1968 Shelby GT350 Mustang

Here at Modified Mustangs & Fords magazine, you’ll find us preaching the virtues of driving your classic Ford and enhancing the performance in order to have that much more fun in it. Phoenix, Arizona’s Chuck Young might as well be the poster child for MM&F, as he not only owns a real ’68 Shelby GT350, but he’s also modified it extensively in an effort to improve every aspect of vehicle performance.

Back in 1969, Chuck’s first encounter with a Shelby Mustang was a very short-lived one. He had come home with a bright red ’68 Shelby with saddle interior, but a subsequent conversation with his spouse convinced him that it wasn’t the most family friendly vehicle, so a week later, he traded it in. Since that time, Chuck has owned a ’64 Shelby Cobra, and a ’68 Mustang GT with a 390ci V-8, but he has always longed to get his hands on another red Shelby Mustang. In 1997, Chuck picked up this all-original ’68 GT350 with less than 70,000 miles on the clock.

“It wasn’t running when I bought it,” recalls Chuck. “The car had sat for a long time, and the fuel system needed to be replaced, the brakes were rusted-it was a total mess.” Chuck also told us that the car had been repainted at least once in its as-delivered Candy Apple Red hue.

You could say this is where the road took a different direction. Whereas many a Shelby Mustang fanatic would go for the restoration, and probably the auction route, Chuck forged ahead with the necessary repairs to get the Shelby road worthy, and then proceeded to drive the all-original, numbers-matching Pony for the next several years.

In June 2005, Chuck decided he’d had enough of the wheezy vintage Mustang power, and set the stock J-code 302 aside. “It wasn’t exactly a speed demon,” noted Chuck.

The new plan called for a healthy 347ci stroker engine, and eventually a Paxton supercharger, but as the engine came out of the car, the motor swap quickly snowballed into a full-tilt restomodification.

With the original engine, transmission, and rearend now collecting dust in Chuck’s garage, the body was dropped off to Chuck’s friend Heath Elmer, whose company Heath Elmer Restorations (Mesa, Arizona), treated it to a rotisserie restoration with hundreds of hours in bodywork to get the flanks pin straight. The undercarriage, engine compartment, and interior were all restored to factory specs using NOS parts, but that’s where the concours work ends.

“The idea was to make it fast, make it handle, and incorporate the latest high-tech parts and equipment while keeping the look of the car as near stock as possible,” says Chuck. “The utmost importance was placed in not destroying the car while changing it.” The goal was not to cut or weld anything, though an exception to the latter was made with regard to Troy Clark’s installation of Total Control Products’ subframe connectors.

The engine swap that started the snowball effect is based on a Ford Racing B50 8.2-inch-deck block that was machined by Duffee Motorsports in Phoenix, Arizona. A DSS Racing billet aluminum main support girdle and windage tray support the Eagle forged steel crank and rods, and Mahle forged pistons. AFR 185 cylinder heads and a Lunati camshaft designed for a supercharged application were combined with an Edelbrock Victor intake manifold and 13/4-inch headers to produce a stout 461 horsepower on the engine dyno.

When it came time to fit the stroker between the frame rails though, the intake was swapped for a Performer RPM piece, and the headers were traded for a set of 15/8-inch custom tri-Y headers from Stainless Works. The heads and intake were also sent to Extrude Hone for a round of media porting, and with a Holley 650 carb bolted on top, the powerplant has produced a healthy 400 hp at the wheels on a Mustang chassis dyno.