"Find what you love and do that." That's the advice we've heard more than a few times from older entrepreneurs who have hit it big. Figure out what you're good at, and what you love to do, and doing it will eventually lead to a career, or at least a reasonably content life.
Those of us in the automotive industry figured that out and generally love what we do, whether it be manufacturing, building, or—like your trusty Popular Hot Rodding scribes—writing about, driving, and working on cool cars. This makes life more fun, unlike many of our friends who have to get up every day, put on a suit, and crunch numbers for bosses who like to scream at them about reports or similar nonsense. Kevin Tetz is one of those people who found his niche doing one of the things he grew up dreaming about.
Kevin's name will sound familiar if you've ever contemplated body and paintwork; his "Paintucation" series of videos on all sorts of paint and body techniques has been hugely popular. You may have also seen his byline in some street rod and Ford-specific magazines, and you might recognize his face from the Trucks! TV show, which he cohosts.
Growing up in British Columbia, Canada, Kevin was always around cars (thanks to his family) and from an early age became a self-described Mustang freak. He ended up in Tennessee doing paint and bodywork, where his outgoing personality and ability to coherently explain things led to his series of videos. He turned his restoration shop into a studio and began creating the Paintucation videos, which caught on so well that Eastwood began marketing them. That opened the door to a hosting gig on the Spike and DIY networks. Through the videos and the television series he ended up building some great hot rods for other people, but that left little time to work on any of his own stuff. Kevin's connections in the industry, however, allowed him to meet a ton of cool people. He says, "People came through our building at the studio who I respect and I picked up a lot of ideas." One of the people he met was T.C. Penick from Bay One Customs in Springfield, Tennessee, who would help with his latest project in a big way.
Kevin's Mustang proclivities and the bank of ideas he was filing away finally coalesced into a build for himself, an early Mustang with all the abilities of a modern car. Kevin says, "I like the silhouette of the Mustang but wanted a car that would start, stop, and run great." He bought a "rusty turd" (his words) 1966 Mustang coupe back in 2002 when he was writing for Mustang Monthly and Modified Mustangs & Fords magazines, with the intent of using its carcass as a guinea pig for rust-repair stories, but after putting a ton of sheetmetal work into it, Kevin says, "The car got to the point where it was good enough that it needed to be saved."
By the time the car's shell became decent again, a friend bought a wrecked '04 Mustang Cobra, complete with the "Terminator" supercharged DOHC 4.6L and six-speed transmission—the perfect combo to help meet his performance goals—so the plan was set into motion to mate the Cobra guts to the early shell. With the drivetrain figured out, Kevin turned to one of Jeff Schwartz's complete G-Machine chassis, saying, "It solves all the problems of performance in an old car. It ties everything together and uses proven, well-built suspension parts that work. It frees all the sins of a unibody car and allows me to put any engine I want in the car." If you've ever tried to shoehorn a huge 4.6L DOHC mill between the shock towers of an early Mustang, you know that it's nearly impossible without major surgery.
The Schwartz chassis turns the flexible Mustang into a full-frame car with a modern-style suspension and you don't have to cut the floorpan out of the Mustang—in fact, the only cutting, welding, or drilling involved is very basic and easy. The chassis comes without brakes but there are options for a basic Wilwood street kit or two more hard-core Baer kits, but Kevin went straight to the source and worked closely with the late Todd Gartshore at Baer Brakes to get his Mustang set up with 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers. As for the drivetrain, it's hard to argue with the 390hp, blown Cobra motor backed by a six-speed, so Kevin left it stock except for the popular pulley-and-headers trick to bump the power by nearly 100 hp. And since the chassis was a done deal, Kevin's true talents were called into action when it came to the envelope. He knew he wanted to do something a little different with the Mustang, and when he saw the Obsidian Mustang and its S197 Mustang headlights integrated into the body, he knew he wanted to do that to his car. Far from a bolt-on, the first headlight setup took Kevin about 100 hours of work to get right, and the other side consumed another 150 hours to make sure it was symmetrical. But Kevin says it was much more than just making the headlight buckets fit. "Once the headlights were fit, then you have to compensate for the angle of the lights, the different styling, you have to lengthen the hood, and I needed to design a new front fascia. It's a typical hot rodding problem; one solution leads to 17 problems you have to solve."
