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July 11, 2019

By: Sinjin

CARS

One-On-One with Gas Monkey’s Mustang Expert: Jason Aker

When Gas Monkey took on the challenge of recreating the ’68 Mustang from the movie Bullitt it was a huge honor for our entire crew. Except it was particularly special for our shop foreman, and Monkey, Jason Aker whose love of Mustangs has helped shape his career. We pulled Jason away from all of his daily duties at the garage to ask him a few questions about the build and what it meant to him:

 

Starting off, what’s your experience with Mustangs? 

I’ve been building Mustangs for about 19-years. Before coming to Gas Monkey I was building concourse level cars, cars that were going to be judged at the highest level. Mainly my forte was Shelbys and Mustangs, but I’ve pretty much built and worked on anything in the muscle car era: Camaros, Boss cars, Chevelles, you name it I’ve worked on it at one point.

Richard comes and tells you that y’all are building the Bullitt with this rust bucket, what were your thoughts? Was this just another crazy Richard idea to you?

Well, my first thought was that there are so many Bullitt recreations out there, so why put another out into the world, but I do love ’68 Mustangs so I was excited about building such an iconic car. However, I wasn’t sure where Richard’s crazy idea was going just yet, but all of Richard’s ideas are pretty crazy… This just so happened to be a crazy idea that I liked!

This car might be the most widely know Mustang out there. What significance does this car have to a Mustang builder like you?

The Bullitt was the car that set the gold standard for Mustangs. Mustangs came out in ’64, but besides Carroll Shelby, Bullitt is really what made these cars famous. I’ve built plenty of ’68 Mustangs before, but never a Bullitt replica and especially not one that was going to recreate the chase scene. This was completely new ground for me and it was intimidating, but I was ready for the challenge.

Y’all have built some pretty amazing cars in the past, but this Mustang had to perform and hold together through days of harsh driving. What were you thoughts on having not just creating a great looking car, but one that was durable?

After talking with the McQueen family and knowing that this car had to stay stock just like their dad’s, that made this interesting. My first thought was, “no way this car is not going to make it through three days of stunt driving.” Then you have a whole new set of variables based off the motor and what tires can do to make the car perform how you want it to in a very extreme environment. The largest question of all was durability and how can we make it withstand the beating it was about to take.

So, now y’all have built the Bullitt, it’s almost exactly same, but slightly different. Wanna talk a little bit about what was different?

Yeah, well the first thing that we changed was the engine. Even though the block was the same as the original we installed 428 aluminum heads which combined with the internals in the motor gave us roughly 600hp. If I remember correctly, that’s nearly double the original number. Then we had to reinforce the body structure with some fabrication and add a custom skid plate to protect the oil pan. Everything on the exterior stayed the same as seen in the movie. Underneath we wanted to add a few things to increase our chances of making it through it all.

You’ve tackled one of the most iconic movie cars in history, any other recreations on your bucket list?

I’d love to do the A-Team van. It’s not a very fast car, but I loved that van since I first saw it. The Fall Guy truck would be a cool one to do as well. Since I’m a purist, Eleanor isn’t on my list since it’s basically a kit car.

Anything specific stick with you from this build?

After meeting the McQueen family and really seeing how much apart their life this movie was I really wanted to do right by them and by everyone; because you’ll find very few people out there that don’t know the Bullitt movie. After everything was wrapped, I can’t even put into words the amount of relief I felt that we actually pulled this off.

 

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