As an example, Waydo explains how difficult it was to find small-block Mustang headers that would clear the various rack-and-pinion steering systems available for early Mustangs. After swapping numerous headers and racks on the STE Classic, K.A.R. eventually settled on a Randall's rack-and-pinion setup with Hedman Elite headers. "The Randall's rack mounts farther forward," Waydo tells us, "And the shaft comes out near the frame, which provides more clearance for headers."
Another combination that required considerable test-fitting was the FAYS2 Watts linkage rear suspension in conjunction with a rear-exiting exhaust, which Waydo wanted because it provides a quieter interior as opposed to an easier-to-install but louder side-exiting exhaust. Although the tailpipes had to be custom made, Waydo was pleased when his local exhaust shop proved it could be done.
K.A.R.'s goal for the STE Classic was a '65 Mustang fastback with street manners, road-car handling, modern creature comforts and safety features, and a sound that "says musclecar without being obnoxiously loud." Instead of sacrificing driveability by aiming for the magic 500hp number, K.A.R. preferred a tamer 350 hp from a Ford Racing 5.0 crate engine topped by an Edelbrock Performer intake and Barry Grant Demon carburetor. With 3.55 gears and a five-speed, the STE Classic offers a delicious combination of low-end acceleration and comfortable cruising.
Safety was also a primary goal, starting with the fuel-cell that eliminates the possibility of a rupturing fuel tank in the event of a major rear-end collision. The STE Classic is also upgraded with a dual-reservoir brake master cylinder, four-wheel disc brakes converted from an '02 Mustang GT, a Ford Explorer-type emergency brake, halogen headlights for improved visibility, oversize universal joints, and even a driveshaft safety loop.
Comfort was taken into consideration with a Classic Auto Air Perfect Fit A/C system, a Flaming River tilt steering column, and Rally reclining bucket seats. Between the seats is K.A.R.'s custom-built modular console with a front storage compartment and drink holders. The Alpine AM/FM/CD stereo head unit is ready for any of today's music options, including satellite radio and MP3 players.
As a total package, the STE Classic is a completely re-engineered, modern-day Mustang, and you'd think that K.A.R. has hopes of selling a ton of them as turnkey vehicles, but that's not the case. As Waydo explains, "Our goal is not to hand-build 20-25 cars a year-we'd be happy to build two or three-but our main goal is to be able to talk more intelligently to our customers. We want it to be easy for someone to duplicate in their home garage. Anybody can build this car. Everything is bolt-on; no welding required."
Although this STE Classic is basically completed, it continues to serve as a rolling testbed for K.A.R. Since our photos were taken on Labor Day weekend during the Mustang Club of America's 30th Anniversary Stampede, K.A.R. has added brighter LED taillights for additional safety. Power windows are also slated for the fastback.
Of course, building a car like the STE Classic is not an inexpensive proposition. In fact, if you'd like to own this particular fastback, it can be yours for somewhere around $79,500. Waydo hopes to lower the price of admission with K.A.R.'s next restomod project, a '68 hardtop.
Considering how the Mustang restomod movement continues to grow, we'd say that Waydo and K.A.R. took the right path when they faced the crossroads.