Every year since the inaugural All-Ford Nationals, Randy Lillibridge and his uncle, John Grillo, have made the trek from Wakefield, Rhode Island, to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to sell used parts at the huge swap meet. And every year, Randy viewed the cars in the Invitational Display and aspired to one day see his ’67 Mustang fastback among the invited elite. Last spring, with his Mustang’s restoration nearing completion, Randy mailed in the entry form for the Carlisle Invitational.
The good news: His entry was accepted.
The bad news: He had less than two months to finish the car.
“The engine was in and running,” Randy says. “But we had a lot more to do, including the installation of the interior and the glass.”
It was an unusual last-minute rush for the restoration that had taken 21 years to complete. Randy bought the Mustang in 1990, when he was 15, paying just $500 for the 390/four-speed/GT fastback that was originally sold at Tasca Ford. However, by then, the Mustang had been raced, modified, and raced some more, as evidenced by the class winner stickers on the rear glass. The 390 was long-gone, replaced by a 289, and the body had been modified with fender flares, Shelby scoops, and a body kit. Making matters worse, the car sat for 10-15 years. Randy describes it as a “bucket.”
With help from Uncle John, Randy started repairing the Mustang. But then marriage, followed quickly by two children, stalled progress. Fortunately, Randy held onto the Mustang, storing it for a while in his parents’ garage, until there was “time and money” to pursue a full make-over. Three years ago, Randy finally moved the Mustang into Uncle John’s shop, JG Auto and Performance in Ashaway, Rhode Island, where the pair started on a full rotisserie restoration.
The most difficult part came first—body repair. Between the racer modifications and rust, the fastback required a lot of sheetmetal replacement—new quarters, tail panel, rockers, floors, hood, trunk lid, doors, and fenders, plus the expected cowl repairs. From there, Randy built the Mustang he visualized when he was 15—stock-looking on the outside but with a modified drivetrain. Instead of an original 390, Randy prepared a 428, starting with a block he purchased at Carlisle. He filled it with a Cobra Jet crank, Eagle H-beam rods, 10.5:1 SRP pistons, and a Predator custom-ground solid-lifter cam. Ocean State Performance prepared the Edelbrock aluminum 427 heads, which are topped by a Blue Thunder CJ intake and Holley 750-cfm carb. Hooker Super Comp headers flow into a 3-inch stainless steel exhaust with crossover pipe and MagnaFlow mufflers.
For a drivetrain capable of handling the big-block’s output, Randy bolted up a Tremec TKO 5-speed with a Centerforce clutch inside a Quicktime bellhousing. At the rear, a narrowed ’57 Ford 9-inch rearend contains a Traction-Lok differential and a 4.00:1 ring-and-pinion acquired from a buddy who deals in used NASCAR equipment.
True to Randy’s vision, the body remains stock, painted by Uncle John in the original Brittany Blue hue. The only concession is the Boss 429 hood scoop, which provides both carburetor clearance and a ram-shot of cooler air to the filter that juts through the hood opening. Rolling stock consists of chrome styled steel wheels, 15x7 front and 15x8 rear, with Goodyear Eagle GT II tires, P235/70R15 front and P275/70R15 rear.
As an assistant service manager at Fall River Ford in Massachusetts, Randy performed much of the work himself, although he credits Uncle John as the “driving force” behind the Mustang’s timely completion.
“There was a lot of help from friends and family,” Randy explains. “But nobody did more than my Uncle John. Needless to say, we put in some extra hours to get it done for Carlisle.”