SEMA 2023: Opulence Runs Rampant In This 1968 Mustang 

Creating a show car demands meeting specific standards to attain top-tier status. Depending solely on custom paint and chrome parts no longer guarantees access to the main stages of the world’s largest car shows. To claim such a position, the journey commences from the chassis and extends through meticulous attention to the exterior, interior, and engine bay. These builds rebuke the term ‘SEMA crunch,’ given their extended timelines spanning years rather than mere months or weeks. Countless man-hours, totaling in the thousands, are dedicated to meticulously tailored finishes that transcend the original factory body, imbuing a contemporary touch throughout. The combination of human skill and effort converged in the creation of East Bay Muscle Cars‘ 1968 Mustang, dubbed “Rampant.”

Elegance From The Exterior

Beneath the rich layers of Burgundy and Dark Bronze Glasurit Paint, lie a series of enhancements that reimagine the classic car’s style into a futuristic iteration of its original form. The transformation includes a full carbon-fiber nose piece crafted through CAD design, seamlessly integrating LED headlights. The setup also incorporates a fiberglass hood featuring a hand-fabricated aluminum 3D-printed under-the-hood panel. Meanwhile, customized billet hood hinges were utilized to provide a proper arc for cowl clearance when revealing the engine bay. 

The chassis further displays the craftsmanship embedded in this build, featuring recontoured fender openings meticulously designed to accommodate the Forgeline SS1R centerlock wheels paired with Toyo tires. The fenders underwent reshaping to seamlessly align with the custom-fabricated cowl, A-pillars, and door openings. Every detail was considered, extending to the rocker panels crafted to span the full length from the front wheel well openings. These panels were designed as an access point for electrical and plumbing routing, as well as housing the electric parking brake.

While using flush mount glass has become a common practice, Rampant deviates from the norm by having its glass borders painted on, showcasing a reproduced frit band. The A-pillars were widened to mask the weatherstrip channel, and the original drip rails were smoothly removed. Towards the rear, the body was extended by 2 inches, transforming the once mild 1968 Mustang into a vehicle with a more aggressive and commanding appearance

Desirable Drivetrain

While the exterior is bound to draw much attention, the real spectacle lies beneath the hood. The engine compartment boasts hand-fabricated aluminum components intricately blended with 3D printed panels. Concealed under the engine cover resides a supercharged 5.0-liter Coyote engine delivering an impressive 785 horsepower to the rear wheels.

Concealed from prying eyes, a C and R custom-sized radiator, fitted with PWM fans, diligently regulates the Coyote’s temperature. Engine exhaust is directed from the 5.0-liter powerplant through modified Ultimate Headers, flowing into a 3-inch stainless exhaust coated with a cerakote finish. The resounding exhaust note resonates through the billet aluminum exhaust tips.

Although this build elevates the Mustang into a realm of luxury, it doesn’t forsake its original muscle car heritage. Enhancing the driver’s foot space, three Wilwood Engineering pedal assemblies enable gear shifting through a TREMEC T56 Magnum transmission. A McLeod Racing twin-disc clutch efficiently handles the power delivery, transferring it through a 4-inch aluminum driveshaft to the Wave track posi rearend.

Frame-Up Finish

Understanding the limitations of the factory frame, or lack thereof, a comprehensive upgrade was essential for this build. A complete Roadster Shop Fast Track frame with independent rear suspension was employed to meet the project’s demands. Moreover, East Bay Muscle Cars went the extra mile, customizing each suspension bolt and hardware piece by cutting them to length and nickel-plating them for a superior finish.

Continuing the theme of a modern roadster built for both street and track performance, Baer Extreme 6S calipers exert force on Baer 15-inch front and rear rotors. With 765 horsepower under the hood, the capacity to stop is equally crucial. Underneath Rampant, full belly pans with integrated lift pads and closeout panels are seamlessly integrated.

Feng Shui And Form

Upon entering the cabin, the design brilliance of Sean Smith illuminates the space. The stylish interior seamlessly combines 1968 Mustang design elements with modern S550 cues. Ensuring safety, an onboard fire suppression system from Safecraft is integrated, and Dakota Digital instruments provide crucial temperature and pressure readings to the driver. Adding to the comfort, Vintage Air provides modern air conditioning to cool the interior for an already cool ride.

The Perfect Blend

Though the origins of the name remain a mystery, the design cues indeed run rampant throughout this build. From the exterior to the interior and the engine bay, your eyes are consistently drawn to the modern touches. One can’t help but imagine if this car had been introduced in its current form in the late 1960s. The balance in ride height, powerplant, handling package, and design cues creates a perfect amalgamation that would be challenging to replicate any time soon.

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About the author

James Elkins

Born into a household of motorsport lovers, James learned that wrenching takes priority over broken skin and damaged nerves. Passions include fixing previous owners’ mistakes, writing, and driving.
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