WHEN you’re building a car to the calibre of Bob Boyce’s 1968 Mustang fastback by yourself in the shed, you’ve got to keep your nose to the grindstone. Bob picked the car up in October 2018 with the hope of knocking it over in 12 months, but may have underestimated the monumental amount of hours the job required. In actual fact, there were 2300 of them, and it’s a credit to the man that he managed to dedicate that volume of time to the project and see it through to completion in less than two years, all while juggling a full-time job, a wife and five young’uns.
This article was first published in the November 2020 issue of Street Machine
“It was no easy task!” he assures us. “There were a lot of long days, nights and weeks in the garage. I began sharing pictures of the build on my Facebook page and it quickly started to gather a following; the classic Mustang crowd is an awesome group of people.”
The level of interest in the build grew to the point that Bob decided to establish a Boyce Customs Facebook page (@boycecustomcars) and YouTube channel (youtube.com/boyce1020), which no doubt kept him accountable for any lack of progress, if not motivated to work! “I’m not very good at presenting or producing videos, but I had a lot of fun doing it and sharing info that I hope will help others as they build their own cars,” he says.
The first thing Bob did when he got the car home was go right to work with the welder and plasma cutter, adding bracing and then removing the entire front clip, firewall, floor, rear quarter panels, inner and outer wheelwells, boot floor and chassis rails. It’s fair to say that he removed more than he kept, being the roof, sills, and A- and B-pillars.
If you haven’t already joined the dots, Bob resides in the land of the free and the home of the brave, and with the Mustang being one of the most popular cars with modifiers and restorers alike, aftermarket support is plentiful to say the least.
“I knew that I wanted to go with the late-model Coyote engine, so I made a call to Mustangs To Fear and ordered their full front subframe with radiator support, smooth engine bay panels, front suspension, steering, brakes and transmission crossmember,” Bob says. “Most of my replacement sheet metal is Dynacorn brand purchased from CJ Pony Parts, including the upper and lower cowl, firewall, full floorpan, rear quarter panels, inner and outer wheelwells, boot floor, tail-light panel, bootlid, hood and one door. The rest of the sheet metal was OEM parts that I sandblasted and repaired, or managed to source.”
The rear end was overhauled with an AJE four-link rear subframe, 8.8in diff, custom adjustable control arms and Viking coil-overs, as part of a comprehensive chassis make-over. Rear stoppers are SVT Mustang discs, while the fronts are Wilwood six-piston jobbies
With the front half of the car suitably modernised, Bob reasoned that the Mustang’s factory leaf-spring suspension was a little outdated. So he went for AJE’s rear four-link subframe system, which was designed for the Fox-body/SN95 8.8-inch housing and four-link assembly, with custom adjustable control arms and Viking coil-overs. He then set about mounting the Ford Racing DOHC Coyote engine.
“My entire theme for the build was a clean, modern-looking twist on the famous Bullitt Mustang,” Bob explains. “I did not want any extra wires, hoses or electronics out in the open if I could help it, so the engine harness was extended so that I could mount the ECU behind the kick panel in the passenger footwell. I mounted the Optima red-top battery in the boot with a Taylor aluminium battery box to keep the clutter to a minimum.”
The Coyote looks right at home in the Mustang’s engine bay, but the conversion was made easier by the Mustangs To Fear front end and deletion of the strut towers. Bob hid the wiring and plumbing to keep things looking clean, while the engine provides ample shove thanks to a free-flowing exhaust system, Mustangs To Fear intake system and custom-tuned Holley EFI computer. Air con and hydraulic power steering make it nice to live with on a daily basis
Once the drivetrain and suspension had been mocked up, the car was torn down again and hung on a rotisserie to prep the underside and engine bay for paint. Bob did spray-outs of a few different colours and was leaning towards the 2019 Mustang Bullitt colour Dark Highland Green, but in the end it was just a tad too dark for his tastes. Then a friend showed him the 2019 Audi Sonoma Green, and he fell in love right away.
Next, Bob reinstalled all of the suspension components, which had been powdercoated by his friend Brad Decker, and started wiring the engine. “Allan Peterson from Painless Performance got me set up with the chassis harness, which I made some alterations to in order to keep all of the front lighting wires out of the engine bay,” he says. “I got the car running in April of 2020 and pulled it out of the garage under its own power for the first time in 36 years!”
