Muscle cars are a booming business despite the current economic doom and gloom. Just ask Steve Keefer, owner of this magnificent maroon Mustang. He recently left his 9-to-5 to take a stab at a longtime dream of his: to own a business building cool cars.
He should do quite well, too. Even a blind man could quickly figure out that Steve is no hack when it comes to putting a car together. An ex-BMW dealership technician with almost 20 years on the job, he built this Mustang to showcase his skills while promoting his new business, East Bay Muscle Cars in Brentwood, California-about one hour south of San Francisco. From a strictly business perspective, the Mustang is an effective marketing tool. If prospective customers start pressing him about the quality of his work, Steve need only point them to the Mustang.
He straightens sheetmetal, builds engines and transmissions, tackles suspension work, breezes through wiring, and even does upholstery, so the mechanical stuff is no problem. Judging from the overall look of the car, Steve's sense of aesthetics is also on par with his mechanical aptitude. Whether or not you are a fan of big wheels, it's fair to say he absolutely nailed the stance of the car, and yes, the Mustang sits on coil springs-no switches were hit dropping it down to weed whacker height before our cameras were unholstered.
You could walk around Steve's Mustang a dozen times and not see all the little details that really make it unique. Some are so easily missed, Steve would have to point them out. For example, did you notice the custom rear valance, exhaust cutouts, taillight lenses, or rocker panels that were extended 11/4 inches to hide the suspension mounting points?
There is even more to see underneath: Heim-jointed suspension pieces, a custom fuel system, and a Total Control four-link in place of the stock leaf springs. You'd need several hours on a creeper under the car to take it all in.
Amazingly, Steve accomplished the entire build in only one year. Even more impressive, the car was a pile when he started. He'd owned it for 10 years, keeping it in his side yard the whole time. Its previous owner had left it sitting derelict for eight years prior to that. It needed new floorpans, shock towers, quarter-, and rocker panels. Steve did all the work at home in his garage before opening his shop.
Still, we're Car Craft, not some restomod shop trade journal, so we are chiefly concerned with how the car runs. In a word: awesome. It stops and corners better than most new cars. The chassis is solid and squeak-free, the interior is comfortable and inviting, and it's as fast as it looks.
The Mustang has already won some trophies. Steve managed to nab Mighty Mustang at the Goodguys show in Pleasanton, California; Best of Show at the Diablo Valley show; and Best Workmanship at the Mustangs Plus show. We have high expectations for Steve. Look for more cool stuff rolling out his garage doors soon.
Who: Steve Keefer
What: '70 Ford Mustang
Brentwood, California, not to be confused with the Brentwood of O.J. Simpson fame. O.J.'s B-wood is not a city. It is a district of the city of Los Angeles.
Steve started with a good foundation: a Mexican block with its higher nickel content and bigger main caps. The block was bored 0.020 over before having a polished crank and Boss rods dropped in. He chose 11.0:1 Venolia pistons and Childs & Albert bearings and gapless rings to handle the strain of compression. The iron heads are vintage '69 351W castings that have been ported to the limit, O-ringed, and reassembled with Manley 1.94/1.60 valves, Crane valvesprings, and Crane roller rocker arms mounted on 1/2-inch studs. Finally, a monster Ultradyne solid roller cam was slid into place. It specs out at 260/268 degrees duration at 0.050-inch tappet lift, with 0.608/0.630 inch of valve lift. A Cloyes True Roller timing chain keeps cam and crank in sync. Steve reckons this combo should be good for about 500 hp without nitrous.
From top to bottom, feast your eyes on a Roush air cleaner cover, a Barry Grant Mighty Demon 750-cfm carburetor, and an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake. A Nitrous Oxide Systems 150-shot Sportsman Fogger system is ready to go in case 500 hp isn't enough. A Holley fuel pump feeds a blend of ERC race gas and regular 91-octane, necessary to curb detonation.
Steve saved himself some man-hours of fabrication time by installing 1 5/8-inch primary-tube JBA shorty headers. He made up for that, though, by making the rest of the exhaust system by hand, welding up a combination of 3-inch mandrel bends and straight tubing. The mufflers are from Spin Tech and make a delicious racket.
Steve keeps it old-school cool with a Top Loader as his gearbox of choice. He grabbed it out of a '67 big-block car and spins close-ratio gears. A Lakewood scattershield contains the Centerforce clutch and flywheel. Steve pieced together the modern hydraulic-clutch system using Wilwood master and slave cylinders.
To run those big reverse-offset wheels, Steve had the Mustang's 9-inch narrowed 4 inches. It was rebuilt with Moser 31-spline axles and Richmond 3.89:1 gears on a Traction Lock differential.
Where do we start? Up front, you find Total Control double-adjustable upper control arms, Tru-Center lower arms, and VariShock double-adjustable coilover shocks. Also, Steve converted to rack-and-pinion steering with a Steeroids rack and an ididit column. The sway bar comes from Maier Racing. The front spindles are stock, however. Out back, you'll find Total Control's g-Bar-canted four-bar kit replacing the ancient horse-and-buggy leaf springs. VariShock single-adjustable coilovers got the nod here. Steve trusts Wilwood for his stopping duties. A Wilwood triple master cylinder and pedal assembly is mounted underhood. Wilwood calipers put the squeeze on Wilwood rotors, sized 13 and 12 inches, front to rear.
Those are Budnik Cannon wheels measuring 18x9 inches, front, and 19x10 inches, rear. The tires are 255/40-18 and 295/35-19 BFGoodrich KDWs.
Everyone around the office was asking about the color. It's Toyota Red Salsa Pearl. You'll never look at a Prius the same now. The red is offset by a Lexus silver. The trim is finished with gray powdercoating topped with a satin clear.
Steve wants to thank his friends Neil Olson and Rick Sattler for their help and his wife, Laura, for her support.