First unveiled on April 17, 1964 (though actually considered a 1965 model), the Ford Mustang drew rave reviews. So much so, FoMoCo reportedly sold several thousand in the first 90 days following its introduction. At the time, Lee Iacocca served as Ford's Marketing Director, and was a strong proponent of this new model. In its earliest incarnations, the Mustang was actually a re-skinned Falcon, and utilized a great deal of the former econo-box's platform. Launched with a base price of $2,360.00, these hot, new, "gotta-have" two-doors were manufactured in Dearborn, Michigan, San Jose, California, and Metuchen, New Jersey.
After meeting Michael Weldon, who hails from Antioch, California, we learned that he's the former owner of a concourse-perfect, 1966 Mustang GT fastback. Later in our conversation, he alluded to the fact that he had restored 14 different cars (all Ford projects), including a '65 Mustang fastback, and later, a '40 Ford coupe - none of which were trailer queens. In an attempt to further demonstrate this gentleman's affinity for the Ford brand, Mike is employed as the Service Manager at S&C Ford in San Francisco.
As with every pristine performance car, this one has a story. During the time he owned the concourse-perfect '66, Mike actually got burned out on "the whole concourse thing," as that type of restoration takes an amazing amount of meticulous upkeep. He happened to be in the Northern California town of Pleasanton one day, and heard a loud car going by. As fate would have it, that car was a really rough 1965 Mustang (A-Code) GT 350 that had taken up temporary residence on a consignment lot in nearby Dublin. Fully realizing its potential, Weldon tracked it down, sold his concourse '66 and bought this GT. That was back in 1996, and he's been massaging it to the condition shown here ever since.
Weldon told us, "I've owned this car longer than any other. It's a real eye-catcher, it's lots of fun, and my wife Cindy likes it too much to let me sell it." He went on to say, "Actually, I think Cindy likes it because it keeps me in the garage, so she knows where I am!" In his spare time, Mike enjoys being a member of the Diablo Valley Mustang Association, and since joining in 1992, he's held every officer's position in the club. Boasting 144 members, we're told it's the largest car club in Northern California, conducting organized tours for members, attending wine tastings, spearheading dyno days, and promoting annual charity events. Mike calls this car, "A keeper, which also happens to be a continuous project." As such, it's the first car he's owned that's in constant change. Weldon said, "I've got a cabinet full of parts ready to be changed in the near future."
At the time he took ownership, Mike was told that the engine had 8,000 miles on it. Knowing the instrument cluster had been swapped out at some time, he disassembled the engine, and discovered the mileage claim was likely to be true. However, the cylinders were bored .030, which brought the block out to 292 cubic inches. A new set of TRW forged, flat-top pistons were hung on stock rods while the bottom end was being freshened up. Maier Racing supplied a six-quart oil pan, along with a special grind, solid-lifter camshaft. The rest of the valvetrain is comprised of an Edelbrock gear drive, ported and polished FoMoCo cylinder heads, and Crane roller rockers. A set of nickel-plated, Tri-Y headers send all the spent gasses rearward through Flowmaster mufflers, and an exhaust system fabricated by West Coast Muffler, in Concord, California. To keep things interesting, the folks at Paxton figured this would be an eye-catching candidate to show off one of its blow-through, centrifugal superchargers for carbureted applications. As a result, Weldon's wild child was displayed prominently in Paxton's booth at the '03 SEMA Show. Naturally, the benefits from the install are two-fold - more horsepower, and much more "wow factor" when the hood comes up. This one features Paxton's fully polished option, along with mounting provisions to locate the supercharger on the driver's side (though available in passenger's or driver's side mounts). The powerful Paxton punch works in unison with a Demon Carburetor from Barry Grant, and bolts to an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake. The interesting combination receives its spark from a complete MSD 6AL system, including distributor, and wires.
Keeping with the GT's road racing heritage, this one's set up to storm the corners when Mike depresses the Centerforce clutch and drops the Ford Racing T-5 transmission down a gear or two. Edelbrock I.A.S. shocks do a great job controlling the suspension travel, as a beefy 1-1/4-inch front stabilizer bar and shortened front coils help the tires grip. Subframe connectors and a four-point roll cage also stiffen the car up. Discs from Stainless Steel Brakes slow the wheel speed on this pony, which finds satin five-spokes from American Racing, and BFGoodrich Comp T/A tires on all four corners. For those of you who happen to love the look of this monster (and who wouldn't), the front tires are 225/50ZR15s and the rears are 245/50ZR15s. Throughout the transformation from "rough" to "ready," Mike purchased components from Mustang Plus (Stockton, CA), Delta Bay Mustang (Brentwood, CA), and Total Control Performance Parts, among a laundry list of others.
The cockpit offers just a bit of comfort, by way of cloth-covered Flow-Fit seats with stylish red piping that adds contrast and appeal. During their cruises and club functions, both Mike and Cindy are held in place with Simpson safety harnesses, while they eyeball the Northern California landscapes over a custom dash fitted with Auto Meter gauges, an Aiwa 100-watt stereo, and a glove box door featuring the signature of Carroll Shelby "hizzself." That alone demonstrates there's a great deal of respect from one Ford guy to another. Body-wise, this beauty features a full fiberglass nose, along with complementing rear flares, all from Maier Racing. Superior Paint, in Livermore, California, applied the Ditzler "Hot Rod Red" two-stage colorcoat, although Mike prefers to call it "Arrest Me Red!" To add a bit of "car guy" humor, his rear license plate frame reads: I'm Not Speeding . . . I'm Qualifying!" With inspiration from his late father, support from his wife, Cindy, and interest from his sons Cameron and Cole, Mike Weldon prefers to do all the work in his home garage - just like his dad taught him. And with that said, it's easy to see that he knows how to put the "Gee" in GT!
Tale of the Tape
Before putting the shiny red GT through its paces, we queried Mike on what his "driving habits" have been, and how he plans to thrash the car in the future. A while back, Mike made some test laps at Thunder Hill and (then known as) Sears Point. However, he stated that the car was (equipment-wise), about 60 percent of what it is now. He wrung it out pretty well, nonetheless, experiencing one of those "g-force" headaches. Later on, Weldon was selected to participate in parade laps at the same tracks prior to the running of the Northern California Shelby Association's Mini Nats. Having a keen interest in the performance/technical aspects of the car, Mike would jump at the chance to put it on a set of corner scales, in order to achieve its ultimate setup, and then compete in some vintage races. Here's what we found during an independent test session at Fontana:
|Performance Data |
|60 foot ||2.60 sec. |
|0-30 mph ||3.36 sec. |
|0-60 mph ||6.61 sec. |
|1/4 mile ||14.54 at 104.82 mph |
|60-0 mph ||165 feet |
|200-foot skidpad ||.83 g |
|420-foot slalom ||43.80 mph |