Jim Smart
August 1, 2013

Vincent Pirrone's story could be told a thousand times over because many of our first cars were selected by our parents. When Vincent graduated from high school in 1982, his parents gave him their '76 AMC Pacer. As luck would have it, Vincent was working at a used car lot at the time and a rusty '69 Mustang GT SportsRoof came in as a trade-in. He traded his Pacer for the older Mustang and got $800 with the deal.

"My father was not happy with my decision," Vincent comments. "But he got over it."

By 1985 Vincent had repaired and restored much of his GT SportsRoof. But when he rebuilt the 351 Windsor, the fresh engine didn't survive the break-in. Unable to afford another engine, Vincent allowed the car to sit at his parents' house near Philadelphia for 10 years. By the time a friend helped him build a new engine, the body had rusted again.

In 1998 Vincent settled in Reno, Nevada, where he drove the Mustang to work for a couple of years. After a Hot August Nights car show and cruise, Vincent was headed home when he hit a large steel bar, causing extensive damage. It was time to start over. That's when he made the decision to build a restomod.

Vincent committed himself to a full-scale car building project for a powerhouse he could saddle up to drive anywhere. Superior Performance in nearby Sparks built a 351 Windsor with Edelbrock Pro Flow EFI induction, Victor Jr. heads, and a Paxton supercharger. Behind the small-block is an Art Carr Extreme AOD splined into a 9-inch Ford axle with 3.91:1 locking cogs. What this means for Vincent are the pleasures of overdrive cruising at 70 mph but with the wide-open fun of digger gearing.

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Vincent focused his modification efforts on powertrain, chassis, and interior, electing to stay away from body modifications because, in his opinion, Ford got the styling right with the '69 SportsRoof body. He did change the color to Rotor Glow from Sherwin Williams, as applied by Sparks Auto Body. Wheels are late-model Bullitts with Falken P245/45ZR17 performance tires.

Vincent tells us the toughest aspect of his Mustang project was getting everything to fit in the interior, which includes '05 Mustang bucket seats clad in Rawlings Glove Leather custom by Sparks Upholstery to match the rear seat. Quarter trim panels are dressed in the same Rotor Glow coppertone as the outside. The Grant GT steering wheel was an easy modification, but items like the custom console, rollcage, white-face factory instrumentation, and door panels weren't so simple.

For Vincent, his dream trade-in came off the launch pad 30 years ago. Yet it took the better part of 30 years to get into orbit and remain on a high that he enjoys to this day.