When the name “Mustang” comes up, most people picture Ford’s pony car. However, the iconic vehicle shares this designation with the renowned P-51 fighter plane that had a major contribution in the Allied Forces triumphing over the Axis powers in World War II. As you can imagine, this link has been highlighted by multiple Blue Oval toys over the decades (e.g., Ford and Roush in 2019) and the custom first-generation ‘Stang that brought us here is no exception.
We’re dealing with a 1965 Mustang that’s been given a complex makeover, with the fighter plane connection being just part of the transformation.
For starters, the wrap adorning the vehicle brings a direct link to the P-51 Mustang. And we can say the same about the top of the vehicle, which probably used to be a Convertible. That form is now behind it, as the pony seems to have lost its roof completely. The car now comes with a chopped windshield and a pair of hoops covering the rear seats—hey, the car still packs twice the number of seats of the airplane.
Not unlike the Ford, which was redesigned after just a few model years to be able to accept Big Block power, the P-51 Mustang had to change its engine after its January 1942 introduction, with the aim of improving performance at altitudes above 15,000 ft (4,600 m).
However, the plane kept its legendary range while going through multiple V12 engines—the layout explains the presence of six exhaust ports on each side of the car’s wrap. And while this Ford sticks to eight cylinders, its modern Coyote V8 had been massaged well past the factory spec.
A P-51 Mustang tribute with a roar
The 5.0L V8 has maintained its natural aspiration, which means it packs a vicious soundtrack, but the unit now delivers around 600 horsepower, which is a premium of around 150 horses. It’s also worth noting that the unit is mated to a manual tranny packing not six, but five ratios, not that you could cruise gently in sixth gear with all the wind entering the vehicle.
There’s also a questionable side to this build, which comes from the Shelby G.T.500 front grille badging and the Carroll Shelby “signature” on the dash. While the non-functional flight instrumentation portrayed on the center console is something we can gloss over (it looks like graphics used to keep the budget under control), the Shelby bits are not, especially since the original G.T.500 didn’t show up until 1967 (the GT350 was born in 1965, though).
The vehicle was documented by YouTuber Lou Constable, which is how we found out it’s a keeper for owner Mike Nowak. The enthusiast got a hold of the build on eBay, but this wasn’t a “phase”, as the car has been with him since 2014. And, given all the badassery injected into the Mustang—this is where traditionalists will disagree—who can blame the aficionado?