By Randy Miller
My ‘67 Mustang fastback probably wasn’t designed and built by monkeys at Ford, but I think a couple managed to sneak under the hood after it left the factory.
This 289 V8 Mustang was modified in 1970 by a Ford Dealership mechanic that I came to know and respect while in my youth. Wayne Wallace was an NHRA national Pro-stock drag racer in the Denver area who really had a knack for improving GM, Ford, and Chrysler vehicles.
Wayne apparently decided one afternoon that it would be a good idea to pull the small 289 V8 and C4 automatic tranny out of his wife’s pretty little daily driver, and replace it with this new 351 “Cleveland” crate motor laying in the corner of the shop. The odometer showed approx 9K miles on the car. The 351 was mated to a new C6 automatic plus bigger third member (rear end). All the engine accessories like air conditioning, power steer, etc, were meticulously put back into place like a factory sleeper Hot Rod should be.
The only thing Wayne and his “monkey” assistants overlooked was the cooling system. I used to bug Wayne to sell this car to me for years, watching him move it from the alignment rack in his new, private automotive garage in the 80’s, out to the parking lot…then back into the shop - five days a week - for several years. The story was that he had racked-up a couple big speeding tickets with the car on the streets of Denver, and that was all there was to Wayne (or Betty) driving the Mustang for 10+ years.
I finally managed to purchase the car, it now had 12K miles on it, and as luck would have it, I took a new job in Sacramento, Calif. that required a road trip. Driving thru Nevada while passing an older couple in a Cadillac I heard a loud roar. I thought to myself, “Man, that must be one miserable drive listening to that noise out on the highway all day long.” Funny thing was, after I passed the Caddy…the noise didn’t stop. Yep, I blew most of the exhaust system off the Mustang…from the mufflers back. So I stopped about an hour later in a small town and had new pipes installed.
As the day went on it had gotten hotter and hotter, and running A/C was over-heating the engine. So driving thru Utah at 100-degree temps I had to run the Mustang’s heater wide-open, keeping the car’s engine temp down a bit, and managing not to blow coolant all over the road. There’s nothing like driving thru a desert region with the heater blasting away to make you really appreciate today’s car technology improvements. I rolled into Vegas around midnight - it was still 95-degrees. The next morning while filling-up the gas tank some guy pointed to my tires and asked “what the heck happened?” The side walls on both passenger side steel belted radial tires were showing cords - but they were holding air just fine. So a new set of four tires and I was on the way to Southern California (to visit with my future bride) before heading to Sacramento.
To wrap-up this lengthy short story, I had a custom Walker aluminum radiator made, neither monkeys nor gorillas could destroy this beast!! Also installed a Robert Shaw high-flow water pump, plus a separate tranny cooler, and a front chin spoiler from a GT. Yes, from that day forward the A/C always worked as Ford intended it to, and my journeys down the open road at 90 MPH (that’s about where the car shifted from second into Drive), (and prior to the 55 speed limit showed-up) were awesome!!
Got the Monkey(s) off my back…and Wayne’s reputation was restored. Wayne, Betty, my new bride (Janet) and I spent the next winter vacation skiing together at Lake Tahoe and shared car stories about “monkeys” from the road that I will always treasure.