At a glance, Mark Binding's '65 convertible appears to be an extra-nice, all-original Mustang GT, just like many of the vintage Mustangs you see at shows and Saturday night cruises. But underneath the stock exterior is a Ford Racing crate engine and a five-speed transmission for peppy-even exciting-around-town driving. Even under close scrutiny, it's tough to tell.
Mark purchased the convertible from a friend in 1997, already painted and pretty much looking the same as today, although Mark eventually reupholstered the Pony interior and detailed the engine compartment. With the Mustang looking good, he decided to beef up the performance while maintaining a factory appearance, paying special attention to the details under the hood.
For more power, Mark ordered a Ford Racing M-6007-XB3 long-block, measuring 302 ci and rated at 345 hp, with aluminum GT-40 heads and a B303 hydraulic roller camshaft. For stealth purposes, He painted the engine black, just like a '65 289, including the GT-40 heads, which, unlike some aftermarket aluminum heads, have a cast-iron texture. Going for the Ford performance look, Mark topped off the 302 with Cobra valve covers and a Cobra high-rise intake with a 600-cfm Autolite four-barrel from a big-block Galaxie. To fit the valve covers over the roller rocker arms, he employed a pair of spacers, also painted black to disguise them from prying eyes. The stock 289 distributor was rebuilt using a PerTronix Ignitor electronic ignition and deleting the heavy advance spring for quicker advance. Exhaust is handled by vintage 289 High Performance manifolds, which work better than the standard 289 manifolds, yet provide a stock appearance.
To complete the covert operation, Mark detailed the engine with '65 components, like the 289-style timing-chain cover and oil pan, tubular fuel line, original-style hoses and clamps, yellow-top coil, and 289-style brackets. Wherever possible, Mark employed parts with C5 part numbers. Even the stiffer export brace and Monte Carlo bar were available from the Shelby parts catalog in the '60s.
Backing up the 302 is a Ford Racing World Class T5 five-speed, which utilizes the original shift linkages instead of cable, along with a four-speed knob. A-1 Driveshafts custom-made the larger driveshaft that connects the T5 to an 8-inch rearend with Precision Gear 3.80:1 cogs and an Auburn limited-slip differential.
Mark, from Pasadena, Maryland, uses his GT convertible for cruises and shows-like the Carlisle All-Ford Nationals where we spotted it among the thousands of Fun Field entries-but isn't afraid to have a little fun when he gets the chance. "It doesn't get babied," Mark said. "I like to run it hard when I take it out!"