Wander through the rows of hardware and you are sure to see a cool car or two. The bigger the show, the more chance of seeing something cool. Some cars will stop people in their tracks, inspire them to take photos, and even chime in with unsolicited compliments.
I’m a Chevy guy but I would drive this one.
“I’m a Chevy guy but I would drive this one.”
“Dude! You are so cool! This thing is frickin’ sick!”
“Nicest car I’ve ever seen! Is this a new car?”
Ray picked up a complete 2007 GT500 drivetrain and decided it deserved to power a classic Mustang. The result of his efforts is a 5.4-liter ’69 Mustang the lays down 585 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels and runs smoothly to 150 mph while passing a Hellcat.
These are the comments elicited by Ray Maruska’s 1969 Mustang, which we eyeballed at the Street Machine Summer Nationals over the summer. These Mustangs feature that untouchable styling, and this one was born in a rare configuration, but that’s not what gets people talking.
“It’s fun to listen to them all. It gathers a crowd everywhere,” Ray enthused. “If I stop for gas even the employees have to come out and look.”
What makes this car live up to its vanity plate is under the hood. This classic stallion is powered by a 2007 Shelby GT500’s supercharged 5.4-liter engine that puts down 585 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque at rear wheels.
I just thought the Shelby running gear needed to go into an older Mustang. — Ray Maruska
“It started when I ran across the wrecked 2007 Shelby Super Snake with only 12,000 miles on it for sale at a can’t-say-no price of $11,000,” Ray said. “I purchased the car in 2011. A couple years passed while I built a new house and shop. Once settled in, I started searching for a rust-free ’69 Mustang Fastback. I just thought the Shelby running gear needed to go into an older Mustang, and ’69s have always been my favorite. Of course everyone I talked to said it would never fit. That’s all I had to hear.”
Concerns over the wide modular engine didn’t sway Ray, and neither did the car’s rare breeding. Apparently, he picked up the Mach 1 not knowing just how elusive its combination really was.
The interior juxtaposes the 1969 Mustang styling with that of the 2007 Shelby GT500. Aside from the custom console and door panels, the Mustang is fitted with the newer Shelby power seats, Dakota Digital gauges, and a Sony Bluetooth audio system. Ray also transferred a lot of the modern amenities, including air conditioning, cruise control, backup camera, power widows, power remote locks, and tilt steering.
“I didn’t realize it was an L-code until I got the car home – I proceeded with the build anyways. After a few months into the build, I started researching L-codes. It was then that I realized how rare it was. It didn’t matter to me, though. Besides – who wants a Mach 1 with a six-cylinder? Now it’s much rarer; it’s one of none!”
We’re sure some purists might fancy a rare Mustang with any powerplant, but we’ll guess that even more would love to own a car like this. To bring it to one-off status, Ray began by reworking the entire suspension and drivetrain.
“Finally, in the fall of 2015, I got started on the Mustang, first installing the TCI front suspension, and the Heidt’s Pro-Link in the rear, while at the same time tubbing the rear wheel wells and narrowing the 8.8 as well as installing the Heidt’s four-link,” Ray explained. “Finally the supercharged 5.4 had its new home. I then had to reconstruct the firewall and the tunnel at the same time installing the GT500 pedal assembly 4 inches further to the left to clear the engine.”
“I like a good challenge!” Ray said. “The car was in South Carolina, and I purchased it on eBay with no running gear. After purchasing it my girlfriend, Jill Carl, and I took a road trip and went to pick it up.”
So, it wasn’t a drop-in install, but the GT500 5.4L did indeed fit in the vintage Mustang. We knew it would, but we are glad the naysayers didn’t dissuade Ray from his restomod mission.
“With the car now sitting on all four wheels and the engine in place, I turned my attention to the body,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a ’69 Mustang. They are the best looking muscle cars ever. I wanted to keep it looking like a ’69, but make it look like it could have been built in 1969 or 2017.”
Form & Function
An intriguing concept, but pulling it off is another story. Much like the powertrain swap, Ray decided to blend a bit of modern styling in along with good, old-fashioned fabrication.
Ray’s one of none 1969 L-code Mustang features shaved door handles (replaced by fabricated door handles at the top of the door) as well as shaved emblems, marker lights, and taillights. He built new rear quarter scoops, a custom taillight panel, and a new rear valance, plus Ray narrowed and tucked the rear bumper. He even widened the rocker panels by an inch to eliminate the pinch weld along the bottom of the car.
“I started by temporarily mounting the 2012 Mustang GT grille and headlights. I then started the metal fabrication on the front of the car to bring it all together. New fender extensions were fabricated, as well as the bumper and brackets at the same time bringing the bumper up 2 inches. I then had to fabricate a new air dam/lower valance, as well as reshape the front of the hood and finally fabricating the air scoop to clear the supercharger.”
And, clear the supercharger it does. The resulting Mustang carries the classic 1969 Mustang muscle but brings along a more modern vibe. That vibe not only oozes out of the sheetmetal, but it transfers down to the pavement.
“The car runs and drives phenomenal. I love driving it. I’m surprised I don’t have any tickets yet! I still have a small issue with the cruise control pulsating, It is experimental as the Ford Performance PCM was not set up for cruise, so I am still working on that,” Ray said. “But the highlight of the summer was just this past weekend when I gave a little spanking to a Hellcat! That put the icing on the cake. Ran it up to 150 and it ran very smooth.”
Ray was definitely up to the challenge of creating a modern version of the 1969 Mustang. Not only did he bring home Best Ford at the Street Machine Nationals in St Paul, Minnesota, but he has a Hellcat-whooping fun machine, and what’s not to love about that?