Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the best Mustang possible. Spec it with whatever engine you like, dress it how you would if the options were unlimited and set it up with the optimum road-handling wheel/tyre combination. Now open your eyes and take a good hard look at this Mustang built by Auckland company International Performance Classics (IPC). I bet it’s not too dissimilar to the car you were just dreaming of.
For the last few years IPC has produced some amazing vehicles, the 1967 Eleanor replica being the latest and greatest. I say replica, not because it’s a replica of an Eleanor, but because it’s a replica of a Mustang. There isn’t a single piece on it that was built back in 1967; pretty much everything was manufactured in 2009 or 2010. How’s that possible? Dynacorn, the American company that produces brand-new old car bodies and panels, and that is what was used as the basis for the build.
At the outset the car was commissioned with a view to being the ultimate Eleanor. Specifications were agreed with a mix of the owner’s detailed knowledge of the movie Gone in 60 Seconds and IPC’s extensive knowledge and relationships with specialist parts and equipment suppliers.
For classic appeal, there’s no beating an Eleanor-style bodykit, so that’s what the team asked its in-house panel shop, Accent Panel and Paint, to fit. Those familiar with the Eleanors will realise the kit is not just a stick-on job, with the whole tail
light panel having to be replaced. The Accent guys took it one step further by tubbing and flaring the guards in metal to help blend the kit into the body, and topped it all off with a billet grille.
To add to the billet feel there are brushed alloy mirrors and billet bonnet and boot hinges. The latter are now CNC-machined in-house and available for purchase.
With the Eleanor kit, there was no other colour than the traditional grey with black stripes, Spies Hecker being the paint brand of choice.
IPC is an arm of New Zealand’s biggest race team and race vehicle preparation company — International Motorsport (IMS) — which has a long history of winning in every category it races, so vehicle setup and driveability were even more important to the build team than aesthetics.
While most of us will only ever be able to appreciate how great the car looks, IPC managing director Lyall Williamson assures us it drives even better. He was recently in Las Vegas at the aftermarket trade show known as SEMA, and was surprised by how few car builders bother about the way a vehicle drives. “There were some amazing cars there, but when we asked how they drive, most companies would reply along the lines of, ‘Oh no, we don’t drive them,’ or they explained that the way they look has compromised the vehicle’s driving abilities,” Lyall says. “We’ve managed to set this one up just right, even with the wide wheels on the back. It doesn’t have a horrible stance like a lot of the American ones do either.” And he’s right.
The Mustang was set up using a full complement of RRS suspension along with rack and pinion steering and a rose-jointed three-link rear end, and was tweaked by IMS’s top race car engineers. The result was so impressive that the owner decided to take the car to Hampton Downs for his first drive, and even though he has driven many dedicated race cars, he came back raving about it.
With wide 10-inch rear wheels and 18×8-inch fronts the car has a good hold on the track. Not that it was intended to be used as a race car. Then again, with larger than life AP callipers and rotors working away from a hidden master cylinder, there’s no reason why it can’t safely see track time.
No expense has been spared on the build, but at the same time everything on the car is there for a reason and was a considered purchase, rather than an open chequebook buy. Every little CNC machine fitting, hidden part or braided line is of the utmost quality and, thanks to IPC’s attention to detail, has been fitted flawlessly.
That sort of precision was learned over years of working on cars for the likes of Denny Hulme, among many other drivers. It placed IMS at the top of the motorsport field, and now that skill is being used to create street cars. There are few — if any — other workshops in this country or the world that can offer that type of expertise.
The engine is a World all alloy 427 block. With forged H-beam rods, Mahle pistons and an internally balanced forged steel crank, the engines run 10.25:1 compression out of the crate. Rather than the stock carby, IPC has upgraded the setup to run a Morrison V8 Supercar cross-ram injection system.
Besides the quality of the World engines, the Vintage Air serpentine system and unique offset distributor setup completes the look. Of course the IPC guys, being as fastidious as they are, made sure the engine was pulled apart and checked over before it was dropped into the hole.