It screams 1966 Mustang but Jaded’s nose is far from stock. Mustang Depot’s E2 front fasci
A stock floorpan is still there, but Kevin removed the seat risers to install the six-way
The overhead dome light console is from an ’86 Olds Cutlass and it’s bolted to a one-piece
Kevin credits Mustang Depot with an enormous amount of help when it came to parts, especially the new quarters, fenders, a 1968 Mustang core support (for a bigger radiator with the same hood profile), and many more parts in the car. You'll notice that the quarter-panel extensions are still bolted on, whereas a lot of custom builders flush them to the body. When asked about it, Kevin explained, "There's nothing wrong with the way these cars were put together. They had bolt-on pieces, door handles that you could grab onto, and driprails, so I left all of that alone to keep some of the styling cues of the early cars." For the paint, Kevin wanted a shade of green and worked with the engineers at Eastwood on just the right hue. He went around to a bunch of new car dealerships to look at colors, and when he couldn't find any cars or trucks in green, he knew he had picked the right color. Kevin and Eastwood call their low-VOC paint (and the car) "Jaded." It's not a trick paint that requires decades of experience to spray, either.
The 2004 Cobra engine is stock internally but uses 60-pound injectors, Fore Precision fuel
The interior looks similar to an 2003-04 Cobra because it is, using the donor car's seats and dash. Getting the modern dash to fit was easier than removing the triple-layer steel stock dash, but required trimming an inch off of each side and re-covering it in leather. The rest of the interior was upholstered in black leather and suede and features a rollcage, rear seat delete, and lots of Heatshield Products material to control heat and noise. Heatshield Products was so happy with how the car was coming along that they invited Kevin to show Jaded in their booth at the 2012 SEMA show, so his deadline was set. The only problem was that the show was 40 days away but the car was a long way from being done, and all of Kevin's friends saw the fear on his face. Autocross stud Brian Finch (from the American Street Car Series) put the body on a rotisserie for six weeks to replace the right rear quarter-panel, improve the structural reinforcement, gap the doors and fenders, and do a ton of finish bodywork and block sanding, and T.C. Penick shut down his shop for nearly two months while they thrashed on everything else in that time. This is all while Kevin was coproducing the Trucks! show, running Paintucation LLC, editing a new DVD, working with Eastwood, and trying to keep up with life at home. "It showed me what real friends are," Kevin says. "One of the things I love the most about our hobby is the fellowship that just happens with gearheads. These guys helped when I absolutely needed it. I'm forever grateful to everyone who helped, and also to the sponsors who supported this dream. It was the friends who made this all come together."
The crew of buddies got the car finished in time for SEMA, and not only did it look pretty in the show, it was also a finished, running, driving street machine, not a "TV build" that still needed a ton of unseen work to make functional. With decent and dead-reliable power and a competent chassis, it performs better than the average street machine and has already seen a Goodguys autocross or two, as well as about 500 street miles.
BY THE NUMBERS
1966 Ford Mustang
Kevin Tetz, 49
Type: 2004 Ford Mustang Cobra "Terminator" 4.6L (281ci) dual-overhead cam V-8, 100 percent stock internally
Induction: Posi-ported Eaton M112 supercharger with Metco 2.76-inch upper pulley, dual-pass Lightning Force air-to-water heat exchanger with Meziere 22-gph coolant pump and trunk mounted, 4-gallon water/ice tank
Exhaust: BBK long-tube, ceramic-coated headers, MagnaFlow 2.5-inch exhaust with 4-inch mufflers, wrapped in Heatshield Products header wrap
Fuel system: Dual 255-lph pumps, billet fuel rails, return-style system
Output: 484 hp at 6,600 rpm, 455 lb-ft at 6,600 rpm
Tuned by: DBR High Performance using John Lund tune, Dunne-Rite engine management system, and stock ECU
Transmission: stock T56 six-speed from an 2004 Cobra donor car, MGW shifter, and stock 2004 Cobra clutch
Rearend: narrowed Ford 9-inch style with Moser sheetmetal housing, 3.70:1 gears, limited-slip differential, 31-spline axles, Denny's driveshaft
Frame: Schwartz Performance complete G-Machine chassis with custom front aprons and engine bay
Front suspension: SP twin A-arms, custom Heim joints throughout, Schwartz spindles, RideTech single-adjustable coilovers, splined sway bar
Rear suspension: Schwartz four-link with RideTech adjustable coilovers
Steering: Schwartz design using SN95 Mustang rack-and-pinion
Brakes: Baer six-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors, front and rear
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Forgeline CF3C, 18x8 (front) and 18x10 (rear)
Tires: BFGoodrich KDW II, 255/30R18 (front) and 285/35R18 (rear)