Once in a while, we run into a guy who has all of our ideas already, and we wonder if he is using some kind of idea-sucking ray gun to shoot Jeff Smith in the back of the head while we are at the Car Craft Summer Nationals.
Jim Brink is that guy. He was the first one we found at the CC Nats with a Gen III LSI swap into a '79 Camaro right after we hatched the idea, and now he's swapped a 5.0 from a Mustang GT into an early body style, just like our '67 Mustang project. He claims the Gen III swap was inspired by the F71 Camaro built by Hotchkis Sport Suspension and that he's always liked Mustang fastbacks, but we know better.
Maybe Jim thinks like us because he is like us. At the age of 10, he started building model cars, then went on to restorations with a '68 Firebird, then on to a '72 Trans Am clone, where he found out that building modified street machines is way better than playing with stock stuff.
Along the way, Jim became a fabricator for a company that manufactures packaging equipment and developed some enviable welding and metalworking skills, which are evident in the little details all over the car. At that point he'd moved into the mainstream, building a '67 Nova that he tubbed in his garage.
The Nova's engine had a big cam with no vacuum, so the brakes didn't work too well. This was Jim's introduction to the hydroboost brake system that he would later add to the Mustang. After the Nova came the '79 Camaro. Taking what he had learned from his first three projects, Jim slapped in the 5.7 from a wrecked late-model Camaro and showed up at the CC Nats. So all was good with Jim and his street machines. Then, "I got bored again," he says. "I was looking for a new project car, and a friend of a friend said he had a Mustang that he bought from the original owner in 1980."
The car was partially restored with original Ford parts. The rear quarters, outer wheelhouses, and trunk extensions were all replaced back when you could still buy the parts new from Ford. Jim took the car home and stripped the body down to bare metal using chemical aircraft stripper in his garage and surprisingly didn't find any ugly surprises.
The Mustang had been prepped for a 289 swap with new V-8 motor mounts, so Jim went out and found a wrecked '91 Mustang GT and pulled the 302 and the T5 trans to finish the job. The remains of the stock running gear were stripped along with all the suspension pieces, and the new running gear was mocked up. "A lot of this stuff was already scienced out from millions of V-8 swaps," says Jim. "The car already had a 9-inch from a Lincoln Versailles because the old owner was going to do the V-8 swap; he just never got around to it." Jim bought a crossmember for the T5 from an aftermarket company, and the drivetrain just dropped right in.
He had a set of Corvette brakes on his '79 Camaro, so he was familiar with how cheap and good they are. The parts supply comes from guys who are upgrading their C5 Corvette brakes and selling off their old junk on eBay. Jim scooped up a complete set and welded up a set of mounting brackets to get them to fit. "A lot of guys tell me to grind off the Corvette logos, but I'm not going to do that," says Jim.
With the parts in place, Jim stripped the car down again and sent the parts out for paint in late 2005. It was February 2007 before he saw all of the parts in one place again. Final assembly took only three months of evenings and weekends in Jim's 20x40-foot backyard shop. He finished it right before we met him in July at the CC Nats.
Now what? "I'm looking for something GM-ish because I bought another Gen III 6.0L from a salvage yard. Got any ideas?"