Brian Choffe’s 1970 Ford Mustang 302 Coupe

Click Here to Begin Slideshow Though the Mustang 302 Coupe wasn’t Mustang’s top-of-the-line brand in 1970, particularly beside the sought after siblings, the electrifying BOSS 302 and the BOSS 429 with a V8 the size of an office block, the Coupe still demanded undivided attention. It’s compact, hungry presence can make boulevards seem like catwalks and its quick release and muscular, deep-throated rumble turn highways into runways. And to think that all this came to Brian Choffe as a Christmas present. That’s a Christmas worth remembering. “My wife bought the car from a co-worker as a Christmas gift for me in December 2008,” recalls Brian. “She wanted me to have a project that would encourage my energy and passion for older vehicles.” Sigh, my only project is stamp collecting. By 1970, Ford had reached an economic crossroad and it reflected in reducing the amount of engine options from eleven to seven though the bulk, size and speed were still a priority. In spite of the constant upgrades, sales continued to decline due to a culmination of government safety and emission restrictions forcing engines to eliminate 90 percent of exhaust emissions within the next six years, a stratospheric increase in insurance premiums from too many muscle car-related accidents, snowballing fuel costs, a soaring jump in prices for muscle cars, and a decrease in national sales due to the influx of foreign models that were both more reliable and economic, eating away at domestic profits. The Mustang had become too big for its own good and the original grace and élan that so attracted early admirers was lost. It was an age of larger bumpers and smaller engines, but not as far as Brian was concerned. “I’m the third owner of this car and even though this Coupe had 32,000 miles on it, it was in need of a total restoration, so I tore it apart and started from scratch.” Besides the restoration that Brian did, which I’ll get to later, Mustang decided to do a minor makeover job to its predecessor. The quad headlights were reduced back from the racy four to a more conventional but menacing two. Their presence was enhanced by a wider, darker grill tattooed with the Mustang logo in the centre. The hood pins dissolved into hood latches. The previous model had a concave rear panel, but the ’70 models went flat reverting with recessed lights. The flared wheel ports remained intact, but the fake side and hood air vent theatrics got the thumbs down allowing a more aerodynamic seamlessness. It was like replacing your glass of whiskey for a bottle of beer. Slightly different, but just as nice to drink and easier on the throat. Nothing was exaggerated on this car, its DNA (Drive Not Amble) oozed muscle from every pore without the ostentatiousness of a Hulk Hogan screaming in your face. And as far as road handling, it hugs the curves like a bra.  The Coupe came with the standard 302 V8. Ford also introduced in its 1970 stable of Mustangs: a 390 putting out 320hp and two Boss engines, the 428 and the ultra-rare 429. The latter had an output conservatively billed 375hp but was likely closing in on 500hp. Reportedly, Ford had Kar Kraft heavily modify the 428 Cobra’s engine compartment to fit the massive big-block 429. “The motor that’s in the car now is a high-performance 302 V8 (5-litre) escalating the 400 plus hp, fitted into a 302 block, 30 thou-over, 289 heads, mild cam and a 650 Holley carb,” is how Brian explains injecting the engine with some much needed steroids. “The front suspension is stock with new ball joints and shocks and the rear has air shocks. Two square tubings were installed in the front frame rails and rail extensions from there to the rear frame rails to allow a stiffer stability so the body can’t twist.” All at a cost equivalent to what Elton John pays for a hairpiece. “The previous owner wasn’t the best at restoring this car. A real duct-tape effort that hid more than repaired,” complains Brian. Over the next 10 years, Brian, his friend and neighbour, laboured in transforming the car from a stone to a gem. They beefed up the suspension adding a disk brake conversion kit complemented with Cooper Cobra 7X15 inch tires for the front and 8X15 inch tires for the rear. Like a gossamer snare, the wiring was completely refurnished throughout the car. Added features incorporated were new front floor pans, new gas tank, transmission lines, ball joints, water pump, a rebuilding and cleaning of the engine by Brian, brake booster kit, air shocks at back, headers, high-speed starter. Are you getting all this? Rebuilt the steering column, valve cylinder, new rad, new carburetor, push rods, the battery, the alternator, a new paint job from Forest Green to Bullet Green (something Steve McQueen would have loved), and the transmission - changed three times. It is now a steel fist in a leather glove. I must admit Brian is a Renaissance man. He has the Midas touch for he has been successful as a draftsman, an HVAC journeyman, a pilot, a musician (he played trumpet and won a CNE Award when he was 10 and became a professional by the time he was 20), a foreman, and a mechanic (owner of BC Mechanics for 26 years). He acquired his mechanical skills from helping his father with old vehicles when he was a youngster. “My father was good at fixing many things and had a hobby of repairing old cars, working on engines on his garage bench. Plus, he rented half of his garage to the local hot rod club. He was also a master welder and contributed in welding the docks in Toronto. Sadly, he died of cancer in 1981 so I was never able to show him the result of this project. He would have been impressed by it,” laments Brian. “I’ve had my fair share of restoring classic cars, including a 1949 GMC pick-up (my first project at just 14 years old), an Austin 850, a 1954 Mercury pick-up, and two 1957 Volkswagen dune buggies with my friend; however, we were stopped by the police and summoned to go to the Ministry of Transport to prove these two buggies were roadworthy.” This labour of love was worth every back-breaking, time-consuming moment. The Coupe is a real ‘driver’ and if anyone wants to know what it’s like to restore a classic, Brian advises, “you need time, money, ambition and patience.” Fortunately from what he observes with the increase in younger people attending car shows and cruise nights that there seems to be more and more interest in the older vehicles. That’s a credit to people like Brian and his gift to bring back the dead. “It’s such a pleasure to drive these cars, especially with power when you want it. Cars like mine generate a lot of attention. Luckily the only thing I have to worry about these days is keeping it clean and hoping the gas prices don’t go through the roof.” Click Here to Begin Slideshow

