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.
Who: David Lewis
What: '66 Ford Mustang coupe
Where: Wooster, Ohio, reportedly home to more Ph.D.s per capita than anywhere else in Ohio.
Engine: The block is a '92 5.0 topped with '69 351 Windsor heads. David doesn't know all the specs for the engine because he bought it already assembled from an eBay seller. He knew it had been recently rebuilt with high-compression pistons, roller rocker arms, and a really lumpy Crane camshaft. His college roommate convinced him to go with a fuel-injected engine. David had a '69 302 he was thinking of installing for a while.
Induction and fuel delivery: The hot-ticket intake for 5.0L guys is the GT40, and David's engine is no exception. He capped it off with a 75mm throttle body and 24-lb/hr fuel injectors.
Engine management: The donor car's wiring harness fit with little modification, so David used it rather than ordering an engine-swap harness. An X3Z computer from a '93 Cobra, stashed in the glovebox, keeps things running.
Exhaust: Headers were a no-brainer. David dropped in a pair of JBA shorties and connected them to a 211/42-inch exhaust system complemented by a pair of Jones Exhaust Systems Full Boar mufflers.
Ignition: Stock Duraspark. Nothing wrong with that.
Transmission: David modified the '66 crossmember to accept the donor car's Borg-Warner T5 trans. He works for LuK Automotive Systems as a quality engineer, so you can guess what brand clutch he's using. The driveshaft wouldn't fit, of course, so he ordered an aluminum one from Mustangs Plus.
Rearend: The rear axle is an 8-inch David also scored from eBay. It came out of a '66 fastback whose owner was upgrading to a 9-inch. He filled it with 3.55:1 gears on the factory limited-slip differential. The axles are stock.
Suspension: The car was originally a six-cylinder granny-mobile. Fortunately, David tossed all that stuff and rebuilt the front end to accept the manly V-8. He used GT Performance springs up front and exchanged the sagging leaf springs for OE replacement ones. He added traction bars to control spring wrap.
Chassis: David had to repair some areas of the floorpan that had been cobbled together by a previous owner. He installed homemade subframe connectors, then treated the chassis to a liberal coating of POR-15.
Brakes: Not satisfied with stopping distances that are best measured in yards, David swapped out the stock drum brakes in favor of four-wheel discs from Stainless Steel Brakes. He runs 14-inch rotors in front and 11-inch rotors on the rear.
Wheels/Tires: Those are 245/45ZR-17 Falken Ziex ZE-512 tires front and rear mounted on Bullitt-replica wheels from OE Performance Wheel.
Paint/Body: Jeff Kahl from Kahl's Kustoms in Mansfield, Ohio, welded on new quarters and massaged the creases and dings out of the remaining sheetmetal. He sprayed the body with Tungsten Grey, a color option on Mustangs starting with the '06 model-year. The LeMans and rocker stripes are done in Diamond White.