Matt Stone
March 26, 2014
Photos By: Drew Phillips

Clarence Williams forged his own unique path in the build of his elegant looking, yet slightly menacing '65 coupe. What's so different? Well, for starters, it's not the usual, semi-customary fastback body style. Nor is it in any way cloned up to be a Shelby G.T. 350, Terlingua coupe, or Hertz car. Style wise, you might think of it as a Pro Tourer, but Williams' car runs an automatic transmission, with no T-56s, T-5s, or Top Loaders in sight, as so many road-racing-inspired machines seem to run.

Why choose the less racy coupe? Because that's what he had.

"The car belonged to a former relative. He had some work done, but it was subpar," notes the Riverside, California, management executive. Williams bought the car "right" from the ex-family member, made a plan, and what you see here is the result of 27 months of work and investment; a show-quality driver that's big on visual impact and long on solid performance hardware and engineering.

You'll notice there's not a turbo, supercharger, or nitrous bottle to be found, but don't confuse the straightforward hardware selection with any lack of sophistication. This is a well-planned and beautifully executed build that says high end all the way. Brentwood (Northern) California's East Bay Muscle Cars (EBMC) was this Mustang build's base camp, and no surface was left untouched. The shell was metalworked to perfection outside, inside, and underneath, and treated to EBMC's own brand of subtle yet effective body mods, including custom rolled wheelwells, a fully smoothed out and dejunked firewall and engine bay. The stock hood earned a drilled aluminum inserted '69 Mach I hoodscoop and Hotchkis hoodpin kit. Factory mirrors were binned in favor of bullet style pieces, and all of the window trim was powdercoated black. The front and rear bumpers were also smoothed and prepped for body color paint, which is a sinewy two-stage matte black/titanium combo; modern and very stealth, but more finished than a pure black primer could ever look. The taillight bezels were also reworked in EBMC's own style, and the battery was relocated to the trunk.

Williams kept it real, going "modern old-school," under the hood, avoiding the temptation and expense of something more radical like a Coyote V-8 swap, and sticking with a thoroughly refurbed and updated small-block. EBMC uses only hand-picked, well-seasoned blocks; in this case bored 0.040 over, then squared and parallel-decked before an intense machine job including align-honing the main bearing core, and all of the cylinders honed to a claimed 0.0002 level of straightness and roundness. The bore job and new stroker crank yielded 347 cubic inches packed with new 10.0:1 slugs.

That may look like a carb atop the Edelbrock air gap intake, but instead it's a FAST throttle body fuel injection system; so much more modern, and likely responsive and efficient, than an old Holley 600 could ever be. And in between that Edelbrock and the fabulous, hand-built short-block are a pair of Ford Racing aluminum heads that have been hand-ported and cleaned up. Ford Racing also provided the cam and 1.6 roller rockers. You can check out the rest of the specs in the data panel, but what really impresses is how straightforward, immaculate, and sanitary the engine bay appears (as with the rest of the car). No gimmicks here, just high quality, jewel-like levels of finish and top shelf goods everywhere. Clean, clean, clean! And it's all backed up by a solid, logical transmission choice, that being a Lokar-shifted Ford 4R70W four-speed automatic running an OptiShift trans control system with 2,400-rpm stall converter. The driveline finishes with a proper Ford 9-inch carrying 3.89:1 Motive rear gears Moser axles, and a limited slip differential.

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For any build to look right, stance is critical, and Williams and EBMC really nailed the look and maximized the handling potential with another well thought out and executed smorgasbord of factory and aftermarket suspension design and upgrades, plus just the right rolling stock. The frame is beefed up and tied together with Heidts weld-in subframe connectors, not to mention some serious structural triangulation and stiffening going on under hood with Total Control Products' Heim-jointed adjustable shock tower and firewall braces; all in satin and black finish to keep bling under control and underscore the whole car's stealthy black/titanium theme. Total also supplied the rest of the front suspension including upper and lower control arms. The shocks up front are Ridetech coilovers with QA1s out back. The rearend gets a 2-inch leaf drop; Borgeson supplies the quick-ratio steering box and Wilwood the large and high-tech, four-wheel disc brakes. Again keeping that stance taut and just right are slightly staggered rolling stock, with 18x8-inch Boze rims out back with 17x7s up front; all wrapped in BFG performance tires.