Brian Choffe's 1970 Ford Mustang 302 Coupe

Click Here to Begin Slideshow

Though the Mustang 302 Coupe wasn’t Mustang’s top-of-the-line brand in 1970, particularly beside the sought after siblings, the electrifying BOSS 302 and the BOSS 429 with a V8 the size of an office block, the Coupe still demanded undivided attention. It’s compact, hungry presence can make boulevards seem like catwalks and its quick release and muscular, deep-throated rumble turn highways into runways. And to think that all this came to Brian Choffe as a Christmas present. That’s a Christmas worth remembering. “My wife bought the car from a co-worker as a Christmas gift for me in December 2008,” recalls Brian. “She wanted me to have a project that would encourage my energy and passion for older vehicles.” Sigh, my only project is stamp collecting.

By 1970, Ford had reached an economic crossroad and it reflected in reducing the amount of engine options from eleven to seven though the bulk, size and speed were still a priority. In spite of the constant upgrades, sales continued to decline due to a culmination of government safety and emission restrictions forcing engines to eliminate 90 percent of exhaust emissions within the next six years, a stratospheric increase in insurance premiums from too many muscle car-related accidents, snowballing fuel costs, a soaring jump in prices for muscle cars, and a decrease in national sales due to the influx of foreign models that were both more reliable and economic, eating away at domestic profits. The Mustang had become too big for its own good and the original grace and élan that so attracted early admirers was lost. It was an age of larger bumpers and smaller engines, but not as far as Brian was concerned. “I’m the third owner of this car and even though this Coupe had 32,000 miles on it, it was in need of a total restoration, so I tore it apart and started from scratch.”

Besides the restoration that Brian did, which I’ll get to later, Mustang decided to do a minor makeover job to its predecessor. The quad headlights were reduced back from the racy four to a more conventional but menacing two. Their presence was enhanced by a wider, darker grill tattooed with the Mustang logo in the centre. The hood pins dissolved into hood latches. The previous model had a concave rear panel, but the ’70 models went flat reverting with recessed lights. The flared wheel ports remained intact, but the fake side and hood air vent theatrics got the thumbs down allowing a more aerodynamic seamlessness. It was like replacing your glass of whiskey for a bottle of beer. Slightly different, but just as nice to drink and easier on the throat. Nothing was exaggerated on this car, its DNA (Drive Not Amble) oozed muscle from every pore without the ostentatiousness of a Hulk Hogan screaming in your face. And as far as road handling, it hugs the curves like a bra. 

