Late-model muscle cars are a great entry point into the muscle car hobby. They are often less expensive than their classic counterparts, and can double as daily drivers thanks to their inherent creature comforts. However, there comes a time, when only a classic car will do, and Tracy and Candace Lamonds found themselves at that crossroad. Their decision at that intersection of life led them to build an awesome 1966 Mustang coupe.
As is often the case with many car enthusiasts, Tracy Lamonds followed in his father’s footsteps. Lamonds’ father was a “big car guy” who loved drag racing and NASCAR, and Lamonds’ uncles were both gearheads, too. “Growing up, we had a pretty good history with tinkering,” Lamonds recalls. “We didn’t have enough money to do anything major with them. Dad had a ‘65 Falcon at one time and always loved Mustangs. That’s why I ended up building this 1966 Mustang.”
From Late To Early Model
Lamonds was lucky enough to drive a 1997 Mustang GT as the first car he purchased after graduation. He liked the Aztec Gold stallion, but couldn’t afford to do much to it at the time. With his next Mustang, a 2006 GT, Lamonds was in a better financial position to do modifications. The modern retro body style had strong classic cues, but with the latest technology and safety built in. Not to mention it had a capable Three-Valve V8 engine that outshined the anemic Two-Valve in his ’97. Lamonds added a cold air intake, a flash ECM tune, wheels, and upgraded suspension components during his ownership.
Eventually, the urge for a true classic took hold and Lamonds started searching for one. “After attending a lot of shows through the years, we decided we wanted to build a classic Mustang. I like the first-generation car,” Lamonds says of his Mustang body choice. “It was our favorite. We looked at some fastbacks, but the price difference was so much. If we could build a coupe that turns some heads, that would be really cool.”
Locating A Classic Mustang
With that decision made, it was time to find a suitable subject vehicle for the build. With first-generation Mustangs now well over 50 years old, good and reasonably priced ones aren’t exactly easy to find anymore. “It took us a pretty good while to find a good car to build,” Lamonds explains. “We were looking for a running and driving one, but the more we looked, the more we decided to build one from the ground up. We found this one in Blacksburg, South Carolina, from a big Mustang guy. He had built Mustangs for his whole family and this one was left over.”
Lamonds bought the 1966 Mustang coupe in late 2017. Originally from Oklahoma City, it was pretty solid and only needed a few replacement panels. “The body was excellent with very little rust. The car was just a shell and most of the parts were in boxes sitting inside the car,” Lamonds notes. “It was a C-code 289 automatic with Pony interior.”
It would be several months before the build could commence, as Lamonds was deciding what he wanted to do with the build. In the meantime, Lamonds sold his 2006 GT to get started on a classic Mustang build, which happened in March of 2018. “We went to a lot of car shows and you don’t really see Mustangs built in the Pro Touring style,” Lamonds says. “Originally, the thought was to build a nice driver, but that idea quickly went out the window.”
The Start Of The Pro Touring Mustang
From there, Lamonds took it to Trans4mation Body Shop where Billy Greene performed numerous body modifications. The gas filler was relocated to the trunk, the tail light panel was smoothed out, and the firewall was filled and smoothed. Greene also installed wider rear wheel tubs, performed all of the body work, and worked out the details like welding the bumper bolts to the bumpers and shaving them on the exterior side for a smooth appearance. Said bumpers were painted to match the exterior’s vivid Tungsten Metallic hue.
“We saw another Mustang that a guy had built that looked similar, so we kind of took a chapter from his book. We had ours painted Tungsten Silver Metallic from Aston Martin. We wanted something close to the Eleanor color, but different,” Lamonds explains.
The interior of the Mustang is just as finely crafted as the exterior, and while the car was originally equipped with the Pony interior, the Pro Touring look of the car’s exterior required something a bit higher end. “We went back and forth on the interior. We considered going back to factory, but decided on doing a custom interior,” Lamonds recalls. “Acyn Interiors owner Darrell Pressley took it after that and did an amazing job. I wanted to do something in the brown family and we started holding swatches of leather next to the paint and that was one of the first colors he grabbed. I was a little worried to begin with, but it ended up being perfect. It matches better than anyone could have imagined. We went out on a limb with it, but it looks great.”
Pressley used Chevy Cavalier seats up front and built custom bucket seats in the back, along with a custom center console that he extended into the trunk to cover the gas filler. Joining the new seats and upholstery is a custom wool headliner, and Sound DNA installed the sound system with JL Audio speakers. Lamonds also had a Dakota Digital dash installed to provide the instrumentation.
“We just picked out the interior color and gave them the freedom to do the rest,” Lamonds says. “We never saw the interior until the day we picked it up, and they knocked it out of the park.”
With most any Pro Touring build, one does not usually find a stock powerplant under the hood, and Lamonds’ Mustang is no exception. Between the front fenders is an HP Engines-built 347 stroker based on an ’87 5.0-liter block. “My wife said she didn’t care what we built as long as people turned around to see what was coming when we pulled into car shows, so that was the green light, Lamonds says.”
Grip And Go
Inside the late-model, cast-iron block is a Scat stroker crankshaft, and Air Flow Research 185 cylinder heads and an Edelbrock RPM intake manifold allow the cylinders to breathe easy. On the exhaust side you’ll hear JBA’s shorty headers and H-pipe releasing the sounds of combustion into the 40 series Flowmaster mufflers. The powerplant generates 470 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, which should motivate this pony plenty.
Backing the small-block Ford engine is a stout TREMEC TKO-600 five-speed manual transmission from Silver Sport Transmissions. It’s coupled to the engine with a dual-friction clutch shifted via an SST short-throw shifter to ensure each gear change sends the twist back to the Eaton Truetrac-equipped, 9-inch rearend.
“The car was taken to a friend’s shop for the rest of the build,” Lamonds says. “Ronnie Smith did all the mechanical work. He worked for Ford for many years and built several cars through the years. He rewired the car with a Ron Francis Wiring kit and built the 9-inch Ford rearend and cut it down to fit the new tubs. We removed the leaf spring holders and reattached them to the inside of the framerail, which allowed us to move the link bars to the inside of the framerail to make room for wider tires.”
They also installed a RideTech four-link rear suspension, Wilwood brakes front and back, and a pair of Global West subframe connectors to stiffen up the classic 1966 Mustang chassis. The car rolls on Billet Specialties Grand Prix wheels, sized 18×8 up front, and wide 18×10 out back, with Michelin Pilot Sport tires gripping the ground with 205/40-18 up front and 275/40-18 on the back.
Showcasing The Finished Product
“It was finished when Covid got started around March,” Lamonds says. “We scrambled to get it done for the Run to the Sun show in Myrtle Beach, but the show was canceled.” Since then, the Lamonds have had their 1966 Mustang out and about plenty.
“We have accomplished more than we thought we ever would already,” Lamonds says. “We picked up a Bad Ass award and Mustang Driver Magazine Editor’s Choice award at Mustang Week, and we picked up the PEE DEE Street Rodders pick at Run to the Sun this year. Having a magazine feature is something we never dreamed would happen during the build!”
Building Cars And Friendship
Awards are certainly welcome and reflect the hard work that went into the build, but Lamonds noted that wasn’t the only benefit of the build experience. “The most interesting thing was the people that we met during the build. We made some lasting friendships and learned tons about what it takes to build these cars. We got to meet a couple people that knew so much about Mustangs, it was great just sitting and learning from these guys.”