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1971 Ford Mustang - Never Ending

Bill & Debra Fowlers Impeccable '71 Big-Block 'Vert

Photography by Tom Donchez

We've become all too accustomed to people sharing their tales on how they rescued their street machine from an old barn in the country. The 21st-century version of that barn has to be the Internet. Whether it's eBay Motors, various classifieds, or personal home pages, you can find just about anything you need with a few strokes of the keyboard. And that's how Corona Del Mar, California's Bill Fowler found his perfect street machine.

Bill wanted a big-block street machine, or at least a car that could readily accept a big-block. It also had to be a convertible. But most importantly, he wanted it to stand out. And considering that he grew up building various Blue Ovals throughout his life, including a '67 and '68 Mustang and a '67 Shelby GT 500, it only seemed fitting to build an early-'70s Mustang.

With a brief search on the Web, Bill managed to locate a dealership in Northern California that specialized strictly in musclecar sales. After convincing his wife Debra that the car was more or less finished to his liking and that he wouldn't have to invest much more in future modifications, they made the one-hour flight up north and were able to drive the entire 450 miles back to Southern California without a hitch.

Of course it would have been too easy to end the story there, because in true gearhead fashion, nothing can ever be left alone. That's why the Mustang lost its 460ci big-block in favor of a stroked 504, the larger Baer brakes took over for the stock binders, and the tantalizing 18-inch Borbet Type TDs found their way on the car. Bill claims that the '71 is finished, but somehow we think there's more to come from this never-ending story.

Car Craft Q&A

Car Craft: Any particular reason you opted for a '71 Mustang?
Bill Fowler: I wanted a car that could easily accept a big-block, and since these cars were offered by the factory with a big-block option, the conversion is simple, headers are readily available, and you don't have to have fingers that bend backwards in order to change the spark plugs.

CC: Has anything changed on the car since we last saw it?
BF: As a matter of fact, I just recently learned that I spun a main bearing, so I'm in the process of pulling it out for a larger 524ci stroker.

CC: Plan on doing anything else while it's apart?
BF: Funny you should ask. I was already in the ordering stages to complete a T-56 six-speed conversion, so with this little incident it'll be a completely new combination.

CC: We know you like to flog the car at the dragstrip, but how often do you cruise it?
BF: We're in the car every weekend and have been enjoying various cruise spots near the beach. Also, after the six-speed is installed, we're already planning to take a high-speed blast in the Silver State.

The Details

Car: '71 Ford Mustang

Owner: Bill and Debra Fowler, Corona Del Mar, California

Engine: 504ci big-block (0.040-over 460), Scat 6.603-inch H-beam rods, Coast High Performance pistons, Scat 4.140 stroke crankshaft

Heads: Ported aluminum Ford Cobra Jet by Ben Alameda Racing in Los Angeles, CA, 2.25/1.76-inch intake/exhaust valves, Comp Cams 1.7:1 roller rockers

Induction: Blue Thunder dual-plane, Holley 750-cfm carburetor

Camshaft: Comp Cams solid-roller, 230/236 degrees duration at 0.050 with 0.599/0.620-inch lift

Transmission: C6, TCI Street Fighter 11-inch 2,400-stall converter, TCI shift kit

Rearend: 9-inch, 31-spline Moser axles, FRPP 3.55:1 gears

Front suspension: Stock, PST polyurethane bushings, Total Control springs, QA1 shocks, Global West sway bar

Rear Suspension: Deaver springs, QA1 shocks, Competition Engineering bushings and Slide-A-Link

Front Brakes: Baer Track Plus system, 14-inch disc

Rear Brakes: Baer Track Plus system, 13.25-inch disc

Wheels & Tires: 18x9-inch Borbet Type TD with P275/40R18 Goodyear Eagle F1, front; 18x9-inch Borbet Type TD with P305/45R18 Nitto 555R Drag Radials, rear

Paint: Factory Pewter Metallic

Body Modifications: Monochromatic bumpers, Mach 1 hood, spoiler, and taillamps

Best quarter-mile e.t.: 11.87 at 116 mph

Top Speed: 140 mph observed

Cost To Build: "I can't say-my wife will be reading this."

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