What we set out to achieve is, above all, a car that is fun to drive, because that’s one of the big drawbacks of the ’60s cars. — Tom Scarpello, Revology Cars
I engage the clutch and wiggle the long shift handle into neutral. Reaching down, I push the button on the dash and a Coyote engine rumbles to life through an open exhaust. It’s a process I have followed in hundreds of Mustangs, but something is a bit different. This one is acting like a modern Mustang, but it gives off the appearance of a 1966 Shelby GT350. This amazing creation is one of Revology’s revved-up replicas, and I love it.
Regular readers will be familiar with Revology Cars. It’s the brainchild of former Special Vehicle Team marketer, Tom Scarpello. He was there in the heyday of SVT and it was he that was able to pull off that infamous auto show Terminator burnout despite not really having full approval to do so. Suffice to say, he’s an enthusiast, and that passion pours over into Revology’s machines.
A sharp 1966 Shelby GT350, right? Not quite. This is even better if you want to actually drive it. This is a Revology Cars 1966 Shelby GT350, which is upgraded with a modern Coyote powertrain and lots of modern technologies.
Bringing the kind of performance and driveability you can only get from a modern engine is a Ford Performance Coyote crate engine under the hood. It is nestled in the engine compartment with a combination of aftermarket parts built to Revology specs.
While Revology is geared up to build and sell complete cars, the regulations haven’t quite caught up to Tom Scarpello’s ambitious plan.
“We currently have two different ways that we can build a vehicle,” he explained. “One is as a new replica that conforms to the current replica laws that are in place, which basically means that we can sell a component kit, like a Superformance Cobra. So these are new rolling chassis and the customer is responsible for the installation of the powertrain.”
While the business plan is clearly built around using new bodies as a foundation, Revology will start with a classic Mustang if that is the customer’s desire.
“The second way, because our car is dimensionally identical to the original, we can build from an original donor, which is an option for someone who lives in a state where the replica titling is complicated or overseas,” Tom said. “And, usually, overseas would prefer a restored car for tax reasons because they pay a lower tax on a classic car than they would on a brand-new car.”
Soon, however, the laws will allow for them to build turnkey replica vehicles that meet the government standards to be sold as new vehicles.
“But, what is really interesting is the new low-volume vehicle legislation, which as you know, was signed into law at the end of 2015. NTSA and the EPA had been given one year to write the regulations,” he explained. “That year was up in November of 2016, so they are a little behind, but we do expect to see the regs sometime this year. However, the legislation was sufficiently descriptive that we were able to use it as a baseline to create a compliant vehicle. So, we do have a compliant vehicle and we could go into production with compliant vehicles as soon as the regs are published.”
The basic rules state that companies can build replicas of vehicles 25 or more years old so long as they have a license from the original manufacturer and produce no more than 325 units per year. The final requirement is that these cars utilize an emissions-certified powertrain, which is a bummer for Ford fans (see The Convertible sidebar).
“I don’t really know what to say to the Ford loyalists who get heartburn over us using the E-Rod engine other than, we don’t really have a choice,” Tom confessed. “We wish we had a Ford option, but in order to be compliant we need a certified engine and it’s the only one on the market.”
The hope is that when the regulations are made official that it will spur other manufacturers to offer a complete certified powertrain…
“Cars from this era are functionally obsolete…” Tom explained. “They are uncomfortable to drive, unreliable, unsafe by modern standards, and expensive to restore. Our solution is to develop and build brand new, licensed reproductions of classic cars that are re-engineered with modern technology and materials to improve performance, driveability, reliability, safety and reduce emissions.”
Bravely sitting in the passenger seat as we see what this thoroughly modern Shelby is capable of on some rare winding roads in Central Florida. The large steering wheel and long shifter take some getting used to, but soon the idea that this is a classic Mustang starts to fade away. It just becomes fun to drive – this car, and the appeal of owning a “classic” becomes infinitely more appealing.
“What we set out to achieve is, above all, a car that is fun to drive, because that’s one of the big drawbacks of the ’60s cars,” Tom elaborated.
Having driven some classics and restomods in our day, we’d have to agree. Modern cars have gotten so good that you really have to love the older cars to want to drive them. For some, that kind of time machine is probably a great time, but for most we’ll bet they are longing for some of those modern conveniences. Apparently, we aren’t alone. Even the purists get it.
“In the beginning, we didn’t know what the serious collector is going to think about us. These are guys who are into ‘numbers matching’ and everything has to be original. Well, interestingly enough, these guys love us because more than anyone else, they recognize the shortcomings of these cars and we are addressing all of those short-comings of their original cars.”
Better yet, the classics are so valuable, driving them can be daunting. Tom says his vehicles are so well sorted that you can drive them across the country without batting an eye. And, for a fleeting moment, we considered heading out on the highway with this car, but then the reality sunk in that we couldn’t drive off into the sunset in his lone development car, which happens to be the same stunner we detailed at the SEMA show last year.
It might not be an original Mustang, but it certainly delivers on the Mustang personality. However, the Revology GT350 brings things up a notch with modern touches like a touchscreen audio system, air conditioning and even a push-button start.
Are You Experienced?
We started our test drives in the Revology 1966 Mustang convertible. As you might expect for those seeking a toy driver, the convertible option is twice as popular as the fastback.
This one began with the twist of an actual key. However, this time the engine burbled alive with the muted tone of a catted exhaust. Likewise, acceleration was muted by an automatic transmission and the suspension was set up softer for the cruising set. It’s not our style, but we get it.
Once we got up to highway speeds, it all clicked. As the speedo hit 70 mph (It might have kept climbing), I embraced the idea of having a well-mannered weekend cruiser with navigation, air conditioning and drivability.
