Wilwood’s Workhorse: Wilwood buys a 1966 Mustang to develop a basic brake kit, and ends up racing the wheels off of it
It’s nice to know a big aftermarket parts company can get caught up in the same snowball that most of us civilians get stuck in. The snowball we’re referring to is the infamous project car runaway where an idea for a simple, basic hot-rod morphs into a monster that just gets carried away in terms of seriousness and expense.
In Wilwood’s case, the brake manufacturer bought this 1966 Mustang hardtop to develop a four-lug brake kit that would fit into stock 14-inch wheels. He even pulled out the engine and transmission and sold them to a local Mustang owner for his own restoration project. The trunk, floors, rear lower quarter panels, and doors were “rusted beyond repair” in Wilwood’s words. Instead of just throwing the car into a junkyard for scrap, they thankfully, decided to build it into a usable car to develop more products and promote them at car shows and events around the country. They replaced all the body damage using fiberglass front fenders, hood, and bumper, as well as a fiberglass rear deck lid and fender flares molded into the steel rear quarters. Tony Porto and Greg Hyatt did all the body work in the Wilwood R&D shop, then had Paintin’ Place in Westlake Village, California, spray on the retina-burning Viper Red paint.
Because pro touring events like the Optima Ultimate Street Car Shootouts are so popular now, the Mustang took a decidedly more aggressive direction. It wasn’t just a platform for a small brake upgrade package, turning into a much more hardcore road racing and track day plaything. A full TCI suspension package is now under the car using the company’s torque arm setup, which is essentially a three-link. The rearend is a Strange 9 inch with 3.95:1 gears and 35-spline axles. The front suspension is also from TCI, using its custom IFS setup that maximizes ground clearance and performance and also gets rid of the stock Mustang’s intrusive shock towers. Ride Tech coilovers and Falken rubber on Boze 18-inch wheels are at all four corners, with 315s on 11-inch wheels in the back, 295s on 10-inchers in front. Of course, the brakes hiding behind those wheels are monstrous Wilwood 14-inch Aero6 binders in front, Superlite 4Rs in back.
That shock tower-ectomy was necessary to provide clearance for the wide cam covers of the 5.0L Coyote crate engine. Realizing the car would most likely get beaten on pretty hard during track time, the project managers at Wilwood wisely left the Coyote engine stock for reliability’s sake, but used a set of Doug’s headers, which were prototyped on this car, using 1.785-inch primaries and three-inch collectors, and metallic-ceramic coated.
There are a ton of details on this car that you can explore in the photos and captions. Know that every one of those details is there for a purpose—to go fast on the track and do it in style. Oh yeah, and stop really, really fast!