Licensed by Ford and Shelby, ‘new’ old Mustangs with potent powertrains bring back the golden era of Motown Muscle. Dan Scanlan checks them out for CGC.
It’s a Ponycar-lover’s dream team – a 450-horsepower ‘66 Shelby Mustang GT350 in proper white with blue stripes and, and a 430-horsepower ‘66 Mustang GT convertible in that right shade of blue. But while this pair looks period, they are “brand new” ’66 Mustangs produced by Revology Cars, a three-year-old Orlando, FL company started by Tom Scarpello. His mission is to bring back the most iconic Ponycar in a classic, if slightly updated, form.
His background includes six years as an SVT Ford executive, plus time with Jaguar and Nissan and his 15 employees have hot rod and classic car restoration experience. Starting with a Ford-approved replica ‘66 Mustang body, they add modern powertrain and comfort to get rid of what’s not fun in a classic.
“Original Mustangs are functionally obsolete by modern standards. They are uncomfortable to drive, unreliable and not safe by modern standards. And they are expensive to restore when you restore them one at a time,” Scarpello, above, said. “Our solution is brand new licensed reproductions of classic cars, re-engineered with modern technology and materials to improve performance, reliability, drivability, comfort and safety, and to reduce emissions.”
The original Mustang was introduced on April 13, 1964 at the New York World’s Fair, so popular almost 420,000 were sold the first year. Just over 40 years later, Scarpello decided to pursue his dream to remake the classic Mustang. Talks with Ford got support.
By 2015, Revology Cars’ prototype blue ‘66 Mustang with a modern five-liter Ford V-8 was shown at the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Two production ‘66s showed up at 2016’s Amelia Concours, one a black and gold ‘66 Shelby GT350H. Then this year, two more production convertibles and a white GT350 that had been unveiled at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas were displayed at Amelia Island.
A few weeks later, it was time to test drive a couple of Revology Mustangs.
The Shelby looked just right with correct GT350 badging and stripes, Plexiglas rear quarter windows and a scooped fiberglass hood with hood pins. It rode on 17-inch Vintage Wheel Works V45 aluminum wheels that looked period correct, with meaty P225/45ZR17 front/P255/40ZR17 rear Bridgestone Potenza tires.
Push the start button – an option instead of a key – and a new 450-horsepower Ford Coyote V-8 bellows to life through Borla 2.5-inch stainless exhaust sans catalytic converters. A black shift ball sits atop a Tremec T-56 six-speed transmission, while power goes aft via a Dynotech three-inch driveshaft to a beefy Currie nine-inch rear with Eaton TruTrac limited-slip differential.
You could feel the power rumbling through the 232-mile-old Shelby’s driver’s seat under acceleration. The Tremec balked a bit going into second and third gears when cold. But when it warmed up, shifts became smooth and direct. With Scarpello wedged in the back seat of the fastback, we were limited to quick straight runs. But floor it in Second and the car just moves out fast, straight and true with a deep bass bellow. It was noisy, but what a great sound – listen to it in the video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uPg3RsWkQ0
Windows up, there was some gear whine but Scarpello said that was being worked on. The best moment was flooring it under an overpass and hearing the roar reflected back. Power is ample as needed, with tons of smoothly accessible grunt, especially under 4,000 rpm. The ride was firm but fluid, handling expansion joints without issue, and not a creak or body shake. And as far as handling, it was far more connected and composed in Central Florida’s gentle curves than any stock vintage Mustang I’ve driven. There was far less body roll than I expected. The power steering was light in feel but very direct and the brakes offered great initial bite after short travel.
“We are about fun to drive – that’s the No. 1 point,” Scarpello said. “The cars have very impressive numbers. But it’s more about overall balance, brakes, steering and ride comfort – everything comes together.”
The classic replica wood-rimmed Shelby steering wheel with a gold Cobra emblem felt skinny and just right. And it tilts. It mates to power rack and pinion steering with decent feel and just a touch of that classic “over-boosted” feel. The double wishbone front/three-link rear suspension with torque arm and Panhard rod was firm but forgiving. The big slotted and ventilated Wilwood brakes, below, have six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers and good pedal feel and deliver straight stops.
