To give his mind a rest on what to do with the taillights, John spent the next three weeks prepping the bodywork for paint. Then he ordered a scratched '05 taillight off of eBay. He cut it up to see if it might fit in the opening, and it looked like it would. The third lamp was too small, so he had to buy three complete taillight units. "That gave me one to mess up," and he did break the first one. But he had the outer lenses carefully made, then had to rebuild the inner housings, which were in 15 or 20 different pieces by this point. John plastic-welded them back together and bolted them into the body panel. Amazingly, the stock 2011 wiring harness, which had been unwrapped but never cut, just plugged into the housings.
Finally, the car was towed to the SEMA show in the Speedway Motors trailer on the Friday before the show. Besides the full-body conversion, everything worked on the car, including the back-up camera, all the lighting, and the accessories. As John put it, "The cut and weld was the easy part--figuring out what to cut was the hard part." He is also quick to credit Doug as integral in designing the car as it came together, but we can confirm the finished product is definitely John's creation. Ultimately re-styling a car is about endless work to realize subtleties in design, and this is John's greatest accomplishment: It looks like a Mustang, not a modified Mustang. Furthermore, all this was about blending old and new, not about making a new '68 Mustang or an old '11, and again, Reversion succeeds impressively.
Let's not forget Reversion drives like a new car, because it's still new mechanically. The tires don't rub, the emissions are intact, the A/C blows like Ice Planet Hoth, and there's no reason why John can't drive his Mustang anywhere. The ride is reasonably firm with the taller wheels and Eibach lowering springs, and likely the only mechanical thing to be changed is to quiet the exhaust; the current pipes have a great tone but are over-the-line loud for daily duty. Considering John is now on his own in the body business, he'll make you something similar if you've got the guts to see it through. He did. How those taillights inspired John Heerman to take his 2011 Reversion Mustang back in time
Horse Sense: John Heermann's nom de weld--Johnny Sparks--was given to him by Doug Kielian after a particularly illuminating round of arcing. It looks to be his professional name as well, as he does business under the Johnny Sparks LLC banner.
Difficult to see in the overall...
Difficult to see in the overall photos, the character line in the center of the trunk lid actually starts in the trailing edge of the roof. We believe the center of the roof and the rear of the hood are the only untouched sheetmetal on Reversion.
This is the view Reversion...
This is the view Reversion was built for, and it's also the end of the car that gave John the most trouble. One glance at the streamlined result makes us glad John jumped though so many hoops to make it possible.
John reverted to '11 halogen...
John reverted to '11 halogen headlights because the HIDs on his car didn't look right; the modern lamp assembly fit with minimal changes. The cut line between the '68 fender and '69 valance, just below the modified '68 bumper, is also visible here. The 20-inch SVE wheels and front 255/35ZR-20 Sumitomo tires were supplied by Latemodel Restoration Supply, while the Pro Plus six-piston calipers with a 14-inch rotors came from Baer Brakes. The lowered ride height is courtesy of Eibach springs.
John's education on just how much sub-surface structure would need attention began with the quarters. The '68 quarter-panel had nothing to attach to, so John had to extend the outer wheelhouses so he could weld the panels. With the quarters, door skin, and front fender finally mocked in place, John could see the trailing edge of the rear fastback window would have to be raised an inch and a half. That, in turn, changed the trunk lid angle, its shape, and how its hinges should attach. There would be numerous other places where supports, brackets, and other non-visible work would be required.
Still, John had "one side mocked up--quarter, door skin, and fender--and probably thought it would be possible. For the first two weeks I was wondering what I had done because it didn't look much like a car. But once mocked, I could see it would eventually be something." With the driver side mocked up, John moved to the front, "working on the grille and headlight situation. I wanted to keep the 2011 headlights, so I mocked them up with poster board and the headlights moved forward and out a little. The really hard part was that it was January and February and you couldn't move [the car] outside and look at it. It might look good inside, but not outside, and so I had to change things a little bit."
"So we moved to the other side and did the same thing; modified the quarters, door skins and fenders, so we had both sides established to get the front and rear. The front was only half done at this point ... I'd work a regular day here at Auto Krafters until 5 p.m., then I'd work on my car until 2 a.m."
"The back end was almost non-existent. The back was hard, to say the least ... the '68 decklid kind of fit--within a foot! The hard part was the different styles, '69 rear panel and '68 quarters. They didn't fit, so we widened and went taller on the panel. I had to build all the mounting and panels from scratch. All the panels were modified and were welded off the car, dressed down, then welded solid to the car." "[But the trunk lid was] a head scratcher, so I worked on other things and thought about it. We were just designing as we went."
"Eventually I had to modify the trunk jamb to mate with the rear window. I ended up de-skinning the outer portion of the decklid skin from the inner structure to mod the structure; I had to add at the front and both sides. Also I had to flatten it out on the back, because the '69 is flatter than the '68, which is curved."
We bypassed plenty of photographic...
We bypassed plenty of photographic drama from tilted cameras and long lenses when selecting this photo because it best shows Reversion's lines. The 14-inch-longer hood is surprisingly difficult to spot.
There was little need to improve...
There was little need to improve the '11 interior, so John is happy with the red accents applied by Doug Kielian. The brushed-aluminum inserts in the door panels are there to mimic similar pieces in the rear-quarter upholstery required by the body mods. Unseen here is a brushed-aluminum overhead console and the LED center taillight, which was sleekly integrated inside the rear window.
John wanted to keep all the...
John wanted to keep all the functionality of his '11 Mustang, and he did, right down to the back-up camera. The display remains in the rear-view mirror--that's John with a Sawsall at port arms--while the camera lives in the faux center gas cap.