YesA feeler gauge? I make fun of Greg Sadler, in the booth where this sensational 1968 Mustang rests on padded axle stands. It’s a couple of weeks after Sydney’s MotorEx — where the car received rave reviews — and I’m finger-nailing the nearly non-existent gap between the rear bumper and the body. It’s tight. Crisp and sharp, so is the rest of the car.
As published in the November 2010 issue. Street Machine
The taillight surround was designed on CAD and water-cut from aluminum before being rolled, filleted and finished. Black, it works with other black highlights and against the cream, tends to increase the width of the car. The lenses were hand made on LED lamps.
“Three mill,” says the man known as Ziggy. “If I couldn’t get it, I settled for four here and there.”
He is serious. Serious in his reactions and the way he, as team leader at Ziggy’s Hot Rods, builds a car. At first he doesn’t seem to get my tongue-in-cheek humor about the felt gauge, but he lightens up a bit when he explains the philosophy and process behind his first big build.
“It’s an easy six months to take a car apart,” he says of aligning, reworking and reshaping the 1960s pony car to rid it of its pesky factory panel fluctuations. are Now it’s his turn for fun: “Feeler gauges?” He laughs, handing me a digital vernier. “No mate – we use them instead!”
Although its tolerances make the Lexus body look like a farm fence, Mustang construction didn’t start out that way. For a boy named Mike Clover, expectations were high. But his desire for a tough, top-end targa-type comp car that was ready for signwriting, safety checks and the starter’s flag changed along the way.
“Mike couldn’t help himself,” says Ziggy. “I suggested we do a less shiny engine bay and all that — nice and usable — but he wanted all the shiny sheet. Shiny rocker covers and all that.
“Before that he wanted a fake Hoey but we couldn’t even get a Falcon Roller for 10 grand and you can’t get parts for them. So I suggested a Mustang. They’re easy to find, it’s a Ford that There will always be something of value, and you can get parts.
Clever thinking, indeed. The basic car – an unfinished project from Sydney – arrived at Ziggy’s north of Newcastle, NSW, three years ago. Amazingly, most of the original Ford tin was usable without resorting to repro parts that Ziggy and many others considered junk.
427 Windsor fittings are Aussie Speed Flo. At the time, Speedflow did not offer a black color. Says Ziggy: “It was all colourful, which I didn’t want – it looked a bit 1986.” The billet bonnet hinges are the work of Ring Bros, but the inner guards require extensive mods to fit neatly.
With the car’s original targa intentions, a roll cage was an early and important priority. It’s a wide frame that mounts tightly to the turret and pillars and incorporates an X-frame with harness mounts behind the seats.
“With five or 600 horsepower, I didn’t want the car to turn inside out,” Ziggy says.
What we’ve done, I think, is put in the metal that the stylists wanted but the factory couldn’t.
With the car’s shifting priority, the ‘cage is now as important to the car’s steel-trimmed feel as it is to keeping trees out of the way.
The firewall was hand-built from flat sheet. The suspension towers, with front wishbones tied in favor of struts, have been strengthened and given relief for the extractors.
Check the flow filler caps in the scuttle area. A competition-inspired idea in both appearance and practicality, feeding the hydraulics under the dashboard, it’s a visual highlight and simplifies maintenance.
The lower edge of the body has been extended by 40 mm. “We wanted the car to roll down a bit without cutting into the ride height. We also raised the tunnel to fit the Tremec and made room for the exhaust.”
Those fat rear tires wouldn’t fit without architectural changes, along with the larger fuel tank, which led to a lot of metal work in the back half of the car.
One of the two Flowmaster mufflers was custom built. “I wanted a mirror image so they did one. It might not make much of a difference but it’s important to us. The bottom detail is ‘straight’—the welds were flattened and the lot finished in satin black.” The sheet metal was smoothed before firing.
However, it’s what Ziggy has done with the car’s exterior sheet metal that’s the least obvious but most mind-boggling. Not an inch of it has not been massaged or manipulated. This is what car designers – and Ziggy – call ‘surfacing’.
There is more to this body preparation than fillers and filings.
“What we did, I think, is put into the metal what the stylists wanted but the factory couldn’t really do,” he says. “In fact, there isn’t a single surface on the Mustangs that is consistent.” He runs his fingers over the rear of the body “This rear quarter panel; from the factory, two radii are joined by a flat area. You never see that on factory cars because the paint isn’t good enough.”
The trimmed, square-profile cage was built for the Mustang’s intended rally roll but the added integrity makes the car feel as solid as a new Porsche. There is also air-con; Behind the control handbrake lever are those little rotary dials.
