Southern California's Don Vincent embarked on a Mustang project thattook the better part of three years. It was a Silver Blue '66 hardtopmassaged to perfection and assembled with care by Don himself and acircle of friends. The car was gorgeous and sounded terrific. With morethan 400 horses underhood, it could hold its own. Visually, it wasstunning.
We were at a muffler shop on Roscoe Boulevard in the San Fernando Valleywhen Don roared up in his finished project. The interior had the aromaof new vinyl gassing off in the warm sun. You could even smell the newDuPont finish as he basked in the glow of a job well done.
When it was time for Don to leave, traffic was horrible, which made itchallenging to turn left onto Roscoe. Don spotted a brief opportunityand took it. He nailed the accelerator, slipped the clutch, and pulledout. We heard the squeal of rubber. With 4.11:1 gears, the car hadgotten away from Don as he lost control in front of oncoming traffic. Weheard two impacts. Don had spun his Mustang around, was rear-ended, andwas knocked into another vehicle broadside. His Mustang was a totalloss. Three years' worth of work was undone in an L.A. second. We allstood in the middle of Roscoe Boulevard in a state of shock anddisbelief. Don was safe, but shaken.
Don worked with the insurance company and mopped up his emotionalwounds. A short time later, he found this J-code Highland Green '68Mustang hardtop and went to work. Using most of the salvageable partsleft over from the totaled '66, he built a fresh Mustang hardtop. Hestarted with two-stage DuPont '01 Bullitt Mustang Green beneath acolor-sanded and hand-rubbed clearcoat finish. He fitted theunderpinnings with Baer disc brakes and 17-inch American RacingTorq-Thrust IIs wrapped in Dayton Daytona tires.
Inside, Don kept the car simple, capitalizing on the Interior DecorGroup with woodgrain, pleated door panels with hand holds, andheadrests. Where it differs from stock is the JME instrument panel withAuto Meter gauges. He fabricated his own pillar instrument pod with avoltmeter and clock.
Don's Mustang has the same voice as his previous '66, reincarnated withthe same 400-horse, 302 small-block built by John Villegas. John fittedit with a steel crank, H-beam rods, forged pistons, and a roller camfrom Comp Cams. AFR 184 aluminum heads, a high-rise intake, and a750-cfm Holley double-pumper are on top. To keep things safe, Don chosea McLeod scattershield and twin-disc clutch to mate up with the TremecTKO five-speed. He's planning a 9-inch with 3.55:1 gears to replace thecurrent 8-inch.
Don's experience is a lesson for all of us. First, to be careful withour classic Mustangs and, second, to never be afraid to try again, evenunder the worst of circumstances.