Inside it’s almost totally classic, but with black Italian leather on seats and dashboard cowl and an Alcantara suede headliner. There are classic chrome controls like the old days, but no center console, and a classic a/c system. The 8,000-rpm tach and 160-mph speedometer live center-stage, classic in looks, with ice blue LED lighting. The dash center was re-engineered to host a Pioneer touchscreen entertainment system with navigation, Bluetooth, voice recognition, reverse camera and eight speakers. The Revology-designed bucket seats were more sculpted and body hugging than the originals.
Then we checked out the sweet blue ’66 Mustang GT convertible, also a Ford-licensed Mustang body made by Dynacorn International. And under its hood, a new, fully legal, emissions-certified GM LS3 V-8 crate motor, as used in about 30 percent of Revology’s 20 Mustangs on the road.
“It has the federal certification and come with catalytic converters, a factory emissions system and it carries a CARB emissions exemption. As soon as there is a certified engine from Ford, obviously that is going to be used. In the meantime we don’t really have an option,” Scarpello said. “What we found is so far our customers don’t really have that strong brand loyalty.”
Our tester was their fifth production car, also wearing flat-looking GE LED headlights but otherwise classic in looks, right down to thin chromes bumpers with tiny over-riders. In back, familiar three-bar LED taillights with sequential turn signals. The 50-state emission certified blue beauty was riding on cast alloy Vintage Wheel Works five-spoke wheels with wide 16-inch BFG G-Force Sport Comp 2 rubber.
The GM 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 is rated at 435 horsepower and sports a cold air intake, custom 2.5-inch stainless steel Borla exhaust system and catalytic converters. It’s hooked to a four-speed GM 4L65E automatic transmission and a nine-inch TrueTrac limited-slip rear with 3.50 gears.
Revology tweaks the Dynacorn body for better fit and finish as well as adding torsional stiffness. Two steel boxes built on the sides of the firewall under the hood host modern electronics and wiring. The car rides on a double-wishbone front suspension with a four-link rear, adjustable coil-over shocks and a performance brake update – vented Wilwood discs all-round. Neither car gets traction or stability control, or ABS either.
The GT was also young, only 270 miles. It fired quickly, a subtle but potent rumble at idle and a mellow bellow at speed with a bit of pop-pop overrun on deceleration. That skinny plastic wood-rimmed steering wheel offers an overboosted if direct feel. There was just a bit of cowl shake top down, the stiffening doing its job. Wind control was also pretty good for a classic Mustang.
We didn’t have a chance to get any performance numbers, but it was quick. Passing was effortless, the GM auto’s smooth kick-down meaning the Orlando roadways passed quickly. There’s a nice V-8 snarl at highway speed, then a restrained but mellow roar when pushed. The GT convertible hugged curves well, with minimal body roll, feeling quite comfortable being pushed. The Wilwood brakes did their job well.
The convertible’s interior glowed in the sun with the power top down, showcasing period-correct original-style flat bucket seats in blue with white inserts, real wood dashboard trim and spun alloy cup holders. The deep-dish three-spoke tilt steering wheel had flimsy horn buttons like the original. A classic push-button radio in the dashboard’s metal center was hooked to neatly hidden speakers and sounded great. The classic four-vent air conditioner cooled us, even with the top down. The classic central 140-mph speedometer has a tiny 8,000-rpm tach as well as a digital display. Both cars had classic manual window cranks mted to power window switches, so nudges did the rest.
A base Revology ‘66 Mustang GT convertible with the 6.2-liter GM LS3 V-8, or a five-liter Coyote DOHC V-8 starts at $160,000. A ‘66 Shelby G.T. 350 with Ford five-liter Ti-VCT Coyote DOHC V-8 starts at $190,000. Adding a Tremec T-56 close- ratio six-speed like we drove adds $2,500, while that Nappa leather and Alcantara suede interior added an additional $5,000.
Revology can build “brand new” ‘66 Mustangs under a recent Federal rule regarding low-volume vehicle manufacture, allowing up to 325 units per year of an “emissions-certified replica” of a vehicle originally made more than 25 years ago. The original manufacturer must also license the company making it.
Revology has been granted licenses by Ford as well as Carroll Shelby Licensing. There are 14 full-time employees with current sales in eight countries. Revology is also restoring original Mustangs with chassis, brake and engine upgrades. Its first ‘67 Mustang is in production. The company will also offer a ‘67 Shelby GT500 and ‘68 Mustang GT 2+2 Fastback, while classic GM and even MOPAR Ponycars could be coming.
For more on Revology, please visit http://revologycars.com/