For any build to look right, stance is critical, and Williams and EBMC really nailed the look and maximized the handling potential with another well thought out and executed smorgasbord of factory and aftermarket suspension design and upgrades, plus just the right rolling stock. The frame is beefed up and tied together with Heidts weld-in subframe connectors, not to mention some serious structural triangulation and stiffening going on under hood with Total Control Products' Heim-jointed adjustable shock tower and firewall braces; all in satin and black finish to keep bling under control and underscore the whole car's stealthy black/titanium theme. Total also supplied the rest of the front suspension including upper and lower control arms. The shocks up front are Ridetech coilovers with QA1s out back. The rearend gets a 2-inch leaf drop; Borgeson supplies the quick-ratio steering box and Wilwood the large and high-tech, four-wheel disc brakes. Again keeping that stance taut and just right are slightly staggered rolling stock, with 18x8-inch Boze rims out back with 17x7s up front; all wrapped in BFG performance tires.

In case you haven't figured it out by now, the detailing on every square millimeter of this car is spectacular. It's street driven to be sure, but show quality all the way. Nowhere is this more obvious than the interior. The not-too-shiny black theme continues inside, and you'll still recognize the basics as Gen I Mustang, but it's been evolved a long way from those early ponies. The main instrumentation is new Vintage stepped down gauges in a custom molded bezel, approximating the original IP's look and layout. Just about everything else is wrapped in super soft yummy looking black leather. The door panels are custom molded in a more modern design, with power windows added. The seats are Corbeau GTS II chairs, customized a bit and wrapped in the same leather as everything else. The old floor pedal style E-brake has been dumped in favor of a sportier tunnel-mounted handbrake just aft of the shifter. The trunk benefits from much the same look, covered in the same carpeting as the cabin. The thumping audio system is a combination of Pioneer, Polk Audio, and Kicker components. And a Ron Francis Wireworks custom electrical harness ties it all together.

Williams' Mustang is a shining example of clever and tasteful thought, good planning and high quality execution. It appears to be a textbook lesson in component matching and superlative workmanship. It doesn't matter if you're doing a '65 coupe or a 2014 Shelby, just conceive, plan and execute it to this level, and you'll have something very special to drive and look at. Job well done.

The Details
Clarence Williams '65 Mustang coupe
Engine
347ci small-block V-8
Iron block, two-bolt mains
4.040-inch bore
3.4-inch stroke
Cast steel crankshaft
I-beam Ford 5.4-inch connecting rods
Hypereutectic flat-top pistons with Hastings rings.
Ford Racing aluminum 62cc X heads, hand ported, 1.94-inch intake/1.54-inch exhaust valves, port-matched
1.6:1 roller rocker arms
Ford Racing M-6250-E303 cam, 220-degree lift at 0.050 duration
Edelbrock Air Gap aluminum intake manifold
FAST throttle body fuel injection
MSD billet distributor
10:1 compression ratio
400 hp/380 lb-ft of torque
Exhaust
JBA headers
TIG-welded custom 2.5-inch exhaust by East Bay Muscle Cars
MagnaFlow mufflers
Transmission
Ford 4R70W four-speed automatic
OptiShift trans control system
2,400 stall speed torque converter
Lokar shifter
Rearend
Ford 9-inch
Motive 3.89:1 gears
Limited-slip differential
Suspension
Front: Total Control Products upper and lower control arms with coilover conversion; Ridetech shocks
Rear: High performance leaf springs with 2-inch drop, QA1 billet shocks
Quick-ratio Borgeson power steering box
Brakes Front: Wilwood disc, 12.19-inch cross-drilled rotors
Rear: Wilwood disc, 12.19-inch cross-drilled rotors
Wilwood dual master cylinder and adjustable proportioning valve
EBMC custom nickel copper brake lines
Wheels Front: Boze Pro Touring, 17x7
Rear: Boze, Pro Touring, 18x8
Tires
Front: BFG KDW2, P225/45ZR17
Rear: BFG KDW2, 255/40ZR18
Interior
New Vintage gauges in custom bezels; custom-molded door panels; black leather Corbeau GTS II bucket seats; Flaming River tilt column and wheel; Lokar shifter, tunnel-mounted handbrake lever; Pioneer/Polk Audio/Kicker entertainment system
Exterior
Rolled wheelwells; smoothed and modified firewall and engine compartment; stock hood with '69 Mach I 'scoop; smoothed and body painted front and rear bumpers; powdercoated window trim; trunk-mounted Braille battery; bullet rearview mirrors; Hotchkis billet hoodpin kit; EBMC-modified taillight bezels; two-stage matte Black/titanium paint