- Republished from TradeUniqueCars.com.au
Lou Scapin’s racing hero was Allan Moffat and his Trans-Am Mustang. This is his tribute
Like many of us, Lou Scapin became interested in cars as a kid and at age 12 his dream was to own a Ford Mustang.
“Being Italian the people around us drove Valiants and Holdens and I don’t think we knew anybody with a Ford. In 1970 I got taken to my first motor race at Sandown,” says Lou. “It was a three hour endurance race for production touring cars and Norm Beechey was the hero, driving a Valiant Pacer. It was pouring rain and he didn’t win but a Canadian bloke called Allan Moffat driving a Falcon GT-HO did.
“The following year I was watching the Australian Touring Car Championship race from Calder and this glorious fastback Trans-Am Mustang driven by Moffat won.
“I had no idea what a Trans-Am Mustang was but I quickly became obsessed by it and for me Allan Moffat and his Mustang were the ultimate, end of story.”
Like all car obsessed kids, Lou had posters on his bedroom walls but only of one car, the Moffat Trans-Am Mustang.
The Mustang shot Moffat to stardom and his rivals to despair, when on May 4, 1969, he and his Trans-Am debuted at Sandown Park raceway. He was like a wild west gun slinger with a take no prisoners attitude and thrashed the locals at their own game; the first of 101 times in 151 starts over the next four years. Single-minded and gruff, but actually quite shy Moffat didn’t have a business empire to go to Monday morning after the races like his rivals. Moffat was a professional driver, Australia’s first and Coca-Cola were footing the bills; but only if he won. You can understand his determination.
His amigo, the Trans-Am Mustang was one of seven purpose built by KarCraft for the US racing series. Low, wide, sleek with puffed guards and a raked profile. It looked as determined as its pilot and became one of Australia’s most famous and best remembered racing cars of all time.
“Over the years friends would ask if you won lotto what car would you buy,” Lou says, “And I would say a 1969 Mustang. They’d then say but you could buy a Lamborghini or a Porsche and I’d say no, it’s a 1969 Ford Mustang and had I not found this car I probably wouldn’t have bought something else.”
The family influence of Valiants and Holdens didn’t rub off on Lou who has been a Ford man all his life and counts a manual FGX Falcon as his daily driver.
“Most people I am friends with or grew up around were fans of Holden and their drivers, while I was the lone Allan Moffat fan with posters of the Trans-Am on the bedroom wall and nowadays in the garage. I have nearly the entire collection of Allan Moffat diecast cars so yeah, I am pretty Moffat focused,” says Lou with a laugh.
Seven years ago, Lou acquired a gleaming red 1969 Ford Mustang fastback that looks very close to that of his racing idol.
“I still pinch myself even though I’ve had the car for nearly seven years. My wife Maria totally understands it because she has had to put up with me and we have been married 40 years.
“In fact it is thanks to her in many ways I now have the Mustang,” claims Lou.
“After many years of saying I want a car, she said ‘you’re getting on a bit’ so you better get yourself one and I said to her, ‘I only want one car, a 1969 Ford Mustang fastback.’
“One day I was searching the internet and found that someone had already built it. I showed Maria who told me to go and see it and then asked, how much?”
Lou convinced Maria that while it was more than he had budgeted, the beauty of it was he didn’t have to spend any money on it.
“I am at the age where I don’t want to buy a project car I’m going to drive in five years time, I want to buy a car that I can drive now so I had to pay a bit more than what I initially thought,” said Lou.
When he went to inspect the Mustang Lou took a mate to be impartial as he was buying it with the rose coloured glasses firmly attached. “I said ‘Garry you need to be honest and if you don’t think it’s right you need to tell me’.”
Garry was picky and told Lou it was immaculate, so Lou took it for a drive. “It was my first time in a Mustang and I fell in love the moment I saw it because of what it is. It was shipped to Melbourne in 2014.
Since sliding the Mustang into his shed Lou has added his own touches like lowering the ride height with new springs front and back, throwing on a new set of tyres with raised white lettering as they were back in the day and the bonnet scoop that was black was resprayed red to match the car. A rear stripe was added along with a new steering wheel. The under-bonnet electrics have also been tidied up.
Nestling in the engine bay is a slightly worked 302 two-valve Windsor engine with a 600 CFM Holley carby, Yella Terra roller rockers, Pacemaker tuned length headers, a 2.5-inch exhaust with twin outlets, a high volume oil pump and four core radiator. It puts out 265hp. Bolted to it is a Toploader four-speed manual gearbox with a Hurst competition shifter. Lou also added some modern niceties like the hydraulic clutch, power assisted brakes and steering.
Lou, Maria and their friends, one of whom owns a 1963 Thunderbird, often go for a drive and a coffee in the Dandenongs and Yarra Valley or a longer run to the Mornington Peninsula.
“I get out and drive it as often as I can. Hot days are a no-go but I will take it out on a wet day though I prefer not to”, says Lou, “because it isn’t pleasant to drive as the tyres aren’t the best. Lou also joins his fellow Mustang club members at nearby events, and when the mood takes he and Maria they head off for a drive.
“With the big twin exhausts it’s loud, especially when you jump on it and go up through the gears and it’s a little bit fumey,” laughs Lou. “And being an old car it drones, but when you are just cruising at 2500rpm in top at 100 km/h it is very quiet.
“The Mustang is more fun to drive than I ever imagined and I love the old school long throw of the gear shift. On bumpy roads it gets a bit skittish in the rear due to the leaf springs. On twisty roads the sound and feeling is wonderful. When you have a bit of a go you’ve gotta have your wits about you being an older car it is compromised from a number of different aspects. So I drive the Mustang to the conditions and when I am on my own I drive it differently to when I have Maria in the car with me.
“Driving through narrow twisty roads on my own and coming out at the end of it I think to myself, ‘Geez that was fun’ and you almost feel like a race driver. I love the twisty bits. I enjoy driving a manual car and to get out and about in the Mustang is fabulous.
“In 1971 I was 12 and I bought the car when I was 55 so I have waited a long time for it and although I bought it for me, I am happy for people to sit in it or for kids to jump in as I am not overly precious about it. I love the interaction with people and the smile on their faces when they sit in the car is nice.”
About three years ago Lou posted photos of the Mustang on Facebook and was contacted by Chris Topp who, it turns out did the original resto on the Mustang, turning it into a Moffat tribute car for his wife.
When Aaron Seton was competing in the Touring Car Masters in a Mustang at Sandown Chris, who is a mate of race ace Glenn Seton invited Lou to spend a day in the Seton team garage. For Lou it was like being a kid in a candy store and at the end of the day he threw the keys of the Mustang to Chris and his wife, Sue-Ann, who the car was originally built for, and let them go for a drive.
Lou said, “they were besides themselves and were so pleased they saw it and drove it again. That was a very special moment with a very special car built as a tribute to a very special driver.”
1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302
Engine 4949cc V8 with Holley 600CFM 4 barrel carb
Power 198kW @ 4600rpm
Torque 407Nm @ 2600rpm
Gearbox 4-speed floor-shift manual
Suspension Independent with ball joints (f); Semielliptic leaf springs(r)
Brakes 11-inch disc (f) 10-inch drums (r)
0-100km/h 6 sec.
From Unique Cars #453, May 2021