Jonathan Danaskos’s pro street 1965 Ford Mustang

Jonathan Danaskos's street-driven Mustang toughie blends classic style with a show-winning finish and 10-second timeslips

Photographers: Ben Hosking

SOME punters reckon early examples of the Ford Mustang are a bit limp, but Jonathan Danaskos’s wicked-tough ’65 ’Stang headbutts that opinion into a low orbit with its fat stance and 620hp small-block Ford. A regular cruiser on Sydney streets, it’s also run a 10 at the track – and is still neat enough to take out the Slam Champion award, the top gong at Summernats Slam!

First published in the March 2021 issue of Street Machine. Photos: Ben Hosking

“The car was pretty much built by my dad and me – actually, mostly my dad, Sam,” laughs Jono. “We call ourselves Danaskos Garage. Dad has had a ’66 Mustang since I was a kid, so I was always getting a Mustang! Back when I got my licence, everyone was into the turbo Jap stuff – I had a pretty quick Toyota Starlet GT – but V8s were always where my heart was.

With son Levi already Mustang-mad, there are now three generations of Danaskos blokes who love Ford’s pony car. “Our house is filled with V8 noises now,” Jono says. “I was hooked after going to the drags with my dad since the early 90s and watching him race his ’66 Mustang. Dad still has his Mustang, and it’s nearly done after a full resto in similar style to the ANML”

“When I decided to sell my TC Cortina Super Street drag car, I kept the motor and ’box, as I was on the hunt for a Mustang roller. A red coupe popped up on eBay on the Gold Coast, and the flights were booked that night! The Cortina was good fun and ran mid-nines, but it was time for a tough streeter to enjoy with the family and the boys.”

The Mustang was bought as a rolling shell and in factory trim. Jono and Sam cracked on and had it on the road by May 2015, in time for Jono’s son Levi to arrive. It was a regular sight at cruises around Sydney, but the work didn’t stop.

Rocking a set of 17×4.5 and 15×10 Weld V-Series hoops wrapped in 26×6 and 295/55 rubber, the Mustang rides on King Springs and Calvert shocks up front, while the rear retains leaf springs, plus Calvert shocks and traction bars. Brakes are Wilwood discs all ’round

In 2016, Jono took the coupe to Brad Grech at Ultimate Metalworks to have the rear end opened up for more clearance. “The factory Mustang rails curve outwards, so Brad swapped them from left to right so they run inwards and give more room for a big tyre,” Jono explains. “He also moved the leaf springs inboard so I can fit a 295 tyre under there. I always loved a tubbed ’64-’66 coupe, as they just look so right. There’s just something about big radials tucking into the rear quarters; the pro street look is definitely a winner in my book!”

Offsetting the fat stance is a classic colour combo of Blaze Red on the first-gen Muzzy’s iconic shell with a black interior, with the twopack Glasurit laid down by Brett from Ingham’s Restorations. “I want the outside to be factory style, but smoothed out, without the badges and whatnot,” Jono explains. “I like the lines, but I wanted to spice it up.”

The reverse-cowl bonnet should clue in Mustang fans that 65ANML doesn’t run a stock A-code 289 anymore. Jono’s plan all along involved the pony car packing plenty of grunt, and he’s dialled that in with a 620hp small-block!

“When we took the motor and ’box from the Cortina off methanol, we fitted a much tamer hydraulic-roller cam that would be perfect for street/strip duties,” explains Jonathan. “After a lifter failed and wiped out the cam, we had Louie Katsiaras redo the motor, which should see it deep into the 10s next time out, as I ran a 10.9 on an old set-up with less power.”

Displacing 370ci, the refreshed SBF is still based around a Dart Windsor block, but it now uses AFR 205cc heads, CP slugs, an Eagle crank and rods and a Comp solid-roller in place of the tamer hydraulic stick. While some might expect to see a throttlebody and brain box perched atop the Parker Funnelweb single-plane intake, 65ANML rocks an APD 950cfm four-barrel carb drinking 98 premium unleaded.

Along with lashings of polished and painted parts, a Moroso sump holds the black gold, while a Holley 150 pump supplies the go-juice, before JBA headers and a twin 3in system expel the burned-up liquid dinosaurs. An MSD 7 box and coil, and an Aussie Desert Cooler radiator round out the super-clean bay

“It’s the perfect street car,” Jono says. “It takes the wife and kids to the park and for ice cream, and can also drive to the track as-is and run a 10, and then drive home with no tools, jack or stands needed. If you haven’t seen me cruising around Sydney then something is wrong, as I drive the wheels off it!” Behind the grumpy little-block lives a 5000rpm, eight-inch SDE torque converter and a transbraked C4 built by Al’s Race Glides, while a tough, shortened nine-inch resides out back. Filled with a Truetrac centre, Strange Engineering 31-spline axles and 3.7 gears, it has a heck of a job getting the grunt to the street.

“The engine bay was the last major thing it needed,” says Jono of the beautifully smoothed and detailed power barn done by Brad from Ultimate Metalworks. “I wanted a tough car – one I could drive, and one that looks really good. It’s got to have balls, but I still want to be able to drive it!”

Jono certainly drove it hard during the fight for Slam Champ at the inaugural Summernats Slam. He took out Top Coupe and a Top 10 spot in show judging, finished strongly in the motorkhana, and put together a decent – if traction-limited – pass down the Sydney Dragway strip on Sunday morning to lift the trophy away from a bunch of show and competition cars.

“People ask me what is next for the car, but look at it; it’s done!” he laughs. “It’s pretty much the perfect street car for me, so I’ll just keep driving it.”


Paint: Glasurit Blaze Red

Brand: Dart Windsor 370ci
Induction: Parker Funnelweb
Carb: APD 950cfm
Heads: AFR 205cc
Camshaft: Comp solid-roller
Conrods: Eagle H-beam
Pistons: CP
Crank: Eagle
Oil system: Moroso sump
Fuel system: Holley 150 fuel pump
Cooling: Aussie Desert Cooler radiator, twin 12in fans
Exhaust: JBA headers, Flowmaster mufflers, twin 3in system
Ignition: MSD HVC coil

Gearbox: Ford C4, transbraked
Converter: SDE 8in 5000rpm
Diff: 9in, Truetrac centre, Strange Engineering 31-spline axles, 3.7:1 gears

Front: King springs, Calvert shocks
Rear: Leaf springs, Calvert shocks, Calvert traction bars
Brakes: Wilwood discs (f & r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood

Rims: Weld V-Series, 17×4.5 (f), 15×10 (r)
Rubber: M/T 26x6x17 (f), M/T ET Street 295/55R15 (r)

Louie Katsiaras for the donk; Al’s Race Glides for the killer C4; Brett ‘Chookie’ Ingham at Ingham’s Restorations for the paint and panel; Brad Grech at Ultimate Metalworks; George’s Prestige Detailing; all the boys: Adam G, John P, Jason at Rocket, Shadi T; my brothers Jamie and Christian; my mum Marina; my wife Lana and kids Levi and Milani – love you guys. Thanks for letting me do what I love; last but not least, my dad Sam