For many Ford fans, the Mustang is the pinnacle performance car. They came with the classic go-fast recipe of big engines and light weight. But as the industry has moved to Pro Touring, it's been hard for the Mustang to follow. What was an OK suspension 40 years ago is archaic today. And unlike a double A-arm front suspension, the shock tower construction of the Mustang's front suspension is not the easiest to modify for better handling. That was all the motivation that Lonny and Jason Childress needed to build a Mustang that could dish it out to competitors on a road course.
The brothers are the driving force behind Gateway Classic Mustang and Gateway Performance Suspension. Not too long ago, they developed several suspension, brake, and steering kits for early Mustangs. Then they decided to build a car for the company that could demonstrate the performance potential that these cars have, and to help further refine their products. Behind their shop, they had several desolate parts cars, and they chose one of these, a '68 Mustang coupe, as the starting point for their new project. They wanted to build the Mustang like a modern-day road-race car but stay true to the classic cues of a vintage Pony car. They wanted the sheetmetal to remain stock-no radiusing the wheel openings or flaring them out to gain more tire clearance. The interior would retain the factory appearing dash instead of an aluminum panel screwed to the rollcage. From the outside, this car would look like a mean street car with a few stickers on it. On the inside, it would be all business, but still be recognizable as a Mustang.
It was a good plan. And to top it off, they had a TV show offer to feature the car if they could get it done within a four-month window. The brothers set the team at Gateway Classic Mustang to work, thrashing to meet the deadline. The rusty hulk was freed from its resting place and dropped off at Redi-Clean for a chemical dip. What came out of the dip was a decent roof, rocker panels, inner structure, and that was about it. The rest of the sheetmetal was gone or needed to be gone.
The next call was to Dynacorn for all-new sheetmetal for the car, as well as a fiberglass hood. The crew at Gateway Classic Mustang went to work welding in replacement floors and quarters, and shaping the new fenders and doors so that everything fit well. After the metalwork was complete, they moved on to body filler and block sanding. This was going to be a race car that happened to be street legal, but as a calling card for the company, they also wanted the body to look good. A more aggressive look was achieved with the Dynacorn fiberglass hood that features a '67 GT500-style hoodscoop. Gateway Classic Mustang quarter scoops are molded into the body right behind the doors, and a race-inspired front valence was grafted in that features a large opening for increased airflow to the radiator.
Partway through the build, the TV show got cancelled. This would allow them to back off if they wanted to, but their original deadline also coincided with the Mid-America Shelby meet in Tulsa. They decided that this would be the perfect show to debut the car, and a good way to kick off the event season. They kept the team at full throttle to finish the project.