The upper edges of the front guard were cut and moved closer to the bonnet. The same goes for the boot lid. The straight section was cut, rewelded, filed and filled to target a 3mm gap in the Ziggy’s slim panel/taillight area.
Along with work to the upper edges, about 100 heat shrinks were made to smooth the front guards and both doors.
The turret was also heated from the top of the A-pillars to the fuselage area to improve the shape. There was more than a gas torch and a wet rag attached to the stern, where the sails were finely cut and tweaked to get the shape right.
Mike wasn’t sure what color he wanted on the Mustang. “I suggested green, then he wanted a darker color because he wanted it tighter. But a darker color is a bastard so I suggested cream. It’s practical for someone who cares about it. I don’t want to spend too much time.
“This color is a classic — hopefully it will still look good in 30 years. Classic colors are timeless and, at the end of the day, better value. I was at SEMA and there were all these wild colors. I kind of was: ‘Um, so what?’ A simple straight coat of color is always an asset.
But paint is only as good as the bottom panel work and after spending a year on it, a final coat of paint was never going to be rushed. Ziggy started his career as a painter, so no prizes for guessing who was on the gun.
“I spent about 36 hours in the booth, I couldn’t leave it – the adrenaline kicked in,” he says of the Glissort coloring-in session. “But I slept for days afterwards!”
Adrian from Airbrush World described the graphics and Ziggy chuckles about the radiator support panel. “It was off the car and he put the graphic ’round’ the wrong way! But he fixed it in half an hour. He’s a cool guy to be around.”
The interior also had a bump or two, but it wasn’t due to the expertise of the contracted trimmers, Brad and Dies.
“Our leather suppliers, who have been in business since the 1920s, were so overwhelmed by the work cover that they closed shop! Then we used textured materials as a substitute,” says Ziggy. It was discontinued. Of course, we had already started with items like sub boxes so we were determined. We finally got some in Germany. And all this happened in the week before MotorEx.
The Mustang has heaps of luxurious touches that are neatly integrated into the interior design. For example, the circular control pad in front of the shifter is a Clarion Marine item for the hidden audio system. Sexy Gauges are designed and then customized by Ziggy
The Mustang draws inspiration from a 427ci small-block built by Sydney’s Pro Flow Performance, based around a World Products block. Holley-fed and stiffened, it’s capable of a pretty silly 648hp and is mated to a Tremec TKO five-speed and 3.5 gears with a freakish nine-inch differential.
Brakes are Shelby-raised bear monoblocks at both ends — “just about top-shelf for a street-going Ford!” – and a TCI front end with RRS struts and power rack, with a triple four-link under the rear. Steering is rack and pinion with long center pull tie rods for Zippo bump steer.
So while the focus has shifted from composure to romp, now designed to impress hard-arse hardware, there’s no question that this Mustang still ticks all the boxes.
Class of glass
You might not realize that Mustang rear quarter windows aren’t standard. Usually there is a vent. “We had to reset everything in the back, make a dummy window panel, then send it to Protector Autoglass, who made a custom set,” says Ziggy.
The flush-fit windscreen was also a bar. It is about 25mm wider and longer than standard due to the deletion of the stainless trim. Like any late model car, it features legal paint and a band on the top. Ziggy’s has already begun building another top-tilt Mustang that will incorporate both of these modifications. “It will have a back seat for the owners’ children to see out.”
|the color:||Glasurit orange, metal flake roof, white scallops|
|the color:||Ziggy Mixed Gelsort Cream on me|
|Cranks and rods:||The eagle|
|Emissions:||Ziggy’s dual with Flowmaster mufflers|
|Gearbox:||Tremec TKO five-speed manual|
|Difference:||Odd 9in, 3.5:1 PosiTrac|
|Steering:||RRS Power Rack Front: TCIR with RRS struts and Ebach springs|
|Back:||Triangular four-link, Warishak adjustable shocks|
|brake:||Baer/Alcon six-piston monobloc calipers, 13.5-inch rotors; RRS below the dash pedals|
|Wheels:||Budnick Shotgun, 18×7 (f), 18×9 (r)|
|Tires:||Pirelli Nero Rosso, 235/40 (f), 275/40 (r)|
Bob, Sally, Mick, Dave, David, Paul, Pete, Cookie and Colonel Ziggy at Hot Rods; Brad & Dees, trimmers; Kicker Audio USA; protective auto glass; Novus windscreen; Gloucester.