Does the thought of tackling a major project scare you senseless? Where do you start? What order are things done in? Whether you’re renovating or building a house, boat, or car, the project requires careful planning. There’s always a critical path (ie a number of elements to the project that must be completed at defined stages) and there will more than likely be linked dependencies.
“It’s no good having something in the garage if you’re too scared to take it out and use it.”
Project management is an art form, and there are people in all sorts of industries who make good coin providing their project management services. There are also those who enjoy the personal challenge of setting that thing many consider to be nasty and unnecessary¦ Yep, the dreaded deadline. There are certain folk that avoid deadlines like the plague. Not Tony Palmer though. Meet He’s got a background as a chippie, so he knows how to approach mammoth tasks, but this one wasn’t with wood.
Show Pony or Go Pony
Tony and Lorraine Palmer of Hamilton have been on the Mustang scene for many years, and they’ll be no strangers to many around the traps. Owning a concourse condition ’69 Mach One and a mint ’69 Sportsroof, Tony and Lorraine did the show circuit for 10 years. Towards the end of the show pony part of their lives, they wondered what they were doing trailering their cars to venues instead of driving them; they wanted to use their cars, to have a bit more fun. They decided they’d had enough. “It’s no good having something in the garage if you’re too scared to take it out and use it”.
Tony wanted something else, and in the back of his mind he knew exactly what that was. “I’ve always liked V8s and Mustangs,” he says, “And we used to go to Pukekohe and Baypark to watch the big banger saloons âˆ’ people like Paul Fahey, Jim Richards, John Riley and Red Dawson âˆ’ battle it out, which is I think where the love of Mustangs was born. I’m a Ford man at heart, although I like all muscle cars. My first V8 was an XW Fairmont; I couldn’t afford a GT.” Tony eventually got to own the car he had been lusting after, and joined the Waikato Mustang club, an organization to which he has belonged for many years, several of those serving as the Grande Poo Bah.
Visualising the finished product
Tony wanted something that was going to drive, have the creature comforts of a brand-spanker and look good. When he put out his feelers, Wayne Lack had imported a body shell he had to have; it was clean, straight and rust free. Tony bought it and started building a 2007 version of a ’65 Mustang. The resto-mod style is one which has crept into favour over the past five or so years, and that’s just what Tony’s created: a restored yet modern hot rod. “I wanted the old car look with new car performance and supposed reliability, although it hasn’t worked out that way yet,” he laughs. “At present, the transmission is giving us a few hassles, but apart from that it’s been pretty good. It’s just that Tony is an impatient perfectionist,’’ Lorraine adds.
With the bodywork all underway, the front suspension came under scrutiny, with Aussie-based company Revelation Racing Supplies getting the nod for componentry. As any early Mustang was built using whatever leftovers were in the Falcon parts bin, the stage two front struts with PBR disc brakes were a bolt in, and the power rack and pinion steering similarly presented few problems, and Tony is effusive in his praise for the quality of the kits. An RRS kit was also used in the rear, along with de-arched leaf springs and gas shocks. Boyd Coddington Smoothies were chosen to add the required bling.
Fitted with a posi head and cruisey 3.0 gears the Mustang’s engine happily rumbles away in a fuel conserving rev range
The fronts measure 17 x 7 inches, with the rears an inch wider. Tony considered bigger rims, but felt they looked too big for his tastes. Toyo tires were added to provide traction action, and Tony is very pleased with the handling of the car. Differential duties are handled by the 9-inch diff’s slightly smaller brother, the 8-inch. Fitted with a posi head and cruisey 3.0 gears, it keeps the Mustang’s engine happily rumbling away in a fuel conserving rev range. The AOD four speed auto, although proving somewhat cantankerous at the moment, will no doubt aid the fuel frugality of the combination.
