-powered Toyota Bundera for his son-in-law. Then there’s talk of adding a pair of snails to the 2017 GT that ’67 shares the shed with – apparently Matt and Tina can’t stop at just one turbo Mustang!


Paint: PPG Brittany Blue
Engine: BA Falcon Barra 4.0L
Intake: Process West
ECU: BA Falcon
Turbo: Garrett GT35/82R
Fuel pump: TANKS Inc in-tank
Cooling: BA Falcon
Exhaust: Standard dump, 3.5in cat, dual 2.25in system
Gearbox: BTR
Converter: Standard
Shifter: BA Falcon
Diff: 9in, 4.11:1 gears, LSD, 28-spline axles
Front: Heidts front end, QA1 coil-overs
Rear: Reset leaf springs, Pedders shocks
Brakes: BA Falcon discs (f & r)
Rims: US Mags 17×7 (f & r)
Rubber: Falken 235/45R17 (f & r)

The Herberts for allowing the Mustang to become part of their landscape for several years; Thommo for lending us his trailer all the time; Jason from Technic Trims for all the great work on the interior; Danny for helping with the paint; Kerry, Jacko and John for all the help and advice; all our family who have given us support along the way