The Mustang required a fairly comprehensive rebuild due to rust and considerable damage from a front-end collision. Here we see it mounted to the rotisserie with the damage repaired and aftermarket front end in place
The car was a runner, but fabrication and bodywork are Bob’s favourite aspects of building cars, so he attacked the exterior with great enthusiasm. Achieving the perfect fit with some of the aftermarket sheet metal proved challenging, but as you can see from the pics, the end result is stunning. Bob threw on a few coats of primer and blocked the car back, before ensuring that his garage was surgically clean and laying the paint on in May this year.
“NOW that the car is complete, I’m very excited to take it over to Doug Helman (right), who is the gentlemen I bought it from,” says Bob (left). “It was his daily driver for most of the 1970s, and I know it was tough for him to let it go, so I’d like to show it off a little and take him for a ride. I have kept in touch with Doug almost weekly throughout the entire build, but he has not seen any pictures of the car since it was in primer. Keep an eye on my YouTube channel for the video of his reaction and first ride in the Mustang!”
“After the car was painted, I took a break for a couple weeks before colour-sanding and buffing, then moved on to assembly,” Bob says. “Erik and Trevor from Rt 11 Glass Plus came out and installed the new front and rear windscreens for me while I straightened and polished the original stainless trim. All-new weather stripping was installed, as well as the remaining exterior trim.”
From there, the car was dropped off to Dan Colangelo at CRC Fabrication for the custom-built, polished stainless exhaust, and while Bob was nervous about letting someone else work on the car for the first time, he attests that the system looks and sounds incredible. From there, it was off to Danny and Matt at Justice Off Road for a full alignment, then home again to complete the interior fit-out.
The Mustang’s cabin still retains its factory flavour, with some tasteful enhancements to make it more comfortable and modern. These include TMI Sport-R seats; a Shelby-style custom timber and aluminium tiller; custom single-piece Mustangs To Fear headlining; TMI centre console with custom shift boot and bezel; Classic Instruments AutoCross-series cluster; and an E-Stopp push-button park brake
“Again I reached out to Rich and Michele Smith at Mustangs To Fear and picked up their killer one-piece moulded headliner, which has a nice modern look and allows for some extra headroom, as well as their full-custom moulded boot interior kit,” Bob says. “Next I went to work installing the air con, carpet and floor mats, then the TMI Sport-R complete front seats, the rear seat wrapped by my sister-in-law at BJane Design, and the TMI centre console and DashesDirect dash. All of the remaining OEM fastback rear interior panels were carefully sandblasted and repainted in semi-gloss black, with thanks to my friend Chuck Crouse for giving me one of the panels out of his personal car when I couldn’t find one in time.”
Brandon Conner at Attitude Street Cars handled the ECU tuning, before Bob’s cousin Cameron Boyce drove down to do the very photoshoot you see on these pages, immortalising the finished product!
Bob is already eyeing off his next project; a ’66 Mustang coupe to which he plans to fit either a 2JZ or Barra turbo six-pot. Trust us Aussies, Bob: go with the Barra!
1968 FORD MUSTANG GT
Paint: Audi Sonoma Green
Brand: Ford Gen 1 Coyote
Induction: Mustangs To Fear intake
ECU: Modified Ford Racing control pack
Fuel system: Walbro 255lph
Cooling: Mustangs To Fear alloy radiator with twin thermo fans
Exhaust: Custom stainless headers, 2.5in stainless exhaust system, MagnaFlow mufflers
Ignition: Ford Racing coil-on-plug
Gearbox: Tremec T56
Clutch: Spec Stage 2 10.5in
Diff: Ford 8.8in
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: Mustangs To Fear front subframe, QA1 coil-overs
Rear: AJE rear subframe, triangulated four-link, Viking coil-overs
Brakes: Wilwood discs and six-piston calipers (f), SVT Cobra discs (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: US Mags Rambler; 17×7 (f), 17×9 (r)
Rubber: BFGoodrich; 245/45/17 (f), 275/40/17 (r)
My wife Tammy and kids Katelyn, Chloe, Wesley, Tyler and Ashlyn; my dad Bob Sr and my brother Dan; my great friend and mentor Reynolds Fortney; Allan Peterson at Painless Performance; Rich and Michele Smith and Dan Peters at Mustangs To Fear; Bill Tumas at CJ Pony Parts; Michael Morrow at MustangSteve; Chris Guzman; Speedy at SST Performance; Chuck Crouse; Dan Colangelo at CRC Fabrication; Matt Small for showing me Sonoma Green; Cameron Boyce at Cam Boyce Photography; Jim Gladhill at Mid County Paint Sales