1966 Revology Shelby GT350 Review Curing Oldcarphobia…

Your significant other doesn’t share your enthusiasm for old cars, but one sunny day after just having replaced the hydrocoptic marzlevanes on your ’56 Vapid Peyote, you lure your honey out for a spin. Then, sure enough, just as you swing onto Lovers Lane, a known cellular dead zone 10 miles from anywhere, your pride-n-joy konks out. There’s no traffic on this road until the “submarine races” start after dark, by which point you’re both missing the $200/ticket Broadway musical the ball-n-chain has been looking forward to for months. And it starts to rain.

You’re not getting that spouse into an old car again anytime soon. But what about a new car that looks old? Orlando Florida-based Revology builds new vintage-look Mustangs, using remanufactured ’65-’66 or ’67-’68 Mustang convertible or fastback body shells. Using these new-old-stock bodies as a basis, Revology has re-engineered the underbody and chassis structure to both accommodate and cope with the increased stresses generated by a brand-new Ford V-8 drivetrain, which is available in several states of tune and with manual or automatic shifting. It even comes with a warranty: 1-year bumper-to-bumper, 2-year powertrain, 5-year body rust, all with no mileage restrictions. All are officially licensed by Ford, and the Shelby-licensed variants are listed as continuation cars in the Shelby Registry.

Company founder Tom Scarpello started his marketing-focused career at Ford, and he served on the Special Vehicle Team from 1998 to 2004. At auto shows, Tom was often asked, “Why doesn’t Ford bring back the original Mustang?” Of course, we all know the answer is, “Because compared against modern cars, it would totally suck!” When the aftermarket started remanufacturing vintage Mustang body shells in 2007, Scarpello started wondering whether a vintage Mustang body with a comprehensively engineered modern drivetrain and suspension might actually be marketable. And when it looked like a SEMA-backed idea now known as the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act was getting some traction in Congress, he founded Revology in 2014 to pursue this dream.

The 114th Congress passed the above bill in 2015 ordering NHTSA and the EPA to establish guidelines allowing low-volume manufacturers to produce up to 325 vehicles per year based on a design built 25-plus years in the past (and with full licensing rights to said design), powered by a modern emissions-compliant drivetrain and fitted with modern three-point safety belts at a minimum. Sadly, an understaffed NHTSA overwhelmed by the need to establish autonomy guidelines while overseeing the Takata airbag recall has never addressed this act, nor has the EPA defined its compliance regulations. So although Revology conforms to the spirit of this act, until all the specifics are clearly defined, its cars are sold and licensed under the patchwork of state laws governing such new/old cars as these.

Revology’s reengineering efforts include extensive modifications to the engine bay and transmission tunnel area, as well as an X-brace that ties the subframes together. A brand-new control-arm front suspension features coil-over shocks and hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering. Out back the live axle remains, but the leaf springs are ditched in favor of trailing links, a Panhard rod, and a long torque arm. Oh, and an Eaton Truetrac limited-slip diff is standard. Those coil-overs can be had with fixed or two-position damping. The same hydraulic pressure powering the rack helps boost the brakes, as well (there’s no room for a vacuum booster on the firewall). The standard brake package includes 12.2-inch rotors all around and four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers. A performance brake package upgrades to 12.9-inch front and 13-inch rear slotted and vented rotors and six-/four-piston front/rear calipers. An AP Racing package further upgrades to 14.6-inch front/13.4-inch rear rotors.

Powertrain options start with the third-generation DOHC 5.0-liter “Coyote” V-8, rated at 460 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, teamed with a T-56XL six-speed manual transmission. Opting for automatic shifting currently gets you a second-gen Coyote rated at 435 hp and 400 lb-ft and a 6R80 six-speed (when Ford’s 10-speed automatic becomes available in crate form, it’ll most likely be teamed with the third-gen engine). Spring for a Shelby GT500 variant, and you get a Roush-supercharged Coyote good for 600 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque.

Creature comforts are added, as well, including standard factory air that is now integrated into the vintage-look dash (earlier cars had a vintage hang-on air under-dash look), modern gauges are fitted with digital insets, and there’s a vintage-look AM/FM stereo with Bluetooth and aux-jack inputs. Fully modern Apple CarPlay/Android Auto double-DIN units with reverse camera screens can also be specified. There’s remote keyless entry, push-button starting, power windows (operated by simply rotating the stock manual window crank a few degrees forward or back for up or down), USB charging, intermittent wipers, and LED lighting everywhere (including headlamps and door-handle backlighting). Interior d cor can range from base stock to stock-look with wool carpet and leather covering the door panels and dash, to match-to-sample full custom looks.

Revology offered us a drive in a two-year-old ’66 Shelby GT350 engineering prototype vehicle, which has been upgraded somewhat over the past few years. My first two cars were ’66 Mustangs, and I also helped restore and have much more recently driven the Hagerty insurance company’s early 1964.5 Mustang 289 project car. The Revology car is in a different league. Right off the bat the panel gaps are perfect and the door closes with a more solid thwunk. The cold engine starts instantly with a momentary touch of the start button and no preamble of choke-setting footwork. We head out of a hotel parking lot and right onto the freeway, where I’m struck by how much less wind and road noise I’m hearing than one should expect, given that the prominent exterior chrome drip rails, vent windows, and frameless door glass sealing are all period-correct (though benefiting from updated materials). There’s more sound deadening, too.

Once we hit the twistier roads, the modern suspension gear had us cornering as flatly as a new Bullitt Mustang with no acceleration squat or brake dive. With no stability control or antilock braking at work here, one must be judicious with the throttle, but at least the limited-slip diff keeps the rears spinning in unison. The steering has an almost period-correct level of power assist to it—frankly, it might be jarring to encounter super high effort while gripping the delicate wood steering wheel rim—but the chassis feels vastly more responsive. For starters, there’s no waiting for the sidewalls to finish bending over with this car’s Bridgestone Potenza S04s (225/45R17 front, 255/40R17 rear). There’s also way less slop in this steering rack and these bushings. Ride quality is less punishing than most restomod cars I’ve experienced, and bumps are dispatched with minimal secondary body vibration.

The midlevel optional Wilwood brakes (standard on GT350s) make the most of the abundant grip these tires have to offer without feeling grabby or abrupt, as many “brake upgrades” can on modified or hot-rodded cars. At first I keep short-shifting the engine below 6,000 rpm, as one must with an original small-block Ford V-8, but eventually I remember to wind this modern one right out to 7,000. Of course it pulls like a train and sounds glorious, trumpeting as it does through this 2.5-inch-diameter Borla dual exhaust system. Even the clutch and shifter feel great. I’m cautioned that this car’s clutch has higher effort than the current design, but my leg is getting way less of a workout than it would operating a stock 289 hi-po four-speed.

You won’t be shocked to learn that making your spouse completely comfortable setting out for an afternoon drive with no nagging worries about what another waneshaft failure (or worse) will cost you. The ’66 GT350 2+2 Fastback package like this one starts at $194,720, and ours had about $17,000 in optional equipment (add another $3,840 for the automatic). Yes, that initially sounds insane for a new-old version of a massively mass-produced car. Here’s the thing: Hagerty’s collector-car price guide reckons a number-two condition (excellent) original ’66 Shelby GT350 is worth $197,000—fragile tremie-pipes and all. Concours-ready examples bring $258,000! “So, see honey, you get peace of mind and we’re saving money!” Two more relevant data points: New-old Mil-Spec Automotive Hummer H1s start at $219,000, and if you ask Singer or Guntherwerks to reimagine a Porsche 911, you’ll spend more like a half-million. It’s all a matter of perspective…

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