In history, Crazy Horse was known as a fierce warrior and visionary leader determined to preserve the lifestyle and traditions of the Lakota people. Boyd Coddington couldn't have named his vision of the ultimate Pony better. A '65 fastback packing a mean punch, and respectfully recalling the original Mustangs from Ford, Crazy Horse is fitting.
Boyd's Hot Rods of La Habra, California rehabilitated this Mustang on the Discovery Channel program American Hot Rod for Scotty Gray as a birthday gift to his wife, Nancy. The show depicted the car as a white on blue fastback discovered in a barn, forgotten and neglected with years and years of unknown history behind it. How many of us have had that fantasy? Boyd's talented team quickly went to work turning the forgotten relic into a Stang of heroic magnitude worthy of the name Crazy Horse and filling the bill of Coddington's interpretation of the ultimate classic Mustang street car.
The Gray's own an automobile auction company in Texas, and cars make up both their professional and personal lives, owning an extensive collection of cars centered around hot rods. Knowing that Nancy's birthday was quickly approaching, Scotty purchased this Mustang to fill an automotive void she has had since the 1964 debut of the car. The daughter of a car dealership owner, the Mustang was one of those things that ignited her soul, but it was as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster.
"I grew up in that era, and back then that was the car to have," she commented. "It was the popular one, it was the fun car, and there has always been a unique lifestyle associated with Mustangs."
But, as fate would have it, she was dealt a hand favoring a 1965 Buick LeSabre sedan as the chariot of her youth, a car that could be a fresh ride today, but in the day was simply known as grandpa's car. But her husband and the AHR crew were bound to change all that some several years later with one of the ultimate Mustangs.
Swooping into action, Boyd and the gang drew up renderings of what a pony g-Machine should look like. This practice allows the team to see the same vision, ensuring good communication and an understanding of the ultimate goal. In the end, the rendering of Crazy Horse and the actual car are chillingly close, something of a success in itself.
Initially, the team thought that they were dealing with a pretty straight forward car showing only a well-worn appearance. But like most projects, the Pandora's Box within emerged, showing several dreadful layers of work to be addressed. Television production companies hate this kind of news, after all, long shoots call for bigger budgets, but Coddington's crew was undeterred. The car was broken down to its uni-body self, revealing oodles of rust munching away at the front clip and floor of this 40-year-old pony.
"The whole front end of this car was replaced," said Scotty. "Everything from the motor mounts to the A-arms are custom built."
After cutting away the rusted-out metal and crafting and welding in the fresh alloy, Boyd's went about ensuring this Pony would have tenacious grip. From the shoot, early Stangs were never well regarded for corner-taming abilities, nor did they possess particularly impressive stopping prowess. The ultimate Mustang has to be quick, fast, and intelligent, meaning it will be able to stop and corner more on par with a Corvette or Viper instead of being a secretary's car. Not a small order to fill. The goal would demand a chassis package that would vastly improve the handling dynamics of the car while reinforcing it structurally.
Boyd's fabricated a custom independent front suspension, rack and pinion, subframe connectors, engine and tranny mounts, and added a Boyd 4-Link rear suspension. Carolina Performance Racing and Flaming River products were used to create a good deal of the steering and suspension geometry, including a massive front sway bar and four-wheel discs to replace the nightmarishly inadequate drums. Keeping all things level, stiff QA1 coilovers sit at all four corners. A Currie 9-inch with 3.90:1 rear gearing promised terrific acceleration off the line as Goodyear 225/45R17 up front and 235/55R18 out back handle the asphalt grabbing. Boyd one-off original 17- and 18-inch rims complete a rolling package as unique as the car itself. The result was a lower stance and a higher level of confidence. Now the Stang would better handle the road and the new engine going under the hood.
"It handles more like a real sports car now," said Jim Rizzo of Boyd's Hot Rods. "It's tight, it rides really well, the body doesn't rattle or jiggle, it handles imperfections in the road without fault, and corners with a flatness Mustangs aren't known for."
The factory 289 was a fun engine in its day, but its day had come and gone. Replaced by a Ford Motorsports crate 342, the li'l pony now packs 400 horses and 390 lbs.-ft. of twist. The cast-iron block is mated to aluminum X303 GT-40 heads and a single-plane Victor Jr. manifold. The cast crank and hypereutectic pistons work in a 10:1 compression symphony fed by pump fuel with fire by a Ford billet distributor. It's an awesome match for a car pushing the scales just north of 2,500 pounds, and makes one thing painfully obvious: it's blisteringly fast.
"The car is awesome, but that engine is unbelievable in a car that light, and it's really the meat and potatoes of the Mustang," said Nancy. "The power is phenomenal, it's built exceptionally well, and just sounds incredible."
Considering Crazy Horse's somewhat neglected past (finished by a tire-popping TV burnout by the Boydster himself), the panel alignment and overall finish is inspiring to say the least. Boyd Yellow was sprayed all around, and silver racing stripes split the middle. At first mention, yellow and silver sound sickeningly disjointed, but Crazy Horse proves the audacious combo works.
"I always like to be a little different, and this car is," said Nancy. "When people hear about it, they wince a little bit, but when they see it, it's a different story."
California Mustang supplied factory-style door handles, bumpers, gas cap, and window trim which play well off the silver stripes and help keep the eye-popping yellow from blinding anyone examining the body. The concept also allows the car to keep with some of the original design cues.
Inside, the aging gauges and camera-case black bezel have been aced in favor of sharp Autometer Carbon Fiber Ultralites with fitting yellow markings nestled into a lightly brushed aluminum bezel complementing the glove box door with the same treatment. The radio that once separated the two elements has been replaced with a black void. The seats remind one of the Pony pattern from Ford, but with modern design cues like striated vinyl insets framed with smooth bolsters. The seat splitter has also been modernized, with a rounded design covered in the striated vinyl of the seat insets. A satin finished Lokar aluminum gear knob controlling the 4-speed overdrive built by Dr. Evil is at the helm of the console.
Crazy Horse not only blends in well with the Gray's personal collection, but also settles (with compounded interest) Nancy's desire for a Mustang. Crazy Horse respectfully preserves the original heritage of the Mustang, bringing with it gobs of distinction. Somewhere in the great beyond, a Lakota is probably smiling.