When Chris Boswell of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, rolls up in his red 1965 Ford Mustang, you know the car no longer has its original 289 cubic-inch engine under the hood. The sound is different and distinctive. Every Ford fan within a city block knows right away this ’65 Mustang has Coyote power.
In 2023, you might yawn and say, “Whatever, another Coyote-swapped car, big deal.” But you would be wrong, as this isn’t just another Coyote-motivated stallion using a commercially available kit to bolt in a crate engine. This was one of the first builds to pull it off, and it was done before the kits existed. It was done with elbow grease, ingenuity, and a never quit attitude, and that is why this Mustang is special.
The project started in 2011 when Chris’ mom and dad, Debra and Horace Carter, picked up a 1965 C-Code Ford Mustang Fastback with a 289 and a three-speed Toploader transmission. They paid $10,000 for the numbers-matching running car with 77,000 miles on it.
The original plan was to restore the car, maybe add some safety items to it, and make it an enjoyable cruiser. But like any car project, things started to exponentially increase in imagination. About nine months into the restoration, after a rebuilt 289 had already been completed for the car, Reece Cobb, of Cobb Collision Center, Yanceyville, North Carolina, said, “Hey, there’s that new Coyote engine from Ford, we should try to put that in the 1965 Mustang!” The rest is history.
Ford made the Coyote available to the masses with a crate engine purchase option and in 2012 the family sent $10,000 to Detroit and scored a Coyote 5.0 with a TKO five-speed transmission from Ford Performance. Buying the engine was the easy part. Now they had to get it into their first-generation Mustang and then get everything to function with the classic chassis.
“We had to create everything,” Chris says. “We couldn’t call anyone to get a wiring harness because that product didn’t exist then. We had to make our own wiring harness. When we put in a Mustang II frontend from Rod & Custom Motorsports, we called around to find some motor mounts for a Coyote, people asked us, ‘What is a Coyote?’ it was all too new. We had to make our own motor mounts.”
Being the first isn’t easy, and it comes with a lot of hard knocks. Building your own wiring harness and notching the frame to clear headers is no easy task. There were moments during this build when things didn’t go as planned. “We put the motor in and out of that chassis probably 30 different times,” says Chris. “At one point, while fighting the wiring harness, my mom and dad were ready to pull the Mustang out of the barn and light it on fire!” This was an old car that didn’t know how to communicate with a modern engine, it didn’t have a key fob or O2 sensors.
There was a massive amount of engineering to overcome on this build. The modern ECU was placed where the stock battery used to be located. The battery was then relocated to the trunk. The shock towers were removed from the engine compartment to make room for the big 5.0.
The interesting thing is even though the Coyote engine is physically bigger than the original 289, the engine swap saved 60 pounds on the nose of the Mustang. This is because the Coyote uses an aluminum engine block whereas the cast-iron 289 was incredibly heavier. The car comes in at 2,600 pounds wet. They lost 60 pounds by changing the engine and doubled the horsepower. That means the car is wicked fast.
The 1965 Mustang fastback cruises on QA1 single adjustable coilovers with Global West frame connectors. A Rod & Custom Motorsports four-link was installed in the rear to help maintain traction. The Mustang has a built Ford 9-inch differential with 3.73 gears and a custom driveshaft to connect to the Coyote.
For the exhaust, Chris had Jet-Hot coat the headers and installed a pair Flowmaster 40 Series Delta Flow mufflers. According to Chris, he didn’t want a quieter sound, so the exhaust has no crossover pipe. “The car sounds great. It has the perfect rumble,” he explains. Putting the power to the ground is a set of 17-inch Foose wheels wrapped in Nitto NT555 G2 summer tires.
This 1965 Mustang was not just about the Coyote swap, though, and the upgrade theme continued into the cabin with air conditioning from Vintage Air. The brakes were upgraded to discs with an engineering workaround due to some clearance issues with the brake booster and the Coyote engine. An electric pump that pressurizes the master cylinder to 1,200 pounds was installed and everything was neatly tucked in the driver’s fender.
The big power of the Coyote paired with the old-school lightweight chassis and no driver’s aids makes for a thrilling drive. The Coyote put down a conservative 470 horsepower to the wheels on the dyno. While show car worthy, Chris has run the Mustang around Virginia International Raceway and remarked about how well it handles.
In 2014, Chris swapped out the manual five-speed with an automatic. The 4R70W automatic was a custom build from Performance Automatic and came with billet planetary gears and push button gear selection. “People love to talk about the transmission,” Chris says. “The gear selection buttons are hidden in the center console, something you have never seen in a Mustang.”
After enjoying the car for a few years, Chris’ dad sold the Mustang to a fan of the car from Florida. The senior Boswell sadly passed away in 2019, and afterward, Chris and his mom decided to see if they could buy the car back. The gentleman still had the car and sold it back to the family for the same price he purchased it for. When the car arrived on a trailer at the family home tears of joy fell down both Chris and his mom’s cheeks.
I’ve thought about putting a sound system in the car but I just love the way the car sounds, I don’t want a radio. -Chris Boswell
Since Chris got the car back in his possession, he has taken it to numerous shows and picked up many trophies. He has updated some lighting in the car with DRL Halo headlights and sequential LED taillights.
The future of this Coyote-powered Mustang includes some new wheels to update the look, maybe some wider tires, and more car show attendance. “When people walk up and see the 5.0 sticker on the side they seem skeptical,” Chris says. “But, when I open the hood their jaws drop every time.”