When it comes to pro-touring cars, some enthusiasts love the idea of taking a vintage muscle car and bringing it up to modern performance standards. Others feel this is blasphemy, and that vintage iron should only be restored to original specifications; after all, a new Mustang offers a vintage look with modern performance off the showroom floor.
In between these extremes lies custom builder Bodie Stroud, who seems to have the unique ability to blend the contemporary and the authentic in a manner that pleases almost everyone. His latest project, dubbed “The Real Thing” and put on video by Julian King and producer Jeremy Yaches, tells the story of a vintage engine that just happens to have a car surrounding it.
In 1969, Ford built 10 copies of an aluminum-block, 494 cubic-inch V-8 engine for Can-Am racing. Mario Andretti, then in the prime of his career, used one of these engines in his Holman & Moody McLaren M6B, but placed no higher than 3rd in the races he entered.
Fast-forward to 2010, when Bodie Stroud got the idea to use one of the 494 cubic-inch Ford V-8s built for the 1969 Can-Am season and used by Mario Andretti in a project Mustang. Stroud opted to build a 1969 Mustang around the engine, but went a completely unconventional route.
Since the V-8 was putting out 777 horsepower, Stroud opted to build a ladder-frame chassis to up the Mustang’s handling. Influenced by the look of vintage funny cars, the roof was chopped (lowered, in other words) and the body was widened to handle massive rear tires.
Inside, the car uses gauges from a 2011 Mustang, fitted in a hand-built dash. The net result of Stroud’s work is a car that handles like a modern street rod, but still maintains an air of authenticity not seen in many pro-touring rides.
If the car needed further validation, it came at the hands of Mario Andretti, who recognized the engine and signed the valve cover at this year’s SEMA Show.