420bhp tuned 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback

Ford Mustang Mk1

420bhp tuned 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback

A story of vision, determination, a black book full of talented Motorsport engineers, and a stunning ’65 Fastback.


Old school American bruiser built with the modern touch.

If you were surrounded by the pinnacle of F1 engineering day in, day out, what would you drive to get your thrills? Something sharp and clever like an Exige, perhaps? An M2 Competition, maybe? For Red Bull Technology employee Shaun Parker, the answer is simple – a raw, noisy, leaf sprung Mustang.

“We’d unwittingly opened Pandora’s box and there was no going back. I spoke to Mark Turner at Silverstone Paint Technology, and we both agreed we should just go to town on the thing”

For the past five years, this build has been a labour of love for Shaun, as he toiled to fulfil his boyhood dream of owning Ford’s iconic muscle car. “I remember the first time I saw one like it was yesterday,” smiles the effervescent Kiwi, “my Dad took me to an American car show in Auckland when I was nine years old, and it was love at first sight.”

Although the memory never left him, the years rolled by, and Shaun got heavily into competitive yacht racing, which led to a career in composite manufacturing as a racing yacht builder. A relocation to the UK then saw Shaun working in the motorsport industry, building race cars and composite parts for the likes of Prodrive and Aston Martin. With a few quid spare in his back pocket, he started the hunt for his very own Mustang.

Shaun hunted high, and he hunted low, but nothing decent was coming up. Eventually things got so desperate that he almost gave up on the whole idea, and started looking at Capris instead.

Thankfully, right at the last minute Damon at South Coast Mustangs called and told him to take a look at a car he had just got in. Shaun laughs, “It had been painted black with a brush, but the brightwork and glass was good, everything was factory spec and, most of all, it was complete.”

A deal was done, and a plan was formed to tidy up a few bits and keep it as a driving project, upgrading along the way… Until he started digging around. “One day Damon and I took the carpets out to check out the floors properly, which are notorious for rust,” remembers Shaun. “The good news was that it had new floors… The bad news was they had simply been bolted to the original rusted floors with self-tapping screws.” Further investigation led them to the front seats, which had been mounted on pedestals made out of old road- and shopsigns, again all self-tapped together.

“We’d unwittingly opened Pandora’s box and there was no going back,” he continues. “I spoke to Mark Turner at Silverstone Paint Technology, and we both agreed we should just go to town on the thing.”

Going to town consisted of stripping the car down to a bare shell, shot-blasting it, and spending hundreds of hours painstakingly restoring it before painting it in its beautiful deep blue and pearl white hues. In total, a crazy 70 per cent of the sheet metal has been replaced, with only the A-pillars, roof, rear section of floor and sills remaining original. Shaun remembers, “I filled an entire Transit with parts. If I had my time again I’d do it all differently and get a 40ft container, fill it up in America and bring all the parts back at once. I spent £10,000 on shipping and customs taxes alone, not to mention hours on the internet researching and emailing suppliers”.

With such a huge investment of time, energy and money, Shaun was determined that everything down to the last detail had to be done to perfection. This is where his connections within the motorsport industry came into play, starting with good buddy and Red Bull Racing fabricator Rob Dowe lending a truly artisan hand.

“As well as replacing all of the rot, we stitch welded the shell, and reinforced the chassis with a Mustang convertible torque box, which ties in the front frame rail, inner floor frame rail and rocker panel”, continues Shaun. This really stiffens up the chassis and reduces the flex that classic Mustangs can suffer from when given big power and a big right foot. Some of the parts from the USA didn’t fit well, so had to be painstakingly modified or scrapped and started afresh. A trick example of this ingenuity would be the side scoops: Shaun’s workplace has access to 3D scanning equipment, so they 3D scanned the scoops, tweaked them using CAD software, and one of his suppliers made them out of carbon fibre. Likewise, the carbon prop. Any structural bolts used throughout the build are grade 8 high-tensile steel, and all others are stainless steel. “I know it’s a bit OCD, but I wanted to future-proof it for hard driving and coping with really big supercharged power at some point.”

For now Shaun has to make do without a blower, but with an estimated 420bhp on tap from the Windsor lump it’s no hardship. Another of his friends, Pete Whitfield, is a Mercedes F1 engine builder who happens to have a penchant for putting together V8s as a hobby. “He’s previously built a lovely GT350 replica”, explains Shaun, “and he built me a lovely 351 too. I didn’t want a modern engine swap as I wanted to the car to feel true to the 1960s, to have that simple, honest character and noise of the era.”

This also explains Shaun’s decision to stick with the 8in Ford diff and leaf springs. Basic and antiquated maybe, but with the right parts and when properly dialled-in by people who know what they’re doing, a leaf-sprung live axle car can be devastatingly fast on the track, let alone the street.

