THEY say true talent knows no bounds. After churning out a raft of awe-inspiring GM-based muscle cars, including three SM cover cars and a Street Machine Of The Year, prolific builder Mark Sullivan has proven his talent. And now he’s transcended the great GM/Ford divide with his latest offering, this positively delicious ’65 Mustang Fastback.
This article was first published in the July 2012 issue of Street Machine
It’s a finely crafted, street-ready show-stopper and a true owner build at that.
“I’m not one of those Ford or Holden guys. I like whatever looks good, whatever is a cool car,” he says of his defection to the Blue Oval.
For the duration of the build, the car never left Mark’s shed, and he completed almost every aspect of it himself; only the trim and the front end set-up needed other hands. We’re talking paint and panel work, fabricating that gorgeous sheet-metal dash, the mini-tubs, building the exhaust system, installing and setting up the McDonald Brothers four-link. The works.
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Mark’s a brickie by trade and all his painting, panel-beating, welding and fabrication skills are self-taught.
“I had my first crack at painting a car when I was about 18,” he says. “I’ve always prepped my own cars. I had a couple of them sent to a booth to be painted because they were tricky colours, but I’ve mastered it now and I can get them pretty good at home in the shed — there’s nothing that a wet rub and a buff can’t fix.”
The car took just 11 months to piece together, and when you consider that 90 per cent of the work was completed by just one bloke, that’s astounding.
“I pretty much never left the shed!” he laughs.
When the car arrived from the US it looked pretty knocked around, but structurally it was sound. Mark weighed up his options and decided he was better off just shouting himself new panels, so he got hold of the rear quarters, front guards, doors, bonnet and a boot lid then set to work.
That work was a series of subtle body mods which have completely transformed the look of the car. Most notable is the deletion of the C-pillar louvres, which really cleans up the side profile. The rear beaver panel was shaved and the gap between it and the rear quarters filled. The door handles are Lokar interior items; to get them to work, Mark welded a pulley to the inside of the door for the cable.
The billet upper grille section is an off-the-shelf item while the lower was custom made to match. The bonnet alone was three days of solid work and features two holes through which the eight trumpets protrude, with the space between the inner and outer skins filled and smoothed to perfection.
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With the body mods complete, Mark had half the car coated in yellow before he decided he didn’t like it, so he rubbed it back again and retreated to more familiar territory, choosing a similar shade of Electric Orange to his SMOTY-winning 1BADHK. But it’s unquestionably a great choice and the Muzzy wears it beautifully.
Turning his attention to the driveline, Mark decided to shy away from the metal mountains we’re used to seeing on his rides, making this one more suitable for street duties.
“The way the rules have been going lately, I’ve kept the car pretty tame. The trumpets only poke 60mm out of the bonnet, so if I need to I can cover them with a reverse cowl scoop.”
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Custom steel dashboard and matching console are the centrepiece of a brilliantly presented, useable cabin. A modified fixed-back Toyota Soarer rear seat replaces the standard fold-down Fastback item
Tall enough to lend a bit of attitude but not tall poppies for the authorities to cut down, said trumpets are attached to a beaut set of 48mm IDF quad Webers, feeding a 427ci Windsor built by T&L Engines in the States. It features a Scat crank and rods, SRP forged slugs, Edelbrock alloy heads and a custom-ground Bennett cam, all backed by a manualised C4 with a 2800rpm TCI converter. Out back, the obligatory Ford nine-inch is stacked with goodies, including a Truetrac centre, 4.11:1 gears and a set of 31-spline billet axles.
In line with his goal of getting out and enjoying the elite-level Muzzy, Mark elected to pay serious attention to its underbelly, equipping it with coil-over suspension front and rear for a comfortable ride and razor-sharp handling. The front end is from the Hoffman Group, and boasts rack and pinion steering, tubular A-arms, Nolathane bushes and monster 330mm disc brakes. The four-link rear is a weld-in McDonald Bros clip, which Mark says was a treat to install. The rear wheel wells on Mustangs are tiny, so while he was under there, he mini-tubbed them in order to accommodate those stunning 20x10 Showwheels rims and 255/30/20 Kumho boots.
The fabrication work extends inside the left-hook cabin, where you’re greeted by a superbly crafted custom dash fascia housing a billet cluster filled with Auto Meter gauges. The Honda front seats and custom rear are wrapped in Palomino leather, as are the custom door trims, and it’s all furnished with billet trimmings such as the door handles, window winders, armrests, pedals, Intro tiller, B&M shifter and all-important cup holders. It’s a comfortable, practical interior and Mark plans on spending plenty of time in it.
Looking back through Mark Sullivan’s past achievements, it’s easy to see a winning formula at play. All have two doors, all are painted either green or orange and all have stove-hot small-block V8s, sweet, bright interiors and big rolling stock
“I’ve driven the car heaps already. It has a couple of stone chips underneath but that doesn’t really bother me anymore.”
Knowing what we do about Mark, it’s safe to assume now the Muzzy’s done he’s got something else on the boil.
“I’m building a ’63 SS Impala. It’s going to be silver two-tone, with satin-black bumpers and moulds, satin-black billets and red trim. I love those big old tanks — I’m going to put a big-block in this one and cruise it. I keep saying that it’ll be my last car but for some reason no-one believes me!”
1965 FORD MUSTANG FASTBACK
Colour: PPG Electric Orange
Brand: Windsor 427ci V8
Induction: Weber 48mm IDF x4
Heads: Edelbrock alloy
Camshaft: Bennett Racing custom hydraulic, 0.550in lift
Conrods: Scat H-beam
Pistons: Ross, forged
Crank: Scat, forged
Oil pump: Milling high-volume
Fuel system: Holley 150 pump
Cooling: PWR polished alloy radiator
Exhaust: Pacemaker headers, twin 2½in exhaust system
Gearbox: Manualised C4, 2800rpm TCI converter
Diff: Nine-inch, Truetrac centre, 4.11:1 gears, 31-spline axles
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Springs: Helix coil-overs (f&r)
Shocks: Helix coil-overs (f&r)
Brakes: 330m discs (f), standard (r)
Steering: Rack and pinion
Seats: Honda (f), custom (r)
Mods: Custom dash, centre console and door trims
Trim: Palomino leather
Instruments: Auto Meter
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Showwheels Intro, 20x8½in (f) 20x10 (r)
Rubber: Kumho 225/35-20 (f) 255/30-20 (r)
Trick Auto, Bill and his father for a hand with the front end, Procoat, Chris at Showwheels