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
— 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?