"My dad bought that Mustang for me when I was 15 years-old," says Chris Weatherl.
In the late 1990s, Weatherl was a teenager looking for a driver's license and his first set of wheels. His father loved Mustangs and had a dream to "build a father-and-son hot rod."
This '67 fastback was perfect. His 15-year-old son, now 32, recalls those days: "I wasn't sure I wanted a fastback because I wasn't familiar with them."
At first, Weatherl wanted a hardtop. But his father, Bill, found a real gem when this rust-free California fastback popped up in Tulsa for the attractive price of $1,200. It had the C-code 289, four-speed, and deluxe interior.
The happily-ever-after version of this story would have the father/son team building the Mustang in the home garage. But at the time the family didn't have the means to undertake such an ambitious project. So after graduating from college, Chris stored the '67 Mustang in his garage. He landed his first professional job and eventually moved overseas in his job for a petroleum company.
Upon returning to the U.S. in 2007, Weatherl cleaned out the garage and took a close look at his Mustang. The '67 looked even more like a classic now. He got excited once again about building this "family heirloom" into a restomod.
With a "pretty small budget," Weatherl contracted a local two-man shop to replace the engine and perform the body work. He ended up having to sue the shop because they weren't doing the work he was paying for and they were charging for parts they never bought.
With the car safely back in his garage, Chris began tinkering with ideas. Now 25, he had waited 10 years so what was the hurry? After all, wasn't this project supposed to be fun? His father, in his 80s and in poor health, couldn't turn wrenches, so the two exchanged ideas. "There was a lot of dreaming and wishing about what it would look like when it was fixed up," Weatherl says.
The son and father envisioned a sleek-looking restomod with custom bodywork that retained the classic lines of a '67 Mustang fastback. Their idea was to blank out the louvers on the sides of the sloping fastback roofline, remove the drip rail moldings, and install an R-model front bumper painted in body color. The bright items left on the body would be those with a performance appeal - horizontal grille bars and hood pins on the front and a Cobra snake emblem on the gas cap at the rear.
Short of both space and time to work on the fastback, Chris went looking for another shop and came up with a home-run in Muscle Car Restoration, owned by Randy Roberts in nearby Claremore, Oklahoma (see "Mustang Rescue" in the September 2013 issue).
Weatherl's goal was to build the Mustang his father always wanted. Of course, he also wanted a great restomod. A more "aggressive" engine was part of the dream. Weatherl chose a 351 Windsor bored and stroked to 408 cubic-inches by the Engine Factory in New Jersey. Chris felt the 408 was "a nice compromise" among the many iterations of the 351, which builders can bore and stroke to 391, 408, 418, and 427 cubic-inches.
Muscle Car Restoration put the pieces together as Weatherl gathered them for the build, learning at the same time the difficulty of building a restomod because changing one part often means changing another part. The 550-horse engine dictated Baer disc brakes at all four corners, bigger wheels and tires, and a suspension from Gateway Performance Suspension. In turn, the upgraded suspension needed improved steering, with Weatherl choosing a Randall's rack and pinion.
Many people consider the '67 Mustang's deluxe interior, set off by brushed aluminum inserts, as one of the best looking of all time. Weatherl enhanced the interior with Shelby-style performance extras, including a LeCarra 14-inch steering wheel, Shelby/AutoMeter gauges and 200 mph speedometer, and Shelby roll bar.
"When it was finally done, I immediately drove it to show my Dad," Weatherl says. "He was grinning from ear to ear. He couldn't believe it."
Weatherl had finally built the dream restomod fastback he and his dad wanted so long ago.