Keith Vogel is one of those guys who has to have a project vehicle. Old or new, it doesn't matter. So when Keith sold his much-modified '89 5.0 LX sedan, his eyes starting roaming the classified ads for an older Mustang. In the summer of 2000, he found it: "1968 Mustang coupe, 90 percent restored, Florida car, 390 hp, comes with '66, '67, and '68 parts vehicles, will not separate." Keith drove out to check the deal.
"I wasn't sure which one was the car and which ones were the parts cars," Keith says of his first encounter with this '68 hardtop. "I almost drove off, but since the coupe had a big-block engine, I decided to talk to the seller." Keith learned that the Mustang had been taken off the road in 1982 and stored on a trailer in a field, where all four tires went flat and mice took up residence inside. Bare wires were hanging from the instrument panel, the windshield was busted, and the decklid was filled with rust.
So Keith did what any red-blooded project-car builder would do: He bought it, but only after convincing the seller to separate the '68 hardtop from the "parts" cars.
Within a couple of months, the Mustang was stripped to bare metal in Keith's garage, where he, along with friend and bodyman Rick Couse, embarked on a two-year buildup. Even though Keith discovered the '68 came from the factory with an unusual combination of options-it's an S-code 390 GT with a four-speed and bench seat-he soldiered on with his stealthy restomod plan. "I wanted it to look basically stock but with upgrades for ultimate performance," Keith explained.
He put a lot of emphasis on the suspension, not only for handling but to also obtain the right musclecar-like stance. Part of the look comes from the Styled Steel rear wheels, which were custom-ordered from Wheel Vintiques with a 451/48-inch backspacing so the 275/60 BFG radials would tuck neatly beneath the wheelwells.
There is nothing outrageous about Keith's restomod hardtop. The 390 is mildly modified with Edelbrock heads, the Light Pewter Metallic paint is beautiful but subdued, and the black bench-seat interior would be boring except for the Hurst shifter and Grant GT steering wheel. But that's the way Keith wanted it, at least for the moment.
"When I retire, I'll probably restore the car to completely stock, right down to the original Sunlit Gold paint," Keith says. "Until then, I'll enjoy my restomod. To me, it is the perfect hot rod. It has the classic lines of the late '60s musclecars, I did 95 percent of the work, it's rare so it should hold its value, and it outperforms all my previous cars. Best of all, I can go out for a power cruise by myself or take the family for ice cream."
Stealthy ModsPaint: DuPont Light Pewter Metallic
Engine: 390 FE with Edelbrock aluminum heads, hand-fabricated 211/42-inch dual exhaust with 3-inch tips
Transmission: Top Loader four-speed by David Kee, Hurst Competition Plus shifter
Rearend: 9-inch nodular case with 3.50 gears and 31-spline Traction-Lok
Brakes: Power front discs, rear drums
Suspension: Ford Racing 650-pound front coil springs, 111/48-inch front sway bar, relocated upper A-arms, custom-arched rear springs, Bilstein shocks, Traction Master traction bars, Monte Carlo bar, Flaming River steering box
Wheels: 15x7 chrome Styled Steel up front, 15x8 with custom 451/48-inch backspacing by Wheel Vintiques at the rear
Tires: BFG radials, 215/65 front and 275/60 rear