Some guys just can't get enough of a good thing. When it comes to cars-and most particularly vintage Mustangs-Paul Croswhite may be near the top of the "more is better" list. When we heard about Paul and his penchant for pony cars, we took a little field trip to his house and his business just to see how far he'd taken the high-performance hobby.
Though you might not guess it from his casual appearance, Paul used to be a banker. Now he banks classic cars. Together with his wife, Terri, he owns Mustang MD (mustangmd.com; 818/367-0055) in Sylmar, California. Mustang MD is a multifaceted business that rents out classic cars for use in movies and TV and also incorporates a used-vehicle lot. The lot is jammed with cars and trucks from the '50s, '60s, and '70s as well as a couple of street rods. As we toured the place, Paul explained that about 25 percent of his inventory is on consignment, and the rest are owned outright by Mustang MD. As the business has grown, more and more people have come to Paul to consign or to sell him their vehicles, but he still goes on the hunt for vintage Mustangs and other classics.
Paul currently owns somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 80 cars, including the bunch on the lot and another horde at his house. But the one that brought us to Sylmar was what appeared to be a '67 Shelby GT350 that Glad had spotted at Bob's Big Boy in Burbank, California. When we hooked up with Paul, however, we discovered that all was not as it appeared to be.
"About 18 months ago, my friend Bob Sattler, who played the CHP officer in Gone in 60 Seconds, told me about his Mustang project and bought a bunch of parts from me," Paul explains. "I mentioned that if he ever wanted to sell the car to let me know. He came to me about a year later and said he was ready, so I called my friend Mike Terri and we decided to buy it to make an Eleanor out of it. Bob had only put about 4,000 miles on it at the time. He had totally rebuilt it from the ground up."
Mike and Paul bought the Mustang in a partnership deal, but Bob Sattler had developed quite a history with the car himself.
"It started in 1966," Bob says, "when I first learned to mount tires at Shelby in Venice, California. I fell in love with the cars that were being built by Carroll Shelby at his Venice and LAX plants.
"Fast forward to the fall of 2002. I had just finished helping a friend tear down his '67 GT350 for a total restoration. Not being able to afford a real Shelby, I decided to build a copy of a GT350. I started with a '68 Mustang Fastback A-code that I bought on eBay. The original car had a 351 Windsor motor in it with a C4 transmission. The suspension also had all the '68 parts, disc and drum brakes, power steering, and a blue interior."
As Bob started the teardown, however, he found the car had been in several accidents, necessitating the replacement of both front fenders and repairs to both rear quarter-panels. The fenders and lots of other parts came from Paul Croswhite, and that was the beginning of their friendship.
"Paul supplied me with an original 289 block, a high-performance dual-point distributor, the clutch and brake pedal assemblies for a stick-shift car, and other miscellaneous parts. I had the motor built, balanced, and blueprinted." Bob says he put a little over a year into the teardown and rebuild, and he spent countless hours in junkyards finding original parts, then sandblasting and painting them.
When we viewed the car, it was at Paul Croswhite's house in a garage filled with an assortment of collectible (mostly automotive) toys and a wall full of steering wheels. A smaller room off the garage houses an engine collection, which includes a variety of Ford small-blocks, carburetors, intakes, and assorted internals.
After the tours of the lot and the house, we went for a ride in the clone car. From the moment Paul fired it up, we were as infatuated as he was. The low rumble from the Flowmasters, the comfort of the buckets, and the competition look of the white-face Auto Meters put us in the mood to cruise, so Paul took us for a ride to his previous house. There, he pulled the car up along dirt driveway into a large vacant lot behind a smallish stucco building.
"I used to have about a hundred cars on this lot," he said. "They were in rows, and there were no weeds. My wife finally told me that if I was going to keep that many cars, we would have to have a bigger house. That's why we moved to where we are now."
He actually reduced his inventory after relocating. That must have been tough on a guy whose hobby and vocation is lots and lots of cars.
What: '67-'68 Ford Shelby GT350 Clone
Owners: Mike Terri and Paul Croswhite
Hometown: Sylmar, California
Short-Block: A bored-and-stroked '65 289 fitted with a 302 crank that was turned 10/10, TRW connecting rods, and Keith Black forged pistons. Balanced and blueprinted. Engle Camshaft.
Heads: They're a pair from a '65 Ford 289. They've been cc'd, ported, and polished.
Headers: Hooker Super Comp running into 3-inch mandrel-bent tubes and Flowmaster mufflers.
Intake: Cobra under a Holley/Le Mans carburetor
Drivetrain: Ford Top Loader four-speed transmission rebuilt by Bill Thompson in San Bernardino, California. Dual-friction 200mm clutch. Original driveshaft and a Ford 9-inch rear with 3.50:1 gears and a Trac-Lok limited slip.
Suspension: Subframe connectors. The frame mounts Eibach 1-inch lowered springs at the front and stockers at the rear. The shocks are KYB all around, and there's a 1-inch torsion bar with polyurethane bushings. The back end carries a pair of 31/44-inch traction bars, and the 10-spoke Shelby 15x7 wheels are wrapped in BFGoodrich 225/60R15 M+S rubber. The brake system is made up of a pair of '67 Shelby Kelsey-Hayes four-piston discs at the front and SSBC discs at the rear.
Interior: The dash was rebuilt with an Auto Meter speedometer, tachometer, and oil pressure and temperature gauges along with water, volt, fuel, fuel-pressure, and engine-vacuum gauges. The interior carries replacement stock front bucket seats and the folding rear, and the belts have been swapped out for Crow five-point racing harnesses. The original '68 Deluxe door panels are still in the car, but the original carpet has been replaced with reproduction Auto Custom Carpets floor covering. The column now sports a Grant three-spoke wood steering wheel.
Body: A GT500 hood with its hood vents help keep the engine bay cooler. To finish off the car, Bob added Maier fiberglass components, including the nose, hood, and tail spoiler.
Facts: The 289 used in original GT350s put out 306 hp, according to factory specs. The clone came with a 351 Windsor, but Bob bought a 289 from Paul, beginning their friendship, and swapped it in with top-quality internals.
Trivia: The GT350 was first produced in the fall of 1964 as a '65 model. The last of the breed came to the showroom as a '70.