This Coyote-Swapped 1966 Mustang Blends Vintage Style With Detroit Speed's Handling Prowess

Author: Bradley Iger | 07/14/2021 < Back to Motor Life Home

When Kyle Tucker started building custom first-generation F-body parts in his home garage, he didn’t expect to help revolutionize vintage muscle car performance in the process. Working as a suspension engineer for GM’s Corvette development program in 1990s, Tucker brought the knowledge from his mechanical engineering degree and his experience with modern sports car chassis to the 1969 Camaro project he was putting together. The result was the best of both worlds, combining old school style with new school capability, and it helped form the pro touring trend that took shape in the early 2000s.

Today, Detroit Speed and Engineering components underpin some of the most capable restomod builds around. DSE-equipped machines are often found at the top of the leaderboard in series like Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car and the events at LS Fest, and the company has won SEMA’s Battle of the Builders competition on two separate occasions. “Our goal is to produce the nicest modern suspension components that you can buy for these cars,” says Matt Butts of Detroit Speed. “The philosophy here is basically that if a part we’re developing isn’t the best on the market, we’re not going to make it.”

Given that, it comes as little surprise that when business mogul and car collector Chris Tawil wanted a 1966 Mustang fastback built, he knew that Detroit Speed was the right outfit for the task. “A while back Chris purchased a previous customer build that we had done, a ’69 Camaro that was originally built for Michael Manning of American Autowire,” Butts explains. “He owned that car for a few years – he really liked the style of it and was impressed by the car overall, so he reached out to us about doing a build that was specifically for him.”

The idea was to create a fastback Mustang that would able to seriously perform, but it also had to remain very streetable and not deviate too far from the car’s original iconic look. Butts says that Detroit Speed’s own ’66 Mustang test car had served as Tawil’s inspiration for the build, but after an on-track incident, the shop car was on an indefinite hiatus. “We tore it up pretty badly at an autocross, but Chris really liked that car. So he basically purchased it as a parts car, and we built him a new version starting with a different bare shell. It still has a lot of similar characteristics to the shop car, but it’s refined to a much higher degree.”

Tawil explained that he didn’t want to go overboard on the exterior mods, so Detroit Speed took a calculated approach to the aesthetic, applying subtle fender flares, flush-mounted the glass, and tucked in the bumpers to tidy things up. As you’d expect, Detroit Speed’s Aluma-Frame front suspension system replaces the stock components and a DSE Quadralink system is installed in the back, and DSE subframe connectors have also been installed to improve the Mustang’s structural rigidity. The fastback’s hunkered down stance comes courtesy of JRI double-adjustable coilovers and DSE mini tubs, the latter of which make room for the wide Forgeline three-piece wheels. Baer brakes with six-piston calipers and 14-inch discs are installed at all four corners to provide modern stopping power.

Under the hood is a 5.0-liter Coyote V8 built by Roush Yates Engines. Outfitted with custom ground cams, a GT350 intake manifold, a Holley Dominator EFI system, DSE stainless Coyote swap headers, and a custom three-inch exhaust system with Hooker VR304 mufflers, the naturally aspirated mill puts out a healthy 530 horsepower at the wheels. The power is channeled through a Bowler T-56 Magnum gearbox to a Dynotech driveshaft with a billet Sonnax yoke, and it makes its way to the pavement through a Gear FX Ford 9-inch rear end with a TrueTrac 31-spline differential and a 4.56 ring and pinion. DSE’s C6-style full floater hubs and axles are also equipped to handle the additional grunt.

As with the exterior, a number of subtle tweaks have been applied to the Mustang’s cabin to refine its look rather than reinventing it. “The whole interior is custom, but it also looks like it could have been there from the factory,” says Butts. “It’s got Cobra front seats that have been upholstered in the same stitch and insert pattern as the original Mustang seats, and the door panels also have a factory appearance to them, but they’ve been reshaped to better integrate the arm rests and give them a sleeker appearance overall.” The car also retains its factory folding rear seat, which has been narrowed to accommodate the mini tubs. Mark Mcdonald and Josh Smith handled the fabrication work on the Mustang, while Michael Neighbors and Austin Moore wrapped up the bodywork before laying down the PPG Wimbledon White paint. Jason Eads completed the electrical and tuning work on the car, incorporating items like the hand-made headlight bezels with integrated turn signals and the custom LED taillights with billet bezels seamlessly, among other details that require a trained eye to pick out.

Detroit Speed is putting the finishing touches on the Mustang at the time of this writing and then it’s off to Los Angeles to join Tawil’s car collection, which includes a Ferrari Enzo, a Pagani Huayra roadster, and a drag-tuned Lamborghini Huracán among other exotic hardware. And in the interest of bringing more muscle into the garage, Detroit Speed and Tawil already have another project lined up after the fastback. “We’re also doing a Mopar for Chris,” Butts tells us. “We started with a ’70 Charger, and essentially what we’re building is a modern representation of a Daytona. It’s a widebody with a full carbon fiber front clip, a one-piece carbon wing that’s integrated into the body, and it’s powered by a thousand horsepower Hellaphant crate engine. It’s pretty wild – the entire car has been modeled in CAD by Gary Ragle and most of the body proportions have been altered from stock to give it the appearance we’re looking for.”

Given the scope of the Daytona build, the expected completion date for the Dodge is a bit of a moving target right now. But that’s just fine with everyone involved. “It’s such an extensive build, and we want to make sure we do it right,” Butts says. “And that means sweating every detail. This isn’t something that you want to rush out the door.”

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