Girl: Bobbi Sue Luther
We can't stop looking at it and neither can the owner. While we were speaking with him, Bill swiveled his head at least 15 times to peek at the car all gleaming and washed in the studio. When you think Car Craft, studio shoots don't usually come to mind. The exception is when the paint and body are so good we feel obliged to drag it indoors for pro photos. It's even more likely when the paint job was performed in a guy's garage instead of a professional spray booth. Makes us wish we had that kind of talent.
Back in the '80s, Bill had a similar car with Cleveland power that made frequent trips to the local street-racing scene in his hometown of Everett, Washington. Eventually, the car had four different tires on it, nothing matched, and Bill couldn't afford to fix it, so in 1989, it had to go, oxidized paint and all.
Since then, Bill has started a marketing firm and commutes between his Washington state home and another in Phoenix. He found his current project on his way to a high school baseball game when he stopped in at a tavern to get some lunch and a beer. He started talking to a local man about his love for '67 Mustangs when the stranger told him he owned a '67 GTA. The man was in his '70s and ready to sell. Bill went back to Phoenix, figured out how to pay for the car, flew back, and picked it up.
The original intention was to leave it in Snohomish, Washington, and take it down to Arizona in the winter months. But the 347-inch engine was running rich, smoking, and dripping on the garage floor. Bill took it to West Coast Restorations for a tune-up and it never left. It took a year for Bill to get the car from leaky mess to the studio shoot.
While the car was on the rack, they found some suspension problems as well, so Bill just left the car and got on a plane. Once West Coast had the car, it installed Global West suspension, subframe connectors, and a Total Control rack-and-pinion steering system. Things got out of hand when WC's Zac Thureson called Bill and talked him into the Air Ride suspension with the wireless remote. During the shoot, all the guys would argue about which ride height looked the coolest.
Bill recalls that the engine turned out to be "a 0.060-over relic that leaked from every orifice." The mill was yanked in favor of a John Barrett-built 408 that makes 550 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque." I wanted lots and lots of streetable horsepower," Bill says. "We were going to use a Roush-built 392, but I got sick of waiting and bought the 408."
He had been handling things by phone and slowly selling off the stock drivetrain components. When he finally showed up in person, the suspension parts were on the car and the frame connectors were welded in. He was standing at West Coast trying to figure out how to fix a few flaws in the candy-apple red paint, when it occurred to him to change the color. That decision quickly turned into a full-rotisserie restoration to get the matching body color in the jams and engine bay. When the bodywork was ready, the body was brought to Dale Knutson Kustom Kars in Snohomish.
Dale's shop is a one-man operation that consists of a 30x25 wood-framed shop that is both his garage and a makeshift paint booth. The volume of cars is low, but Dale has still managed to paint quite a few over the last 28 years. "I've been into bodywork forever," Dale says. "When you have a paint problem, you have to ask a lot of questions. Knowing how to fix problems is the key to painting. Some people just get lost in the problems." Dale converts the garage into a paint shop by cleaning the shop thoroughly. He doesn't use plastic curtains, he just waters down the floor and uses quality materials. "Once you learn how to do it right, it's a matter of sticking with it," Dale says.
A year after going in for the tune-up, Bill was standing in the studio with the Mustang without ever having driven it. He brought it to us before he got it dirty, but he is not that type of guy. "I absolutely intend to drive this thing as soon as the photos are done. I can't wait for freeway onramps, that will be fun," Bill says. "This car is for fun weekend stuff, that's been my dream anyway."