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?"
Who: Jim and Darla Brink
What: '66 Ford Mustang
Where: Carlos, Minnesota, which is about 150 miles northwest of St. Paul, home of the Car Craft Summer Nationals.
Engine: The 302 is simple enough. It's a 0.030 302 from a '91 Mustang GT with a Comp Cams 274HR hydraulic roller. The cam has 224/236 at 0.050 and 0.555/0.570 lift. "It's enough cam for the street; any more would be ridiculous," says Jim. Even though these engines are factory-equipped with forged pistons, Jim replaced them with Probe slugs to get the compression ratio up to 10.5:1. Chris Weisser from Classic Motor Sports added the Eagle forged crank and assembled the short block.
Ignition: The 302 uses a PerTronix distributor and coil. It is a stand-alone that only needs a 12-volt lead.
Exhaust: The headers are 151/48 Hedman Elites with a thick flange and heavier tubes than standard. Jim says you can install them from the top, but it's easier to put them in from the bottom. If the clutch linkage is in place you have to remove the driver-side engine mount and lift the engine out of the way a bit. The pipes are 2.5-inch-diameter with Flowmaster muffs.
Goodies: Jim made the strut tower brace himself, welding it from the bottom side so you can't see the beads. "This is the second one I did," he says. "It took three nights to complete it-two nights for one side, then one night for the other side." Jim used 31/44-inch round and 31/416x2 flat stock that he had chromed. He bought the Monte Carlo bar and hid the Painless wiring kit so even he can't see the stuff.
Suspension: The front suspension has Mustang GT springs that are a little softer than stock. He cut them down one and a half coils to get the car to sit right. In the rear, Jim uses Maier rear leaf springs with a stiffer front half to eliminate wheelhop.
Brakes: The hydroboost system is a GM hydraulic brake booster. The pump on the driver sends power-steering fluid to the booster to assist with braking. The booster assembly and lines came from Hydratech, and the master cylinder is from an '02 Camaro. The master cylinder already has a pushrod attached that clips into the factory Mustang pedal. The brakes are from a C5 Corvette with 13-inch drilled and slotted rotors in the front and PBR calipers. The rears are 12-inch discs from a fourth-gen Camaro with PBR calipers. All the additional brackets were handmade by Jim in his shop.
Wheels/Tires: The front tires are 235/45R17 BFGs on 17x7-inch American Racing Torq-Thrust IIs. The rears are 255/40R17 BFGs on 17x8 American Racing Torq-Thrust IIs.
Transmission: The clutch is a King Cobra diaphragm designed for a '91 Mustang. With an aftermarket kit, Jim was able to use mechanical linkage instead of the factory cable clutch. The driveshaft is new and shortened "about 2 inches."
Interior: The interior was already finished in white, so Jim decided to stay with it and buy matching door panels. He made the dash bezel and moved the parking brake between the seats using a kit from Lokar that worked with the PBR rear brake calipers. The steering column is from ididit with a LeCarra wheel. The glovebox door was stripped with lacquer thinner to get it to match the instrument panel.
Trunk: Jim thought the engine compartment was crowded, so he put the battery in the trunk. He also made the cover for the gas tank out of 31/416 aluminum diamond plate that has been anodized black.