There was one downside that we couldn’t reconcile with our true-blue tendencies. It was under the hood. This car was powered by the emissions certified, Brand X E-Rod engine out of necessity (see Regulation Replicas sidebar). It’s not how we would order it, but this powertrain is the option for those who want turnkey solution and don’t need a thoroughly Blue Oval machine.
“What we do is pretty complex. It’s not like taking a car apart, refinishing it, and putting it back together. It’s more like what Ford does than what the restoration shop up the street does,” Tom said. “It’s relatively easy to make a good-looking car that looks good in your driveway, but it is so much more difficult to make that car work in every scenario… So, there’s a tremendous amount of development expense that you don’t see, but you will recognize it when you drive it.”
Tom and his burgeoning team at Revology have definitely put an OEM-style plan into action to create these seamlessly modern replicas. Each car is paired with a voluminous build book which details every single step and station of the build to ensure that the car is built the way it should be, and the company has learned a few things since it was born less than three years ago.
“I am not aware of anybody that’s built twenty ’66 Mustangs in a row since Ford did in ’66. And, you learn a lot doing the same thing over and over. You become very efficient,” Tom explained. “You can invest in making a fixture or tool or unique part that wouldn’t be economically feasible to do for a one-off car. That’s what we think really makes us different because we put a tremendous amount of resources into making the cars work properly.”
The Revology Shelby GT350s are officially licensed by Shelby and appear in the Shelby American registry.
Rubber Meets Road
Just like the interior, the outside of the Revology Mustang features all the expected touches. Soon the company will even bring chassis construction and painting in-house as it expands to a larger facility.
1966 Shelby GT350 Standard Equipment
• Ford 5.0-liter TiVCT Coyote V8 w/ 450 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque
• Tremec TKO five-speed manual transmission
• Power four-wheel disc brakes, 12.88-inch rotors and six-piston calipers (front) and 13-inch rotors with four-piston calipers (rear)
• Performance brake pads
• Power rack and pinion steering
• Unequal-length control arm front suspension
• Three-link rear suspension w/ torque arm and Panhard rod
• Single-adjustable coilover shocks
• Ford 9-inch 31-spline rearend w/ 3.50:1 gears
• Eaton TrueTrac limited-slip differential
• Borla low-restriction dual exhaust system
• Electronic parking brake
• Emergency tire inflation kit
• New, Ford-licensed steel body
• Shelby and GT350 badges
• Painted LeMans stripes
• Vinyl GT350 side stripes
• Shelby composite quarter windows
• Shelby fiberglass hood w/ scoop and integrated latches
• Shelby side scoops
• Shelby bullet mirrors, chrome
• Shelby 10-spoke wheels, 17×8 front and 17×9 (rear)
• Premium vinyl covered dash pad, door panels, and interior trim panels
• Hand-trimmed carpeting, floor mats, and trunk mat
• Shelby wood rim steering wheel w/ GT350 horn button
• Dash-mounted, 9,000-rpm Shelby tachometer
• Fold-down rear seat
• Tilt steering column
• LED interior lighting w/ theater dimming
• Digital message center
• Power windows
• Power door locks
• Remote keyless entry w/ proximity sensor
• Push-button start
• AM/FM stereo w/ amplifier, four speakers, and Bluetooth
• Interval wipers
• Interior trunk release
And work properly they do. We were able to drive both the convertible (see sidebar) and the GT350 fastback during our visit. While the latter was toned down with an automatic trans, softer suspension and such, the GT350 carried a more performance personality that suited our predilections. The Revology-specific, Borla design exhaust ripped and roared as the revs climbed. The car handled, stopped and generally bent to our will. There was the slightest resonance in the cabin from the marriage of manual trans and torque arm, but the benefits far outweighed the side effects.
Perhaps the only real bummer for us is that we’ll likely never have a stack of paper high enough to own such a machine. The convertible, which is by far the most popular configuration at the moment, starts at $160,000. Meanwhile, the revved-up Shelby starts at $190,000. It’s a considerable investment, but for they typical Revology customer, it’s a matter of getting the best car, not the least expensive car.
“For the type of person that would consider one of these cars, the price point is not so much the issue,” Tom said. “It’s more like, ‘What am I getting? I really want the ultimate car and whatever that ultimate car is going to cost, then that’s what I am going to pay.’”
As a result, Revology has steadily added more content to its vehicles, as the company and product line have matured. Its customers want all the toys, but even for those of us that won’t buy the full Monty, there is a pleasant side-effect. Revology is slowly rolling out its own line of parts based on the things the team there have learned building these machines.
“We have set up relationships with more than 74 suppliers…” Tom added. “We’ve gotten really good suppliers engaged in this program, and many of them have developed unique configurations of their products specifically for our application.”
Many of those parts, including a full Coyote swap kit are coming to market, which means everyone can add a bit of Revology re-engineering to a classic Mustang. Still, there’s nothing quite like driving a fully built replica, so if you have the means, we highly recommend picking one up…
For more on the Revology Mustang replicas, you can visit the official site right here.
The trunk in the Revology car is finished much nicer than the original, but that finish hides some far more important improvements. “We, for obvious reasons, focus on active safety rather than passive, but there are some things we have been able to do to improve passive safety as well,” Tom explained. “All of our cars have a 16-gauge-steel trunk floor that helps to separate the fuel tank from the passenger compartment in the event of a collision. They have an inertia switch that cuts off the fuel pump in the event of a collision. The steering wheels have a collapsible shaft, so as much as we can, we will implement passive safety measures, but the active safety is where we are really able to make huge strides with modern disc brakes and LED lighting.”