The year was 1965. Having successfully launched the Mustang in the United States the previous year, Ford was hoping to promoate the car in Europe through motorsports. Already the Mustang had taken a 1-2 class victory at the Tour de France Automobile road rally the year before with the support of Holman & Moody, and Ford’s top brass held a meeting to discuss how to become further involved in racing in Europe.
After a chance meeting with executives Martini & Rossi (who would form Martini Racing a few years later), the two companies decided to join forces to build a Mustang race car that would compete in road rallies. With Martini & Rossi providing the sponsorship funds, Ford shipped over a 1966 Mustang fastback fitted with parts from the Shelby GT350R as well as Ford’s Indy 4-cam engine for the purpose of endurance testing. Since the export version of the Mustang was known as the T-5, the new race car was dubbed the T-5R.
It’s a fascinating story, and realistic enough to be true. Sadly, it’s not. Instead, it’s the fictitious back story created for this custom 1966 Mustang by Steve Strope, owner of Pure Vision Design. Strope says he gives back stories to all his projects, but this one is perhaps his best yet. After seeing this very special Mustang debut at SEMA this past year, we caught up with both Strope and the car at his shop in Simi Valley, CA to get a better look at what could be the coolest classic Mustang ever built.
For the exterior of the Martini Racing Mustang, Strope blended the look of a Shelby GT350R with a rally car, all somehow packaged in a way that doesn’t look too overdone or complex. Several fiberglass body components from Maier Racing – the hood, 2-inch flared fenders, front and rear bumpers and lower valence – provide a slightly more aggressive appearance, while the front end has been given the full rally treatment with four driving lights. The front fascia has even been reworked to fit a spoiler lip from a 1969 Mustang.
The interior of the Martini Racing is perhaps even more impressive than the outside. Again, the styling is a combination of the Shelby GT350R and a vintage rally car, pulling design themes from both. The rear seats have been removed with a Shelby R-style roll bar fitted in its place, a Shelby R radio delete plate holds a rally clock and chrono, and the side windows are manually operated plexiglass just like the original race car. Blue leather covers the Euro-style sports seats and door pads, all stitched together in colors that mimic the Martini Racing stripes on the outside. A period-correct Momo Prototipo steering resides front and center, fitted with a quick-release system from Flaming River.
The engine has been modified to make it more street friendly with a lower redline and less aggressive cams, and the mechanical injection have been converted to an EFI system courtesy of Ed Pink Racing Engines. A starter motor also rides piggyback on the bellhousing, since the engine wasn’t originally fitted with one. In an effort for the V8 to make more torque in the lower rpm range, the displacement has been bumped up from 250ci to 291ci thanks to an increased stroke, although a lower redline comes as a result – 7,500 down from 9,000 rpm. In total, the engine produces 426 horsepower and 362 lb-ft torque, impressive figures given the displacement even by today’s engine standards.
Pure Vision Design may not have built the most outrageous, the fastest or the most powerful Mustang we’ve ever seen, but it may be the most impressive. The attention to the smallest details, the level of fabrication required, the overall design theme and it’s tribute to automotive history (both in truth and creative fiction) make it a truly unique and special car. By: mustangsdaily