Wild horses couldn't drag him away

BY Larry D'Argis. Apr 07 04:00 am

The Ford Mustang received its first significant restyle in 1967. The car launched in mid-1964 and the upgraded design maintained a close following to its original theme. Available as a hardtop, 2+2 fastback and convertible, it continued to retain its 108-inch wheelbase, but grew in other proportions. Bodies were stretched two inches longer and a marginally wider engine bay was designed to accommodate a new big-block V-8 engine option.

In 1968, the Mustang changed little in appearance other than the addition of government-mandated side marker lamps and the replacement of rear quarter side vents with a cleaner piece of chrome trim. Additional improvements in handling and braking were also included, but these were minor unless the buyer opted for the GT package. Despite competition from other manufacturers, with other pony car offerings, the Mustang continued to be a major player in the sales arena.

Another contributor to sales success in 1968 was the debut of the movie Bullitt. Legendary actor Steve McQueen rolled onto the screen as Lieutenant Frank Bullitt, driving a Highland Green ’68 fastback — and in an iconic 10-minute chase scene, the car emerged an instant film icon.

In 2006, Bruce Neufeld of Dugald was looking for a classic vehicle project when his wife, Wendy, told him about the Mustang in her cousin Dave’s barn. Dave had started to restore the 1968 Mustang fastback and it had already been a 25-year project for him that had stalled. Knowing Dave needed a half-ton truck for the farm, Neufeld drove over in his ’95 half-ton with a bottle of whiskey and the horse-trading began. It was a long evening, but by the end of it, the Mustang was headed home with Neufeld.

This was originally a lime gold car equipped with a 289-cubic inch V-8, but Neufeld started out by completely dismantling it. “Once I got it all apart and took a long look at it, I knew I needed to get some help,” Neufeld says. He called Len Penner at Penner Performance in Blumenort and they put together a restoration plan that entailed the car becoming a secondary project, getting worked on when the shop experienced slow business.

To get the body in shape they installlated new floor panels, door skins and rear quarter panels, then reworked some of the rust issues with the original front fenders. Following that came a full-body preparation and application of the high-gloss black paint finish, with silver pearl Le Mans stripes over the entire car.

Bumpers, trim and taillamp bezels are all new. Complementing the look is a set of American Classic aluminum slot mags with 15-inch BF Goodrich T/A radial tires.

For power, Neufeld was looking at purchasing a crate motor, but Penner sourced a 302 from a 1985 Mustang. Bored and stroked to provide 347 cubic inches, the engine features regular fuel-friendly 9.0:1 compression, Dart cylinder heads, Comp Cams hydraulic performance camshaft, aluminum intake manifold and Holley 750 double-pumper, four-barrel carburetor. Spark is provided by a Pertronix Ignitor ignition module and chrome one-wire alternator. Exhaust is handled by a set of Doug’s ceramic-coated, Tri-Y, ceramic-coated headers leading to a full custom dual exhaust system with Flowmaster 40 series mufflers. Topping it off is a set of aluminum valve covers, K&N air filter and for cooling duties, an electric fan with aluminum radiator.

The Cruise-O-Matic three-speed automatic transmission was retained initially, but Neufeld recently swapped that out for a more performance-oriented Tremec T5 five-speed manual transmission conversion kit from Modern Driveline. Complete with Hurst shifter and hydraulic clutch, it leads back to the 8-inch 3.55:1 posi rear axle. The combination provides great performance for the Mustang, registering a respectable 355 rear-wheel horsepower on the chassis dyno at Wall’s Rod & Custom. The old factory wiring was replaced by Neufeld with a full Painless Wiring kit. The factory drum brakes have been replaced with full four-wheel disc kits to ensure the Mustang stops as good as it goes. Inside the passenger compartment, Tim Hiebert at Mr. T’s installed new supple black leather upholstery for the Mustang and there’s an upgraded stereo to keep track of the road tunes.

Neufeld has the Mustang rebuilt and upgraded to where he wants it to be, and it’s been on the road since 2009. A member of the Manitoba Street Rod Association since 2014, he’s looking forward to the new cruising season and the club’s upcoming 18th Annual Rodarama Car Show, April 28 to 30 at the East End Arena, 517 Pandora Ave. East. It’s time to pull ’em out, shine ’em up and put ’em on display.

Today, the Milestone Car Society recognizes the GT and GTA models as milestone cars. For the rest of the Mustang lineup, its popularity continues to increase with collectors and enthusiasts alike. The convertible and fastback models lead the pack, but the more affordable coupe is swiftly gaining momentum. You just can’t keep a good horse down.

57ford@mymts.net

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