He’s got an eye for it,” says Suzanne Leech of her husband Kelvin’s styling ideas for her ’67 Mustang Fastback. “I’d say what I wanted, and he’d tell me it wouldn’t look good and point out his thoughts,” she laughs, “but it wouldn’t look anywhere near this good if it was done how I first thought.” But don’t go thinking that she’s had no input into the car – far from it. Suzanne spent many hours in the shed getting just as dirty as Kelvin and good friend come car-building companion Brett Bowyer. Even Suzanne and Kelvin’s two young kids got involved, and to top off the family effort, Suzanne’s sister had her fair share of grease under her fingernails too.
The project kicked off a bit over four years ago, when after having previously owned a ’65 Mustang, which was deemed a bit too gutless, Suzanne decided she needed a car that could keep up with Kelvin’s ’63 Galaxie. With a 500-cube big block and manual combo, the Galaxie is a seriously fast car, so that’s what the Mustang had to be also.
After informing Chuck from Chuck’s Restoration Supplies of their plan, he put his feelers out and promptly found a ’67 Fastback that had been sitting for the last 10 years. It was a factory big block car with no running gear, and the 15×12-inch rear rims it sat on were a sign it had been raced many years ago. The car’s interesting history made it even more appealing, and as soon as they saw the photos, they knew it was the car for the project.
Just as momentum was building, the project was paused. It was decided that more garaging was required, and as such a new property was purchased. Add to this another baby to the family, and the Mustang was pushed aside for a few years.
Once back underway, Kelvin and Brett spent many hours in the shed performing all the bodywork, which thankfully didn’t involve any rust repairs at all. Instead, the dynamic duo spent their time fitting a GT front end and rear spoiler. After talks of blue, or red, or a divorce, a colour that both Suzanne and Kelvin could finally agree upon was sourced – McLaren orange. Suzanne sums it up perfectly when she says, “I’m glad we both stuck to our guns to find the Papaya as it really does make the car.” While a makeshift spray booth was assembled in the shed to spray the interior, engine bay and door jambs, the task of coating the exterior was handed over to fellow Huapai Hot Rod Club member Kyle Kitson at Greenpark Panel and Paint.
Suzanne admits she had second thoughts upon first seeing the painted shell. It wasn’t until Write On Signs applied the satin black Le Mans and GT 390 stripes, that she knew they’d made the right decision.
Selecting the wheels was left up to Kelvin, who chose 15×7 and 15×9-inch Weld Racing Vitesse items. After waiting a few months for them to arrive from overseas he wasn’t sure he’d made the right call, until the centres were repainted and suddenly they were perfect.
Although the car came minus running gear, a big block was always on the menu, and after sourcing a suitable 390ci donor, work began on making it something special. A Scat crank and rods were chosen, which, along with Probe forged pistons, bump capacity out to a solid 410ci. A Voodoo hydraulic camshaft was fitted, which along with stock heads and PRW roller rockers take care of the breathing side of things. Between the heads sits an Edelbrock Performer manifold and a 680cfm Quick Fuel carb fed by a mechanical fuel pump.
Choosing headers that would fit between the block and the strut towers wasn’t the easiest task. Even though the Hooker Competition items chosen are designed for the job, they leave literally millimetres of space on each side. Suzanne was the one tasked with trying to fit her hands in the small space remaining to get the bolts tight, and she assures us it’s a task she’d rather not have to do again.
Backing up the big block is a 4-speed Toploader gearbox and custom clutch set-up. “The Galaxie is a real man’s car. The clutch is too stiff, and the gear shifts are heavy, whereas this is super easy to drive,” says Suzanne of the combination. A 9-inch diff puts the power to the ground, while drum brakes on the rear and 4-pot callipers up front slow it down again.
Interior-wise, Suzanne wasn’t sure about Kelvin’s instructions to Joel from Traditional Upholstery about how the stitching should look. Once the Porsche front seats and factory rear seat were returned in their new leather glory though, she once again knew he’d made the right call. Besides the addition of an aftermarket steering wheel and Hurst Competition Plus shifter, the interior remains as it did from the factory, albeit restored to new condition.
Suzanne can’t thank both Kelvin and Brett, along with all the other friends and family members who have been involved in the build, enough. While she knew she wanted the car to be built properly, never in her wildest dreams was it going to be as impressive as it’s turned out to be.
After two years in the build, the car made its debut at the Kumeu Car Show last month, and the timing couldn’t have been better. Not only was it the day of Suzanne’s 40th birthday, but it was also the couple’s 12th wedding anniversary. What better way to celebrate than showing off your newly completed pride and joy, and partying with a few thousand other car enthusiasts?
1967 Ford Mustang Fastback S-Code – Specifications
Engine: 390ci big block Ford, stroked to 410ci, Scat nodular crank, Scat forged H-beam rods, Probe forged pistons, Voodoo hydraulic camshaft, PRW roller rockers, Edelbrock Performer manifold, 680cfm Quick Fuel carb, twin-point Mallory ignition, Hooker Competition headers, 2 inch exhaust, Flowmaster mufflers, aluminium radiator, Edelbrock water pump
Driveline: 4-speed Toploader gearbox, custom pressure plate and clutch, 9-inch diff, LSD head, 3.50:1 ratio
Suspension: Super Low King Springs, factory leaf spring with extra leaf, Koni adjustable shocks, 28mm front sway bar
Brakes: Stock 4-pot callipers, Znoelli discs, stock drums
Wheels/Tyres: 15×7 and 15×9-inch Weld Racing Vitesse rims, 225/60R15 Falken and 265/50R15 Hankook tyres
Exterior: GT front, GT hood, Papaya colour paint, vinyl stripes
Interior: Porsche bucket seats, full leather retrim, aftermarket steering wheel, Hurst Competition Plus shifter
Suzanne Leech – Profile Driver
Car Club: Huapai Hot Rod Club
Occupation: Senior Operations Manager for Westpac Bank
Previously owned cars: (Jointly with husband) 1951 Ford Pilot, 1969 Mustang Notchback, 1934 Ford Coupe, 1963 ord Galaxie, 1965 Mustang Fastback
Dream car: I now have it!
Why the Mustang?: I had a 1965 Fastback but it was a bit ‘nana’ry for me. We both have always loved the lines and look of the ‘67 Fastback, as it has that racer look
Build time: 2-years
Length of ownership: Just over 4-years
Suzanne thanks: I really don’t know how to put into words the thanks to my wonderfully talented husband who not only has a great eye for detail, and is a jack-of-all-trades, but he ensured the clutch and gearbox, etc were made to suit me. It’s a dream to drive and it’s a testament to his passion for cars.
To Brett Bowyer, one of our closest friends, who, together with Kelvin, make an awesome car restoration team. His dedication to the project, his eye for detail and stubborn perfectionism has given the Muzy the impeccable lines. Some lines of which I didn’t even know a Mustang had until I watched them working in the garage.
To all our friends who helped and supported the project along the way with all the little things – thank you.
Words: Todd Wylie Photos: Adam Croy
This article is from NZV8 Issue 82. Get your copy here.
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