It's impossible to imagine...
It's impossible to imagine how much time went into hand-fabricating the nose on Michael's car, but it really is amazing how natural it looks.
Over the years, we've seen numerous wild Mustang projects pop up. Some are built by shops looking to make a name for themselves, others are built by Ford itself to float potential design ideas, and a few others are built by inspired individuals.
As impressive as those projects can be, there's nothing quite like the passionate enthusiast who is driven to bring his own vision to fruition.
That's certainly an apt description of Michael Matkosky. What started with a thought brought a Mustang flooded by Katrina back to life in a truly unique way.
The hydrocarbons exhale through...
The hydrocarbons exhale through two custom, vented exhaust tips blended into the rear valance. Dampening the tones of the Two-Valve's exhaust song are both Flowmaster mufflers and Thrush glasspacks. Michael likes his 'Stang quiet.
"I have owned several Mustangs over the last 35 years. I am a Ford guy, but I wanted something different on this build. I had always thought it was do-able to put '67-'68 taillights on one of these things, but I was unsure of how it would look," Michael explains.
Springing into action on such an elaborate project certainly takes a lot of confidence, and Michael seemed well equipped. He taught himself to weld and is obviously adept at fabbing stuff. He also seems to have quite an eye for design.
Every angle tells a different...
Every angle tells a different story about Michael's creation. Here you can see how he deftly fused the nose and front fenders and filled in the body-molding indent that runs down the side of a Fox.
"I wanted to try something different; I've always been one to fly in the face of conventional wisdom. I really like the look of a nicely done Fox notch, but there just isn't anything you can do (to the body) to set it apart from the herd short of adding an aftermarket body kit. There just wasn't one that I liked enough to consider investing in. To me, they all looked dated.
"I always liked the late-'60s Mustangs, and with a '68 California Special as a model, I got out the sawzall, a 4.5-inch grinder, some sheetmetal tools, and my mig welder, and had at it."
Michael didn't go it alone though. He relied on his son Sean to bounce ideas off of and lend a helping hand during the build. He documented the build on the popular Stangnet.com
website so he could gather feedback and share the fruits of his labor. The project began with the back of the car and quickly grew from there.
"I always thought the car could support the theme. I knew I could make the look work with the rear, and had just intended to do a four-eye swap. But after seeing the rear in its final stages of completion, I knew I'd have to try and make the front carry the theme as well," Michael confesses. "I stared at it for a really long time. I always stare at some project for a long time before I ever lay a hand on it. It helps to conceptualize the idea in my head."
We've all likely stared at a project and imagined how we would like it to look. Thinking about it is the easy part. Making it happen is far more challenging, especially when it involved hand-fabbing lots of sheetmetal parts, welding, and bodywork.
"I really didn't consider any of it that difficult. The nose took the longest and required the most hand-fabrication, but I used reproduction sheetmetal where I could (headlight buckets, lower valance, and so on)," Michael says. "The rest of it was either narrowed to fit or completely custom. The grille surround is my proudest accomplishment--t is all 18-gauge sheetmetal bent over my knee."
The inspiration for Michael's...
The inspiration for Michael's project started here. He believed the '68 taillights would work on the back of the Fox. Once he started making that work, the rest of the project took shape.
These slick retro door panels...
These slick retro door panels result from the fusion of blank Fox door panel with a '65 Mustang's Pony door panel. Michael also had to relocate the door handle 9 inches down and to the rear.
Red isn't one of the most...
Red isn't one of the most popular Fox interior colors, but Michael's combination of vintage style and stock Fox seems to work. In addition to the custom Pony-interior door panels, Michael covered '87 GT Sport seats with TMI Products' Mach 1-style upholstery. The steering wheel is a Grant '65-'68 Mustang-style unit.
The result is a unique Mustang that cohesively blends a number of Mustang eras. The Fox Mustang was never a retro design like the S197, but Michael was able to bridge the generation gaps with a creative eye and plenty of talent. Still, the car can be polarizing, despite the fact that he is commonly asked if his creation is available as a kit. (It's not.)
"Well it's obviously not for everybody. For the ones that like it, they really like it. Those that don't, always start out with ‘Not my cup of tea, but I can appreciate the effort,' Michael explains. "I get the biggest kick out of the ones that try to figure out where the '89 ends and the '68 is welded on."