For many car enthusiasts, it is the common rides that catch their eyes — Mustangs, Camaros, Challengers, and so on. — but for others, it takes something a bit off the beaten path to attract their attention. Byron Eaton falls into the latter category.
His attraction to unusual machines dates back to this first ride, a 1976 Mercury Bobcat, but it continues to this day. However, like most of those reading these words, his path toward performance cars began because cars were an important part of his formative years.
“My father was a car fanatic. He was never satisfied with the car he had,” Eaton says. “I definitely got that ‘bug’ from him.”
While cars spoke to the younger Eaton, his first ride wasn’t the most exciting. A 1976 Mercury Bobcat was the first ride with his name on the title. After that modest start, he had other vehicles, but his first Mustang happened to be the first Fox Mustang.
It is by far the fastest and most unique Mustang I have ever owned. — Byron Eaton, Car Owner
“My first Mustang was a 1979 gray coupe with red seats. I put real wire wheels on the car,” Eaton shares. “It was hot, to me at least.”
Over the years, Bryon has owned more than 40 cars, including everything from a Bumblebee Camaro to a Toyota Supra. He also owned a range of Mustangs, ranging from a 1967 Mustang GT coupe to a 2003 Mustang Mach 1. Choosing these vehicles meant that they resonated with him as something special, and that’s what led him to jump at the chance to pick up the car you see here.
“I found this Richard Petty King Premier Edition Mustang online in Ohio. It had two previous owners who put a total of 570 combined miles on the car,” Eaton explains. “So, I basically purchased it brand new.”
If you aren’t familiar with these cars, Petty’s Garage created 43 examples built to celebrate Richard Petty’s legacy. The number is significant, because that was the number emblazoned on Petty’s NASCAR race cars. This particular example is number 15 of 43, as verified by its dash plaque, which is hand-signed by the King himself.
Petty caused quite a stir when he switched to racing Fords back in 1969. It was a brief partnership, but it was rekindled back in 2014 when Petty’s Garage showed off a Mustang modified in the theme of The King himself at the SEMA Show. Soon thereafter, his company began producing hot-rodded Mustangs like this one.
“I like anything that is a little unique,” Eaton says. “I’ve been to numerous car shows and Mustang shows and have never seen another one.”
This rare machine delivers 670 horsepower, as indicated by that number ghosted onto the hood. It does so thanks to the factory Gen 1 Coyote 5.0-liter engine receiving boost from a Ford Performance supercharging, which tacks on an additional 235 horsepower. It is supported by a cold air intake, a Magnaflow exhaust system, and a custom calibration that makes it all work together.
Even with a Ford Performance Track Pack suspension underneath — which includes performance dampers, lowering springs, upper strut mounts, a jounce bumper, kit, adjustable sway bars, and performance toe links — the driver has to be mindful when applying the engine’s output to the Continental Extreme Performance tires.
“It’s fun to drive in town because of the looks it gets…some people taking videos. The sound of the exhaust in any gear is so unique and beautiful,” Eaton says. “Wide open, it’s a beast. The horsepower is almost too much for the car to handle. You definitely have to know how to use its power. It is by far the fastest and most unique Mustang I have ever owned.”
That’s saying something for someone with such a varied history of vehicle ownership. Cars aren’t his only hobby, however. Eaton combined his other hobby with his appreciation for this Petty machine by sending some of his art for the King to sign.
“I hand-paint Jack Daniels bottles. I painted two bottles in tribute to my Petty Mustang. One was for the local car show and Mustang Week of 2021, And the other was specifically for my Petty Mustang,” Eaton says. “I mailed the Petty bottle to Richard. He signed the bottle and returned it to me. That’s the amazing kind of person he is.”
When he is not out enjoying this Petty stallion, it resides in a private stall built just for this car at his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Whether or not this Petty stallion remains in its purpose-built garage stall, it is sure to remain one of the most special stallions to live in Eaton’s corral of unique rides.