Dave Wolf of White Lake, Michigan, professes he hasn’t always been a Mustang guy – but admits the bug did hit him hard in 1987 at the age of 17, when a family friend brought over a 1965 Fastback 2+2. With a newly-minted driver’s license, Dave said it became his “aha” moment, and he never looked back. He has owned and rebuilt three Mustangs in his lifetime (so far), and he isn’t ruling out others in the future.
“I was just starting to drive, and really enjoyed cars and being around friends who were making modifications and upgrades,” Dave explained. “My dad worked for Ford Motor Company in Wixom, Michigan, but he was not exclusively a ‘Ford man’ at the time. When his friend brought that unfinished, primered ’65 around, I was hooked and bought it.”
Dave finished the build and restoration from the ground up, building his first motor – a 289 cubic-inch V8. The process took the better of five years to complete.
“I am self-taught in this regard, and dug into it wholeheartedly,” Dave said. “I worked at an auto parts store growing up, and was always around cars. I suppose you could say that I have a mechanical inclination. I was never timid about taking apart or building engines – they are like building blocks or pieces of a puzzle.”
Before The Beginning
I did a tremendous amount of research when I was developing my build sheet, and knew I wanted it to be as much like a production car as possible, but with the added bonus of racing it on the strip a few times a year. – Dave Wolf
In those days, without the internet, hefty printed auto manuals and books were the only option if you wanted to learn about auto mechanics – unless you were enrolled in a college or trade school to become a technician.
Bringing forth the inherent knowledge, he gleaned from rebuilding his first Mustang. Taking advantage of online access to technical information and forums, Dave said today’s powerplants are still fundamentally the same – just a bit more sophisticated and powerful.
“I didn’t have too much of a budget when I was rebuilding the ’65, and obtaining parts was relegated to buying from a friend, or from an aftermarket dealer if you could gain access,” Dave entailed. “Now, the general public has nearly unobstructed access to aftermarket equipment with every option under the sun!”
“I enjoy making cars look good aesthetically,” Dave admitted. “A few years after I bought the ’65, he decided to purchase a 1969 Mach I. It was really nice to work on our Mustangs together, and he has since been through a few others, including a 1968 Pro Street and ’68 Shelby GT500KR.”
Dave said that cars have always been a tradition in his family, so the apple did not fall too far from the tree. Albeit his father, Robert Wolf, stayed clear of the mechanical stuff.
Inspiring The Insatiable
Dave also owned a 1990 GT while he was restoring the ’65, but sold it shortly after its completion. Still kicking himself for letting go of such a rare gem, Dave sold the ’65 to a friend in 2001, and took a break until the 2005 model hit the market.
Dave bought a 2008 factory Ford Mustang GT Premium off the lot and set about transforming it into a GT350 in his home garage.
“Once I started seeing the retro S197 body style, I knew it was time to start another project,” he said. “Using seed money from the sale of the ’65, my next project was to be a GT Premium, which I started in 2008. And even though it has come a long way, we all know our car projects are never quite done.”
The 2008 Ford Mustang GT Premium came stock off the line for about $28k. Using the 1966 GT350 with the Paxton supercharger option as the foundational inspiration for the build, improvements and upgrades have bumped Dave’s current investment somewhere around the $48,000 mark.
Let the modifications begin.
When asked about the name of his car, Dave replied, “Triple Threat was recently suggested by a friend who recognized that I had three abilities that all contributed greatly to this rebuild: one, mechanical inclination; two, technical aptitude; and three, a passion for Mustangs. Taking these three characteristics and realizing it also is a three-valve, GT350, and that Carroll Shelby walked 350 steps from his office to the shop made the name a perfect fit.”
Building The Beast
The payoff of hard work.
Paying his respects to Shelby purists, Dave said that the Shelby moniker does not appear anywhere on the car. “I wanted to recreate what Carroll [Shelby] had done in the 1960s and to honor the history, and pay homage, to his lasting legacy.
“So, I took a factory car from the production floor, put it in my garage, and performed 98 percent of the work myself. Using a jack and jack stands, I swapped out the suspension, powertrain, and body aesthetics just as he did. It was an exciting project to take on, and I am thrilled with the results.”
Dave told us transforming the GT into a GT350 took a lot of work. When he mentioned he immersed himself in the belly of the beast, he wasn't joking. He self-built and stroked the 298 cubic-inch three-valve SOHC V8.
