Soup it up: Restored Ford showcases parts business

Larry Edsall
Special to The Detroit News

Wish you still had the car you bought for $300 when you were in high school? Scott Drake still has his.

Scott Drake’s 1965 Ford Mustang has undergone its third restoration since he paid $300 for it when he was 16 years old.

In 1975, Drake was 16 years old and paid $300 to buy a 1965 Ford Mustang that the previous owner had started to modify. So when Drake got the car, it had a chromed-chain steering wheel, shag-carpet headliner and mini Moon-style hubcaps. Oh, and it also had a gold-colored paint job.

With help from his father and his girlfriend, Drake removed the faded paint from the car’s fastback body, took it down to bare medal and turned it into something of a showpiece, Wimbledon White with Guardsman Blue Shelby-style racing stripes.

Drake’s father owned a paint and body shop that specialized in restoring 1930s-era Fords and that sold Ford Model A parts. The family had moved from Wisconsin to Southern California when Scott Drake was 5. Now with his own car, he not only cruised Los Angeles boulevards, but scoured swap meets from Texas to the Pacific Northwest for auto parts he could refurbish and sell.

During his senior year in high school, Drake fabricated a new seal for the trunk lid of a teacher’s Mustang and realized it made more sense to create new parts than to refurbish old ones. After graduation, he moved to Oregon to work at his brother’s Ford parts business, all the while using his own Mustang as a test bed for the Mustang parts he was crafting.

In 1990, Drake and his wife, Suzanne, returned to California, where he opened his own business, producing and selling parts for 1964-1973 Mustangs, both his own and those made by others.

Scott Drake’s 1965 Ford Mustang.

Fast forward a couple of decades and Drake Automotive Group is headquartered in Henderson, Nevada, with an inventory of more than 10,000 parts for everything from classic Mustangs to modern muscle cars, plus off-road vehicles such as the Jeep, FJ Cruiser and Bronco as well.

But our focus here is Drake’s original ’65 Mustang fastback. He restored the car again in 1992 and now he’s re-restored it yet again as a Mustang parts showcase that could serve as a blueprint for anyone wishing to do a restoration on a first-generation Mustang of his or her own.

Now known as the “Pet Pony,” the 41-year-old car is complete with a high-performance 289-cubic-inch V-8 built to the same 306-horsepower specifications as Carroll Shelby did in 1966. It also features Drake’s own Shelby oval air cleaner, Shelby valve covers, high-performance shock absorbers (the suspension also has been built to ’66 Shelby specs), hi-flow radiator, Monte Carlo bar, billet grille, side stripes, hood pins, pop-open gas gap, billet tail lamp bezels, sequential flashing tail lamps and more.

The car also has ceramic-coated JBA “shorty” headers, T-5 transmission with Lakewood Motorsports bell housing and Hurst shifter, Currie Racing 9-inch rear end with 3.89 posi-traction, and Baer 4-wheel disc brakes.

In a trick some car builders do to showcase different wheel styles, the driver’s side of the car has Legendary Magnum 500 wheels while the passenger-side has Legendary Styled Alloy wheels.

Inside, the car features a Drake 6-gauge instrument bezel with matching glove box, quick-release fire extinguisher holder, billet pedal covers and shortened turn-signal lever, as well as Pro Scat seats and Corso Feroce wood steering wheel.

For information on the parts available for Mustangs and other vehicles, visit the website.

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at