Some guys take brand loyalty very seriously. Jim Beatty has 10 Fords in his garage. He used to own a '64 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, and although he thoroughly enjoyed the car, he sold it anyway to make room for a '64 Continental. "It was the last non-Ford car that I had in my garage," Jim reasons. His staunch Blue Oval allegiance doesn't stop there. "Chevys and other non-Fords are not allowed in my garage. I don't even let my wife park her '69 RS/SS Camaro convertible in it." Sheesh. Call it extreme, call it silly, but sticking with the same brand for decades certainly has its benefits. Jim knows Fords inside and out, and carrying over the lessons learned from one project into the next sharpens his ability to focus on building the ultimate Blue Oval muscle car for his needs, trends be damned. That's why you won't find a stereo, GPS, power anything, or even EFI on his '65 Mustang fastback. It's a back-to-the-basics, Trans-Am–inspired machine built for road racing, and in a sea of million-dollar Pro Touring rides, it stands out in a very good way.
Ever since he was 5 years old, Jim's been gaga for Fords. "When my mom's friend came over in a '69 Mustang, I fell in love with it and I decided that it was the car I wanted to own someday. When I turned 16, I went out and bought a '69 Mustang just like it," he recalls. Solid project cars were hard to come by in Canada, so Jim and his buddies made a habit out of taking trips down south to the States, hunting down rust-free muscle cars and hauling then back up north. Through these excursions, Jim developed a knack for assessing the condition of a car on the spot, but he admits that none of his finds were particularly memorable. "I had a couple of nice Mustangs in college, but had to sell them once I realized that I couldn't afford to build them like I wanted to. After finishing school, I had to focus on more important things like work. During this time, I came up with a list in my head of all the cars I wanted to build someday."
Interestingly, a '65 Mustang fastback wasn't very high on the list. Once Jim had the means to start living out his hot rodding fantasies in 2000, he fulfilled his goal of building an FIA Cobra replica. Between then and now, he's amassed a diverse lineup of Fords including a '70 Boss 302 Mustang Trans-Am race car, a '74 Bronco, a '64½ Mustang coupe, a '65 Econoline pickup, a '63 Falcon Futura, and three F100 SWB pickups. Then in 2007, during a moment of weakness, he made the impromptu decision to build another Mustang. "I was in the process of building a GT40 continuation car, and it was taking so long that I started getting restless. After being surrounded by so many awesome cars during the Scottsdale auction week, I decided to buy the next rust-free '65 Mustang fastback that I saw for sale," Jim recollects. "Within two weeks, I somehow ran across this car sitting as a stalled project at a local shop, and I bought it on the spot. It was a super straight, rust-free car with all original body panels that spent its entire life in the desert. I put the Mustang in queue at a warehouse until 2012 when the GT40 was finished, then pulled it out to plan the build of the BT350 [the BT in lieu of GT is for Jim's last name]. I wanted a purpose-built car designed to run vintage races on the road course that didn't have a bunch of custom parts. I just wanted to retain the simple and functional look and feel of a classic Trans-Am muscle car that performs well at the track."
To accomplish this, Jim took an interesting two-pronged approach by compartmentalizing the chassis build and the body restoration at separate facilities. For the chassis and suspension work, Jim enlisted the services of Tim Smart of Smarty's Garage (www.SmartysGarage.com). "Tim's a serious rally and road race car builder, and he routinely builds cars for and supports teams at events like the Targa Newfoundland, the Carrera Panamericana, and the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Smarty's Garage has helped me extensively in setting up my Boss 302 Mustang for vintage road racing, so I felt it was the perfect place for the job," Jim explains. The Smarty's crew tackled the chassis mods by welding all of the seams for stiffness and then laying out and engineering the subframe connectors and rollbar. Next, they dry fit the complete drivetrain and suspension to set the drivetrain and ride height at the optimum levels. With the body fortifications complete, Smarty's revamped the front suspension with Total Control Products control arms, sway bar, and steering rack. Out back, a 1-inch-shortened Ford 9-inch rearend swings on a Total Control Products four-link system, welded in for optimal stiffness. VariShock coilovers at each corner allow dialing in the perfect amount of damping, and big Wilwood disc brakes—13 inches up front and 12 inches in the rear—provide the stopping power.