TO BE a pro golfer takes a special kind of person. There are plenty of people out there who can put club to ball but keeping it together with a gallery of onlookers as you try to sink a 20-foot putt — you need ice water running through your veins.
This article was first published in the February 2011 issue of Street Machine
Aaron Baddeley’s a bit different. He’s as cool and calm as anyone on the tour — you’d have to be to win the Australian Open at 18. But there’s no ice water in his veins; it’s high-octane racing fuel, and he inherited it from his dad, Ron.
“I started off working for a chap who prepared racing cars in the mid-to-late 60s,” Ron says. “I’d work on them after-hours and sometimes full-time, which was rare in those days. I used to work on Brocky’s A30, that was … interesting. It was amazing he could drive it, it was such a short wheelbase. I think that’s probably where he got his finesse.”
Those long hours at the track paid off when a visiting American racer recognised Ron’s talents.
“He asked me to go to America to run his Indy car team — took me about two seconds to decide on that one. I was only going to go there for six months but stayed for five years. I ended up working as chief mechanic for Mario Andretti.
“Going to races sounds glamorous but for a family man, it’s not the best. It was too good to call it a job. It was like having the best hobby in your life and people gave you money for it.”
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Aaron chose the ’94 Corvette Red after seeing it on another Mustang in the US. The rear valance panel was extended to tidy up the rear of the car
Aaron was born while Ron and his wife Mary were in the US but after a couple of years, they decided to move home.
“The best time to give up something like that is when you’re really enjoying it, then you walk away with good feelings.”
Although not in the thick of it any more, Ron still went to the Indy races when they came to Australia. Aaron went as well but it was a remake of a 70s movie that got him fired up.
“Aaron was very fond of cars and when he saw Gone in 60 Seconds, he said: ‘Dad, how about a project?’”
What he was really asking was whether Ron would like to build a project for him; Aaron’s too busy flying all over the US playing golf to screw a car together. So the hunt began for a decent ’67 or ’68 fastback Mustang, the plan being for Ron to project-manage the build in Oz then ship it to Aaron in the US.
“We found the car just around the corner from where we live. A fella was importing them and had one that looked fairly good. Not a lot of rust, except around the battery area.”
Being an old race car mechanic, Ron’s shopping list leaned towards making the car go, stop and steer.
“I sourced most of the stuff in the States so that when it’s serviced there the parts are easily available. I did away with the Ford front end and fitted a Total Control coil-over-shock front. It has rack and pinion steering and a bump-steer kit with plenty of adjustment. The rear has a Maier Racing Panhard rod and Caltracs. That keeps it nice and tight. I fitted 13-inch discs and the largest four-spot calipers the Stainless Steel Brake Company had — it stops so much better than I expected.”
Dash copped a bunch of custom work and the console was completely fabricated — and all in steel. Two layers of carpet keep the heat and sound at bay but extra horsepower was added to compensate
Handing that stopping force to the ground is a set of 17x8 and 17x9 GT40 wheels wrapped in Sumitomo rubber.
And then there’s the go department.
“I happened to have a Clevo in the garage. It’s got about 500hp and has a roller cam with more than 600thou lift. I wondered whether it would be too much for the street because I didn’t expect it to start working until 2500rpm. I thought I’d run low gears, so I put 3.9s in it. In fourth gear I can put my foot straight to the floor at 1700rpm and it pulls like a tractor.”
It’s tidy under the hood too, thanks to the unsung hero of car builds — the electrician. If he’s any good, his work is invisible.
“I had a look at the car after he’d finished and said: ‘Hey Scott, I can’t see what you did!’ He said: ‘Thank you.’”
Custom dash insert holds Haneline gauges, including a speedo that gets its signal from a GPS. Living in Arizona requires a decent air conditioning system. Vintage Air supplied the cool air and the cool vents
The interior is true to the spirit of the muscle car era — standard buckets wrapped in black vinyl, with the door trims as Ford intended. Where it gets tricky is in the dash and console. Luke at Slamed Creations modified the dash to suit the Vintage Air a/c then created a custom console.
You'd expect it to be fibreglass but Ron says: "All the fabrication work, apart from the body kit, I wanted done in steel. It's of the era and it gives you a plain old solid feel."
Aaron's career meant he couldn't be hands-on with the build but he was deeply involved with the decision making.
"I'd chew things over the Slamed Creations boys, Luke and Troy, then I'd call Aaron and we'd go over it. It's one of the reasons it took a bit longer to do," Ron says.
Aaron only had a couple of weeks to enjoy the car before heading over here for the Australian Open but he's stoked.
"The attention to detail is amazing," he says. "Only a family member could have done this."
Aaron Baddeley tees off at the Turning Stone Resort Championship in Verona, New York
LINE OF SIGHT
“TO MAKE the stripes look straight, you’ve got to offset them,” Ron says, “otherwise they look like they’re going in. I found the original Shelby dimensions and gave them to Troy, the painter. He’s a perfectionist — to get it absolutely perfect he put it in the paint booth, blocked out all the light, then got a laser. It took him eight hours just to mask it up. He’s also run the stripes underneath the bonnet and boot and down the firewall, as well as on the roll bar. When you stand back and look at it, it looks a million dollars.”
1968 FORD MUSTANG
Colour: 1994 Corvette Red
Type: Cleveland, 380ci
Induction: TFC 2V intake, 750 Demon
Heads: AFD small chamber
Camshaft: Crane hydraulic roller, 610thou lift
Crank: Scat stroker
Valve springs: Crane
Exhaust: Hooker headers
Gearbox: Tremec five-speed
Diff: Nine-inch, 3.9 gears
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Springs: Coil-over (f), leaf (r)
Mods: Panhard rod, Caltracs
Steering: Rack and pinion
Brakes: SSBC 13in rotors & four-spot calipers (f&r)
Master cylinder: SSBC
WHEELS & TYRES
Tyres: Sumitomo 255/17 (f), 275/17 (r)
Wheels: GT40 17x8 (f), 17x9 (r)
Troy Kinsmore, Slamed Creations, paint; Luke Kinsmore, Slamed Creations, fabrication; Scott Green, hidden wiring; Rod’s Trimming Service