1968 Mustang Convertible “Elvira”

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Don sought out a relatively unoxidized Southern ragtop on which to base his project. His research put him in contact with a man who had been, as Don puts it, “instructed by his wife to sell off his acquired collection of rust-free California Fords in various stages of decay”. Don gained title to a ’67 convertible that had resided under a carport in the desert for the past 17 years.

Not that it probably mattered much anyway since Don had a new power source in mind, one that was never part of the ’67 Mustang’s original under hood options list: a 351 Windsor stroker. Braced by an Eagle billet-steel backbone swinging a 4.00-inch stroke, the Windsor was bored 0.030-over for a healthy 408-inch displacement. The reciprocating stuff is a combination of Eagle I-beam rods and JE flat-top forged pistons, resulting in 9.5:1 compression within the chambers of Edelbrock’s Performer RPM alloy heads. The intake side is all Edelbrock too, including an 800-cfm Thunder Series AVS carb.

Whatever the exact power level, it flows downstream through a Centerforce clutch and one of the Tremec’s rugged, new, TKO 600 five-speeds and gets divided in a Currie 9-inch bearing 3.50 gears for effortless topless cruising.

Underneath, the chassis is dominated by Total Control Products’ utterly modern and thoroughly adjustable coilovers at the bow and stern, a combo that proves handling and ride are not mutually exclusive. Subframe connectors and shock tower reinforcements are also from the Total Control catalog, while Baer was the source of the 13-inch Track system front breaks and 12.5-inch Touring rear discs.

That showy-but-functional theme continues in the cockpit, starting with Rally-series buckets from ProCar (by SCAT), and the leather-rimmed British-manufactured Moto-Lita steering wheel on a Flaming River tilt column. Auto Meter Phantom gauges look surprisingly at home in the stock ’67 instrument panel.

A closer look reveals a brushed-aluminum center console with carbon fiber look upholstery, custom-made for the project by Mustang Connections in London, Ontario. To help dampen road nose, the interior structure was first insulated with Dynamat sound-absorbent material.

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But all this cool stuff is hidden by an equally cool body that is tastefully Shelby-ized with side scoops, rear fender extensions, hood and beak extensions, all from Maier Racing. It is also personalized with a custom rollbar – complete with third brake light – and 17-inch PS Engineering rims, 8 inches across in front and 9.5 inches out back wrapped, respectively, in 245/45 and 255/45 Michelins. Give the coilovers credit for the hunkered stance. Custom styling touches abound, especially in the front and rear details, including the conformal spoiler built into the decklid.

In all, the project consumed a surprisingly brief eight months to create this topless masterpiece.