Like the rest of the car, the engine combination is one of useful pragmatism, not useless overkill. The 302 small-block has been bored 0.030-over and fitted with 11.0:1 TRW forged pistons. They reciprocate via stock connecting rods with upgraded SPS bolts and a stock crankshaft, which are plenty stout for this moderate rpm application. For smooth operation and long engine life, the rotating assembly has been internally balanced. On the top end, out-of-the-box Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum heads are fed by a Vic Jr. intake manifold and a Quick Fuel 650-cfm carburetor. A mild Crower solid-roller cam, which maintains excellent idle quality and low-rpm drivability, bumps the 2.02/1.60-inch valves open with the help of COMP Cams 1.6:1 rocker arms. What the motor may lack in cubic inches and cubic dollars, it makes up for with a Zex perimeter-plate nitrous system, adjustable from 100 to 300 hp. Lighting the fire is an MSD ignition system, and cylinder pressure escapes through a set of JBA headers, Dr. Gas collectors, and Flowmaster 2.5-inch mufflers.

As coveted fastbacks become even more scarce and more expensive, it's no surprise that more enthusiasts are building Mustang coupes. And why not? They're cheap, plentiful, lightweight-and from '67 on up-feature more commodious engine bays and brawnier, manlier styling. There's no shortage of parts, and for not much dough, you can build a killer street machine. Enough of the rambling, the proof is in the sheetmetal. Kevin put his car together for a total investment of $27,000. Sure, twice the cash could build you a fastback, but would you have twice the fun? Probably not.

After spending 10 tedious years restoring his Mustang from the ground up, Kevin is making sure that he rewards himself for his efforts. He takes it out for a long drive at least two or three times a week as long as it's not too hot outside. The Top Loader and 3.89:1 ring-and-pinion set yield more engine buzz on the freeway than he cares for, so an overdrive tranny is next on the hit list.

While it's true that Kevin scored a nicer hand-me-down car than most, it's quite amazing that he had the sense to hang on to it for all these years. How many people can say that they still own their first hot rod? Over the years, he's earned a degree, gotten married, raised two kids, and bought a house, but his Mustang has been there through it all. "Needless to say, my father is real proud of the car and what I did to it," he says. We'd have to agree.