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FEB 22, 2024 | By John M. Clor

Road Trip Pit Stop Brings Surprise Shop Tour At Gateway Classic Mustang In Bourbon, Mo

Mustang Shell on rack

BOURBON, MO. – Most enthusiasts involved in the Mustang hobby know about the Ford Performance Club Connect program, which goes far beyond having your Ford club or Facebook group appearing on the famed FordPerformanceClubConnect.com world map. Indeed, it’s more about the chance to interact with our event support team when it connects with Ford clubs from across the country as it travels from state to state for on-site Meet & Greet appearances at all sorts of Ford-centric car shows and events – big and small -- each year. And that’s exactly how we got the chance to get a surprise drop-in tour at the Gateway Classic Mustang shop in Bourbon, Missouri, last fall.Mustang in progress

Our Ford Performance Club Connect Transit van was heading back to Detroit after spending a day at yet another Midwest club’s car show when we passed Cuba, Missouri, along Interstate 44 and thought to ourselves, “Hey, isn’t the Gateway Classic Mustang shop around here?” And yes, it turns out it was just up the road a bit. So we figured we’d stop in to stretch our legs and to see what owners Jason and Lonny Childress were up to.Mustangs in shop

In the Mustang hobby, there are many businesses and shops that are centered on restorations and still others that are able to fabricate modern components to make them work in older cars. But then there is Gateway Classic Mustang -- a unique Mustang and Ford shop that is a premier builder of high-end, high-performance Ford Mustangs. What makes Gateway Classic Mustang so different is that it not only excels in top-shelf Mustang restorations but also in custom-building awesome world-class rides and restomods. They specialize in 5.0L Coyote V-8 engine swaps and in the design and manufacture of custom, high-tech suspension systems.Suspension

The entire focus of Gateway Classic Mustang on all of its restorations and builds is to deliver the highest level of quality available anywhere. They are proud to say they not only sell parts and install upgrades but that they create all of their Mustang and Pro Touring mods to the same engineering and component quality standards as a major manufacturer. Not only do customers trust them, but so do some of the major players in the Mustang performance industry.Mustang on lift

During out visit, we saw several builds going on simultaneously – from monster trucks (no surprise here, given Lonny’s history with Bigfoot) to high-end Shelby GT350 recreations for none other than  the Original Venice Crew (again something we should have guessed,  given Jason’s many Mustang connections). We could have hung out and talked shop all day!Mustang tucked away

As many fans already know, Gateway Classic Mustang is a sales and marketing partner with Ford Performance, not just selling and installing genuine Ford Performance parts but also representing the Blue Oval at a variety of Ford- and Mustang-centric shows across the United States. Their huge Ford Performance co-branded display tent showcases an array of parts, suspension mods and actual up-engineered cars while serving as the home base for on-site driving events that they set up and run at selected venues to demonstrate the skill and fun involved in Autocross. Show attendees and customers alike can compare the capabilities of their own cars as well get ride-alongs in modified cars to experience first-hand the difference that a Gateway Classic Mustang upgrade can make in real-world diving. They also serve as a manufacturers’ rep for BFGoodrich tires, as the rigors of an Autocross or on a racetrack is the best place to appreciate the value of high-performance rubber.Mustang in garage

There’s no doubt that several “firsts” have helped Gateway Classic Mustang stay ahead of the competition. They were the first to install Ford’s modern 5.0L “Coyote” V-8 engine into a vintage Mustang – and they even make a proper kit for such installs (including engineering custom shock-tower notch forms instead of improperly cutting off the shock towers and covering the hole with a sheet-metal patch) and they were the first to partner with Dynacorn to fully build and title a driving prototype of a “new” classic Mustang. And because of their successful experiential “getting butts in seats” marketing efforts, Gateway Classic Mustang is now even thinking of expanding into an events company as well. But before talk turned to that, we told them we needed to get back on the road and took a few photos before saying our goodbyes. If you like what you see, you can find out more at GatewayClassicMustang.com.S197 Mustang in orange

White mustang with blue stripesConvertible MustangMustang in progressMustang on hoistMustang parts in shellExterior of Gateway classic mustangFORD PERFORMANCE PHOTOS / COURTESY JOHN M. CLOR