80: WHITE LIGHT­NING

GAVIN TOMBS HAS OWNED A SWAG OF MUS­TANGS OVER THE YEARS, SO WHEN THIS ONE CAME UP, JUST AS WITH ALL THE OTH­ERS, HE HAD TO HAVE IT

NZV8 - - CONTENTS - WORDS: SHANE WISHNOWSKY PHO­TOS: DUN­CAN ROURKE

— A FRESH TAKE ON AN OLD CLAS­SIC

To say that Gavin Tombs likes his Fords is a bit of an un­der­state­ment. His ev­er­grow­ing list of pre­vi­ously owned cars is as long as your arm, and he shows no sign of slow­ing. Read­ing through that list, it be­comes glar­ingly ob­vi­ous that the Mus­tang is Gavin’s drink of choice, so to speak, and we don’t think that’s nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing.

It hasn’t all been about the small two-door car that the Ford Mo­tor Com­pany thrust onto the pub­lic way back in April of 1964, though. Gavin’s first car was a Mk2 Es­cort. He’s also owned a T-bucket, but ev­ery­thing else of note has been Mus­tang; notch­backs, fast­backs, rag­tops, cars from the ’60s, ’90s, and 2000s — you name it, he’s had it. Now that’s ded­i­ca­tion.

Eleven years ago, Gavin’s good friend Duane Jones men­tioned that he had a ’65 fast­back for sale. Now, Gavin had al­ways had a bit of a soft spot for the long slop­ing roofline, and de­cided he had to have it — we can imag­ine that a lot of arm-twist­ing was re­quired to make the de­ci­sion! He found some money, rang the ship­pers, and or­ga­nized for his lat­est Mus­tang to be shipped over to start its new life on this side of the world.

Gavin is no stranger to work­ing on cars; he con­fesses that he’s “done up cars for years, just

the stan­dard things like panel, paint, in­te­rior, and mo­tor, [but] the fast­back just went out of con­trol!” The car duly ar­rived and was dropped off to the team at Ju­nior’s Kus­tom Rides in Lower Hutt to be ripped apart. Kurt Goodin came up with the look that Gavin liked, and the Mus­tang was relieved of ev­ery­thing and any­thing at­tached to the shell; what was left was then mounted to a ro­tis­serie so that Paul Knight could rip into the body­work.

As you can imag­ine, any­thing born in the ’60s would have col­lected its fair share of im­per­fec­tions over the years, and the Mus­tang was no dif­fer­ent. Paul mas­saged the car’s flanks with a ham­mer and dolly, iron­ing out all the blem­ishes, along with re­plac­ing or re­pair­ing pan­els that had been eaten away over time, re­sult­ing in a bet­ter-than-fac­tory shell all ready to be coated in litres of blind­ing white paint. The pan­els, now well fit­ting and ar­row straight, are a tes­ta­ment to the ef­fort put in by ev­ery­one who had a hand in the nine-year build. The freshly painted shell was loaded onto a trailer and moved back to Gavin’s place to have en­gine

The pan­els … are a tes­ta­ment to the ef­fort put in by ev­ery­one who had a hand in the nine-year build

and hard­ware fit­ted to make the Mus­tang look more like a car than the pile of parts it re­sem­bled. At least, that’s what should have hap­pened, had Gavin ac­tu­ally had some shed space in which to com­plete the build. Six weeks later, thanks to mates Si­mon In­gle and Carl Lampe, a 150m2 shed had been built — more than enough floor space for the Mus­tangs to stretch out and for Gavin to fit the mo­tor and at­tach all the other shiny stuff. Gavin al­ways had a lit­tle bit more in mind than your av­er­age keep-it-in-the-shed-and-go-getya-gro­ceries-once-a-week kind of deal with this one, though. So, in prepa­ra­tion for this, a lit­tle bit of trunk space was robbed to ac­com­mo­date a set of mini-tubs so he could squeeze in the 285/35R18 rub­ber to re­place the rub­ber bands that would have been fit­ted by the fac­tory way back in the day. The stan­dard eight-inch rear end was re­tained, al­beit a tad shorter, and stuffed in­side is a True­trac diff head and 4:11 gears. A cus­tom four-link along with QA1 shocks and Wil­wood discs with four-pis­ton calipers make for a pretty tough rear-end pack­age that should

han­dle any abuse that Gavin de­cides to hurl at it. Mov­ing fur­ther for­ward, the stan­dard sus­pen­sion was re­placed with a Global West Sus­pen­sion tubu­lar front end. Hang­ing off each side are Wil­wood discs, clamped by calipers of the same breed, with a cou­ple more pis­tons than the rear, mean­ing that, on the odd oc­ca­sion that the rapid white fast­back might reach warp speed, ter­mi­nal ve­loc­ity can be scrubbed off safely in a timely man­ner.

Wast­ing some time one day on the in­ter­net, Gavin stum­bled across a 347-cube small block at­tached to a Tre­mec TKO 600 box that would be per­fect for the empty en­gine bay. He had planned to have a C4 auto, but the Targa-prepped man­ual combo was far too good to refuse. Gavin had never owned a man­ual V8 be­fore and thought that cruis­ing down the road row­ing gears along the way would be a hell of a lot of fun — and that’s proved to be the case.

With looks and propul­sion sorted, it was time to move in­side and make ev­ery­thing else look neat and tidy. Dion Hunter from Cover Me up­hol­stery in Up­per Hutt was handed the task of black­ing out the in­te­rior, and a herd of cows kindly do­nated their hides to be draped over seats, door cards, and steer­ing wheel. All-new black floor cov­er­ings were laid out from front to rear, ex­tend­ing into the trunk space to tidy things up nicely. For good mea­sure, and to give things a bit more of a mod­ern feel, a drop-in Dakota Dig­i­tal dash was slipped in. A Kenwood Blue­tooth head unit pumps out the tunes cour­tesy of six-inch and nine-inch speak­ers front and rear, re­spec­tively.

The Mus­tang has been built to be driven on the road and en­joyed on the strip and track. Gavin has been a mem­ber of Cam County in Lower Hutt since 1991 and has been ei­ther spec­tat­ing or rac­ing at the club’s an­nual event, the Port Road Drags, since he was 15 years old. He tried his best to get a half-de­cent time at the 50th an­niver­sary event but, due to trac­tion is­sues off the start line, all re­spectable times went up in a haze of white tyre smoke! A set of more ap­pro­pri­ate rear tyres has since been pur­chased, and Gavin is al­ready en­tered for this year’s rac­ing and ea­ger to see how things go this time.

Now that this one is fin­ished, it’s time for Gavin to move onto the next project. He and his brother Dean, also a Ford nut, have a drag car cur­rently in the build — yes, it’s a Ford, and, yes, it’s a Mus­tang. Did you re­ally ex­pect any­thing else?

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