1967 Revology Mustang Shelby GT350/GT500 first drive: All the love, none of the hassle


Car reviews / Четверг, Июль 19th, 2018

Building cars is hard. Look no further than news about Tesla nearly every day as evidence. So excuse Florida-based Revology Cars if its brand-new, built-from-the-ground-up 1966, ’67 and ’68 Mustang replicas, equipped with modern and upgraded technologies, exhibit a few rattles here and there. Furthermore, it’s OK the brakes feel just a little weird sometimes. And I’m not concerned that there was a door closure problem on one of its earliest cars. After you drive the inspiration, a 1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500, Revology's strengths become crystal clear.

I don’t want to say the original was a pile of garbage, but compared to Revology’s near-perfect modernized creations, it’s basically undrivable. By modern standards, the ’67 GT500 is not fast — I smoked one in a quick race with one of Revology’s latest deliveries without trying. It doesn’t stop well, either. Slamming the brakes sent us spinning wildly down the makeshift dragstrip. The Revology’s four-wheel disc setup feels like a modern Honda Accord. Steering? There is none. And don’t get me started on bias-ply tires. The fact that any of you old hot-rodder folks are still here is an unqualified miracle.

Revology Cars does what almost all enthusiasts would do if they had the means and know-how. It takes those reproduction Mustang bodies built by Dynacorn and attaches them to modern running gear: engine, transmission, brakes and suspension. Revology’s top model gets a 600-hp Coyote/Roush V8 with either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual sending power to the rear. That’ll set you back about $220,000 before selecting any options. Seems expensive, yes, but, an original 1967 Shelby GT500 will cost you a quarter-million or more, and you’ll never want to drive the frickin’ thing because of its history and the fact that it’s a death trap.

However, if you’re in one of Revology’s cars, CEO Tom Scarpello has a message: “Don’t worry. We’ll make more.”

The company sits in a nondescript commercial/residential area of Orlando, Florida, in a 12,000-square-foot warehouse that completes every part of the car’s construction aside from paint. Scarpello, with his wife — and multitasker — Yoshi Amano, oversees 33 people including a mix of bodyworkers, fabricators, electricians and upholsterers as they work to turn a prefabricated Dynacorn shell into a finished car rolling out the door. Each one takes about six months to build. Even with the bodies in white from the factory, Revology needs to do a bunch of customizing to fit its needs.

There are nine stations at the warehouse and three more for paint off-site. The first four are body, where the cutting and fitting and bracing are done, then paint before the cars go back to the shop for three stages of trim, one stage of chassis and then final production. Scarpello says the process will be down to four months soon.

You might have read about Revology before. We covered the company in 2015 when it showed a ’66 convertible Mustang at the Amelia Island Concours, a year after the company opened its doors at a smaller shop in Winter Park, Fla.

“We’re growing out of this one too,” says Scarpello of the current building.

Revology’s first production car was delivered in 2016; since then the company has had 43 orders, 21 of which have been sent to their forever homes. Revology’s customers are HNWIs (high-net-worth individuals) in eight countries across the world. Ten percent of them are “been there, done that” people who want to say they’ve been in everything; 20 percent are serious collectors like Melbourne-based Mark Pieloch, who helms the American Muscle Car Museum; 20 percent are experience seekers and the other 50 percent are simply folks giving a gift to themselves, usually a car from their youth. But unlike buying an original from auction, these cars are warrantied with the 1/2/5 plan. That’s one year bumper-to-bumper, two years powertrain and five years body (rust and corrosion).

Waiting outside the hotel in downtown Winter Park, I heard Tom coming long before seeing the classic, white-with-blue-stripes 435-hp, 400-lb-ft Revology Shelby GT350. It’s nearly as loud as the original, something I was acutely cognizant of when I jumped in the driver’s seat at about 7:05 a.m on a sleepy but hot Tuesday. The seats look original without much side bolstering and without headrests. Original, but brand new.

