Californian Brent Warner is your prototypical, all-American car guy. Raised in Santa Maria, Brent’s family loved the outdoors, but a love of aviation took him on a tour of duty outside the country. When he returned, however, he was finally able to fulfill his automotive destiny.

“Spending much of my youth backpacking, camping, and hunting, I developed a strong desire to serve my country,” Brent said. “I also found a passion for cars from my father and grandfather whose pastime was working on Auburns and Model A Fords. It was this love of cars, and later aviation, which guided me to become a US Army pilot.”

I love taking it out as much as possible, as it just has brutal acceleration. — Brent Warner

As with many eager wrench-turners, Brent’s aspirations would begin small with a seed of inspiration from his father.

“The car that really brought me into the hobby was the 1966 Shelby Mustang GT 350 my dad bought when I was in elementary school,” he recalled. “It needed work and liked to change lanes on its own due to sloppy steering.”

Found as a bare shell sitting in Phoenix, this ’66 fastback became Brent Warner’s project after a sight-unseen purchase.

By the time Brent reached junior high, his dad decided it was time for the father and son to restore the Shelby. It was these early lessons that would prove invaluable to Brent’s future endeavors.

“He taught me how to paint, how to restore rusted/old parts, how to use hand/power tools, etc.,” Brent said. “I’ve always owned at least one first-generation Mustang since my first red ’64.5. I had a couple other ’65-’66 coupes before finding my current ’66 fastback as a shell.”

What started as a two-year restomod project would soon take a drastic turn…

Originally a six-banger painted bright red in a garage, this Mustang became a project that Brent transformed into an attention-grabbing GT350 clone.

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A Fork In The Road

In 2005, Brent’s second passion became a reality when he was accepted into the U.S. Army flight school. Following training and stints in South Korea and Kentucky, Brent was deployed to Afghanistan where he fulfilled his commitment and completed service to his country in 2013.

“When I joined the military my ’66 sat for many years, but I did continue to acquire parts and clarify my plans,” he said.

Using his father’s car as inspiration, Brent changed his goal to building a ’66 GT350 clone. Not satisfied with just an A-code with Le Mans stripes, Brent wanted to build a clone that was indistinguishable from an original GT350.

Using his fathers authentic ’66 GT350 as reference, Brent and Boyeon Warner set out to build the closest thing to a real Shelby.

Fresh from his return from military service, Brent and wife Boyeon returned to their project ’66. After a few speed bumps in the restoration and the happy addition of daughter Emma, Brent’s Mustang reached a critical stage.

“I passed the color decision to Boyeon who went with Sapphire Blue with LeMans stripes,” said Brent. “We think it’s a gorgeous combo on the fastback.”

With the finish line in sight, the Warners went all-in adding, among other things, a GT350 style Blue Thunder Cobra dual-plane intake; a set of Tri-Y headers feeding 2.5 inch exhaust; a fiberglass hood and quarter windows; and American Racing wheels.

After delaying his GT350 project to fulfill his military commitment, Brent and family now enjoy cruising in California style.

In February, after nearly 15 years of ownership and 40 years off the road, Brent’s Mustang is once again prowling the California blacktop.

“The car demands constant attention as the brakes/steering/shifting are all manual,” Brent gushed. “I love taking it out as much as possible, as it just has brutal acceleration, sounds epic, smells perfect, and the driver’s vantage of the long hood is gorgeous!”

After nearly 40 years out of service, Brent and his GT350 clone chose Mulholland drive to stretch its legs.

Although still making adjustments and sorting out his new build, Brent says his goal for now is to make it to a few Cars and Coffee events and meet fellow vintage car enthusiasts.

“I’m a longtime SAAC member and recently joined the LASAAC club so I’m also trying to go to more of their events,” Brent added.

In the meantime, the Warners are enjoying some well-deserved acknowledgement of a job well done and look forward to spreading their classic-car appreciation.

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