The ‘65 Hedman Hedders Mustang GT Test Mule

August 18th, 2011

Text and Photos by David Fetherston

The birth of the Ford Mustang was an awakening for Ford and the auto industry. The Ford sales department estimated it would sell maybe 100,000 units of its new Mustangs, but that estimation turned out to be more of a grand underestimation. By the end of the full first year of production, 418,812 units had shot out of dealers’ showrooms. The wave surged from coupes and convertibles to the slick 2+2 fastbacks, which joined the lineup in September 1964. It was instantly the car to own—the cool of the decade! It wasn’t long before the snazzy new fastback would find even greater fame when a tall Texan took it under his wing and created the Shelby GT series of Mustang.

The aftermarket trade saw the enormous potential for accessorizing and improving the performance of the new 289-powered V-8 Mustang. This Rangoon Red fastback is the perfect example. Roy and Lee Hedman originally purchased the fastback from Smith Grandy Ford in Seattle. Roy is Bob Hedman’s brother, owner of Hedman Hedders. At the time, it was a rare, high option model and trying to get one for any R&D developments was very difficult, so the brand-new GT was immediately driven to Los Angeles so Bob could use it as a fitment mule to measure, design, test fit and dyno test his new high flow headers for the 289 V-8 GT package.

When it was done, Roy retrieved the GT from the Hedman R&D department and drove to Alaska, where he served as a U.S. Marshal. The Mustang remained in Alaska for about 10 years, serving as the family car and driver’s test vehicle for his daughter Toni Hedman. In the mid-‘70s, the fastback came back down south to Camano Island, Washington, and there it stayed until 1995 when it was given to Toni and her husband Mike Caldwell.

Not only had the Mustang been in Toni’s life for many years, it was also well appreciated by her husband Mike. Mike did a little research from the body tag and found that the GT-optioned fastback was built at the San Jose, California, plant 17 June-1965 for the Seattle district sales. It was equipped with a 289, 4V premium fuel V-8 engine with a C4 dual-range automatic transmission and a 3.00 ratio rearend.  (Current tags show paint code A for Raven Black, and transmission code 5, indicating a four-speed manual to more accurately reflect the Tremac racing transmission TKO five-speed manual transmission in its restored resto-mod condition.)

The Caldwells knew they wanted to keep this Mustang, but the catalyst for change happened in 1996 when their carport roof collapsed and damaged the car. They connected with family friend Jeff Peterson at Peterson’s Customs in Mount Vernon, Washington. Here, the 12-year project restoration and conversion of this Pro Touring resto-mod Mustang was completed in the spring of 2009.

They didn’t want a simple body shop fix, rather they chose the long and arduous task of doing it right, and building a truly fine Pro Touring street machine. The fastback was totally stripped and taken back to bare metal though a chemical dipping process that revealed every blemish and corrosion issue.

The underside was equally detailed and reengineered with suspension modifications, including Chassisworks subframe connectors and a center brace from Total Control Products.  Mike then had the front end upgraded with a complete tubular coil-over adjustable suspension from Global West and the steering updated with a manual Flaming River rack-and-pinion setup. Mike had a narrowed Ford 9-inch rearend installed running 4.11 gears on a limited slip center, along with new springs and QA1 adjustable rear shocks.

Mike also knew that the braking system would need to be substantially upgraded to make it Pro Touring quality. The factory braking system was replaced with a new 11-inch SSBC four-wheel disc brake system operated off an SSBC billet brake dual master cylinder. The emergency brake control was updated with a Lokar floor-mounted, cable-controlled emergency/parking brake assembly.

With all the sheet metal looking tight, the paint shop at Peterson’s Customs applied the show-quality black acrylic urethane (PPG 91300) finish using the classic clearcoat system. During reassembly, all rubber seals, glass, wiring, lines, clamps, brackets and fasteners were replaced, and small custom appearance touches were added, including sequential taillights, a billet filler cap and dual chrome bulletside mirrors. After the car was done, Mike had famed pinstriper Herb Martinez hand stripe a single red line detail down both sides of the contour of the car.

With the body now looking crisp, the need for a perfect wheel match was accomplished with a set of custom NXT 17-inch Mustang steel-styled aluminum wheels (4.74-inch backspace) with chrome red center caps.  These larger diameter classic Mustang rims and new tires were the perfect look for this newly designed Mustang.  Mike ordered a set of custom-made Diamond Back tires with dual red line walls to complete the wheel makeover. The fronts are 235/45R17 and back tires are 285/40R17.

With the body and suspension now done, Mike turned his attention to the powertrain. He had a plan in mind to make it look factory installed, Pro Touring correct. He brought it all together as a nice package by installing a Ford Racing 347-cid stroker crate motor. To get the desired look of a restoration Tran Am race engine, Mike installed a Dynaformance Weber-styled, downdraft electronic fuel-injection system. Of course, it features Hedman headers, which now flow into a 2.5-inch Flowmaster exhaust system.

This complete installation gives the engine a classic racer look, perfect for this 502-hp performance upgrade. The fuel supply system and ignition were also updated with a 22-gallon Fail Safe fuel cell with billet fuel cap and 3/8-inch braided fuel lines, while the ignition was built around an MSD ignition with a M6A module and a 105-amp alternator. The front end of the motor was also upgraded with a Billet Specialties polished aluminum serpentine belt system, and the hood is now supported by a set of Billet Specialties polished aluminum hood hinges.

Keeping the new 347 cooled necessitated improving the cooling with a custom Griffin aluminum radiator with built-in overflow tank and a Spal pull-through electric cooling fan. Making it all work is a Painless wiring harness and an Optima dry cell battery.

With such a jump in power, the driveline is also completely new. At the flywheel, a McLeod Industries, Inc. racing clutch and pressure plate sits inside a Quick Time, Inc. scatter shield/bellhousing connecting to a Tremac TKO five-speed transmission. This combination supplies the horses to the rear axle via a 4-inch custom aluminum driveline protected with a driveline loop.

The interior is also a real treat! Mike decided that a blend of classic and modern would look right. He had the interior work done by Paul Reichlin at Cedardale Upholstery in Mount Vernon, Washington. The interior is done around a set of 2005 Mustang GT custom seats that were modified by removing the headrest sections. Paul recovered the seat and the other soft surfaces in show-quality black pleated leather with a matching black leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. He added a set of Simpson 3-inch competition seat belts and red Mustang pony logos are illuminated in the sills. Black floor mats with red Mustang lettering were custom-trimmed to match.

The dash was retrofitted with a GME Enterprises Auto Meter six-gauge cluster package, running aircraft red night lighting in the 160-mph speedometer, in the 10,000-rpm tachometer and in the centrally located shift light.

For tunes, Mike installed a high-end Kenwood stereo system with four interior speakers molded in for a subtle appearance. The base speaker, amplifier and a six-CD changer are located in the trunk.

Since its completion in spring of 2009, the fastback has been a hit on the outdoor show car circuit. Mike and Toni drive their car a lot and it has picked up a quite a bit of recognition at events for its fresh new look and detailed engineering.

Here are few of its recent wins:

April 2010 – Kool April Nites, Redding, CA, Mighty Mustang Award

June 2010 – Peggy Sue’s, Santa Rosa, CA, First Place Modified Mustangs

July 2010, Grants Pass, OR, Back to the Fifties, Mayors Choice Award

This black beauty is truly a fine, fresh, new look at Pro Touring, and best of all, it’s highly drivable and fast.  The fine details make it an outstanding new high performance classic Mustang, one that Mike and Toni are surely proud to keep in the family after all of these years.

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