Rich and Michele, 2009
Many of us have a passion for mustangs, but only a few have their hobby turn into a dream job. When Rich Smith, from Rochester, IN, bought his first mustang 38 years ago, he had no idea that his love for mustangs would develop into so much more. Now he gets to search for and restore just the right mustang, create and sell innovative parts for the classic years and, most rewarding of all, assist people who call in with their restoration questions.
Rich started out in his father's body shop very early on in his life learning the trade and developing skills that he would use for his profession. Then at 16 years of age he got his first mustang, a 64 ½ Caspian Blue, 289 automatic, from a Colorado dealership show room. Years later good fortune would come his way when he met a mustang crazy gal, Michele, whose first car was also a mustang, and it was a match made in heaven. Rich stayed in the body shop and auto glass business that his father taught him, so he has always restored these mustang beauties on and off through the years, some to keep and others to sell. Being obsessive about fit and finish led him to start developing fiberglass parts to make his life easier and restorations quicker. When starting out with this endeavor he found advice from another mustang fanatic and builder, Mark McCoart of McCoart's Auto, and Todd Kleckner, a mold and fiberglass developer, both of Indiana. One thing led to another and Rich's passion for making fiberglass that fits, and now many other parts, all that are easier to install for the do-it-yourself mustang builder or body shop. Making parts that fit better and save hours upon hours, in some cases, of labor time has been his dream. This has grown more than he imagined because now in addition to his collision shop he has a business called Mustangs to Fear, respectively named after the restoration he did for Joe and Sara French that they named GT2Fear. Now on a daily basis he gets to develop and sell innovative parts, help people that call or email him with questions, and as an added bonus, meet people from all over the world that are mustang enthusiasts.
Rich's latest mustang restoration is a muscle car work of art. This beauty is a red 1968 with a 351 Windsor racing block, 440 ci engine, 5 speed, with 800 plus horsepower. He loves the classic builds, but this one was all modified with over forty custom parts. He stayed with the style of the 1968, but added his own fiberglass body kit, all custom engine compartment, sleek underneath and interior for a mustang with all the amenities of a modern car, plus the added “wow factor”. The body was a super clean Arizona car, the kind we all dream of finding, that he used to develop all his new parts from the exterior to the interior. To start off with the body kit was added which included his own hood with a higher rise to accommodate big blocks, a deck lid spoiler to fit on an original metal deck lid, a one piece front bumper that features headlights that are easy to change and a custom rear valance with frenched in lights. The streamlined engine compartment had the shock towers removed and all unnecessary openings in the firewall filled in for a very clean look and to allow room for the monster engine. The formula for an updated suspension was a Heidt's Super Ride II, fully adjustable system with chrome coil overs that was all powder coated with silver spider vein finish for durability. The steering is a Flaming River Rack and Pinion power set up and then to top it off he ran all custom made fuel and brake lines for a super clean look under the car. The brake system is Hydrovac electric brakes hidden behind the front left wheel with Wilwood 4 piston cross drilled and slotted with polished hubs. More modernization included the new electrical by American Autowire. The interior was 100% custom and received a lot of attention to detail with black carbon fiber accents throughout the car, including power windows, Kenwood smart radio and gray tinted glass. Since Rich is a fanatic on everything matching, while designing the new interior pieces he made sure that the instrument cluster, dash pieces, built-in stereo speaker door panels and two cup holder console all match using real brushed aluminum. Even the c-pods and fold down back seat panel have the built-in speakers for a nice clean look. All these parts were all developed with a sleek look and easy installation in mind. Lastly, the trunk has the gas filler tube and the 200 shot of nitro tucked in neatly to add to the style of this one-off mustang.
Rich and Michele look forward to continuing their mustang adventure together, while at the same time helping others with their mustang dreams. With each and every build Rich is pushing towards bettering the hobby by developing more innovative, easy to install parts for our classic mustangs, no matter if you like the classic mustang or are a little on the wild side. Rich and Michele welcome phone calls or emails.
Woodward Dream Cruise and Rich getting interviewed about the Mustang
The car will disappear when you start up an awesome engine.
Mustang build of ours on the auction block.
It's not all fun and games when you build Mustangs.
Rich draws a crowd as he talks about his Mustangs to Fear Body Kit at the All Ford Nationals in Carlisle, PA June, 2008
The Smith Family at Barrett-Jackson Auction
Chip Foose and Rich Smith - 2005
Chip Foose and Rich Smith - 2007