Classic Recreations Brings an American Icon Into the 21st Century.
The 1960s was an interesting time for the United States as an increasingly prosperous generation of young Americans took advantage of new technologies to live a more leisurely life than the generations before them. The automobile industry greatly benefited from technological advancements in engineering and manufacturing which gave us machines that quickly turned into cultural icons. Ask anyone to think of the most iconic vehicle of the 1960s and most will give you the same answer – the Ford Mustang.
Born in an age with few limits, the Mustang represented the very best of 1960s’ automotive innovation highlighting the average American’s love affair with the open road. Sixty years later, the Ford Mustang has endured the test of time, holding its place as a symbol of coolness. Park a modern Mustang next to a 1968 Fastback however, and aside from a few design influences the cars are poles apart. Furthermore, driving a 1968 Mustang can be a harrowing affair. With a three-speed manual transmission, a carbureted V8 and suspension components that were engineered in the early 1960s, driving a stock classic pony car takes a certain amount of patience and compromise.
So, what does an enthusiast do, if they want to own their fantasy 1960s Mustang without all the downsides of sixty-year old engineering? They speak to Jason Engel.
Engel – a true Mustang aficionado – owns Classic Recreations, a shop that is dedicated to building Shelby-licensed recreations that are faithful to the original car, with a nice helping of modern engineering and technology thrown in. Known for building the 1967 Shelby GT500 “Eleanor” that gained notoriety in Gone in Sixty Seconds, it’s fair to say that Jason is very much responsible for reviving interest in classic Mustangs among a completely new generation of car enthusiasts. The fact that Carroll Shelby, before his passing, personally approved Classic Recreations’ line of Shelby Mustangs didn’t hurt either.
Classic Recreations decided to create its own design of the ultimate 1968 Mustang Fastback, one that would appeal to a variety of enthusiasts, both young and old, with the perfect mix of classic style and modern technology. Its creation is called the “Villain,” and it is a formidable machine. There are no-half measures; every single detail, every angle has been thoughtfully considered.
Beginning with the body, the sloping roofline instantly reminds enthusiasts of the iconic 1968 Fastback, because every Villain starts with an actual 1968 Mustang Fastback bodyshell. Subtle touches elevate the Villain from a 1960s production-line pony car to a truly bespoke machine. There are no hard edges, no exposed rivets, and certainly no overfenders. Instead, 3D molded composite body panels, accentuated by carbon fiber trim highlight the Mustang’s timeless lines while also improving aerodynamics and reducing weight.
Inside, a set of comfortable leather high-back seats are paired with five point-harnesses, highlighting the versatile nature of the Classic Recreations “Villain Mustang.” A Sparco leather steering wheel and a white, six-speed H-pattern shift knob provide a quick visual throwback to the Mustang’s roots. A modern Old Air climate control system keeps things cool while a Bluetooth-equipped JVC head unit paired with Kicker speakers and subwoofer ensures that occupants can enjoy their own music over the glorious all-American soundtrack emitted by the Villain’s V8 engine through the MagnaFlow exhaust.
When it comes to power and handling, the Classic Recreations “Villain” delivers in spades. A twin-cam, fuel-injected Ford Racing 302 “Coyote” crate motor puts down 475 horsepower, with an optional supercharger bumping that number up to 770 galloping ponies. That power and torque is managed by a Tremec six-speed transmission and a Centerforce DYAD twin-disc clutch. In spite of these numbers, the CR “Villain” is not a monster to drive because while it may look classic, its underpinnings are thoroughly modern.
The 1968 Mustang came with rear leaf spring suspension, which simply doesn’t provide the modern sports car-like handling that Engel wanted with modern power levels. That’s why he and his team have replaced the front and rear subframes to accommodate the new Detroit Speed aluminum subframes with modern coilover suspension on all four corners and a Quadralink 4-link system in the rear to help keep all those horses down. Combined with a modern rack and pinion power steering system, it’s easy to see why the CR “Villain” is rather comfortable and easy to enjoy, even on city streets.
The final part of the power and handling package is a set of beefy Wilwood brakes. Massive six-piston calipers grip slotted and cross-drilled 14-inch rotors at all four corners, hopefully keeping drivers out of trouble.
While it’s easy to wax nostalgic about the 1960s, there is an entire generation of enthusiasts who weren’t around to experience it. Classic Recreations is essentially building a 1968 Mustang imagined through a younger enthusiast’s eyes, that eliminates all of the downsides that come from sixty-year old engineering while still preserving the visceral driving experience of a classic car. The “CR Villain” is comfortable and compliant, so a grocery run doesn’t have to include a trip to the chiropractor. It’s versatile so that long road trips are as pleasurable as a day at the track. It has air-conditioning and a modern stereo system so that every drive doesn’t become a chore. Yet no one will ever mistake it for being a new car, simply because it still has those classic Fastback lines, as illustrated by the accompanying photographs of the first production “Villain” from Classic Recreations.
At the end of the day, the Ford bloodline flows just as thick and fast through “Villain” as it did in the original 1968 Mustang. So, whether you have a penchant for burning rubber, chasing lap times on the track, or just want to look cool as you go for a cruise up your favorite country roads, the “Classic Recreations Villain” Mustang should be at the top of your list to fill that coveted spot in your garage. After all, it’s nice to take a break from being good all the time.