Ford Mustang FR500C - Pony Play!

By: Mark Higgins, Photography by: Shaun Tanner

Only 28 identical FR500C Ford Mustangs were made by Ford and Multimatic Motorsport. This is the only one in Australia.

Ford Mustang FR500C - Pony Play!
(Almost) one of a kind.

You’d expect an Englishman’s favourite wheels to come from his homeland or something with a European flavour, but for Graham Bell, the only car for him is the Ford Mustang.

Graham’s man cave is best described as a shrine to the famous American pony car, filled with everything Mustang related, and it’s rather splendid to be surrounded by such collectable memorabilia.

Graham’s passion for the American muscle car is also a bit of a cliché. As a kid he saw this movie in the UK called Bullitt starring Steve McQueen, and like many of us he became enamoured with the Dark Highland Green GT 390 Mustang.

"The movie was unlike anything else and the Dark Highland Green Mustang and that car chase was unforgettable. In England we didn’t have cars like Mustangs, but there were local US Army and Air Force bases nearby and every now and then you’d see a Mustang, in left-hand drive, as the Americans were allowed to bring their personal cars to the UK.

"Those memories remained with me and one day, many years after emigrating to Australia, I was talking to a couple of young guys who owned a spare parts operation, just up the road from my printing business. We got talking about cars and they asked me if I could have any car, what would it be. A Ford Mustang was my instant response. 

"A few days later they came over with a heap of Mustang spare parts they couldn’t sell, and said, "Here are some parts to start your own Mustang."


That gesture sparked a rekindling of Graham’s love for Mustangs and in no time, he was going through the car ads in Melbourne’s Saturday Age newspaper (remember those days), looking for a Mustang.

Graham found one and it turned out to be one of 200 brought into Australia by Ford in 1966 to gee-up sales (his words) of the Mustang-bred XR Falcon.

Not the usual plush Mustang trim.

"I bought an Australian delivered, 1966 white Mustang in right-hand drive, because it had been converted here by Ford and I thought this is alright.

"It was a bit grubby and for a car less than 20 years old it was in pretty poor shape, so then I joined the Mustang Owners Club.

"I got it in 1984 and thought a restoration meant a cut and polish and a bit of bog here and there, but 18 months later the car was a concours contender. A beautiful piece of machinery and that’s where my big journey with Mustangs began.

"I bought the car from a guy called Keith Reynolds and I didn’t know him from a bar of soap, but we’ve become lifelong friends as a result of that meeting and purchase. 

"We went on within the Mustang Club to start a side club called Mustang Racing, so members could drive their cars fast in a controlled environment."


Looking around Graham’s shed I saw a lot of Shelby memorabilia and asked what the attraction was. 

"Shelby represents the race-car aspect to the Mustang," says Graham, "and I’ve always been interested in car racing and I focused a lot on owning a Shelby one day.

"If I could only have one car it would be a 1965 GT350R model of which only 34 were made and to get one now, you’ll have to spend at least US$1 million.

"I have a replica of one which I compete in Targa rallies and a dabble in a bit of sports sedan racing. It’s a beautiful representation, but it’s just a white Mustang with blue stripes that looks like a Shelby. While I couldn’t afford the GT350R, I’ve been fortunate to own two Shelby 66 GT350s and a 1970 Shelby GT500 which I bought in the late ’80s."


When I visited Graham’s shed, there was the Steve McQueen Edition Bullitt under its green cover and his Targa car. 

Normally nestled between the pair, but away getting work done, is a very special Mustang, an FR500C – one of 28 built and the only known factory-built original in Australia.

Back in the shed without a scratch. Happy.

The FR500C is based on the 2005 Ford Mustang and is a dead set race car, and the catalyst for the Rolex Trans Am cars. 

It got the nickname ‘boy racer’ by Ford execs given the age of the customers – most being well-heeled businessmen at a stage in life where they wanted to go racing.


"Ford, in conjunction with Multimatic Motorsports in Canada, built 28 identical
FR500Cs that were bought, through Ford dealers at US$125,000 each, a standard Mustang GT was around a fifth of that.

All cars made 400 horsepower and have sealed ECUs. Adjustments are confined to tyre pressures and minor tweaks to the supplied suspension. Like all one-make formulas, the pecking order comes down to driver talent.

So how did Graham capture such a unique gem?

I'm coming to get you.

"I collect a lot of models and on Friday evenings after a hard week of work, I would often go onto eBay to look for models and such like, usually while having a cold beer or two", says Graham.

"One night in 2016 I found this FR500C only it was a full-scale,  one-to-one model (laughs) so I put in a bid. It was on eBay and I think the price they had on it was US$53,000. 

"It was owned by a collector and was being handled by an auction house in Arizona. I quite liked it but didn’t buy it with a view to going racing, I bought it because it was highly collectable being one of 28. 

"You can’t register it and it doesn’t have a VIN. It’s a race car and it just appealed to me. My bid got accepted and Craig Dean from Mustang Motorsport, who is a good mate, helped me bring it to Australia, and we got it sanctioned by CAMS after a few modifications, so it can compete in Group 3, as well as sports cars in a variety of events."

It could be Laguna Seca, but it is Phillip Island.

The FR500C has a seam welded body, a full NASCAR roll cage and is ready to race, it tips the scales at 1300kg. Everything that’s not needed has been stripped out. 

Under the bonnet is a Cammer R50 five-litre 32-valve V8 bolted to a Tremec six-speed manual gearbox. There is an 80-litre fuel tank, huge Brembo four-pot callipers grabbing cross drilled discs and the FR500C rolls on 18x10-inch FISKE wheels all-round. 

Graham’s is Build #12 and originally bought by Roush Racing, to compete in the GF class of the 2005 Grand Am Series. It was driven by Stu Hamer and Pete Helmsmere, a former Daytona 24-hour winner. 

Graham recently competed in an event at Phillip Island among a field of older Supercars, including one Larry Perkins.


"It added to the excitement and fun of it. I mean how often do you get the chance to be on the track with a legend like Larry?

"He was about 15 seconds a lap faster than me, but it didn’t matter, the FR500C was fun, and it has had nothing done to it in the 20-odd years since it was built. We brought it here, went over it, put fuel in it, and away we went."

Graham lists Phillip Island as his favourite track and fulfilled his dream of tackling Mount Panorama in an event called the Bathurst Challenge.


"It was a privilege to compete around that track that I’ve watched on telly and was lucky enough to be taken on a hot lap by Craig Lowndes in 1997. 

"The trip to Bathurst was a father-daughter weekend and we were made very welcome. 

"A guy came over, and it turns out he has a large property facing Conrod Straight, and we were invited back to his house for a drink. The view of the track was fabulous. My daughter enjoyed the weekend so much we are doing it again, in November this year." 

When not tinkering or driving his fleet of Mustangs, Graham volunteers as a driving mentor and instructor in the L2P (Learners to P-plates) local government program, catering for underprivileged kids.


"As someone who is passionate about cars and driving, it’s hugely rewarding to spend time with learner drivers and help them improve their skills as well as imparting some tips along the way.

"I really feel this program is resulting in better-skilled drivers, thanks to the army of volunteers like myself."

From Unique Cars #485, Nov 2023

Unique Cars magazine Value Guides

Sell your car for free right here


Get your monthly fix of news, reviews and stories on the greatest cars and minds in the automotive world.