Revology makes classic Mustangs for the 21st century

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

Slicing through the streets of Ann Arbor, the classic, fastback Mustang silhouette turns heads with its 1960s-style, blue-striped Shelby livery and menacing V-8 growl. But behind the wheel, the legendary pony feels taut like a modern ‘Stang — chassis planted, suspension absorbing the V-8 engine’s massive torque.

Tom Scarpello created Revology to recreate classic Mustangs with the liveability - and power - of a new muscle car. Pictured is a Revology 1966 GT350 with a 460-horse V-8 engine, 6-speed manual tranny, and multi-link rear suspension.

Say hello to the Revology Shelby GT350.

Like a mad movie scientist, ex-Ford marketing guru Tom Scarpello is bringing classic Mustangs back to life with a modern technology transplant. Taking exact-replica 1966-68 Mustang bodies and girding them with state-of-the-art suspension engineering and instrumentation, Scarpello’s Revology Mustangs are road-worthy recreations for the pony-car enthusiast.

“The Mustang that everyone covets is the original 1960s car, but no one wants the hassle of owning one. Revology makes the cars relevant again,” says Scarpello, who worked for Ford and other automakers before opening his own manufacturing facility in Orlando, Florida.

From GT350s to Steve McQueen’s Highland Green Bullitt, Ford’s sixth-generation Mustang still draws on its 50-year heritage even as its current models are light years beyond '60s tech. But Revology is the first company to license Ford and Shelby heritage models and update them with modern engineering.

Credit Scarpello who is living his dream by applying a lifetime of manufacturing know-how with Ford and Nissan to one of the most creative auto startups of the 21st century.

His Revology lineup includes six model Mustangs ranging from a 460-horse 1966 GT convertible to an earth-pawing 1967 Shelby GT500 with a 600-horsepower supercharged Roush V-8.

Scarpello knows muscle. Working for Ford’s SVT performance division from 1998-2004, he was product manager for Ford’s first GT supercar — based on the iconic 1966 Le Mans winner. In his spare time he raced SCCA's Formula Mazda series. After a short run as (then Ford-owned) Jaguar’s marketing manager in Irvine, California, he left Ford on a quixotic journey to establish his own auto business. He hopscotched the globe — California, Mexico, Hong Kong, Japan — learning the auto sales craft with dealers, Nissan and Infiniti before finally establishing Revology in Orlando in 2015.

His timing couldn’t have been better.

Ford was celebrating Mustang's 50th anniversary in 2015 and throwing a global party. For the first time, America’s pony car would be sold around the world. Heritage toys like the 50th-anniversary Bullitt Mustang followed. The new Mustang was a hit — eclipsing Camaro sales for the first time in years — but its modern styling had a mixed reaction among pony faithful yearning for a more retro ‘60s look.

“Those trends came together at a good time for us,” smiles Scarpello, who says orders for his cars have come from seven countries.

He was also working with SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) and Washington to make sure his business model conformed with U.S. safety and environmental regulations, which can be daunting costs for small manufacturers.

Whereas states have typically regulated the so-called “kit car” market, a draft federal law for low-volume vehicle production would allow companies like Revology to manufacture up to 325 vehicles a year without having to go through full U.S. crash and emissions testing. Just as long as companies use approved engines and chassis equipment.

For Revology, Mustang's state-of-the-art driveline is the soul of the machine. The original, 289-cubic inch, 1966 Mustang V-8 pumped out 271 horses. The current, 305-cube, Coyote engine makes a howling 460.

Scarpello brought a Revology 1966 Shelby GT350 to Ann Arbor for media testing. The  beast flat-out goes. 

While the 2018 Mustang GT350 — larded with sound-proofing material that muffles the V-8's roar in the cabin — tips the scales at 3,705 pounds, the Revology GT350 weighs just 3,225. The Coyote's roar — WAAUUUGGGGH!! — rattles the cabin just like the good ol' days.

This integration of new and old, classic and contemporary, is repeated throughout the Revology 'Stang. 

Revology buys its chassis from Dynacorn, which re-creates classic steel shells to the same dimension as the '60s original. Then Scarpello's team of mad scientists goes to work. The chassis is strapped down with extensive bracing, modern double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear. It's bolted to period wheels wrapped in wider rubber.

Add a modern V-8 and six-speed manual transmission to the recipe and the GT350 tester is a no-compromise classic with 52/48 weight distribution. Cornering is flat. Acceleration ferocious.

Revology has added minimal sound-deadening material to keep the classic's raw emotion. The same is true for the interior, which appears to be of period-spec with its long shifter handle and round, analog gauges. Even the high beams are still activated via a button on the floor with your left foot.

But on closer inspection, the instruments have gained LED lighting and an infotainment screen (complete with modern goo-gaws like smartphone connectivity) anchors the dash. It has automatic windows, AC, power steering, a push-button starter and seats wrapped in leather.

All this integration doesn't come cheap. Revology Mustangs sticker for between $174,000 and $227,000 — or about the price of an original car at auction. Difference is, you can comfortably drive the Revology car to work.

Scarpello's team has sold 18 cars this year, with the intent of ramping up to the federal ceiling. You can configure yours beginning at RevologyCars.com.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Catch “Car Radio with Henry Payne” from noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 910 AM Superstation.