It’s not uncommon for classic car enthusiasts to upgrade their rides with the latest and greatest aftermarket parts. Purchasing such equipment often improves the vehicle and adds something to the car that it didn’t have from the factory, or wasn’t even available at the time of manufacture. Taking that a step further, some use factory parts from more modern vehicles to infuse the classic muscle car with modern amenities. Such is the case with Kimberly and Brian Hood’s 1965 Ford Mustang.
Over the years, Brian Hood has owned and built numerous vehicles, but the time was right for his wife Kimberly to enjoy something of her own.
“We’re kid-free now and my wife has been rocking the minivan for a long time. Her mom had a 1965 Mustang and we found this one sitting in a garage in Sioux City, Iowa. There was a parking ticket from UC Berkeley in it, so it was likely a California car,” Hood tells us. The Mustang’s relatively rust-free condition also suggested it was indeed from out west. While rust repair was minimal, stripping down the car revealed evidence of many past accidents, and so began the long, three-year build of this fastback Mustang.
Truth be told, according to her husband, Kimberly Hood isn’t exactly into older cars, but we can all agree that a classic Mustang is a statement piece and much more interesting than any minivan! That said, if she was going to drive a classic, she wanted the creature comforts that modern cars offer.
With that, Brian decided to start the build by selecting a powertrain and purchased a wrecked 2017 GT.
“The first one was a manual and we wanted an auto,” Hood says. The car was listed on an auto recyclers’ website as an automatic-equipped car, but when it arrived, it had a manual transmission. Not wanting to spend more money on shipping fees to return it, Hood ended up repairing the late-model and sold it. Then purchased another 2017 Mustang GT. “I called the manager of the local auto recyclers and had him send me a picture to verify,” Hood says of the endeavor to ensure the drivetrain was exactly what he wanted.
Having extracted the 5.0-liter Coyote engine and its accompanying 6R80 automatic transmission, Hood considered using the factory ECM and wiring harness, but concluded it was much easier to utilize the Ford Performance Control Pack to accomplish the same task without the need to re-work the stock wiring harness. The control pack was designed for swap applications just like this, and provides an ECM with an appropriate calibration, drive-by-wire accelerator pedal assembly, and a wiring harness that is simple to hook up. Hood further simplified the installation by employing a Detroit Speed and Engineering (DSE) fuel tank, which the company fabricates specifically for restomod Mustangs.
For the suspension, Hood decided to go with Detroit Speed & Engineering products as well. The company delved into the Mustang and Ford market and offers trick and top-notch components to bring modern handling to the vintage pony platform.
Up front, Hood installed DSE’s Aluma-Frame suspension that includes a cast-aluminum engine cradle to hold the engine in place, and provides the foundation for the upper and lower control arms, coilover shocks, and power rack-and-pinion steering to bolt up to. All of the parts are tuned by DSE for the right feel behind the wheel of the Mustang chassis.
Out back, Hood decided to go with DSE’s Quadralink rear suspension to secure the Quick Performance 9-inch rearend. The Quadralink system uses a parallel four-link design with a Panhard rod to locate the rear axle. Like the Aluma-Frame system up front, the Quadralink features Detroit Speed-tuned JRI coilover shocks for optimum performance and adjustability.
Part of the engineering in DSE’s front and rear suspension systems is to allow for wider wheels and tires for increased grip. Hood planned to mini-tub the Mustang in the rear, but Kimberly wanted to keep the fold-down 2+2 back seat. That limited the amount of wheel tub width that could be extended into the interior. Since Hood wanted to stuff a 285-series tire in the back, the only real estate left would be what he created himself, and that meant flaring the rear quarter panels.
Hood had the rear quarters stretched by 2.5-inches, and it’s a subtle, but noticeable change that adds additional character to the Mustang’s classic body lines. This was part of the build that Hood farmed out to Allen Benesh of Details Plus Body Shop, but the financial planner put his farm-raised mechanical skills to good use in building the rest of the Mustang. That included the bodywork and ensuring the panel gaps were neat and tidy.
The quarter-panel stretch aside, the majority of the Mustang’s body panels are as produced by Ford, until you get to the hood, which is part of a true ram-air induction setup that Hood came up with. From the outside, the hood looks like any other early Shelby GT 350 hood, but underneath, it is fitted with an air duct that feeds a unique and custom-fabricated air filter housing.
“The hours I have in making that are too many to count,” Hood explains. “There are 12-14 hours of run time just CNC milling the air box.” It’s hard to notice much else in the engine bay, as the air box pretty much grabs your attention and doesn’t let go, but you’ll also find that Hood had the ignition coil covers painted to match the exterior, and a billet Wilwood master cylinder sits on the firewall and actuates the Detroit Speed-spec Wilwood manual disc brakes at all four corners.
Turning to the inside, the design aesthetic is modern meets classic with a combination of both providing a comfortable cruising experience. Before Hood could fit all of that in, however, he had to tackle the transmission tunnel.
Thinking ahead and knowing he planned to use the center console from the ’17 Mustang, Hood decided to cut the transmission tunnels out of both cars and graft the ‘17 tunnel into the ’65. That way the console would bolt right to the floor as Ford intended. Doing this would also provide the necessary room for the 6R80 transmission, which is a good bit larger than the venerable, but relatively svelte C4 that likely resided there previously.
With the metal work out of the way, Hood was able to begin upgrading the classic car’s interior, beginning with the 2017 Mustang’s automatic shifter and center console. To connect the console to the classic Mustang dash in a way that looked like Ford engineered it, Hood turned to various family friends for help.
“I’ve got a lot of engineers in my circle of friends and tapped into some of their knowledge for 3D CAD work, and 3D printing,” Hood says. “It was great to work with them on this.” The 3D-printed components were wrapped in leather and housed the radio, window switches, and Vintage Air HVAC controls. To the left of said console one will find a Dakota Digital instrument panel delivering the critical engine information.
Directly above the occupants is a Mustangs To Fear ABS one-piece headliner. The door panels have been upgraded with diamond-patterned leather upholstery, which is carried over from the Chrysler Crossfire front bucket seats. “The seats were cut down in height and modified,” notes Hood. “They are full electric, but lightweight. I built my own rails to fit them to the car and JD Custom Upholstery cut them down.”
Without a doubt, the most exciting part of Kimberly’s Mustang has to be the paint, and according to Brian, she gets all the credit for the color. The Axalta Hot Hues Razzle Berry is vibrant to say the least, and elegant as well. Applied by the skillful hands of Ken Woltz, the vivid color is set off by equally bright polished aluminum, classic Torq Thrust wheels, sized 17×8 up front and 18×8.5 in the rear. Nitto tires were chosen to keep it planted to the pavement.
Kimberly and Brian debuted her Mustang at the Good Guys show in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2022 and have been driving it ever since. Hood noted that the color gets a lot of attention, which is good as people are then more likely to see the engineering details that went into the build.
“This is the most extensive build I’ve ever done,” Hood explains. “We had a pretty good plan in place, but things do change along the way. Bob Folkestad of Creative Werks Inc. is an engineering marvel and has been my mentor. The challenge now is that it is a little too nice and you don’t really want to take it to the Target parking lot. I wasn’t thinking of that when I said, ‘Hey, I’ll build you a car.’”