If you reach back into the annals of muscle car history, you will no doubt stumble across Motion Performance. A high-profile speed shop owned by Joel Rosen, Motion partnered with Baldwin Chevrolet in Baldwin, New York (Long Island), in 1967 to offer SS and Phase III big-block versions of the Camaro, Nova, Chevelle, Corvette, and Biscayne. By 1968, Baldwin-Motion was recognized as the number two builder of specialty performance cars--behind Shelby American.
So if Motion Performance was so closely connected to Chevrolet, how did the company end up sponsoring a Ford Mustang?
We'll let current owner Fred Greco tell the story:
"The Hugger Mugger is an original K-code '65 fastback. It was purchased new by Fred Reimer, one of my best friends. Growing up in Baldwin, New York, we were both drag racing nuts. I was driving a '64 Falcon that I purchased from my drag racing hero, Bob Tasca, when Fred bought the Mustang. He raced it, with me as his "wrench," at Long Island dragstrips, where we eventually met up with Larry Smith, another Ford fanatic who was the service manager at Motion Performance. When we weren't racing at National Speedway, we hung out at Motion. It was only a matter of time before we convinced Joel Rosen that the Motion name belonged on the side of a Ford. Joel agreed, and the project was born."
Early on, the Mustang was powered by various 289 High Performance engines. But with the sponsorship from Motion, Reimer and Greco decided to adapt the then-new Boss 302 heads to the Hi-Po block. Larry Smith built the hybrid Boss engine and took care of the minor modifications needed to fit it into the early Mustang chassis.
"Larry prepared the car, I was the wrench, and we all drove," Greco says.
He can also explain the Mustang's unusual name: "At the track, the car routinely trounced Camaros, which were promoted in Chevy ad campaigns as 'The Hugger,' thus the 'Hugger Mugger' name."
Greco recalls that the car had the potential to run 10.80-second passes in the quarter-mile, but it never quite reached that goal while routinely running in the low to mid 11s. In 1974, with job and family requirements taking up more of the team's time, the Mustang was retired from active racing duty. Reimer replaced the race engine and rearend with a tamer drivetrain for limited street driving before eventually putting the Hugger Mugger into storage.
In 2005, Reimer decided to relinquish the Mustang to his pal Greco, with the understanding that the car would be returned to as-raced condition. Today, the car remains unrestored, with the exception of fresh Rangoon Red paint and relettering by the original artist, Gary the Local Brush. The Shelby hood, sidescoops, and quarter windows are the same ones added by Reimer in 1966. Mileage is only 37,000--many of them rolled over a quarter-mile at a time.
With the exception of the engine block, tires, and rear gears, today's Hugger Mugger is identical to its 1969-1973 racing condition. Long Island Ford guru Tony Cary built the current engine, starting with a new Ford Racing Boss 302 block and topping it with the Boss 302 heads and intake that Smith had installed in the late 1960s. The original Toploader four-speed is controlled by a vintage Hurst Super Shifter, while the 9-inch rearend is equipped with a Holman-Moody nodular centersection fitted with a Detroit Locker differential, 31-spline axles, and 4.30:1 gears. Greco says the car used 5.80 gearing in the 1960s.
Much of the Mustang's original performance equipment is still intact, like the cable-driven Moroso tachometer, SW gauges, Lakewood traction bars, and Mallory dual-point distributor. Wheels are vintage 14-inch ET five-spokes on the front and 15-inch Astros at the rear with new M/T slicks. Numerous "winner" decals still line the side glass from the car's victories, along with other vintage stickers in the rear window for the National Council of Mustang Clubs, Ford's "Muscle Power" from the old Muscle Parts program, and the Motion Supercar Club.
Over the past several years, Greco has been displaying the Hugger Mugger at shows around the Northeast. "We've had a ball meeting up with old friends to talk about Motion Performance and the glory days of drag racing on Long Island," he says.
Now he's talking about putting the car back on the strip: "I'd like to run the car in its vintage form at nostalgic drag events. I would sure like to reach that 10.80 goal."
The Hugger Mugger prepares...
The Hugger Mugger prepares to "mug" a Camaro at New York National Speedway in 1970. At that point, Reimer and Greco had replaced the Shelby hood with a large-scooped racing version.