The interior all looks period correct, except for the modern Ford push-button start to the lower right of the steering wheel. It’s a big piece of black plastic in a sea of chrome and wood. I told him I’d rather just take a real key and be done with it. The wooden steering wheel is thin like the original and looks great. Scarpello says some people don’t like the feel and the company is looking into thicker, yet still throwback, replacements.

There’s not a lot of trunk space, but the back seat does fold down to add a few extra cubes. There’s no LATCH system for child seats either — Revology works under the small automaker loophole — but there are plans for a workaround.

So, it looks old school, sounds old school, and the only other part that feels old school besides the steering wheel is the shifter. It juts up from the trans tunnel before slanting toward the driver and has a long throw with a metallic “click-click” in the middle of the motion. The radio is a modern Pioneer unit, and upgraded models get a subwoofer in the back. And the windows are electric, operated by slick switches that look like hand-cranks, but only spin a few degrees either way for up and down. The rest though — totally old school.

Power is nice and meaty with last year’s Coyote V8 wedged into the small engine bay. And since there’s no traction control (or ABS) to deal with, lighting up the tires is just a matter of getting the heavy clutch right and feeding on the power. This was only the fourth car Revology finished — the GT500 I drive later is number 17 and feels tighter in every way. Newer Revology cars receive a different clutch setup with the feeling of new Honda Civic, Scarpello tells me.

The drivetrain here is very noisy. This one uses a Ford 9-inch rear end, 31-spline, 3.89:1 ratio. The GT500 has the same 9-inch with 35 splines, also whiny, but newer cars will be much quieter with Ford’s newer 8.8-inch rear, either 31 or 33 splines. If you jumped from a modern Mustang to this, you would say it’s crude. If you jump from this into the original GT500, you’d say it’s a Mercedes.

The front suspension uses double wishbones while the rear is a three-link solid axle with torque arm and panhard bar. All four corners get adjustable coilover shocks. The combination is good for nearly flat cornering — a world away from the roly-poly original — and quick steering with that wooden wheel that, on second thought, does feel too thin when trying to maneuver at speed. And, when trying to drift, I wished for a faster ratio because it required way too much wheelwork for me.

At the American Muscle Car Museum in Melbourne I jumped from Revology’s GT350 to its ridiculously awesome GT500 throwback.

This is what an old muscle car should feel like. It’s what I imagine they feel like in my dreams. Loud, fast, hard shifts, gorgeous lines, easy to handle. But like I said, the reality of these 50-plus year-old original cars don’t live up to the dream. Panel gaps are big, reactions are slow, braking is perilous.

Conversely, the Revology GT500 uses an automatic transmission tuned for power and (gasp!) radial tires that grip. On 17-inch wheels, they look almost period correct. On the road, the GT500 is loud, really loud, because of the exhaust and the whiny rear end. Power comes on like a supercharged waterfall and shifts from the electronically controlled six-speed auto give just the right amount of shove. In an impromptu drag race in the American Muscle Car Museum parking lot—it’s set up for autocross too—the Revology GT500 lights up both rear tires for 20 feet or so, runs out first gear and then a little more spin in second. After that it’s gone, leaving original GT500s in its dust, as you can see.

Drawbacks? The period seats aren’t as comfortable as today’s. As I said before, it’s loud. And it must suck down gas, but who cares? Look at it. Just look at it. We were stopped by a Florida UPS man who basically blocked us in as we were taking pictures by the water to tell us he has an original ‘60’s Mustang. Most people just point and smile, and think it’s an original, even when peeking into the cabin. Until they see that start button — that gives it away.

So, you can get an original Shelby GT500 for about a quarter mil, and be petrified to drive it, take it to a car wash, or ride in the rain. Or, you can get a topped-out Revology GT500 for a little less, beat the tar out of it and its Roush motor, spray it down in your driveway and do the same tomorrow. As someone who always believes cars are meant to be driven, that would be my choice.

On Sale: Now

Base Price: $219,000

Powertrain: 5.0-liter Roush Coyote V8, RWD, six-speed manual transmission

Output: 600 hp, 475 lb-ft of torque

Pros: All of the good stuff about the classic GT500 with none of the drawbacks

Cons: That damn push button start