Car magazines are glass that cannot be broken, steel that cannot be bent, two-seam fastballs that cannot be hit. Despite incessant accusations of blatant submission to advertisers, hidden corporate agendas corrupting editorial integrity, and overall incompetence; for those with organic oil pumps for hearts, getting your car featured in a magazine still stands as the pinnacle of achievement and recognition. True, this smug little diatribe may seem a bit, umm, self-righteous, but you're the one paying to read it. We're getting paid to write it.

Nonetheless, like many enthusiasts before him, Ronnie Killion of Eustace, Texas, was thrilled at the privilege of having eternal glory in the pages PHR, and anxiously looked forward to experiencing the photo shoot firsthand. However, with just a few days more to go until the big day last September, he received very firm orders to come into work--no exceptions. An electric utility serviceman for TXU--who had hundreds of thousands of customers without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina--Ronnie was extremely disappointed, but realized the humanitarian services he would perform took precedence over his own personal needs.

While Ronnie worked feverishly for 13 straight days restoring order to the citizens of a devastated New Orleans, his own selflessness was matched by that of his wife Mary and good friends Ricky and April Williams. The trio drove for hours to deliver Ronnie's '65 Mustang to our prime photo location, and thank goodness they did, for this is one fine stallion whose hooves are as robust as its coat is shiny. A Mustang guy from the time he was a kid, a little nudge was all it took for Ronnie to play the part of rainmaker in replenishing the hunger of a long Mustang-less drought. "I went into a Ford dealership several years ago to buy a new truck, and they had a '68 Mustang just sitting there on the showroom," he says. "It rekindled my passion. During the era I was growing up in, everyone had a Mustang. This is my fifth Mustang overall, and my second '65."

To convince his wife that they needed to undertake a new project, the Mustang was purchased under the pretense it would be Mary's car, not Ronnie's. That did the trick, and he picked up a solid driver that simply needed some bodywork and new paint. Ronnie kept true to his word for a few years, allowing his wife to drive it, but then came the ominous spousal repossession. "Once I started the project, one thing led to another, and soon the car was in pieces and piles all over our barn," he says. "I like all kinds of racing, but I really wanted to give road racing a shot. And since I really like the Pro Touring look, those two factors drove me in the direction of building a g-Machine."

Some may say that real men drive fastbacks, and Mustang coupes have an undeniably feminine appeal. In fact, when Lee Iacocca suggested building a race car out of the early Mustang, the great Carroll Shelby replied, "How can you? It's a secretary's car!" Nonetheless, the march of aftermarket technology through the decades has allowed Mustangs of this vintage to transcend their rudimentary Falcon underpinnings and become veritable road racers. Hence, with the silly dough fastbacks command, perhaps the coupe should be regarded as the thinking man's Mustang and the fastback as the broke man's Mustang.

Stereotypes and unofficial nomenclature aside, Ronnie went to work implementing the aforementioned technology updates to the chassis. First pioneered by Shelby on the original GT350 and now known as the Shelby Drop, Ronnie lowered the front upper control arms approximately 1-inch. The procedure helps the suspension generate negative camber while cornering, and reduces understeer. Moreover, custom subframe connectors provide a solid foundation, and Grab-A-Track springs paired with KYB shocks control wheel movement. Additional roll stiffness comes by way of 1 1/8-inch front and 3/4-inch rear sway bars of unknown origin, and PST Polygraphite bushings take the place of squirmy rubber. A set of 17x8-inch American Racing Torq-Thrust IIs wrapped in 235/45-17 Kumho tires harnesses the lateral loads, and an SSBC big-brake kit up front throw down the anchor.

Motivating the pony is a frugal, yet effective, powerplant that doesn't blow the budget on needless expenses. The 302 small-block has been bored 0.030 over, fitted with forged TRW 9.0:1 pistons, and retains the stock crank and rods. Topping it off are stock iron heads that have been mildly ported and fitted with 1.94/1.60-inch Manley valves. Supporting the primary hardware are a COMP Cams valvetrain, Hedman headers, a dual 2.5-inch Flowmaster exhaust, an MSD ignition, and a Canton 7-quart oil pan. However, the main attraction by far is the Paxton blow-through supercharger feeding a Holley 650-cfm carburetor and Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap manifold. It puts down 329 hp and 322 lb-ft of torque on the chassis dyno. Granted, those aren't exactly astonishing figures, but it's more than enough for street cruising and open-track events.

Fortunately, Ronnie makes sure to put all that hardware to good use. He says, "Since completion, the car has been driven to several cross-country cruises, the dragstrip, and the road course. It is very important to me that the car is driven hard, since that's the most rewarding part of the project." Although we weren't able to perform any instrumented testing on the Mustang to quantify its handling and braking prowess, he says its quickest pass to date down the quarter-mile is a traction-limited 13.20 at 104 mph. The biggest detriment in that arena is the Top Loader four-speed trans and a factory 9-inch rearend out of a Lincoln Versaille plagued with 3.00:1 gears. He assures us a five-speed and a shorter ring-and-pinion set is on the way.

On top of its propensity to gallop gracefully, this Mustang also has a way of wowing car-show judges wherever it goes. The visual motif is more subtle than overt, mixing in sneaky touches like a cowl-induction hood and shaved emblems and rear bumper bolts. The boldest styling element is the Shelby-style GT350 front valence, transforming its countenance into something far too fierce to ever be mistaken for a secretary's ride. JKL Paint & Body (Canton, Texas) finished it off in a coat of PPG Quick Silver FX paint. Inside, the RCI four-point harness straps occupants into '98 Mustang buckets, and the driver faces a set of Auto Meter Ultra-Lite gauges, a Grant Corsa D steering wheel, and a Hurst Competition Plus shifter. There's a four-point rollbar for good measure and a Kenwood stereo. The summer cruises Ronnie enjoys are quite toasty, so plans have already been made to install A/C.

Through it all, Ronnie remains very humble, despite the attention his car receives. "It's more than I ever expected, and I've been really blessed that as many people have been interested in it," he says. "I just don't see it the way other people see it, so it just tickles me." That really shouldn't be a surprise though, coming from someone who passed on the experience of a lifetime to lend a hand in the recovery effort of one of the worst natural disasters in history. "When I found out I had to miss the photo shoot, I was obviously disappointed, and hearing what it was like from my wife and friends made it that much worse. While I was in New Orleans, it was very saddening to see first-hand all the destruction and what people were going through, but after we restored power the people came out to thank us, that was extremely rewarding." Although many of us rank cars second only to breathing on our priority list, thank goodness there are some car guys who are much bigger people than ourselves.