Presented by Chevrolet Performance and Driven by Continental Tire
Twenty-year-old Cole Phillips of Auburn, Alabama went on his third HOT ROD Power Tour this year in his 1967 Ford Mustang fastback that he and his dad fixed up when he was 15. He’s daily driven the car through high school and even commutes nearly two hours to his family’s home when he’s not working as a machinist, putting about 5,000 miles on the car per month. “It’s nothing crazy,” laughed Cole. “It’s got a small block, refurbished suspension, I built the rear end for it, and put Sniper EFI on it.” He also made it Power Tour-ready with power steering, A/C from Vintage Air, and a five-speed manual transmission.
During the second day of Power Tour, while approaching an overcrowded gas stop (typical during the tour) old drum brakes and a damp roadway ended in a car accident. We were standing right there as it happened, and it felt as if it was in slow motion. With screeching tires, Cole’s car slammed into the back of a fourth-gen Camaro that had come to a quick stop in a line of cars. Fortunately, no one was injured in the accident, but the cars were worse for wear with the Mustang taking the most beating. The core support was trashed, driver’s fender pushed back into the tire, broken headlight, bumper twisted like a pretzel, kinked hood, and the radiator was mangled from being pushed into the fan. The Camaro faired with some chipped paint, and a few dents and scratches and what sounded like broken exhaust tubing.
What played out next is what makes this story awesome because Cole and his family decided to do a quick repair to the car and finish the rest of Power Tour. “My dad and little brother jumped in his truck (a tidy, orange C-10) and drove to the closest auto parts store to look for a radiator that would fit,” recalled Cole. “They came back with a Toyota 4 Runner radiator.” It was closest they found that would fit with two of the holes in the core support actually lining up. The 4 Runner radiator was too tall, though, so Cole grabbed a battery-powered angle grinder proceeded to cut a hole in the hood. “My dad said to just take the hood off, but it was bent anyway,” said Cole. With the hood able to fully close, they pulled the nose of the ‘Stang a bit straighter and got back on the road.
He rolled into Martinsville with his family in tow and a car that looked like it just barely survived a chase scene in John Wick. Day three arrived and Cole pulled into Bristol Motor Speedway with the car running great. A woman he’d met the day prior walked up to him and handed him a Sharpie and told him it would be cool if people signed the car. He went along with the idea and after making a post on Facebook about it, people flocked him for the rest of the week wanting to leave their mark on the battered fastback. “Everything from the windshield forward is signed and stickered,” Cole told us. He wasn’t kidding either. There is more black and silver Sharpie on the nose of the car than there is blue paint. Before leaving on the last day, we swung by to leave our mark as well before he drove the car back home to Alabama. Cole said the car ran great all week until he was about 100 miles from home. “It started missing in the middle of the night. I had spare plugs with me, but we weren’t in a great spot, so I limped it home.” Upon later inspection, Cole said that some plugs were fouled due to the car running a bit rich.
This story could have easily been very different, but Cole’s positive attitude and willingness to not quit made for one of the most interesting stories of this year’s tour. Accidents do happen but instead of throwing in the towel (and wrenches in some cases) Cole has a killer story to tell. Life gave him a bunch of lemons and he cut a hole in his hood. “It’s weird, people love that it’s wrecked and want me to leave it that way,” joked Cole.” He said it’ll stay in its current form for a couple more months. “I’ve already got the parts I need from a donor car.”
You can check out Cole’s car at a few shows around Georgia later this summer and check out more of his adventures on his YouTube Channel and Instagram.
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