Gary and Lori Munsch’s ’64½ Mustang Has Been in the Family for 40-plus Years
When Gary Munsch’s dad first brought home this first-year Mustang 44 years ago, Gary didn’t want anything to do with it. After all, he was cruising a ’62 Fairlane to high school at the time and didn’t want to give up the V8 power for an inline-six Mustang. His dad, however, told him to try it out for a week and then decide.
The Mustang was all stock with the 170c.i. six and four-speed manual trans and had been parked for three years when the original owner passed. Gary’s dad bought it for the tidy sum of $250 and with the help of his Uncle Ron, the two poured in some gas, jump started it, and drove it home. Once Gary drove the Mustang around for a few days, he fell in love with the lighter, sportier Mustang and the title has been in his name ever since.
The pony car didn’t stay stock for long as Gary built his first engine, a 302, and dropped it in the Mustang along with a top-loader four-speed during his senior year. He drove it all year and even ran a best of 12.72 at 102mph for the high school drags! A few years later, Gary and his wife packed up the Mustang and headed south to California for the 1983 Street Machine Nationals, where the car was shot for a feature in Car Craft Magazine followed by a cover story in Popular Hot Rodding!
In 2004 Gary decided it was time for a complete rebuild and proceeded to blow the Mustang apart. He and Lori had three goals: build a really nice car in their garage, make it fun to drive on the street, and get it to run in the 10s on pump gas in the quarter mile. Like many projects, progress was stalled for several years, but with the help of his sons Shaun and Chris, the Mustang finally came together after nine years and has exceeded their goals! (In case you’re wondering, the Mustang has run 10.53 at 127mph!)
Gary and Arlyn Staiger worked together to assemble a 418c.i. Windsor small-block filled with a solid roller cam and topped with a set of Edelbrock Victor Jr. heads and intake manifold. A Demon 925 carb is hidden under a custom air box that Shaun and Gary built, while a set of Kooks headers directs fumes through a 3-inch Magnaflow exhaust.
To handle all of the new power, a set of Art Morrison frame rails was modified by Jacob Lusk and coupled to a Heidts front suspension along with QA1 coil-overs. Out back, a ladder bar setup secures a 9-inich Ford rearend stuffed with a Strange center section and 4.29:1 gears with Penske coil-overs by ABCO Performance for support. Wilwood brakes are on each corner along with a big ‘n skinny set of Weld Racing wheels.
Gary credits his son Shaun for the majority of the welding and the two collaborated on all of the fab work including the 10-point roll cage, the smooth firewall, custom inner fender panels, and the modifications to the front fenders and spoiler. Gary applied the PPG Dark Copper over Orange Crush and added the Synergy Green striping as an offset. He also airbrushed a ghost horse on each quarter.
The family custom work continued in the passenger compartment with Lori helping out on the interior along with Kevin MacDonald. The dash was filled with Auto Meter gauges and an overhead console was added along with a Shelby Cobra steering wheel. A pair of Procar seats are separated by an aggressive-looking Jeffco four-speed shifter to roll the gears with the aid of a McLeod clutch assembly. Their son Chris helped with the prep work and final assembly of the custom Mustang.
After nearly four-and-a-half decades and three generations of family involved in its build, the Mustang that Gary nearly passed on continues to be refined, driven and enjoyed. During the Friday Night Drags of the 2019 Pacific Northwest Nationals, Chris raced the car to a stout 10.56 ET but Gary’s not ready to hand over the keys just yet. We’re anxious to see what Shaun and Chris bring out to next year’s show!
Photos by John Jackson