T-5R Martini Mustang
07 Mar

Steve Strope’s Martini Mustang

I’m not big on American cars. When I was a kid, I didn’t dream about muscle cars or NASCAR. A Lamborghini Miura or Dino Ferrari was much more exciting to me. Look, I get the appeal of big block brute force. But for my money, I just prefer European design. It’s classier and more refined, with better attention to subtle detail, in my not so humble opinion. I’m just more impressed by overall handling, performance and styling than I am by foot to the floor, go fast turn left stuff.

So, it takes something pretty damn special to get me excited about a car born in Detroit. And Steve Strope’s “Martini Mustang” is pretty damn special.

cc ep506 steve strope 3042 sm 600x337 Steve Stropes Martini Mustang

The idea behind this car started as a “what if?” What if Martini Racing had sponsored a European road rally Mustang in 1966? (The official name of this car is the T-5R Martini Mustang. Back in the day, Mustangs for export were called T-5s. And Steve says this would probably have been a Shelby-made R model, so that’s how they got T-5R.)

The car wears the European livery surprisingly well. But it’s a lot more than four colors that look great together. Steve carries the livery through to the interior, with the white paint and matching blue upholstery. He’s used factory AC Cobra pedals and adapted a 427 Cobra accelerator pedal. The steering wheel is a vintage Prototipo like you would have seen on a 904 or a 906. There’s even a vintage flashlight in the glove box.

cc ep506 steve strope 0212 sm 600x337 Steve Stropes Martini Mustang

That’s all great, but I was blown away by what was under the hood. Instead of just dropping in some monster crate engine, Steve found an incredibly rare, all-aluminum Ford Indy 4-cam engine and had Ed Pink convert it to electronic fuel injection. The EFI is by Holley and is all new, but Steve did his best to make it match the vintage valve covers. He fired up the engine for me and threw some revs into it. At 4,000 rpms, it sounded way bigger than 300 cubic inches. Steve says it makes about 425hp and winds out to 9,000, which must sound like the end of the world.

And it’s one of the cleanest-looking engines I have ever seen. The aluminum welds are works of art and there’s not a single belt coming off the front. The throttle linkage alone is a masterpiece.

cc ep506 steve strope 0230 sm 600x337 Steve Stropes Martini Mustang

The Martini Mustang’s style is strongly influenced by technology and look of the mid-1960s, but you vintage perfectionists may be quick to point out that the car is far from “period correct.” You’re right, now shut up, because you’re missing the point. Sure, the rims are 17″ and not 14″, but Steve had them fabricated from scratch, designed to look like four-spoke Indy car wheels from the era. He put more thought and effort into those rims than most guys put in to their entire cars. And even though they’re 17s, they work visually. The suspension and brakes are beefy and completely modern as well, with brakes by Wilwood and custom suspension by Detroit Speed.

What makes this car so great is not its vintage-correctness, but that so much attention and thought was paid to its every detail. Like they say, the devil’s in the details. And Steve’s breathed on everything from the livery-matching front grille to the Euro spec tail lights. An amazing paint job or a powerful engine are always welcome, but when you put together all of the little finesse touches, that’s when a car adds up to being a greater sum than all of its parts. It’s an incredible idea with flawless execution.


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Comments (6)

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  1. Marty Turner says:

    Had a 64 1/2 ‘Stang convertible that I sold in’71 due to a short wife. Wish I had the money to have kept both but the wife is still with me. Would love to find a good deal on another.

  2. eBay Motors says:

    Great to hear Marty. Do you still have a photo of that 1964 1/2 that you can share? Would be great to see that on your eBay Garage profile.

  3. Jksisco says:

    Nicely done for sure.

  4. jellisii says:

    The reality of these kinds of things is that all you need to actually have driven off of engine power is an alternator as power steering is optional (but nice for endurance racing), fuel and water pumps, and cooling fans can all be electric… but I’m unclear as to where an alternator would be from these pictures. Someone fill an ignorant gearhead in?

    REALLY dig the IRTB and CAI/Ram air setup. Great look. Same with the spindle mounted wheels. The entire car does ‘just work’, as someone who also prefers European vehicles, the British Superlights being my favorite.

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