Overhulin' Project Rustang

Project Rustang  This summer has been quite an experience! Mike Maier and the boys are featured to appear on TLC's hit show "Overhaulin". For those whom are not familiar, "Overhaulin" rebuilds and restores selectively chosen cars or trucks into custom, show winning rides, but the owner doesn't even have a clue. Friends or family members submit their loved ones pride and joy, or shall it be junk, without him or her knowing. After a lengthy selection process, a final decision is made. The producers meet with the friends and family of the unsuspecting car owner and plan to have the car hi-jacked, then act as if the car has been stolen. For one week it's up to the Build Team led by legendary car designer Chip Foose and his two accomplices Courtney Hansen and Chris Jacobs to completely overhaul the car. As the slogan says, "The owner gets tricked, the car gets tricked-out."

  Just a few weeks before things got rolling down in the secret So Cal build location; Mike Maier was contacted by Kevin Byrd of Ford Motor Company to brainstorm ideas about the show. Maier Racing agreed to bring full line of suspension products and a crew made up of Jerry Lacastas, Jason Fletcher and me Joel Villarreal. A checklist was created, and off we went first thing Monday morning excited and eager to be apart of something that none of us had ever participated in.
Yeah ok. another dead Mustang.   We arrived mid afternoon at Chicane Sport Tuning in Torrance, Ca. and started work immediately. The car was a basket case to say the least, but we have seen worse. All four of us grabbed some tools and began the extensive and mind-numbing task of prepping the car by scraping and cleaning. As you can see, the car needed some good TLC. Roughly two hours later the car adorned its first Maier Racing modification, subframe connectors.
I think we have some rust, but don't worry we got it under control.
  Preparation on the front end, and the rest of the car, continued late into Monday night. Bryan Fuller of Fuller Hot Rods was wrangling the rear fenders, doors and rear window molding. Assisting him was Sam Foose, the one responsible for letting his son, Chip, run ramped with car design at such a young age and also a renowned custom body man of 40 plus years. Kevin Byrd and Greg Coleman, our resident engineers for the show and representing Ford Motor Company, donated a 347 cubic inch stroker motor and G-Force T-5 Transmission. Joe Gosinski, owner of Chicane Sport Tuning became a Jack-of-all-Trades and worked wherever worked needed to be done. Every crew had a specific job to do and by the end of the first day the build team began to mold into a well-oiled machine. Greg, Kevin and Courtney inspect the Ford Racing 347 stroker.
Just some minor trimming.
Your basic bolt on, minor modification required.
  Day Two: Work began 9:00am Tuesday morning exactly where we left off from the previous night. Front-end prep work. More and more prep work, but this was all about to change. As the hot morning sun began to bake the Chicanes brick building, Chip Foose had some of his own ideas cooking. He called a meeting and it was decided that the entire front clip should be cut off and replaced! That's right, cut the car in half, well a third anyhow. All the previous prep work that we had done was going to get Shit canned. Trouble? Oh no, a blessing. After one look at the donated front clip, the Maier Racing crew were quite relieved. This new clip was virtually rust free, unlike the original pony. Besides, our infamous crewmember, Jerry, had done this task numerous of times throughout his career.
And how many times have you done this Mike???
  Mike, Jerry, Sam, Chip and Joe plotted out some reference points on both clips. Mike Maier was assigned the task to cut this poor rusto-mustang. This was no easy task and it took all members of the entire build team to help, but by mid afternoon the transplant was complete, no sweat. However, Mike's first successful surgery was short lived, we had backtracked an entire day and the car was still far from completion. The rest of the crew quickly began prepping the new clip while Mike tackled the back half by welding in the Pan hard Rod kit. Time for some grub, its dinnertime!
  The meal was much-needed breather. Maier Racing had a group powwow in the parking lot/dinning hall; we decided that we were satisfied with all the tedious prepping. It was time to switch gears and bring out some suspension parts for a little test fit session. Our energy was up, maybe it was the food we ate or the relief of not prepping, but the rest of the night went as smooth as silk.
  Tuesday night ended early and there was one vital question flying around the shop. "Who's going to Patty O's?" Ah, Patty O's. The local pub with cable TV. It was nine O'clock, which meant that "Overhaulin'" was scheduled to air, followed by "Rides." The entire build team was headed over to our local tavern to take production notes and coincidentally knock a few back. Hey, when in Rome do as the Romans right, besides who are we to go against the grain. So after we put a few pitchers down and mingled with the locals, the four of us decided to meet tomorrow morning downstairs for breakfast.
  Day Three: As we sat down for a morning buffet in our hotel restaurant, other cast members of the Overhaulin' build team began to trickle down with similar intensions, Breakfast please! Our table of four eventually grew to a table of seven. Joining us were our methodical engineers Greg and Kevin plus Sam Foose. I think we sipped a few dozen cups of coffee while chatting about cars from our past, particularly highs school cars, however, the real treat was sharing a table with Sam and listening to stories of how he began custom automotive work. He's a legend in the making or O.G. Sam shared just a small window of his accomplished and personal life with us. He has a humble yet entertaining personality. He would fit well as an Uncle in anyone of our families. "Uncle Sam" well maybe not the Uncle Sam the rest of us tax paying American knows, but at least a member of the family.

 As we fitted the bill, "Uncle Sam" came to realize he was stranded and needed a ride to the shop. Who would have thought a man with such automotive recognition would be left without a ride or a car of his own, ironic? Needless to say, he climbed into the Maier Racing Ford Excursion and off we went. It was a rough night for some build team members, but the shop was alive and a car was to be built no matter what the case maybe. It was as if we were members of the Black Pearl. We continued to test fit suspension pieces to the car and finish up any other tid bits of prep work. The Front clip of the car was ready for paint; so during lunch Bryan Fuller decided to spray the engine bay with a coat of primer while the shop was empty.

 The final coat of flat black was laid down and soon after that we began bolting on the suspension. No test fitting this time, it was on for good! We worked feverishly; no bolt untouched, no spring uncoiled, no mountain untamable, we were a team that wouldn't look back, except for some pesky steering issues, but we were on a roll and there was a dead line to be made. First; the upper control arms went on, then the lowers, the tie rod ends followed after that. We quickly moved to the rear of the car. The Leaf springs went in then the sway bar got mounted, we were on pace to install the complete suspension kit in just under two hours. After a few last minutes adjustments the car's suspension was ready. We had done it! Maier Racing had overhauled this pony with a custom suspension set-up. It was mid afternoon and we had done what we came to do.
Our work here is done.

  There were still some preparations on the car before it could sit on the ground. Preparation beyond our control. Mike left Chip, Joe and the rest of the crew with some final instructions. We handed out some Maier Racing swag and said our goodbyes. It was almost sad in a chick flick kind of way, but we are men. We don't cry, we argue about having shot gun for the ride home.

Story by: Joel Villarreal



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