Troy Kalmbaugh has an extensive history with cars and the automotive world, beginning with his childhood, through a career as an engineer in the automotive industry, and now through an extensive restoration on his 1965 Mustang fastback.
While growing up, Troy’s family owned one of the largest automotive salvage yards in Michigan and, each morning, he’d wake to see roughly 2,000 cars outside of his bedroom window.
Troy has always been a fan of cars of a variety of makes and models, yet one is particularly special to him: a 1965 Mustang fastback he’s owned for 30 years now. The first restoration Troy made to his fastback occurred when he was just 13 years old, which he performed alongside his father, tearing apart the damaged body panels and learning about auto mechanics and restoration.
When Troy had a son, he introduced him to the ’65 Mustang at a young age, sharing stories of racing the fastback and some of the memories he had of working on the car decades before with his father. Once, Troy even found his young son sitting in the passenger seat of the Mustang in his garage, pretending to be racing it.
Seventeen years ago, Troy became paralyzed, losing his ability to walk and drive his ’65 Mustang. Unfortunately, his Mustang was equipped with a 4-speed transmission and manual brakes and steering, and Troy’s new license for driving restricted him to vehicles with hand controls, power brakes and power steering.
Due to this, Troy’s son was too young to ever remember driving in the Mustang with his father, and it remained parked for some time. However, once Troy’s son turned 16 and got a license of his own, he dreamed of one day being able to race the fastback, just like the stories he heard from his dad while he was growing up.
To bring the Mustang up to racing quality, though, much work needed to be done. So, Troy and his son set out to restore it, with the initial goal of building it to be the ultimate street car. In this endeavor, a good friend of Troy’s, Steve Dreyer, invited them to bring the fastback to his company’s location, AutoForm Development Group, which fabricates custom body components and performance products for Vipers.
With Troy’s son’s new aspirations, they decided to try incorporating both drag racing and course racing elements into the restoration. They also set some goals for its performance once it was it was finished: Pulling 1g on the skidpad and an 8-second quarter mile… quite lofty aims.
At AutoForm Development Group, Steve helped them to build a cage around the car, holding all points of importance to keep the geometry and body lines straight. Then they cut the floor out, which was badly damaged and rotted, to add a full frame underneath. Art Morrison helped the crew to build a custom fame for the fastback’s specific measurements, along with being designed to accommodate wide tires for road racing, rack and pinion steering, a custom suspension, and front and rear disc brakes.
Sadly, just as work on the Mustang was getting underway, it turned out that the time Troy thought he’d have with his son to work on the Mustang was something he wouldn’t get to have. At that point in the restoration, Troy’s son passed away.
After a few years, Troy contemplated returning to his 1965 Mustang fastback and finishing its restoration, in memory of his son. So, he pulled the Mustang back out from storage a little over one year ago and set out to finish the project. With the tremendous help of friends, family, and the automotive community, Troy’s Mustang restoration is now well underway once again.
The first thing Troy did was continue to tear down the original, damaged sheet metal on the Mustang. A good friend of his dad’s, Rusty Pellegrom, donated his time and experience to take off all of the original body panels. At this point, the only pieces left from the original car included the roof, cowl, and sail panel. Then they put on all new metal, which they found from us here at CJ Pony Parts.
Due to Troy’s physical condition, he is only able to help with the labor-intensive portions of the restoration in small doses. From his career as an engineer in the automotive industry, Troy knows a lot about cars and is able to help with much of the restoration work, yet after only a short bit of time, his body disallows him from performing much more than an overseeing role.
Troy has decided to continue with his previously set performance goals for racing the Mustang, so he turned to Jon Kaase for technical advice, and he was more than happy to help. To try and reach the 1,000 horsepower mark with a naturally aspirated single 4-barrel engine, Troy was helped with a complete set of Boss 9 heads and intake, CNC aluminum block, Diamond 12:5:1 pistons, Oliver rods, a Bryant crank, a custom grind Comp Cams roller camshaft, Crane lifters, and other special components.
Baker Engineering Inc. helped to assemble and tune the motor, with one of their employees, TJ Grimes, helping to install it in the Mustang, along with the transmission. He also created custom headers. TJ finished Troy’s motor by making custom mounts to fit the power steering and alternator.
As a special project for Troy, Finish Line Fabricating is creating a wheelchair accessible roll cage for the ’65 fastback. Working with an NHRA inspector, the Troy and the crew were able to find ways to get his wheelchair in the car and have hand controls that would meet the certification for the times Troy hopes to run. Finish Line Fabricating will need to create mounts for almost every area of the car, including the seat belt harness, fuel cell, radiator, and seats. They will also be mounting the body to the frame, along with making a special floor pan, firewall, and wheel tubs.
Several other auto companies are helping with the project, also, including Team Tech, who assisted in making a special “Jet Pilot” racing harness designed perfectly for Troy’s lack of abdominal and leg muscles. Braswell Carburetors has made a custom carburetor that will run at optimal performance for both street and track racing, and Hydratech Braking Systems provided a Hydroboost power brake system for the Wilwood disc brakes. Kugel Komponents gave Troy a 90-degree brake pedal assembly and master cylinder with remote reservoirs, in order to run the brakes under the dash parallel to the firewall (this is due to the fact there was no room left in the engine bay).
Furthermore, TCI Transmissions and their tech, Will, helped with a custom powerglide, including a hardened input shaft and TH400 output shaft, specially built torque converter, flexplate and midplate to adapt the powerglide to the Ford engine. Steve with Jerry Bickle Race Cars provided a custom driveshaft with a hardened TH400 front yolk and special u-joints, which can handle the horsepower and torque of Troy’s Boss 598.
Realizing Troy would be over the 1,000 horsepower mark, he knew it was time for bigger tires. Faron, with Hoosier Tires, helped Troy figure out what was needed to get all of his Mustang’s power to the ground, and he went with 29.5 x 11.5W slicks.
To finish up the body work, a close friend of Troy’s son, Andy Beck, and his father, who own Beck’s Auto and Truck Body will be helping. Troy has also utilized help from a lot of his son’s friends to sand the car, and he’s thinking of painting it a Shelby red with white stripes, to be done by the Beck family, as well.
After Troy’s Mustang heads over to Finish Line Fabricating for the mechanical work and its body work and paint are completed at Beck’s Auto and Truck Body, he’ll be finishing up with adding chrome parts that he’s received from us here at CJ’s!
Everyone here at CJ's couldn't be more proud of Troy and his commitment to finishing this project in honor of his son. It's also truly inspiring to learn about the overwhelming support Troy is receiving from the automotive and Mustang community, and we're humbled to have been a part of the project.
While Troy seems to have most of the parts purchased and lined up already in order to finish off his restoration, we're happy to surprise him with a $100 CJ gift card... just in case he's overlooked a part or two.
Troy, we wish you nothing but the best of luck in finishing your project and in life, and we look forward to updating everyone with photos and news once your Mustang is finished. Happy holidays, from all of us here at CJ Pony Parts.