Shaun agrees: “I know John Payne quite well. He campaigns FIA race Mustangs including a GT350, and he gave me lots of useful advice on the suspension and running gear.” Tubular control arms, a Panhard rod, and the well-respected Viking coilovers and dampers work with an Eaton LSD to get the ’65 down the road and around the corners. What’s really impressive is that Shaun did most of the final assembly in his single garage at home – hours in cramped conditions, double-jointed contortions and ‘bloody freezing British winters!’

But was all the effort worth it? Does the driving experience match the nine-year-old Shaun’s high expectations?

“People say you should never meet your heroes, or you may be disappointed,” laughs Shaun, “but honestly, as soon as I turn the key, the sound, the feel, and being in tune with something so basic and raw… It’s a huge buzz and better than I ever dreamt it would be.” During the meticulous build, Shaun’s colleagues and contacts in the motorsport industry were more interested in this old Fastback and how it was progressing than some of the highest-profile vehicles passing under their noses. Testament indeed to how evocative and special a classically modified Mustang muscle car can be.

TECH SPEC ‘420bhp tuned 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback

ENGINE 351ci (5.7-litre) small-block Windsor, Keith Black Hypereutectic pistons, 10.6:1 compression ratio, Clevite 77 bearings, ARP bolts, Ford Performance Racing SVO GT40-X ported alloy heads, Comp Cams XR282-RF cam, Comp Cams Ultra Gold rocker arms, lifters and valve springs, FPR valves, Manley pushrods, Edelbrock RPM Performer inlet manifold, Holley Street HP 750cfm carb, Edelbrock Quiet-Flo electric fuel pump, JBA ceramic Shorty headers, custom 2.5in stainless exhaust system with H-pipe and Flowmaster Deltaflow Series 40 muffler, Milodon oil pump and forward deep oil pan, March Performance pulleys, MSD Pro billet distributor, MSD 6AL, MSD Blaster coil and leads, custom dual-pass alloy radiator with PWR performance core, Revotec electric fan, Ron Morris adjustable engine mounts

TRANSMISSION Ford AOD gearbox built by Alders Automotive, Earls Performance transmission cooler, Lentus Composites custom carbon fibre prop, Ford 8in diff with Eaton Detroit LSD and Richmond 3.55:1 gears, Yukon axle shafts

SUSPENSION Viking front coilovers, Maier Racing rear leaf springs with Viking adjustable dampers, poly bushes, Control Freak tubular front control arms, Global West strut rods, Maier Racing rear Panhard rod, Steeroids rack-and- pinion power steering kit, Idiot collapsible steering column, Grenada spindles

BRAKES Wilwood Dynalite six piston front callipers, Wilwood Dynalite four piston rear callipers, Wilwood dual master cylinder with proportion valve

WHEELS & TYRES Rocket Racing Booster Hypershot 7x17in (front) and 8x17in (rear) wheels, Nitto NT555 G2 225/45x17 (front) and 245/45x17 (rear) tyres

EXTERIOR Subframe connectors, structural chassis plating, stitch-welded, ICI (Nexa) custom Matador blue and pearl white paint, RM Chronolux lacquer and epoxy sealer

INTERIOR Corbeau seats with custom trim, Corbeau three-point harnesses, Moto-Lita steering wheel, Ring Brothers billet door handles and sill plates, black vinyl trim, Auto Meter gauges, B&M Mega Shifter, custom carpet, Retro Sound digital head unit, Rockford Fosgate Punch 2x5in front speakers, Rockford Fosgate Punch 6x9in rear speakers, Rockford Fosgate Punch 8in subs, Rockford Fosgate 1000W amplifier, American Auto full wiring loom

THANKS “My gorgeous fiancée Jenny, Mark Turner and the team at SPT, Rob Dowe, Pete Whitfield, Jon Payne, Quinny, Ralphy, David at Knight Engine Services, Kim at All Wheel Trim, Daryl at Osprey Metal finisher, Andy at SPT, Adrian at DDi, Dave at LKQ, all the team at Summit Racing, Andrew Morrison, CJ Pony Parts, Pagey, Chas, Steve, Neil, Atec Fittings, Earls Performance, Leon, Jas, Addy, Ian Carroll, Crafty, Stef Bridges, James at Northants Wheels and Tyres, Damon at South Coast Mustangs, Jason Dodd Photography, Cosworth, Gareth at Surface Technology, Tim, Tom at Sweet Fabrication, Nader and Jenny, Al at Control Freak Suspension, Vince at Mike Maier Inc, Tim at Banbury Blast Cleaning, Alan at Alders Automotive, Ring Brothers. I apologise if I have missed anyone; the support was overwhelming and appreciated”

Old-school muscle – all 5.7 litres of throbbing V8. Cart springs, eh? Try saying that when this 55-year-oldMustang’s left you for dead. Welcome to the house of fun. Uncle Sam’s finest.

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