The Coupe came with the standard 302 V8. Ford also introduced in its 1970 stable of Mustangs: a 390 putting out 320hp and two Boss engines, the 428 and the ultra-rare 429. The latter had an output conservatively billed 375hp but was likely closing in on 500hp. Reportedly, Ford had Kar Kraft heavily modify the 428 Cobra’s engine compartment to fit the massive big-block 429. “The motor that’s in the car now is a high-performance 302 V8 (5-litre) escalating the 400 plus hp, fitted into a 302 block, 30 thou-over, 289 heads, mild cam and a 650 Holley carb,” is how Brian explains injecting the engine with some much needed steroids. “The front suspension is stock with new ball joints and shocks and the rear has air shocks. Two square tubings were installed in the front frame rails and rail extensions from there to the rear frame rails to allow a stiffer stability so the body can’t twist.” All at a cost equivalent to what Elton John pays for a hairpiece.

“The previous owner wasn’t the best at restoring this car. A real duct-tape effort that hid more than repaired,” complains Brian. Over the next 10 years, Brian, his friend and neighbour, laboured in transforming the car from a stone to a gem. They beefed up the suspension adding a disk brake conversion kit complemented with Cooper Cobra 7X15 inch tires for the front and 8X15 inch tires for the rear. Like a gossamer snare, the wiring was completely refurnished throughout the car. Added features incorporated were new front floor pans, new gas tank, transmission lines, ball joints, water pump, a rebuilding and cleaning of the engine by Brian, brake booster kit, air shocks at back, headers, high-speed starter. Are you getting all this?

Rebuilt the steering column, valve cylinder, new rad, new carburetor, push rods, the battery, the alternator, a new paint job from Forest Green to Bullet Green (something Steve McQueen would have loved), and the transmission - changed three times. It is now a steel fist in a leather glove. I must admit Brian is a Renaissance man. He has the Midas touch for he has been successful as a draftsman, an HVAC journeyman, a pilot, a musician (he played trumpet and won a CNE Award when he was 10 and became a professional by the time he was 20), a foreman, and a mechanic (owner of BC Mechanics for 26 years). He acquired his mechanical skills from helping his father with old vehicles when he was a youngster. “My father was good at fixing many things and had a hobby of repairing old cars, working on engines on his garage bench. Plus, he rented half of his garage to the local hot rod club. He was also a master welder and contributed in welding the docks in Toronto. Sadly, he died of cancer in 1981 so I was never able to show him the result of this project. He would have been impressed by it,” laments Brian. “I’ve had my fair share of restoring classic cars, including a 1949 GMC pick-up (my first project at just 14 years old), an Austin 850, a 1954 Mercury pick-up, and two 1957 Volkswagen dune buggies with my friend; however, we were stopped by the police and summoned to go to the Ministry of Transport to prove these two buggies were roadworthy.”

This labour of love was worth every back-breaking, time-consuming moment. The Coupe is a real ‘driver’ and if anyone wants to know what it’s like to restore a classic, Brian advises, “you need time, money, ambition and patience.” Fortunately from what he observes with the

increase in younger people attending car shows and cruise nights that there seems to be more and more interest in the older vehicles. That’s a credit to people like Brian and his gift to bring back the dead. “It’s such a pleasure to drive these cars, especially with power when you want it. Cars like mine generate a lot of attention. Luckily the only thing I have to worry about these days is keeping it clean and hoping the gas prices don’t go through the roof.”

Click Here to Begin Slideshow

Brian Choffe's 1970 Ford Mustang 302 Coupe

Brian Choffe's 1970 Ford Mustang 302 Coupe

Brian Choffe's 1970 Ford Mustang 302 Coupe

Brian Choffe's 1970 Ford Mustang 302 Coupe

Brian Choffe's 1970 Ford Mustang 302 Coupe

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About Clive Branson 42 Articles
Clive Branson is a photography graduate from Parsons School of Design in New York City and has since divided his career as an advertising creative director/copywriter and as a freelance writer/photographer. He is the author of Focus On Close-Up and Macro Photography and numerous articles for magazines and newspapers throughout North America and Britain. Clive lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario.

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