Getting asked to drive a car purposefully built for SEMA is a once in a lifetime experience. You’re worried about crashing it since it’s a one-of-one car, or that you’ll stall it and look like a chump that definitely shouldn’t be in it. Nevertheless, when you get an opportunity to drive a Coyote-swapped, 450-horsepower, 1968 Mustang Fastback with a composite body, you say hell yes and jump on a plane to California.
That first look I had perfectly suited the name of this car. Unlike the Z/28, Hellcat, or anything else I’ve driven lately, Classic Recreations' Mustang tickled my soul in the deepest ways possible. That classic body took me back to my youth when I would help my neighbors turn wrenches on their own muscle cars. They handed me the keys and it was mine for an hour. The car isn’t covered in chrome, thank god. It was built purely to show off the attention to detail. Its new composite exterior looks spectacular. Every crevice of the car is beautiful and designed purely for function. The body has actually been subtly reshaped to provide more downforce and better aerodynamics, something mostly unknown in the world of classic muscle cars. All of which culminates in something that is stunning to stare at. But even better to listen to. PHOTOS: See More of the Sinister 1968 Ford Mustang Villain by CR Supercars
This car is no trailer queen, it is meant to be driven. From the Coyote motor tuned by Ford racing to the 5-point harnesses, everything about it screams racecar. It barks at you angrily, hammering you like a drill sergeant. It’s intense to the point where hearing loss is a real concern, especially since the exhaust dumps right under your seat. A car that truly lives up to its Villain persona. The motor revs beyond insanity, especially when you consider that most classic muscle cars redline somewhere near 5,000 rpm. The Villain however, redlines at 7,000 rpm. I kept short shifting until I was told I had at least another 2,000rpm left. And that extra 2,000 rpm makes a hell of a difference. Stringing out a 1968 custom Mustang through the lemon orchard-filled back roads of California will go down as one of the best moments of my life. But I wasn’t prepared for what those orchards would give way to: canyons. This wasn’t my first time driving some twisty mountain roads, though. I had improved my driving skills down Sicily’s Mount Etna in a rental Ford Focus about a year ago. Etna was a hill climb going up, and a rally stage going down the active volcano. But when I tell you that driving the Villain was ten times the experience (not just because I was driving a Focus), you really feel the significance of that statement. The car then becomes even more impressive when you think about how it started its life. When this Mustang was new in 1968, a canyon road would have essentially been a death sentence to a driver. It was never meant to be driven quickly through fast sweeping turns or winding roads. But Classic Recreations made the impossible, possible. They turned this old American muscle car into one of the best handling cars money can buy. To accomplish that, Classic Recreations tacked on massive, sticky tires both front and rear, and added a quick ratio steering rack that's electrically assisted. The end result is that the Villain has grip for days. RELATED: See Photos of the Classic Recreations Shelby GT500CR Convertible
As I got my footing with the car, I started to turn in faster and faster, and the grip just kept coming. Even among the gravel-strewn pavement of those canyon roads, the Villain felt planted. It was as if it had active downforce pushing the back end into the road. I never once felt it stepping out on me, something that I was definitely expecting from this ridiculous creation. It was truly a surreal driving experience. This car perfectly represents how to get my generation — millennials — back into muscle cars. Forget cruisers, chrome-plated bumpers, and matching VIN numbers. Those are our parents' muscle cars. We want something that handles, something that’s both loud and fast, and something that looks good here and now in 2014. The Villain is the epitome of that mantra. It’s a car the defies both logic and physics at times, and it’s absolutely perfect in every way. RELATED: See Photos of the Iconic 1968 Shelby GT500 KR