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This 1967 Mustang Coupe Is Built to Vintage Trans Am Specs

Built to compete in vintage Trans Am racing, John McClintock’s 1967 Mustang is simple, but effective.

© Eric English

By Eric English, John McGann, HOT ROD

Don't be fooled by its understated appearance, John McClintock's 1967 Mustang Coupe is a purpose-built race car. To give perspective to John's build, it's important to understand that in 1966 and 1967, Shelby American built a handful of Mustang coupes to compete in the SCCA's fledgling A/Sedan (amateur)and Trans Am (professional) classes. Shelby's GT350 wasn't legal to race in either class since it was homologated as a two-seater for B/Production, so the Group II coupes were essentially built to GT350 R-model spec and met the rules of the day.

For 1967, 25 coupes were built, according to the Shelby American Automobile Club, with four used as team cars and the rest being sold to privateers. Shelby team cars were key to Ford winning the Trans Am title that year, indirectly cementing the Mustang coupe as a body style with plenty of competition chops. John's Mustang was built as an homage to these illustrious cars that are largely unknown outside of Shelby and road racing circles.

© Eric English

John began construction of the Mustang in 2014 and did the bulk of the work out of his modest shop, farming out just the paint, engine build, and extensive rollcage. The end result is as good as it is because John is no stranger to wrenching on vintage road-race Mustangs, having competed in the historic Trans Am circuit from 1995 to 2008 in two different 1969 Mustang Boss 302s. For a few years prior to that, he raced an early Shelby GT350 in various big-bore grids around the West Coast, as well. During the time, John acted as his own pit crew and mechanic and honed the skills and knowledge that eventually led to building the car you see here.

"Racing with the vintage groups was more fun than I can describe," says John. "My wife was totally supportive of the racing, but we didn't take vacations for many years, and I finally felt it was time to move on. I sold my Boss and got out of racing."

© Eric English

After six years away, John felt the urge to race again, and this car is the result. Though his current Mustang doesn't have vintage history, John built it to legally run in some of the vintage groups that don't require provenance. He methodically followed the Trans Am formula for success established 50-plus years ago—a formula which, considering its appeal today, seems like it was way ahead of its time.

© Eric English

We were surprised when John told us the current 347-inch engine is the most powerful he's driven in a Mustang, because his last 1969 Boss 302 had a high-end engine with the factory dual Holley Dominator induction. This engine made 573 horses at 7,100 rpm on an engine dyno thanks to its displacement, which is achieved by a 4.125-bore Dart block and 3.25-inch crank, rather than the more common 4.030-inch bore and 3.40-inch stroke configuration. Obviously, this is enabled by the aftermarket block's ability to handle a bigger bore that allows for the big 2.08 inch intake valves in the Victor Jr. heads. JE pistons offer a tight 12.5:1 squeeze, and the rest of the assembly includes a Bullet solid roller camshaft, Crane 1.6 rockers, Ford Racing M9424 D302 intake, and a Holley 750 double pumper.

© Eric English

Engine builder Jim Lindholm gets credit for the strong performance, no surprise considering his resume includes engine builds for NASCAR stars Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough, and Harry Gant.

© Eric English

Jim Coughlin built the incredible exhaust system, and the stainless step headers on John's Mustang do qualify as a work of art. They feature a stepped 1 - to 2-inch tubing design and utilize Stainless Headers' merge collectors. An X-pipe leads to SpinTech mufflers, so John doesn't have to worry about noise regulations at the track.

© Eric English

A NASCAR-spec C&C four-speed dog box from Ernie Elliot is said to have been used by Bill Elliot during qualifying in 1991 and uses high nickel straight-cut gears with a 2.68:1 first gear. McLeod's dual disc clutch and aluminum flywheel are contained by a Lakewood scattershield.

© Eric English

J&L Fabricating in Puyallup, Washington, built the rollcage. To provide John with some extra room, the driver side doorbars take up the space in the door cavity that normally contains the window and window mechanisms.

© Eric English

Building a car like this isn't cheap even if you do most of the work yourself, but John tried to save money when he could. A case in point is the radio block off. Factory radio delete panels are rare and expensive, but John's solution is cheap and effective. Likewise, John used bits and pieces he had left over from other cars, such as the 9-inch centersection, the scattershield, and more.

© Eric English

The brake system is production based and includes a parts house cast iron master cylinder. Through experience John has learned to use one with a 1-inch bore for a high and firm pedal.

© Eric English

John installed 1965 Lincoln front calipers on the front, and '67 Mustang front calipers in the rear. It's about as much brake as one can fit behind traditional 15-inch wheels, and much of the setup was sourced from Cobra Automotive.

The timeless good looks of American Racing Torque Thrust D wheels maintain the vintage vibe. The fronts measure 15x8 inches, and the rears are 15x8.5s. Goodyear Blue Streak rubber is 6.00-15, front and 7.00-15, rear.

© Eric English

The rear axle is a Speedway Engineering 9-inch with a nodular carrier, 4.11:1 gears, a Detroit Locker, and 31-spline floating axles.

After fixing significant rust issues, John stitch welded the entire front end of the car for added strength, then installed subframe connectors and a rollcage. Vintage "Shotgun" bracing runs behind the fender aprons from the firewall to the shock towers, which John tells us was done on some of Ford's Trans Am team cars. The suspension is vintage legal and includes Cobra Automotive control arms, strut rods, springs, Koni adjustable shocks, and a 1 -inch front swaybar. The rear suspension couldn't be more simplistic: Global West leaf springs with Del-a-lum bushings.

© Eric English

John spent considerable time making the interior look and function like an original racer, including Zolatone paint, a SPA Design fire system, Stewart Warner instruments, and the six-point rollcage by J&L Fabricating.

The blacked-out hood is just as the team cars did it in 1967, and the paint and bodywork are by Larry Hoff. What is our favorite thing about the exterior? The 15-inch wheels wrapped in sticky race rubber. Don't be fooled by the current rage of big rollers; 15s with some sidewall still looks and works great!

© Eric English

Pictures from the project's early stage show some of the repairs John tackled to get the Mustang back to a solid platform.

John fashioned a paint booth in his shop for spraying the Zolatone 20 series paint that covers the interior, engine compartment, trunk, and underside.

© Eric English

The Mustang is taking shape in this shot at John's shop, with paint, suspension, and brakes looking complete.

© Eric English

This is the '69 Boss 302 John raced in the historic Trans Am series from 2001 to 2008. The car was an independent entry originally raced by Warren Tope and still races today in the hands of owner Drew Alcazar.

© Eric English

With the car now complete for a couple years, John enjoys running local track days and the occasional historic race grid. It's not quite the same thrill as being fender to fender with cars that were once wheeled by greats like Parnelli Jones, Mark Donahue, Jerry Titus, and others, but he finds it a nice middle ground that still generates plenty of satisfaction. There's also a bit less angst from the driver's seat, knowing that if he were to bend it up, it's not an unobtanium piece of racing history.


Tech Notes

  • Who: John McClintock
  • What: 1967 Mustang
  • Where: Olympia, Washington
  • Drivetrain: 347 cubic inch Ford, C&C four-speed manual with dog ring engagement, Speedway Engineering 9-inch rear axle, four-wheel disc brakes
  • Power: 573 hp at 7,100 rpm and 463 lb-ft at 5,600 rpm

See more at: HOT ROD

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Autos Magazine: This 1967 Mustang Coupe Is Built to Vintage Trans Am Specs
This 1967 Mustang Coupe Is Built to Vintage Trans Am Specs
Built to compete in vintage Trans Am racing, John McClintock’s 1967 Mustang is simple, but effective.
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