You don't have to have the newest crate engine, double-throw-down suspension setup, or any other trick of the week to create a nice, well-done street machine. Witness Mike Yaklyvich's gorgeous '65 Mustang. We picked it out of all the cars in the show at the March Meet in Bakersfield in 2013 for our Editor's Choice award because it caught our eye from a distance and wowed us with details that contributed to its overall fantastic look.
It truly is a simple car done very nicely. About 16 years ago, while Mike was making deliveries for his employer, Southern Wine and Spirits (where he still works) in downtown Los Angeles, he spotted this poor fastback stuck in a corner of a parking garage under a 1⁄4 inch of dust. He asked around and learned that it belonged to the owner of the parking garage. That owner got it running just good enough for Mike to take a test drive, at which point he knew he had to have it.
Other than some small details and a new engine, it's essentially the same car and looks like it was when he got it. “The paint wasn't great, but it was the same style, the red with white stripes, and I liked it so I kept it that way,” Mike told us.
The hood that came with the car was “crap from Taiwan” that had warped from the heat radiated by the headers, so he bought a good-quality fiberglass hood with a steel frame and a Shelby-style scoop. When he installed that, he had it painted, along with the tops of the fenders, and that really made it look better. And he just drove it, not in a daily driver capacity but as often as he could. Then about five years ago, while cruising through Newport Beach, California, a motorcycle hit the Mustang pretty hard in the front end, gacking the sheetmetal and grille. Off it went to Specialized Coachworks in San Juan Capistrano, CA, for repair and repaint. When it got home, Mike set about putting it back together and spent months detailing everything as well as he could in his cramped two-car garage.
The original 289 had cracked a head, and when Mike tore it down he realized that the block had already been bored a few times, so he had Bob McKray Performance in Mission Viejo, CA, build a healthy 302 with good internals, World Products heads, and an original Shelby intake with a Holley underneath a Shelby air cleaner. An Isky solid-lifter cam makes it lump just enough but still maintain complete driveability. A Ford Toploader four-speed is a perfect complement to the street nature of the car, and 3.55:1 gears in a 9-inch make it livable enough on the highway.
There's no air conditioning because when you live at the beach in Southern California, who needs that detracting from the well-detailed engine compartment? The car does have power steering and brakes, and the three-core aluminum radiator keeps it running at 180 degrees all day long. And that's all there is to the car. Mike drove it the 160-ish miles to Bakersfield for the March Meet where he parked it in the dirt show area and spent the next few weeks cleaning it up in preparation for our cameras. See, keeping it simple can still be effective. Good job, Mike. Now, how do we pronounce your last name again?
I've done a lot of little stuff to it that I don't tell people about. They don't really see exactly what it is, but they just ...
Who: Mike Yaklyvich
What: '65 Mustang fastback
Where: San Clemente, CA
Engine: When Mike tore the original 289 down and found a 0.060-over block, he junked it and had Bob McKray in Mission Viejo, CA, build a 302. The bottom-end has a forged crank, Eagle rods, Speed-Pro flattops and rings, a Cloyes timing chain, Edelbrock aluminum water pump, and 7.2-quart Shelby oil pan. The valvetrain consists of an Isky solid-lifter cam, Comp springs and pushrods, and Crane roller rockers. The heads are out-of-the-box World Products aluminum pieces; he polished an original Shelby high-rise intake and finished it with a Holley 650-cfm double-pumper carb. The ignition is a Mallory distributor and digital box with MSD wires. It was never dyno'd, but Mike and Bob estimate the power at about 340 hp. The radiator catch can is a trick-looking piece from Mooneyes.
Exhaust: Mike wouldn't divulge who made his custom stainless steel step headers because he's embarrassed by the sloppy welds, fit, and overall design. It's a good thing they were expensive, too. From the 3-inch collectors, 2.5-inch pipes lead to old three-chamber Flowmasters.
Fuel System: This is about as simple as it gets: a high-volume, mechanical pump with stock lines supplies the Holley.
Transmission: No modern five-speed for this guy! A good old-fashioned Toploader four-speed with a Ram flywheel, Zoom clutch, and Hurst linkage make it simple and effective.
Rearend: It's a 9-inch with a limited-slip diff and 3.55:1 gears. The axles are stock 9-inch.
Suspension: Mike did the “Shelby trick” by lowering the front upper control arms an inch and put 620-pound springs and a 1-inch sway bar in the front and Koni shocks on all four corners, but other than that it's a stock '65 Mustang suspension.
Brakes: The front brakes consist of four-piston Kelsey Hayes calipers grabbing the discs, while the stock 2-inch-wide drums are out back. The booster is from a '67 Mustang.
Wheels/Tires: The only appropriate wheels to use on an early Mustang are American Torq-Thrusts, so that's what Mike wisely chose. The Torq-Thrust Ds are 15x7 all around with staggered BFGoodrich T/A radials sized 195/60 in the front and 215/65 in the rear.
Paint/Body: The current paint is now five years old, by Specialized Coachworks in San Juan Capistrano, CA. It's a two-stage red and clear, with white Shelby stripes. One of Mike's subtle tricks was the use of flat-faced Hella high-power headlights. Did you notice that in the photos?
Interior: The basic interior is as Mike got it, but he added Scat Pro Car buckets, a Shelby dashpod with gauges for oil pressure and tach, a bolt-in rollbar, and Ray Brown competition 3-inch belts like the original Shelby GT350s had. The final touch is a common sight on early Mustangs: a glovebox lid signed by Carroll. Mike also chromed the trim piece around the rear seat/storage area, which is usually painted black.
Special Thanks: Dari Brownell, Mark Stavron, Phil Tessier, and John (Bub) Martinez.