Paul Thomas’s ’67 Mustang appears deceptively simple from the outside with its jet-black paint and weed-scraping ride height. However, dig below the surface and you’ll find a big Clevor breathing through individual throttlebodies, more barwork inside than the average playground, and lots of clever engineering. The high quality of the finished car was enough to score it a place in the Summernats 34 Top 60, a fitting result for 20-something years of hard graft.
First published in the September 2022 issue of Street Machine
In the late 90s, Paul nabbed the ’Stang from an importer in Melbourne. “I’d had XWs and XYs, but I really wanted a two-door, so I went on the hunt for a Mustang,” he says. “This one was probably a container-filler: it was lime green with green trim, and you could tell it had never had a decent repair in its life because most of the paint was missing!”
Once the Muzzy was in Paul’s possession, it barely made a few trips around the block before he stripped it to its undies to commence what turned out to be a two-decade-long build.
Sixties pony cars are renowned for many reasons, but chassis rigidity is definitely not one of them. With a view to improving this aspect of his car, Paul whipped out the death wheel and relieved the Mustang of its firewall and the entire floorpan. He reinforced the sills with rectangular box section, and RHS tube braces now connect both sides of the car to the original front rails, making for a much stronger body. Paul used cold-drawn tube to build the monster 10-point rollcage that ties the chassis together from front to back. Yep, this ’Stang is now stiffer than a teenage boy sneaking into Sexpo.
The Mustang was dispatched to Shepparton to have Ian Eliason build the custom front suspension and hang the shortened Galaxie nine-inch from a parallel four-link. While he was in there, Ian binned the original steering stuff in favour of a VB Commodore power rack, and fitted a set of custom-built AJ Billet coil-overs to handle the bumps.
Back in Paul’s shed, both the cabin and boot floors were replaced with aluminium sheet, and a custom trans tunnel was installed to allow the engine to be set back so the front sparkplugs are in line with the wheel hubs.
Said sparkplugs are screwed into an angry Clevor whipped up by the crew at BG Engines. Starting with a Dart Iron Eagle block, the guys filled it with a Scat stroker crank, Scat H-beam rods and CP slugs for a total of 403ci. The tops of the cylinders are sealed off by a pair of CHI 238cc aluminium heads, while a lumpy Crow stick sends commands to the Ferrea valves through Isky lifters, 3/8-inch Crow pushrods and T&D roller rockers.
Of course, the star of the under-bonnet show is that glorious Morrison individual-throttle manifold, framed by the billet Shaun’s Custom Alloy rocker covers and custom headers from Paul’s metal man Joe Cane, which snake their way out through the inner guards.
But wait, there’s more! With the engine set back so far, the oil pump wouldn’t clear the front crossmember, so Paul opted for an external Aviaid single-stage pump sucking lube out of the custom High Energy sump. Chris of Jones Racing in Pennsylvania whipped up the front accessory drive system that includes the air con compressor and oil pump, and Sweet Manufacturing adapted the power steering pump to run off the back of the Aviaid.
A Haltech Elite ECU is the brains of the operation, using an MSD crank trigger, a Price Motorsport cam synchroniser and LS3 coils to send almost 650 horses to the Radial T/As.
With the driveline coming along, the shell was shipped off to Joe Cane for some serious massaging and modification. Joe straightened out 50 years worth of bumps and took care of the many body mods. The bonnet was stretched and skinned to meet the repositioned firewall and smoothed plenum; the hip vents were deleted; the front panels were hung from the ’cage; the bootlid was skinned; and Joe whipped up the radiator cover panel and grille surround.
There’s very little wiring to be seen, as most of it is hidden in the front end behind cover panels in the guards. The finished shell was delivered to 2 Wish 4 Customs, where Stephen Darmody slathered it in that inky Protec Onyx Black followed by several coats of clear.
Inside, Paul has continued the theme of originality with a twist, with black loop-pile carpet and the rebuilt factory seats sharing space with the extensively modified dash and custom centre console. The rear pew was never going to be useable with the extensive rollcage, and Paul insisted the exhaust be tucked up over the diff, so Joe built a box to house the mufflers and Hy-Tone Motor Trimming wrapped the top of it with the same vinyl used on the front seats.
While the whole build took over 20 years, Paul participated in the time-honoured Summernats tradition of having to reassemble the whole thing at the 11th hour: the Mustang was but a shiny black shell in October, and the engine was fired for the first time in the car on New Year’s Day!
Once at Summernats 34, Paul was due to park the Mustang in Tuff Street until the judges caught a glimpse of the undercarriage and steered him straight into the Top 60 Elite Hall. Not bad for a ‘container-filler’!
1967 FORD MUSTANG SPECS
|Protec Onyx Black
|403ci Dart Iron Eagle
|Haltech Elite 2500
|Custom twin-core aluminium radiator
|Custom four-into-ones, 3in cats, twin 2.5in pipes, Hooker Aero Chamber
|Powerglide, Soderstrom full-manual valvebody
|9in, Moser billet axles, Truetrac, 4.11:1 gears
|Custom IFS, AJ Billet coil-overs
|Custom four-link, AJ Billet coil-overs
|Wilwood discs and calipers (f & r)
|Center Line Auto Drag; 15×5.5 (f), 15×10 (r)
|Pirelli P6000 185/70R15 (f), BF Goodrich Radial T/A 295/50R15 (r)
Joe Cane for all the custom metalwork and body mods; Stephen Darmody for the paint; Ian Eliason for the suspension; BG Engines; Al’s Race Glides; Morrison Motorsports; Al Marrick; Lang’s Differentials; Snowflake Powdercoating; Shane at Motorsport Connections; Neil; Rod; Scarey; Rob at Sydney Mustang; Allan Lock for the glass and trim; Keith; Hy-Tone Motor Trimming; Zac; Dale at Castle Hill Performance; Astor Metal Finishes; Sydney Driveline Service.