Car envy-we can all relate to it. Somewhere in your youth there was THAT person with THAT car, and it left an indelible impression on your brain. Maybe it was a relative, a friend of the family, or your sister's loser boyfriend. The worst off of us won't even remember the person at all-just the car. Something about it just pushed all the right buttons.
So David Lewis' story is a familiar one, but his adds a unique twist: He bought the actual car he fell in love with. In his words, "I was with my best friend from high school at his house when his neighbor showed up with this '66 Mustang coupe. It sounds crazy, but it was the first time I had seen an older Mustang in person." He was hooked. In fact, after seeing the car, he vowed to his father that he would own a Mustang before he graduated from college.
A few years passed and the friend's neighbor, of course, let the car languish in the elements before realizing he'd never fix it. David got the call and came to the Mustang's rescue.
That was a little over two years ago. What you're seeing in these pictures is the end result of dogged determination on David's part, because the car really needed help. Though it cleaned up OK and ran when he bought it, closer scrutiny turned up some serious flaws. The floorpans were rusty and had been victim to a half-assed repair by a previous owner; the engine overheated after more than 30 minutes of driving; the suspension was a mess, and there was a 31/44-inch-thick sheet of Bondo holding the quarter-panels together. Handformed sheetmetal is cool, but a person who fabricates body panels of polyester body filler is a hack-there's just no way around it.
As you've guessed by now, David ended up disassembling the entire car. At the time, he was a mechanical engineering student at Kettering University (formerly the GM Institute) in Flint, Michigan. So the car provided an ideal hands-on supplement to the theoretical lessons he was learning in the classroom. "I did learn a lot," he says, admitting that he was a real novice prior to the purchase of the Mustang. "I did all the mechanical work and disassembled the car, but I left the bodywork and paint to a pro."
Things get interesting when you pop the hood. David eschewed tradition in favor of a modern EFI powerplant from a '92 Mustang. The engine was for sale on eBay, but no one bid on it. David contacted the seller and made a deal. When he got to the seller's house, he ended up buying the trans, wiring harness, gas tank, driveshaft, and dashboard, too. In other words, he had virtually all the elements he'd need for the engine swap. Adding to his good fortune, the owner of the donor car had just rebuilt the engine with some serious speed parts before wrapping the car around a tree. His loss was David's gain. He spent the next two years rebuilding the Mustang-commuting to his home in Ohio on weekends. Though the swap was not without its frustrations, David says he'd do it again. He likes the fact that the car starts right up in any weather, and we liked his ultraclean install. We met David at the Buckeye All-Mustang Show at Summit Racing Equipment's headquarters in Tallmadge, Ohio, where his car really stood out from the crowd.