Model With Muscle: Constance & Her 1964.5 Mustang
We kicked off Women's Month with Formula One's first lady, legendary ladies of motorsports, women on wheels and gearhead girls. Now we want to conclude an empowering month with an automotive enthusiast you might have least expected.
Constance Nunes is not just an umbrella-holding Nitto Tire girl; she's a true automotive enthusiast, as authentic as they come. Don't worry — I was pleasantly surprised, too, when I first learned about Constance's true passion: her first-generation 1964.5 Ford Mustang (it has to be '64.5, she reminded me). We all gathered for dinner after another successful Auto Enthusiast Day in Texas, when she shared stories about her Mustang.
After events she was modeling at, "fans" would spot her driving away in that Mustang, which happens to be her daily driver. Many would follow her, and some would even call the phone number on the back of her windshield. Those who did were in for a surprise when they found themselves speaking with her dad; the number is actually there to promote his auto shop, C.A.R.S. Etc. Awkward.
Start 'Em Young
Speaking of her dad, Constance owes a lot of her passion to growing up watching him drag race and build muscle cars. It's what inspired her early on and made her want to prove her own in the automotive world.
"I can't really put an age on it," she said. "Ever since I can remember, I've always been involved [with cars]."
Having grown up in an all-Chevy family, at age 16 Constance acted out in the ultimate form of teenage rebellion... by buying her very own classic Ford Mustang — a 1964.5, to be exact (it has to be .5!). The car was shipped from out-of-state, straight to her dad's shop in Thousand Oaks, California, and this is where the story begins.
It's safe to say that she is around cars almost 24/7. Ever since the Mustang arrived in California, Constance has either been working for a top dealership or modeling professionally, with any free time devoted to working on muscle cars, especially her own.
Constance has spent most of her years with "Babystang," as she calls it — a name given to her by the Insta-world — restoring it to its former glory. Originally Wimbledon White, she wanted to make sure any modifications she made involved exclusively authentic 1964.5 parts. (I did mention her adamancy about it being '64.5, right?)
As she restored the vehicle's exterior and interior, Constance was extremely fortunate to find that mechanically, it was still running flawlessly despite being more than half a century old. The original straight-six engine is definitely her favorite part of Babystang, she told me, but there's no denying that she wouldn't mind a little more muscle for her muscle car.
Eventually, she decided to start building a new 302 engine block and transmission to give it that extra power. With the car almost fully restored, Constance was soon bitten by the all-too-familiar tuning bug. While her original project goal was restoration, she now has a whole new set of plans in store for Babystang. Like most enthusiasts with a project car, it's never "phase one and done."
Whether she's using tools from her dad's shop or from her trusty kit (aka her Smurfette lunchbox), Constance is always ready to work on Babystang.
When I caught up with Constance for this feature, she was setting up to install a brand new steering wheel she had recently acquired. As I mentioned, any free time is spent doing something on her car, manicured nails and all.
Once the wheel was installed and the horn was honking, Constance gave me a full tour of her 10-years-and-counting project car. One of the first highlights I noticed was the clean interior. She kept the original A/C unit and the original radio, which only gets AM stations, but she also added a removable device to play updated music for those times she wants to rock out to Metallica. 🤘
Besides the steering wheel, the reupholstered front and rear seats are Constance's most recent upgrade as well as her most recent challenge. The words coming out of her mouth might have been about all her reupholstering struggles, but the expression on her face was something every enthusiast has when finishing up a project: the joy of accomplishment.
With the tour complete, there was only one thing left to do: Test out that new steering wheel with a nice drive!
Cruising With Constance
The softness of the new seats, the nice sheen of the steering wheel shining and the smoothness of the ride — all things I noticed as I took in all of Thousand Oak's greenery while Constance told me more about herself and Babystang. Rarely do I ever cruise around in classic cars, so I found myself constantly admiring the car's vintage design elements from the '60s.
We soon found a spot to get some clean shots and highlight the classic car's awesome body lines. While most Mustangs are nose up, Constance has modified Babystang's front suspension to give it a unique, aggressive rake. The side profile is only going to get better once she upgrades to American Racing Wheels and meaty Nitto Tires.
The slate grey paint job, another recent upgrade, was specifically inspired by a famous Mustang: Eleanor from "Gone in 60 seconds."
We even had time to give a shout-out to another familiar Mustang driver, because Mustang people have to stick together, right?
1964.5 Ford Mustang
|ENGINE||Restored original Straight 6; 170ci with 101 hp; 3-speed manual to Cruise-O-Matic automatic trans conversion; Holley 350CFM 2 barrel carburetor; electric distributor with Duraspark ignition system, starter and radiator overflow; 302 engine block with new rear end and transmission (in process)|
|SUSPENSION||Original suspension with modified front springs; original rear air shocks; rear mini-tub (in process)|
|BRAKES||SSBC manual disc kit (front); original drum brakes (rear)|
|WHEELS||Original 14x5 Ford 4-Lug with original hubcaps; Nitto Tire NT555s and American Racing Wheels (in process)|
|EXTERIOR||Restored original; new passenger front quarter panel; restored emblems; restored bumpers; slate grey paint job|
|INTERIOR||Restored interior including seat upholstery, carpet, dash, steering wheel, seat belts, and custom radio box; back dash with upgrade speakers; original radio still intact; restore headliner, kick panels and door panels (in process)|
|SPECIAL THANKS||C.A.R.S. Etc.; Nitto Tire; Jared Toller|