With the 2015 63rd Annual Detroit Autorama passed, we had the opportunity to speak with an individual behind a truly amazing build. Dubbed Stampede, Tim Palazzolo and his team at GAP Racing have executed a momentous rebirth of a 1969 Mach One Mustang.
Unique and representative of the yesteryear, Stampede resembles clean flair and aggression. A finalist for the prestigious Ridler Award this year, Stampede hoped to catch the eyes of judges and spectators alike.
In short, the Ridler Award is given out each year at the Detroit Autorama, honoring creativity, engineering and workmanship. Competitors from all walks participate each year, unveiling vehicles that stand out from the rest.
Stampede began as simply a vision. Palazzolo said the project all began with a customer of GAP Racing named Juan. Palazzolo had built a few cars for Juan previously.
In The Beginning
Palazzolo said Juan approached him and asked what else he could do to help GAP Racing besides just giving money. That’s where Palazzolo agreed with him to build a car. “Once the ’69 Mustang Mach One was purchased, we formed a game plan,” Palazzolo said.
We wanted to build the wildest Mustang anyone has ever seen. – Tim Palazzolo
According to Palazzolo, project Stampede took just over four years to complete. Not to mention, he said the Mustang was passed through several body shops due to the skill level needed to complete the original vision.
The body has been heavily modified from the ground up. The wide carbon fiber front fenders are from Anvil Auto. Surprisingly, Palazzolo said the headlights are an LED version specifically designed for Harley Davidson motorcycles.
“The hood was built using a stock 69 hood and we built a scoop that mimicked the 2013 Shelby hood,” he said. “The original 69 quarters were removed and a 1970 set that were widened 2.5″ per side was installed and the rockers were hand built to match the shape of the front valance.”
Not only was body work an issue, but the Mustang also experienced mishaps during painting. Palazzolo said the quality of each shops work was not there.
“The car was painted by a local shop in Houston, using a custom PPG color made by Randy Borcherding at Painthouse in Cypress,” he said. “Once the car was painted, I had to have Randy and his crew redo a lot of paint work on the car as well as color sand and buff it out.”
High Class, High Power
Project Stampede is fully-fledged inside and out. According to Palazollo, Stampede has a 572ci Ford Boss motor with eight stack injection system. What’s more, the parts for the engine are from Jon Kaase and the motor was assembled and dynoed by Houston Engine and Balancing.
As for the drivetrain, Stampede features a Ford 4R70W four-speed overdrive automatic transmission. Not to mention, Palazzolo said the engine and transmission were sanded down, smoothed out and painted bright silver.
Back to the engine, Stampede has a set of Ford Powertrain headers and a custom built stainless steel exhaust that exits out of the center of the rear balance. According to Palazzolo, Jet-Hot High Performance Coatings was responsible for blending down and coating the exhaust system.
Speaking about the suspension, Stampede has a custom IFS front kit and torque arm supplied by Total Cost Involved Engineering, coated in brushed chrome. Also, Stampede includes an air ride system from Ridetech that has a magnetic ride feature. All of the stainless button heads on the vehicle were supplied by The Nut Place in Houston, Texas.
“Custom CNC covers were made to cover the bottom of the a-arms and the torque arm to make it flow with the rest of the project,” said Palazzolo.
Project Stampede has a nice wheel setup from Rushforth Wheels. The fronts measure 20”x10” as the rears measure a wide 20”x12”. Wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport tires, Stampede is sure to stay on the ground with its great dry traction.
Stopping power is provided by a Wilwood 14” big brake kit with 6 piston calipers. Palazzolo said the brakes went through an extensive customization process as well.
“The calipers were hydro dipped in carbon fiber by Houston Hydro Dip and then a Stampede logo was applied to match the Wilwood lettering,” he said. “Once painted silver, the calipers were barrier in clear and buffed out – giving the logo a carbon appearance.”
Inside The Stampede
As for the interior, Palazzolo chose Compton Custom Interiors in Fort Worth, Texas for their advice regarding upholstery.
“Since I worked so hard to hide all the nuts on the suspension, I wanted an interior with zero visible stitches,” he said. “Not only that, but I wanted it to still look like a 1969 mustang and not too modern or flashy.”
The leather was dyed a custom Classic Stampede Grey at Relicate Leather. Palazzolo said Relicate allowed them to pick the color, grain and sheen for Project Stampede.
After the upholstery was hammered out, Stampede was fitted with VHX gauges from Dakota Digital. A push-start ignition system was also installed along with Ford GT40 style switches mounted in the dash.
When asked about the end result of the project, Palazzolo said it was exactly what they were looking for from the get go. “Our shop specializes in pro-touring muscle cars,” he said. “We build cars that still look like the original car, but have a lot of power and a modern drivetrain.”
We like what GAP Racing has accomplished, praising their artistry, originality and workmanship. What has so many man hours spent on, Project Stampede shows every bit of it. Every twist of the ratchet, every grind of the power tools, this Mustang truly lies within the eye of the beholder.
What are your thoughts on Project Stampede? Feel free to share your thoughts below.