S&B Automotive’s 1968 Mustang: When Old School Meets New School
No one can put up a good argument about the awesome aesthetics of classic muscle. The raw lines, their boldness and ability to inspire and intimidate are second to no other form of vehicle. Unfortunately, anyone who has ever owned a classic will tell you that what’s made up in substance and raw power is usually lost in reliability and comfort. Just as there is no substitute for true muscle, there is no substitute for modern technology and comfort. As we found out during our close inspection with the Stevens & Brennan Automotive Mustang, there is no reason why we can’t have the best of both worlds.
The 1968 Mustang was rebuilt from scratch. The finished product is a pony car through and through, and from a distance everything from the growling low exhaust note to the almost obnoxious yellow/green pearl paint is barking for attention. It commands you to look, and you simply must obey. But obey, and your eyes and sense will be rewarded.
My immediate impression of the car as I drove in to the meeting location was “OK, yellow Mustang – cool.” It looked as tough as nails, but I’ve seen many Mustangs before so I thought I knew what to expect. It really wasn’t until I gave the car a closer inspection that I noticed the insane amount of subtle details that had gone into this restoration. The “less is more” approach and the attention to detail on this machine is exceptional. I began to understand the level of time and commitment that Steve and his team had invested.
The project started with a complete driving left hand drive blue 1968 Mustang coupe. The vehicle was completely dismantled (every nut and bolt) and inspected. The only components that made it into the final build were the bare shell, diff, windshield and rear window. The body was sand-blasted before all the rust was cut out, and it was then converted to right hand drive. It was extensively strengthened and braced, including full chassis rails, torque plates, custom fabricated firewall and custom strut tower and boot braces.
Body modifications were kept to a minimum to maintain the classic Mustang look. There’s been a total de-chroming of the bumpers done, and almost all the usual trim pieces have been removed or de-chromed too, which all helps bring the look into the new era, but with that still-present feeling of muscle. The dummy rear quarter panel scoops were made functional. A front Shelby copy apron with spoiler was added (like it or hate it, it works – apparently at 200km/h the car is extremely stable). That huge central cut-out under the grill and that new front spoiler is certainly a design feature that can’t be ignored, but to make sure the car can’t be missed, the chameleon color is a yellow on a green base…
The engine is a 5.0L Windsor with factory GT-40 heads and GT-40 lower inlet manifold. It has custom fabricated ceramic-coated extractors and a custom exhaust system. The fuel system utilizes a VY Commodore fuel pump/fuel gauge sender unit in-tank assembly to supply fuel to a Bosch Motorsports in-line pump. Custom fuel rails are used to supply Ford motorsport injectors and a malpassi regulator. Ignition is a distributor-less waste spark system that is driven by a Motec M800 engine management system using Ford ignition coils.
An Autorotor twin-screw supercharger gives the “68MUZY” bucket loads of torque, and with fuel injection that’s also controlled by the Motec using the Windsor motor’s sensors (“the experts said it could not be done”), the result is an unbelievably pleasant driving experience. The power is sent rearwards to a 5 speed Tremac TKO 500 gearbox, and transferred to the rear wheels by the original Ford 8″ diff. It took two 14-hour days of programming and adjustments to get the engine to start for the first time and another two days on the dyno to reach the final tune. The final results speak for themselves, though: 0-100km/h in under 4.9 seconds, 10.5 litres/ 100km, legal exhaust emissions, and an engine that starts and idles as well as any 21 century vehicle.
As you’ll notice from the shots above, the engine bay continues the subtle/practical approach to the build: all serviceable units (drive belts, water pump, power steering pump, alternator, A/C compressor, etc.) are off late model Holden, Ford or Mazda cars, so replacement units are readily available. These units were all mounted on custom fabricated brackets to keep them low in the engine bay to help achieve a “clean” look for the engine. All unused holes were filled and filed over before the respray.
Continuing with the “retro-tech” theme of an older car with modern conveniences, there are heaps of small mods, such as the total removal of door locks, to be replaced by buttons and poppers with keyless entry and keyless starting, cruise control, bluetooth, and a Kenwood head unit for sounds. The vehicle was totally rewired to suit the updated technology it carries, and the fuse/relay box, battery and amp were all relocated to the trunk.
The interior is a combination black and yellow upholstery, the front seats are Recaro and the rear is a modified version of the original seat. A custom center console which includes a build in iPhone jack is in there too, and VDO gauges complete the look.
The front suspension is adjustable coil overs, with Eibach springs, rack and pinion steering. Rear suspension is custom-spec leaf springs with adjustable Koni shocks. The brakes? Front are 330mm rotors with dual piston PBR calipers, rear are 285mm rotors with PBR calipers.
“When (the owner) Chris approached me to build this car, the brief was to build a classic Mustang that drove like a 21st century car. It had to be reliable and low maintenance. He did not want to be scared to drive it for fear of breakdown. Performance, handling and brakes had to match the vehicles available for sale today, and it had to be unique. It had to be a car you can drive to work, or drive to Queensland, and it is just that car.
“I would like to thank Chris for trusting Stevens and Brennan Automotive to produce the car he desired, he gave us free reign to indulge our ideas to produce what we believe is an excellent performance/street/daily driver,” says Stephen Brennan
Some purists might not like the fact that Chris has messed with a iconic classic muscle car, and those people would probably prefer if the car was restored back to its former glory days when it rolled off the showroom floor nearly 50 years ago. We love to see people create vehicles that think outside of the box when it comes to giving their individual take on their respective chassis. Chris and the guys at S&B Automotive have brought us a Mustang that keeps the classic lines but brings modern technology to where you could actually daily drive this Pony Car of yester-year in comfort. That combined with the amazing amount of detail that was used when building this Mustang makes it obvious that class is in session.
Editor: cristian loza