With regular trips to the United States, Lyall and his team are kept up-to-date with the latest and greatest offerings from a huge range of manufacturers. One of those they found at SEMA 2009 was Isis and the company’s three-cell wiring system. Rather than the single fuse box of most aftermarket wiring harnesses, the Isis system uses three separate boxes that are designed to be easy to install with simple plug connectors.
On a car such as this, where no wiring is visible, a great deal of auto electrical knowledge is still required, for which IPC called on the services of Carl and the team at C&M Performance. The setup of the four-speed Phoenix 4R70W Ford AODE controllers and tuning of the Fast ECU was also left in C&M’s capable hands, and the Mustang made an impressive 650hp at the flywheel on C&M’s dyno. Not bad for a car that will sit nicely in traffic and is as smooth to drive as any modern luxury exotic.
The interior is also as you’d expect to find in a brand-new Italian machine. However, there is enough Mustang character and custom touches — such as the leather console and LED shift indicator knob from TVK industries, another SEMA sourced product — to let you know that you’re certainly not sitting in an off-the-shelf vehicle.
Ian Goodwin is the man responsible for sewing in the glorious black cow hide and fitting the plush custom carpets. Beneath the fabric is layer upon layer of Dynamat sound deadening, to prevent both noise and heat from entering the cabin.
With the side pipe exhausts, there’s still enough sound to let you know what you’re driving, but it’s never overbearing.
An Alpine sound system has also been hidden away: you’d never know it was there unless you’d seen the car in bits. Still, with that glorious exhaust note, the stereo may never be switched on.
It’s not only the use of entirely new componentry that sets the car apart from anything else on (or off) the road — anyone can buy parts. It’s the exquisite attention to detail and functionality, plus the knowledge gained from years of setting up race cars, that really make the car something special.
IPC assures us this is just the beginning, and currently there are two more Mustangs in the build, one a Dynacorn shell, another a genuine ’68. Whether the projects are as extensive as the Eleanor will be up to the vehicles’ owners, but having seen what is possible, and the plans IPC has, you have to hope the clients’ minds — and cheque books — are wide open.
2010 Ford Mustang Replica – Specifications
Engine: World 427 crate motor, Morrison cross-ram injection, Fast ECU, Fast fuel system, custom headers, twin 3-inch exhaust, custom radiator, custom billet caps, hidden booster and reservoirs, MSD ignition, custom drop tank, billet hinges, billet tower brace, Vintage Air serpentine system, custom caps, bottles and hoses
Driveline: Uprated Phoenix 4R70W AODE transmission, FAST trans controller
Suspension: RRS coil-overs, RRS 3-link, RRS lower front arms, RRS struts, oversize swaybar, RRS rack and pinion steering
Brakes: AP 6-pot front and 4-pot rear callipers with floating alloy hat two-piece rotors
Wheels/Tyres: 18×8-and 18×10-inch Shelby replica rims, 225/40R18 and 295/30R18 Yokohama tyres
Exterior: Full Eleanor bodykit, metal flares and tubs, billet grilles, billet fuel filler, insulated drop tank casing, custom engine bay, full underbody strengthening and floor mods to allow cast alloy through sill exhaust exits
Interior: Full Custom Classic Design Concepts interior, custom seats, leather trim, suede rooflining, Autometer gauges, B&M shifter, Alpine audio system, carbon dash, leather centre console, TVK sureshifter LED Trans Indicator, Vintage Air A/C with billet controls.
Length of ownership: 18 months
Build time: 12 months
Dream car: The next one
Why the Eleanor: To showcase what we can do, and that a car like this can be made to drive every bit as good as a high-end new vehicle, yet have the character of old
IPC Thank: The owner for commissioning the Eleanor, C&M Performance, Ian Goodwin, our team at International Performance Classics, Accent Panel & Paint and all our custom component suppliers.
Words: Todd Wylie Photos Adam Croy