Outfitted with Manley connecting rods, Mahle pistons and rings, a Kellogg forged crankshaft, ARP fasteners, and Clevite bearings, the three-valve mule was ready for the powerhouse of forced induction.
A Kenne Bell 2.6-liter twin-screw supercharger was fitted atop a pair of Livernois Motorsports Stage II cylinder heads, matched with a set of Injector Dynamics ID1000 fuel injectors. A pair of Lunati supercharger camshafts handles the high RPM action; while a D&D Performance Tremec Magnum XL 6-speed manual transmission, McLeod RXT twin-disc clutch, and a Dynotech 3 ½-inch one-piece driveshaft transfers all of the additional power to the rear wheels with ease.
A Steeda triple-pass heat exchanger cools the incoming boost, and a set of Kooks headers and a matching X-pipe flows all of the exhaust out of a Magnaflow cat-back exhaust. The rearend is a Ford 8.8-inch with a limited slip differential geared to 3.55:1, along with a FRPP rear girdle.
Running 93-grade octane, Dave’s built 3-Valve Shelby tribute puts out more than 607 hp and 518 lb-ft of torque at the wheels, thanks to a stout Kenne Bell supercharger.
Heading Into Handling
Dave has always been involved in the mechanical aspects of building cars – but on the latest project – said he was able to jump into the powertrain control and technology side of the modern musclecar. More specifically, tuning and calibration.
“I built and tuned the car myself with the tremendous support of a local [and online] Mustang community using SCT
’s Pro Racer software,” Dave said. “In addition to the engine, chassis upgrades include a MGW
shifter, and a set of Eibach
lowering springs and anti-roll bars pair with a set of Tokico D-Spec shocks and struts.
“J&M lower control arms, upper third link and Panhard bar, and BMR tubular K-member [and a chassis stiffener] help keep the car planted. The EBC cross-drilled and slotted rotors and Red Stuff brake pads, rolling on 18-inch BF Goodrich KDWII tires fitted with AR1 wheels really helps the car handle its best.”
Dave also said body modifications includes Shelby GT500 front and rear fascias, HID headlights, a GT500 rear spoiler and heat extractor hood, and a pair of GT/CS side scoops. Classic Design Concepts‘ quarter-window scoops rounded out the retro look he was after, and the interior changes include a Speed Of Sound gauge pod, AutoMeter gauges, Shift-I progressive shift light, and a Pioneer DVD head unit.
“I decided to use GT350 rocker tagging with the current font; figuring the 4.6-liter would be the small-block, and the 5.4-liter would be the big-block of its day,” Dave explained. “Plus, it was unique for 2005 through 2010, as there was no GT350 available in those model years.”
Obtaining The Outcome
Dave wanted to build a car that was suitable for both the street and the strip. He enjoys taking Triple Threat to the nearby Milan Dragway. The GT laid down high 13, low 14-second E.T.s in stock trim – but the transformation into his GT350 has improved those times to the 11s mark.
Although this GT350 is beautiful, it is by no means a beauty mark. Dave drives it regularly, and prefers it that way. “I enjoy going to the track, but my goal was to keep it streetable,” Dave entailed. “I did a tremendous amount of research when I was developing my build sheet, and knew I wanted it to be as much like a production car as possible, but with the added bonus of racing it on the strip a few times a year.”
Original E.T.’s prior to the GT350 transformation were in the 13 to 14 seconds range. Dave said current E.T.’s are in the 11s on 18-inch Mickey Thompson ET drag radials at a full weight of 3,740 pounds – making the time goal he set out to achieve. He would still like to see those times dip to the 10-second range, so next on the agenda is to add a small shot of nitrous.
Dave’s wife, Tina, is a lifelong Mustang enthusiast, and enjoys the GT350 as much as her husband. She is a frequent car model when it comes time for him to snap new beauty shots.
Dave would like to extend his thanks to his wife Tina, John Horst, and Sandor Holzer for being there when he needed more than two hands to move the project along; and to Keith Engling and Don Walsh, Jr. for providing racing intel at the local track.
“Just as folks have helped me, and I have learned from others, I pitch in and pay it forward with their projects,” Dave said. “I’m active with the Mustang Owners Club, Mod Motor Mustangs, online Mustang forums and communities, and contribute my insight and knowledge whenever I can. It’s about car guys helping out other car guys.”
A full chronological photo and video gallery documenting the GT350 build can be viewed here.