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Summernats trophy-winning 1965 Ford Mustang

By Glenn Torrens | Photos: Matt Everingham, 09 Jun 2020 Features

Summernats trophy-winning 1965 Ford Mustang

Want to build a benchmark street machine? Take some hints from Peter Sidoti and his Summernats 33 Street Champion-winning ’65 Mustang

PETER Sidoti isn’t sure how long he’s owned his multiple Summernats street class-winning Mustang. But I reckon it’s at least 15 years, as that’s about how long I’ve been chasing Peter down at the ’Nats each year to poke a pen and notebook under his nose and scribble some quotable quotes about his latest trophy haul.

On the other end of the phone line, I hear Peter ask his wife Marlene: “Honey, how long have I owned that car for?” He returns to our chat: “Let’s say 22 years!”

This article was first published in the May 2020 issue of Street Machine

Ford Mustang front

Any way you slice it, Peter is one of those staunch street machiners who have owned their toy for a long time, and he’s built his Mustang again and again to keep it exactly how he wants it as trends and tastes change. All the effort has made this pony car one of the most successful street-class trophy haulers in Summernats history.

“Before this, I had a Ford hardtop,” Peter reveals. “I’ve always been a coupe lover. But I began to fall in love with the idea of a black Mustang; I was inspired by Gary Myers.” Just in case you’re new to this planet, Gary Myers and his famous 1966 Mustang coupe have laid down a three-decade career of legendary burnouts.

Read next: Nine-second 1968 Ford Mustang

1965 Ford Mustang side

At first, recessed press-buttons replaced the Mustang’s original chrome door handles, but now there are more subtle snipper buttons to allow entry. The quarter vents are inspired by Ford’s GT350

Peter bought this Mustang from Chatswood, in Sydney’s north. “It was blue with a black interior,” he says. “The bloke who sold it was a panel beater and he was going to do it up, but he lost interest. It wasn’t the best car, but it was a good start.”

The blue-with-black persona was very quickly replaced with staunch black paint and a stock-type red interior. “That was due to Gary Myers,” Peter says. But Myers inspiration or not, black and red is surely one of the best-ever colour combos for Ford’s 60s classic.

Read next: Summernats Grand Champion-winning 1967 Impala

1965 Ford Mustang front

The GT350 nose is a buy-in from the USA, with the details – such as the billet grille and spotties – blended in. That front badge was custom-made by Drago Ostric 

Peter became serious about his Mustang after a chance meeting with respected paint and panel man Drago Ostric of Sefton Smash Repairs some years ago. “I was on my way home after Summernats and pulled into a servo at Goulburn, and there was Drago,” Peter recalls. “He’d just won Elite [with his Holden Gemini wagon]. That’s where I met him.”

So began a technical and business relationship – and off the back of that, a mateship – that exists to this day. Peter asked Drago to help with rebuilding his Mustang, incorporating mini-tubs, more motor and sharper black paint, for what Peter considers the car’s second build. “That was a big job,” he recalls. “The tubs, and a nine-inch diff to suit the tubs.”

Read next: Mark Sullivan's home-built 1965 Ford Mustang

1965 Ford Mustang

The engine that’s in the car now dates from back then, too, built by a fella by the excellent name of Mick Turbo. “He’s a pretty well-known guy,” says Peter. “He works from home doing some full-on stuff. He’s one of the best mechanics I know.”

Mr Turbo assembled a 347-cube motor by dropping a Scat stroker crank and rods and a set of forged pistons into a 5.0-litre Windsor iron block. Above the gasket faces are a pair of AFR alloy heads and the terrific old-school street grunt hardware of a B&M blower and an Edelbrock carby. Just for fun, there’s a little giggle-gas, too.

Read next: Retrotech 1968 Ford Mustang fastback

1965 Ford Mustang rear

Blackened billet-alloy tail-light housings frame LED lenses. They bookend a tail panel that has had its original central fuel filler smoothed; the fuel cell’s fill point is now in the boot

Behind the willing Windsor is a Ford C4 auto that has been beefed up, manualised and fronted with a Dominator 3000rpm converter. A nine-inch diff with 3.5:1 gears lives between the mini-tubs, and with the 17-inch wheels all ’round – with 315 tyres under the rear – the Mustang has reasonable street manners.

Peter cruised his ’Stang like that for another few years before again wanting to aim higher with the car’s quality. A new custom interior was in order, so he booked in his car for a little holiday at Sydney’s Pro Stitch.

