There's little doubt as to the enduring popularity of pony cars, but scan the aisles of most car shows and one will usually find an overwhelming presence of Camaros and Firebirds. GM's F-body line may have been a late arrival to the party started by the Ford Mustang, but they sure made up for it in the aftermarket.
While the Mustang has managed to hold it's own over the years, the crew at Year One thought blue oval enthusiasts could use a little extra inspiration to help combat GM's one-two pony car punch. The fact that Ford was celebrating the Mustang's 40th birthday in 2004 only served as further motivation for creating this unique g-Machine.
Based on the overwhelmingly positive reaction to their first two project cars (a '69 Camaro and a '67 Chevelle), they decided a '66 Fastback would be next in line for their royal treatment. Year One Project Manager, Dennis Roberts originally sold everyone on the idea of doing an AF/X-inspired Mustang and with the help of staff designer, Phil Brewer, the two came up with a concept that fell somewhere between a basic hot-rodded street machine and an over-the-top, engineering exhibit on wheels.
It would've certainly been easy enough for Year One President Kevin King to pick out a car, commission a rendering and hire a big-name builder, but they keep things in-house for a reason. "We build these cars as design and engineering exercises. It keeps us in touch with the hobby and allows us to work extremely close with the manufacturers," says Keith Maney, editor of web content at Year One.
This process allows Year One to gain firsthand experience with parts and suppliers, which in turn helps them select products to fill their catalogs. One such item they hope to add in the near future is the Thunderbolt-inspired hood. Testing the prototypes on this car allows them to resolve fitment issues before the hoods get into the hands of their customers.
In addition to offering a welcome aesthetic change, the teardrop-shaped hood offers more clearance for the Kenne Bell supercharger mounted on top of Ford's modern version of the "Cammer" engine--a 4.6 liter DOHC V-8. Concealed under the custom air cleaner, the supercharger delivers between 20 and 24 pounds of boost, depending on which Metco pulley they have installed. Brad Brand has been dialing in the FAST engine management system on the car and currently has it producing about 620 horsepower to the rear wheels.
The wide profile of the modular V-8 had other clearance issues in the engine bay, but they were resolved with the addition of a weld-in front suspension system from Martz Chassis. "We had good luck with the Martz chassis on a Nova we built for Paul Walker and we wanted to update the suspension on this car anyway. To be honest, that was about the only way the engine was going in it," admits Maney. A Martz four-link style rear suspension system was also added in the rear and QA1 adjustable coil-overs now soften the ride on all four corners.
The Martz four-link eliminated the need for leaf springs, which allowed Jeff Georges, Jimmy Kerlin and Johnny McDonald to mini-tub the rear. The additional clearance created by Year One's fabricators made 295/35-series BF Goodrich drag radials and 18x10 Budnik Fontana Dishes an easy fit. Even with such a wide footprint in the back, Maney claims the Mustang still suffers from "severe traction problems" when the stampede of torque finds it way into the Moser 9-inch rearend. The massive spike in performance necessitated improvements in the braking department, so 13-inch binders from SSBC were installed all the way around and a six-point cage and G-Force harnesses were added for good measure.
All of Year One's project cars are built with the intention of running the Power Tour, so durability and functionality are high priorities. To promote trouble-free operation, the Cobra's T56 6-speed tranny was brought in and fortified with a RAM clutch and Kirban shifter. The transmission installation proved to be the most difficult aspect of the build, as extensive fabrication was required to enlarge the tranny tunnel. The upside is that the six-speed offers tolerable cruising rpms on the highway, which wouldn't have been possible otherwise, especially with a set of 3.73 gears out back. Even with the extra gears, cruising range would have been limited by heavy feet and a stock tank, so a 22-gallon fuel cell from Fuel Safe was dropped in the trunk.
The interior follows a similar theme to the exterior, where moderate upgrades greatly improve the functionality of the car without going beyond the reach of the average enthusiast's ability to duplicate. Bucket seats were plucked from an '87 Mustang GT and reupholstered by Lamar Stevens, who also installed the carpeting. A Rockford Fosgate stereo system was added for cool tunes and Vintage Air now provides cool breezes.
The one area that did receive a little extra effort was the instrument panel. "We've done custom dashes on every car we've built so far and it's become one of our signature points on each build. One of the ways you can modernize these vintage cars is by updating some of the really dated aspects of them and typically, the dash areas look old," says Maney. Roberts and Brewer came up with the design, which features a full complement of Autometer Cobalt gauges. Year One's in-house fabrication team was then handed the task of incorporating them into the display in seamless fashion.
When it came time to select a paint scheme for the exterior, numerous discussions took place regarding the impact of the carbon-fiber hood on the overall theme. "We knew we wanted to keep the carbon-fiber hood unfinished and it was going to look funny if we didn't do something on the front end. The accents on top of the fenders, in the pillar vents and on the back end added enough black to make it look right," explains Maney. "Then we went back and forth between flat black and gloss black and ended up somewhere in the middle."
The rest of the car is covered in Azure blue, which is an exclusive color on new Mach 1s. Primers and clears were supplied by Southern Polyurethane and laid down by Jerry and Brian Williams at the Willfab Rod Shop in Cornelia, Georgia. Roberts and Brewer came up with a few other subtle exterior changes, including a fiberglass spoiler integrated into the rear deck and a custom grille that shields a set of Hella driving lights, while allowing more airflow through the lower valance near the intercooler.
The project was started in earnest in the fall of 2003 and completed by March of 2004, so the car could debut at the Mustang's 40th anniversary celebration in Nashville. Since then, it has completed the Power Tour long haul from Texas to Wisconsin and picked up a top-5 finalist award for PHR Street Machine of the Year at the Goodguys PPG Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.
If Mustang fans dig this car as much as we do, Year One will probably list all of the parts on their website, as they did with their NOV8TR Camaro. We've already spotted a clone of that car on the Power Tour and we predict this Mustang will have a similar impact.
Year One would like to thank the following people for their special help in building the faskback: Phil Brewer, Jr., Dennis Roberts, Jeff Georges, Jimmy Kerlin, Johnny McDonald, Kevin Orr and Brad Brand.