A Mustang transformed
Rick Krueger wanted to refurbish a truck, but Linda Krueger wanted to do a car.
“So it had to be a Mustang, and we’re both in,” he said. “And it’s got to be a fastback, a ’65, ’6, ’7 or ’8.”
That’s what set the wheels in motion on what would be a decade-long project resulting in a one-of-a-kind 1968 Mustang fastback powered by a 532 cubic-inch big-block Ford engine. There are an estimated 200 handbuilt modifications incorporated into the final product.
“We started on the car 10 years ago on Labor Day. We just finished it in the last two weeks. It still has the break-in oil in it,” Rick Krueger said. “It’s been me and her, working together … but I did have the help of several friends along the way.
“I had it built in my mind. It was hard for me to describe it to her. I got online and found a toy Mustang. It had big wheels on it, it was like a Hot Wheels toy,” he said.
He based their full-scale Mustang on that little diecast car.
But it was Linda who found the actual car online. It was a 6-cylinder, 3-speed Mustang fastback sitting in an Oklahoma City body shop.
“The guy was going to build an ‘Eleanor’ (a Mustang movie car) out of the car, but he kind of did it backwards,” Linda Krueger explained.
The car was freshly painted red, but none of the mechanical work had been done.
“We took the freshly painted car and blasted all the paint off it,” she said.
“It was kind of sickening,” observed Rick. But it had to be done if their ambitious plans were to succeed.
They disassembled the Mustang and mounted the chassis on a rotisserie using full-length, 8-inch steel channel to keep everything in place while they rebuilt the car. In the engine bay, the factory shock towers were cut away to make room for the wide-shouldered 460 V-8 block. Rack and pinion steering replaced the factory steering box.
Rick built the power plant himself, with the engine bored and stroked to a whopping 532 cubic inches. He crafted twin aluminum tubing air intakes to feed the big 850 cfm Demon racing carburetor that sits atop the engine. They scoop up air from below the front end, breathing through air cleaners located at the intake end.
To clear everything, they built a raised hood, adding approximately 2 1/2 inches in height while maintaining the basic shape of the factory hood.
“Linda and I spent probably 300 hours on that hood,” Rick said. “There are 80 layers of fiberglass in it. Of course, we sanded 90 percent of it off.”
The engine, estimated to produce 600-650 horsepower, was mated to a late model automatic overdrive transmission. It sends power rearward to a 9-inch Ford rear end that Krueger narrowed a full 12 inches to ensure everything would fit inside the massive rear tubs he constructed. It is all mounted to an adjustable 4-link rear suspension setup.
Finding wheels large enough to match the design stored in his head proved to be a challenge. It required a trip to the annual SEMA automotive specialty equipment show in Las Vegas, where Krueger located the perfect Billet Specialties 20-inch diameter by 15-inch wide rear rims, along with smaller versions for the front of the Mustang.
They mount huge Mickey Thompson tires in the rear, with narrower MTs in the front fender wells. Massive Wilwood disc brakes are employed at all four corners of the car.
Krueger bolted on a set of Sanderson ceramic-coated headers and then opted for a 2 1/2-inch Magnaflow muffler setup exiting through the lower rear pan. But to produce a bit more noise, he installed solenoid-controlled cutouts that dump just ahead of the rear wheels through bezels in the rocker panels.
He deleted the factory vent windows in favor of one-piece side glass, which involved hundreds more hours of design and testing. A set of Mazda RX8 bucket seats seemed to be custom made to mount inside the full roll cage interior, along with a modified RX8 center console. Linda handled most of the upholstery/carpet upgrades.
White-faced Auto Meter gauges fill a customized Mustang instrument panel augmented by Vintage Air air conditioning outlets and controls. The glove box lid does double duty as a switch panel.
A Grant steering wheel sits atop a chromed ididit tilt steering column, with a B&M shifter handling gear changes.
Incorporated into the overall design were a set of Shelby-style side and C-pillar scoops and a rear deck spoiler. Rick Krueger took care of the basic body work before turning the Mustang over to Jeremy’s Paint & Body Shop of Sterling for final sanding and the application of the deep Torch Red paint accented by white racing stripes.
Krueger said he grew up around hot rods, watching his dad, Duane, built a T-bucket street rod and a custom ’53 Ford pickup. Duane lent a hand on this build, too.
So it was inevitable the GT532 RK, as the car is now known, would be something special.
“It is one of a kind,” observed Linda.
When people ask why they didn’t choose to do a stock restoration on their Mustang, Rick Krueger explains, “I wanted more of a challenge. I’ve got to do something that stands out.”
Was it worth all the time and hard work?
“I’ve got all the receipts, but I’ve never totaled them up,” Rick says. “I really don’t want to know.”
But the end result? Well, the Kruegers’ smiles say it all when that big engine rumbles to life.
Mike Berry: email@example.com