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The Brown/Espagne/McConnell 65 Mustang

 The following information and pictures were provided by Dale Mathers

This car was imported into NZ as a bare body shell around 1991. It is a genuine 65 K-code fastback, with the K stamped in the VIN on the inner fenders.  It was imported through Jekka Enterprises in Manukau City for Rob Brown of Otahuhu.  Rob Brown who owns The Carburetor Centre, is a Mustang enthusiast who had previously imported a 70 Boss 302 in the late 70's when he was working in Canada.  He built the car to race in the newly formed Pre-65 Racing Class, and wanted to keep the car road legal so he could drive it to and from the Pukekohe race track.  

Rob did all the fabrication in his workshop in Otahuhu making the roll cage himself, fitting the race seats and seatbelts, 9 inch diff, close ratio top loader transmission, and a mild 289 motor.  The car was painted red but had no stripes or any numbers or stickers on it.  He raced it off and on for several seasons at whatever race meeting suited him.  He even raced at several Whenuapai Wings & Wheels Classic race meetings. Along the way he developed the car, including changing the engine for a 302 running the then new Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads.  The car performed very well with this combination.  He never raced at any meetings other than Pukekohe and Whenuapai.  

Around the middle of 1996 Rob decided to sell the car.  Rick Cooper and I went to a look at it as a possible racecar for Cooper.  In June 1997 the car was purchased by John Espagne, a wealthy kiwifruit farmer and property developer of Tauranga, for $32,000.  He then raced it at several Taupo Club meetings, Corvette Club days and Capri Club days and became the Capri Club day Champion.  Espagne did not like driving the car much, and at most of the meetings it was driven by Reece (Mario Andretti) Killingbach.  The car had handling and brake problems and came to my workshop at Coastline Automotive for some upgrades. 

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It was fitted Wilwood front disc brake rotors and calipers, new 1200lb springs and Koni shock absorbers, modified front suspension, rear disc brakes and various other items.  I painted on the white Shelby stripes and fitted 16x8 5-spoke wheels with Hoosier tyres.  The car was next raced by Killingbach at the November 1998 Whittakers Classic at Manfeild.  The car performed very well but had overheating problems due to its small standard radiator.  Around 2001 the engine and transmission were freshened up by Neil Hodgson now of Taupo and a new alloy radiator was fitted.   Espagne and Killingbach continued to race this car at the occasional Classic Car meetings at Pukekohe, and several pictures of the car featured in the NZ Classic Car Magazine following these meetings. 

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Starting early 2000, Espagne began trying to sell the car and advertisedit for almost 3 years in various magazines originally at a price of $55,000. Finally in the November 2002 Petrolhead Magazine it was advertised for $45,000 after which it was sold to Dynes McConnell, a Hamilton property developer, now living in Rotorua. 

Dynes had Neil Hodgson service the Mustang and his first meeting was the Christmas Taupo Car Club day December 2002, where the car performed extremely well. Also raced very competitively at the April 2003 Le mans Classic at Pukekohe.

The car was then sold in March 2004 to Dion Ross and Grant Tregurtha of specialised containers NZ limited with the thought of running it in Targa New Zealand. The car has been rebuilt from rubber to roof Modified roll cage, new seats and belts, sequential shifter, freshened motor, gearbox and diffs, rack and pinion steering and lots of spares for the Targa.

The car was given its first shakedown since the rebuild at the Manfield winter series meetings 1&2 2004 where the car performed very well in wet conditions in the hands of Craig Bartosh. Its next outing will be at the 2005 MG charity classic, Manfield.