MICHAEL Scicluna is no stranger to bitchin’ street machines. He owned a show-winning 1968 SS 396 Camaro in the mid-80s, followed by a 1968 GTO Pontiac, a very tidy ’66 Mustang coupe, and has another matching-numbers 1968 396 big-block RS SS Camaro that’s currently in the works.
This article was first published in the September 2011 issue of Street Machine
“But when I saw my friend Peter Papas’s sweet ’67 Fastback, I fell in love and knew I had to have one,” he says. So Peter introduced Mick (as he’s known) to Leo Banks from the Muscle Car Factory (MCF), who had the perfect candidate — a genuine ’67 390 GT four-speed.
“It was a rusty barn-find out of Minnesota,” Leo says. “It needed every panel replacing.”
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Like the re-engineered suspension, the billet grille and halogen headlights drag this ’67 GT kicking and screaming into the new millennium
He means every panel too: guards, bonnet, doors, door shells, sills, quarters, skirts, front drops, beaver, scuttle, turret, full one-piece floor and full boot floor. Maybe they should have started with a better car.
“Not so,” Leo insists. “Even good examples have issues. Rather than starting with a big-dollar car that still needs fixing, it makes more sense to start with a cheaper, rougher example. It costs about the same in the end but this way you know all the steel is good.”
Several months into the project, things were going well — the bodywork was complete and had been painted in factory Dark Moss Green.
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Mick wasn’t scrimping either; all the moulds had been painstakingly fettled by Frances Auto Bling for perfect fit, every lens was new, as too was all the glass, which Dave Ryan from Classic Auto Glass tinted factory green. Yep, all was going very well indeed — then Mick threw a curve ball.
The project started out as a dedicated concours build until he saw what some of MCF’s other customers were building. Then he wanted to amp things up big time but without interfering with the completed body and paint, and retaining the ability to return everything to 100 per cent standard. In short, all the mods would need to be bolt-in.
First up, the engine. The 390 was put aside and an era-correct 427 FE cross-bolt side-oiler was sourced from the States and shoehorned between the towers.
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This is the same NASCAR-winning mill that powered the legendary GT40 to two of its four Le Mans victories and transformed the AC Shelby Cobra from spirited sports car into muscle car megastar.
Engine highlights include a Scat forged crank, Speed Pro pistons, Edelbrock alloy heads, MSD ignition and that über-cool eight-throttlebody EFI system from TWM/Borla.
Whisking away the spent combustion gases are custom extractors that dump into a two-and-a-half-inch stainless steel exhaust system.
Finishing off the engine bay are March Performance serpentine pulleys, a March billet power steering pump, Shelby rocker covers, a strut brace, Ring Brothers billet bonnet hinges and a Trickfab alloy radiator, complete with twin thermo fans. All this big-block goodness churns out an eminently streetable 548hp and 560ft-lb of torque.
Underneath that killer eight-throttlebody EFI system is one of Ford’s most celebrated powerplants — a 427ci FE side-oiler big-block
The original four-speed top-loader was also set aside; cog-swapping duties are now handled by a five-slot Tremec TKO 600 outfitted with 2.87 first, 0.64 fifth and a concentric hydraulic clutch (ie, no clutch fork). Keisler Engineering reshaped the TKO’s rear extension housing so that it would fit in the tunnel without having to modify the body or crossmember. Rounding out the driveline is the obligatory Ford nine-inch.
Being a professional driver, Mike was quite clear about how he wanted his new stallion to handle and drive. To this end, a Total Control Products (TCP) power rack and pinion steering and twin A-arm front end were slotted in under the nose. Using alloy VariShock coil-overs that run off the lower control arms, the TCP gear provides improved geometry along with superior adjustability and responsiveness.
Out back, MCF devised its own triangulated four-link suspended by QA-1 coil-overs. All this suspension trickery enables 18x8 and 20x10-inch Dragway DB5s to reside under stock guards. Yep, 20x10s on the back with no flares or mini-tubs.
Hauling things to a standstill is a trick Wilwood brake set-up, incorporating a billet master cylinder and a hidden booster that activates four-piston calipers over 300mm rotors at each corner.
The TKO’s adjustable shifter location means it can be positioned perfectly so that it emerges out of the factory console smack in the right spot
Inside the cabin, it’s pretty much Ford 1967 — except it’s all brand new. Mick opted for the full deluxe trim kit, which incorporates GT Deluxe gauges and a Shelby wood-rim tiller. In keeping with the ’67’s new super-muscle car persona, the factory low-back buckets have been replaced with hip-hugging ProCar Rally buckets, with a matching rear seat covering.
From the outset, Mick wanted a stock Mustang that stood head and shoulders above its peers. He’s ended up with a sensational streeter that’s much, much more.
“The engine makes bags of torque and is effortless to drive,” he says. “The TKO is beautiful — just tap it and it goes into the next gear. It’s a really easy car to drive and it turns a lot of heads.”
Most of us would be satisfied with such a stellar ride. Not Mick; he and MCF are already on the next project, another ’67 Fastback. This time with a Boss 429 and mini-tubs — it’s going to be a whole lot tougher.
1967 MUSTANG FASTBACK
Colour: Dark Moss Green
Engine: 427 FE side-oiler
Heads: Edelbrock alloy
Cam: Crane roller
Crank & rods: Scat forged
Pistons: Speed-Pro forged
Induction: TWM/Borla eight-throttlebody EFI
Computer: Autronic SM4
Ignition: MSD Pro Billet, 6AL box
Water pump: Edelbrock alloy
Sump: Canton seven-quart, baffled and windage tray
Drive pulleys: March serpentine
Radiator: Trikfab alloy
Cooling: Twin thermo fans
Exhaust: Magnaflow mufflers, 2½in system
Fuel tank: Trikfab polished stainless
Gearbox: Tremec TKO600 five-speed
Bellhousing: Factory FE big-block
Clutch: Spec 11-inch diaphragm
Diff: Nine-inch, 3.5:1 gears, 31-spline axles
Springs/shocks: VariShock coil-overs (f) QA-1 coil-overs (r)
Suspension: TCP double A-arm (f), triangulated four-link (r)
Brakes: Wilwood four-piston, 300mm rotors (f&r)
Seats: Pro Car Rally
Wheel: Shelby wood rim
Gauges: GT Deluxe
Rims: Dragway DB51 18x8 & 20x10
Rubber: Falken 215/40 ZR18 & 255/30 ZR20
Muscle Car Factory (03 9580 3548); Trikfab (03 9792 1333); George Mandarlis; Ralph Davies; Peter Papas; 3rd Millennium