Let’s face it, if you’ve ever owned a classic car, you’ll know just how frustrating the ownership experience can be. Sure, unless your automotive tastes run to the weird and esoteric, your classic of choice will be a looker, a stunning example of automotive design from a bygone era.
But therein lies the kicker. While your classic is almost guaranteed to turn heads, underneath that voluptuous, sensuous or downright muscular body, lie decades of engineering headaches that will test the patience of even the most ardent classic car lover.
Remember, these cars are old, very old. Even the most sympathetic and painstaking restoration is no guarantee that your classic won’t spend more time off the road than on it, as one after another of those annoying niggling gremlins pop up to test your patience – not to mention your hip pocket.
It’s just the reality of being, well, old. It’s a bit like the human body. No matter how much you look after it, how much you eat the right food, how much exercise you do (or, because of it, maybe!), as you age there will always be little things that go wrong.
And then there’s the driving experience. Yes, you’ll look like a star behind the wheel of your classic, the windows down, the engine purring or rumbling, the exhaust note barking your arrival.
But again, no matter how top-notch the restoration, the driving experience will be less than even the most basic of today’s cars. Yeah, you won’t look as good rockin’ the streets in your 2016 Ford Fiesta as you would in your 1967 Shelby GT500 Mustang, but you’ll be a damned sight more comfortable.
So what to do then if you love the idea of owning a classic but don’t want the headaches that go with it? If you’re American Dan Burback, you build a modern classic.
His recipe is simple. Take one modern 2012 Shelby GT500 Mustang, a sense of adventure and your weekends for the next four years and you too could turn a modern muscle car into classic 1967 Shelby GT500 ’Stang.
“I’ve always loved the ’67 Shelby,” he says. “It’s always been one of my favourite cars. But as you get older, well, I wanted something a little bit more comfortable.”
Burback designed and built his ’67 Shelby GT500 in his home garage over a period of four years, mostly weekends. In what might seem a sacrilegious act to some, he cut off and removed the outer skin of his brand-spanker 2012 ’Stang before welding on brand-new 1967 Mustang sheet metal including hand-crafted fender flairs and rear spoiler.
But the transformation didn’t come without its challenges. For starters, the 2012 Shelby GT500 is, according to Burback around three inches wider than its 1967 ancestor. That’s why Burback’s modern take on a classic features those massive flared guards. And some components, well, they just didn’t exist or could be made to fit his creation. Enter, 21st century technology.
“The grille is 3D-printed in sections and all put together,” he explains. “There’s lots of 3D-printed parts, like for the taillight housing. I made adapters so the new lightbulbs will all snap into the old fixtures.”
In fact, Burback completed the entire body modifications on his own, except for the new paint job which he left to the pros.
Underneath that kick-arse retro skin, lurks the heartbeat of Ford’s modern take on its iconic muscle car, offering Burback the best of both worlds – classic looks with modern muscle. For now, though, it remains stock underneath although Burback says he does intend to add some engine mods at a later date.
“After four years of weekends [working on it], I just wanted to drive it. I’ll get to engine modifications later at some point.”
Burback says his goal was to have a classic car that he could drive and enjoy on road trips, track days and the occasional power tour. In short, he says, “I wanted a brand new modern classic ’67 Shelby GT500.”
Now, to the burning question… how does it drive?
“It drives like a brand-new car, it’s got 1700 miles on it right now and it just drives like a brand new Shelby,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s a blast to drive.”
The result is, we think you’ll agree, a stunning transformation.
Check out the Dan’s time lapse video of the project: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix0ZKhWvjc0
All photos courtesy of Dan Burback and www.gt500superswap.com