The engine itself is largely as Ford designed it, but a ’95 Cobra 5.0-litre Windsor is a pretty stout piece from the factory, and this one features GT40 heads, and Ford’s electronic fuel injection. The spark also comes courtesy of Ford, and wiring all this electronic wizardry up to the ’65 Mustang was where Tony and Lorraine ran into their most frustrating time with the project. “I was a bit naive. Lots of people said it was easy but it didn’t work out that way, particularly getting the electronics to work. We spent a lot of time and money trying to marry it all up, had several people lead us up the garden path, but eventually we got it sorted and it runs just like a new Mustang should,” shrugs Tony. It also sounds the way all new Mustangs should.
The exhaust features 2.5-inch dual pipes, a balance tube and, in classic circuit racing style, exits just behind the doors through the side skirts. This car also displays the roundy-round influence in its E-one body kit, the side skirts that blend into those subtle flares, and that formidable front air dam. It all works visual magic, and you can just imagine the little red rocket blasting through a tight left-hander, leading a gaggle of Central Muscle Cars through.
The hood scoop also adds to the look, and like other parts of the car, it was the second one tried. There was another body kit ordered after this one, Tony’s first choice got lost in transit. It was no sooner fitted when option number one turned up, so off came number two. “I’m not scared to do things twice,” says Tony. “I’m very particular, and if it’s not how you want it you won’t be happy with it, so get it right”.
Even though Tony really got stuck into the project, as things progressed he decided he wanted enhanced or additional features. “We kept changing things, like adding the electric seats. I wanted air-conditioning, electric windows and halogen lights; I wanted a refined and civilized ’65 Mustang. “We had a 12-month target and it took 22 months.
My son Dayne helped me out immensely, I would have struggled without him”. Dayne is a tool maker and a muscle car man (with a relatively full garage, we understand), and he gave dad plenty of assistance through the rebuild.
Of course, looking like a race car is fine from the outside, but a trip of any length would quickly become tedious if the only interior accoutrements were two bucket seats and a couple of full-harness seatbelts. Since Tony and Lorraine always intended to put a lot of miles on the car, comfort was on the agenda from day one. The electrically adjustable leather seats are out of a late model Mustang (naturally), there are electric windows, air-conditioning, central locking and, to make sure Tony and Lorraine hold onto the car for as long as possible, it’s alarmed.
Would he do anything else to his new resto-mod? Not really; Tony’s happy with his completed project. He and Lorraine have put 1,000 miles on the clock, and the teething problems are nearly sorted, but it’s hard to keep an organized man down, so watch out for Tony and Lorraine cruising Hamilton in search of their next project. Tony’s visualizing it already. Obviously it’ll be another Mustang, but from a little later in the decade.
Anybody got a ‘69 Fastback that needs a good home?
1965 Ford Mustang
Paint: Mandarin Mica Met with Royal Blue Pearl and Lustre stripes
Chassis/mods: RRS Rack & Pionion Power Steer Revelation Racing Supplies Kit
Suspension: Front Front: RRS phase 2 struts with Koni shocks & PBR discs
Rear Rear: RRS discs, lowered leaf springs and gas shocks
Wheels: Body Coddington Smoothie 2s
Front Front: 17 x 7
Rear Back: 17 x 8
Tyres: Toyo Proxes 4s
Front 215 x 17 x 45
Rear 235 x 17 x 45
Engine: 1995 Ford Mustang Cobra 5.0l Windsor, GT 40 heads, Cobra Rods pistons Ford electronic ignition, electronic fuel injection 2.5-inch twin with H pipe Flowmaster mufflers exiting through side skirts
Trans: Converter/clutch Ford ’95 Ford Mustang AOD four speed, Ford 8-inch dif
Interior: Haneline 6 gauge brushed alloy panel Ineria belts, high back seats, fire extinguisher 96 Mustang front seats, electric leather with custom inserts, electric and tinted windows
Driver Profile: Tony Palmer
Age: Baby Boomer
Build time: 22 months
Length of ownership: Two years
Thanks: Wayne Lack, Dayne and Vicki, Mike Mahoney, AJS Auto Electrical (Aaron), Flaming Body shop (Warren), ProFlo (Tony), Automint (Andrew), Cambridge Trans, Tire & Tune, Performance & Tuning, Rocket (Daniel)