They say history often repeats itself. But for Stewart Bittle, that means heading off to college in the '67 Mustang fastback that once belonged to his dad's college roommate. Bittle's dad is J. Bittle, president of JBA Speed Shop and well-known in the Mustang community for his many years of building and racing Mustangs.
The car's history with the Bittle family began back in 1975 when J. Bittle attended Texas A&M University and became roommates with Kenny Monfort, who owned the green '67. Back then, Bittle drove around in his original '67 Shelby GT 500, which he still owns today. Bittle and Monfort became friends while playing in the university's marching band together. But the memories of two classic Mustangs cruising around campus are much stronger than what university professors could implant.
Long after both graduated, Bittle purchased Monfort's Mustang as a project for his son. During the six years it took for Stewart Bittle to bring the Mustang back into its current condition, he finished high school and was accepted at Texas A&M. The Bittle family thought it would be a great idea to complete the Mustang in order for Stewart to use it for transportation at college. With the help of his dad and friends, the high school graduate completed the car and drove it from California to Texas to continue his education.
The Mustang still looks pretty much as it did, including the original Texas A&M decal that was placed on the car's rear window back in the 1970s. Considering the Mustang originally had dark green paint, it allowed Bittle to build the car along the popular “Bullitt” theme. Under the hood, one might think that the 390 FE may look somewhat like an original restoration. But once the engine is started, the sound lets you know that this Mustang has some serious performance modifications. The 390 now makes 450 horsepower and 490 lbs.ft. of torque thanks to the building, balancing, and blueprinting efforts at JBA Engines in San Diego. To make that kind of power, a set of Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads were added along with a Crane solid-lifter camshaft, a Holley 650-cfm four-barrel on a Police Interceptor intake, and a set of JBA Tri-Y headers connected to JBA Cobra Jet mufflers.
The car's history with the Bittle family began back in 1975 when J. Bittle attended Texas A&M University and became roommates with Kenny Monfort, who owned the green '67.
Bittle also converted the Mustang from its original automatic transmission to a NASCAR four-speed Top Loader. Power is sent to a Ford 9-inch rear built with Currie 31-spline axles, a Traction-Loc differential, and 3.00:1 gears that allow the Mustang to be used as daily transportation.
Considering the interior had more than 45 years of wear, it was completely gutted and replaced with a Scott Drake Deluxe black upholstery kit by AR Jay's Upholstery. For safety, Bittle also upgraded to Drake's head rest kit, lap-belt restraints, and a Shelby-style four-point roll bar. The dash retains the factory instrument cluster, but in keeping with the Bullitt theme, it seemed appropriate to add a Sun steering column tachometer and a three-gauge pod with Sun gauges. Retro is cool most of the time, but in order to keep his sanity when driving from his home in San Diego to Texas A&M, Bittle upgraded the radio with a Pioneer DX2869 head unit that features a CD player and JVC amplifier. The factory speakers were replaced with two JVC 6x9s in the rear and two 6.5-inch speakers in the kick panels.
To help balance the weight, Bittle moved the battery to the trunk and modified the front suspension using Global West tubular A-arms and performance coil springs, which also lowered the front end 1.5-inches. At the rear, Global West lowering leaf springs were used, as well as a Global West anti-sway bar to match the bar at the front. The Mustang's superior handling capabilities are enhanced by Bilstein shock absorbers along with a Borgeson steering conversion with a '68 collapsible column. Excellent traction comes from the Goodyear P255 and P275-series 17-inch tires mounted on 17x8 and 17x9 Vintage-45 wheels to aid with the Bullitt appearance. Stopping is just as important, so the Baer front and rear disc brakes feature 14-inch slotted rotors in front and 10-inch slotted rotors at the rear.
With more than 60,000 miles, you might think that the '67 required some extensive body work, but Bittle only had to repair minor rust on the deck lid. The rest of the metal preparation, before applying the Highland Green paint, was done by Jon Guilmet at Hot Rod Hell. Modifications like rolling the fender well lips were made to accommodate the wider rubber, and the factory headlights were upgraded to halogen for more illumination during the long round trips to school.
While Bittle will spend most of his time completing college work and building the foundation for his future, he's fortunate to have a family that supports his efforts. But frankly, it's cool to be able to drive around in a cool musclecar that has some rich history and has been given another opportunity to create even more great memories.