1965 Ford Mustang wheel

The Mustang stops via RRS discs all ’round, with six-piston front calipers and twin-piston items out back. “There had to be a fair bit of machining,” says Peter of the brake upgrade. “With 17in wheels, things just wouldn’t fit!”

“John Pisani at Pro Stitch designed all that,” says Peter of the car’s voluptuous dash, centre console, one-piece headlining and the trophy-worthy carpet and upholstery. The car was on-site for seven months. “I left it all to him,” Peter says simply. “He wanted to do something that would win at Summernats, and it did.”

1965 Ford Mustang boot

More recently, the front end was rejigged with a set of RRS struts replacing the Mustang’s original upper and lower control arm suspension and box-type steering. Later, bigger RRS brakes were installed.

There were other changes, too. “I had annoying wiring problems,” recalls Peter. “The thermo fans would drop out, so the engine would overheat. Drago asked me why I hadn’t replaced the wiring earlier. It was the original that had been patched a bit, so he suggested we replace the whole lot.” Everything came out again and the car was rewired from scratch.

1965 Ford Mustang engine bay

There are plenty of painstaking changes in the engine bay. The firewall and skirts, for example, now owe little to Ford. The underside of that all-steel bonnet has been flat-sheeted, and the guards’ mounting bolts are hidden under the wheelarches. Keeping the blown 347ci Windsor cool is an alloy radiator with AU Falcon electric fans 

The car’s most recent makeover further refined its appearance, with blackened chrome, tucked bumpers and the GT350-inspired nose job bringing the Mustang to where it is today: the reigning Street Champion, the pinnacle achievement for street-class cars at Summernats.

Ford Mustang dash

The bespoke interior is the work of John Pisani at Pro Stitch in Sydney’s Carlton. John designed the whole shebang, including the full-custom dash and centre console 

“You gotta put the hard yards in,” Peter says of his ’Nats success. “If you don’t try, you don’t get anywhere. I enjoy this. I spend a bit of time in the garage just washing and detailing stuff; it’s part of what I do to relax. I enjoy organising and doing the work and chasing the awards, and you don’t get that by doing nothing.”

1965 Ford Mustang interior

DECADE OF DOMINANCE

OVER the years, Peter’s Mustang has won a stack of Summernats street-class trophies. Here are the highlights – and for every win, there have been several category placings, too.

SUMMERNATS 22 (2009)
Top Judged Street

SUMMERNATS 23 (2010)
Top Overall Street

SUMMERNATS 24 (2011)
Top Coupe
Top Interior

SUMMERNATS 25 (2012)
Top Coupe

SUMMERNATS 26 (2013)
Top Judged Street
Top Engine Bay
Top Interior
Top Bodywork
Top Coupe

SUMMERNATS 27 (2014)
Top Coupe
Top Standard Paint

SUMMERNATS 28 (2015)
Top Coupe
Top Engine Bay
Top Bodywork

SUMMERNATS 29 (2016)
Top Coupe

SUMMERNATS 30 (2017)
Top Judged Street
Top Bodywork
Top Coupe

SUMMERNATS 31 (2018)
Top Coupe
Top Bodywork

SUMMERNATS 32 (2019)
Top Coupe
Top Bodywork

SUMMERNATS 33 (2020)
Street Champion
Top Coupe
Top Bodywork

Peter Sidoti

PETER SIDOTI
1965 FORD MUSTANG

Paint: PPG Black by Sefton Smash Repairs

ENGINE
Brand: 347ci Ford Windsor V8
Induction: B&M under-bonnet blower, Edelbrock carburettor, nitrous
Heads: AFR alloy
Conrods: Scat
Pistons: Eagle forged
Crank: Scat 347ci stroker
Oil pump: High-volume
Fuel system: Barry Grant fuel pump
Cooling: AFCO triple-core alloy radiator with AU V8 thermo fans
Exhaust: Pacemaker extractors, 3in dual exhaust
Ignition: MSD coil and leads

TRANSMISSION
Gearbox: Ford C4 auto, manualised
Converter: 3000rpm Dominator
Diff: Narrowed 9in, 3.5:1 gears

SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: RRS struts
Rear: RRS leaf springs on relocated chassis rails
Brakes: RRS 345mm discs with six-piston calipers (f), RRS 297mm discs with twin-piston calipers (r)

WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Bonspeed; 17x8 (f), 17x11 (r)
Rubber: Kumho Ecsta; 275/45 (f), 315/35 (r)

THANKS
My wife Marlene and the kids; Drago Ostric and the crew at Sefton Smash; John Pisani at Pro Stitch

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