1969 Ford Mustang GT Convertible - Quarter-Century Club
Perfection Takes Time
This '69 GT convertible was already 18 years old when Barry Bergmann saw it for sale in a Canadian-edition Auto Trader in August of 1987. Barry himself was only 31 at the time, but quickly snatched up the ragtop, mostly because he's crazy for '69 Mustangs in general but also because he recognized the rarity of the final-year GT. He also knew from its VIN and data plate that this one had rolled off the Dearborn assembly plant with an R-code 428 CJ and U-code C6 automatic onboard, despite the fact that it had a four-speed tranny behind a rather racy 427 at the time of his purchase. Originally sold in Canada, the Royal Maroon GT had a surprisingly solid body, apparently having escaped most of the salty abuses of winter by being used primarily as a drag car. Still, it took the London, Ontario, resident nearly a quarter century to fully return it to the factory-correct form (aside from the added chin spoiler and white-letter tires) you see here.
Wanting to find out exactly what he'd bought, Barry soon contacted the late Lois Eminger for a copy of the dealer invoice and was a bit surprised to see just how heavily optioned his GT was (check out our sidebar for a complete listing). Now might be a good time to clarify that, as in previous years, the GT Equipment Group was really just an option available on any of the three '69 Mustang body styles, unlike the Mach 1 and Grande that debuted as fully separate models that year. Like the Mach 1, the GT Equipment Group could only be ordered with either of two 351s, a 390, or the Q- or R-code 428s, but it could also be teamed, à la carte, with just about any other option on the Mustang's lengthy shopping list, meaning it's unlikely that any two '69 GTs were exactly alike.
In '69, checking the GT Equipment Group option box bought you rocker panel stripes (with no lettering), a "GT"-emblazoned pop-open gas cap that was unique in having gear-type notches around its perimeter; a hood scoop (non-functional or Shaker with the R-code CJ), hood pins, styled steel wheels with "GT" center caps supposedly wearing standard E70x14 whitewalls (although Barry's invoice clearly shows F70x14), heavy-duty suspension, and quad exhaust tips (with any of the 4-barrel engines). At $170.10 (in Canada), the GT option was a pretty cost-effective way to perk up a Mustang's looks and handling, but with the advent of the racier Mach 1 and Boss models, its heyday was over and (relatively) few were sold. To be specific, according to Barry's Marti Report, just 1,127 GT convertibles were built for '69. As for how many of those carried the R-code CJ and C6 auto, who knows? But, to be sure, it was likely just a handful.
Anyway, back to Barry's glacial approach to restoring his rare ragtop. Shortly after acquisition, he began the slow process of gathering parts (not to mention the necessary funds), while continuing to summer drive the car in unrestored form to local shows and cruise nights for the next 11 years. During that span, he removed the four-speed gearbox and swapped in a correct C6 automatic so his wife, Judy, could drive it. And, one winter, he also traded off the 427 and built a correct 428 Cobra Jet for the convertible while it was still in unrestored driver form.
Finally, around 1998, it came time to take the GT apart and trailer it to his friend and master of bodywork, Dave Moniz, for body and paint, "hoping to have it back in a year or so." That plan, however, went off the rails when Barry was suddenly able to acquire a '69 Boss 429 that he'd been doggedly pursuing for a couple years (you may remember that Royal Maroon Boss from our January 2012 issue.) The Boss Nine also needed a full restoration and got pushed ahead of the GT in both the schedule and budget, so instead of getting the painted convertible shell back in a few months, it took no less than ten years, finally returning to Barry's home garage in 2008.
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As an interesting side note, Barry had also acquired and restored a black '69 GT coupe, with M-code 351 and a four-speed, that he ended up trading to Dave Moniz for the bodywork and paint on the Boss 429 and GT convertible. We told you he was crazy for '69s.
With the painted shell finally back in his two-car garage, Barry then began the meticulous process of putting it all back together in as-new condition. Still, he was busy with other projects and "wasn't in a rush to finish it," so his rare GT ragtop didn't emerge in ready-to-run form until spring of 2012. We'd have to say it was worth the wait…
Adding It All Up
We thought it worth showing a breakdown of options and prices taken from Barry's dealer invoice, particularly as this was a Canadian car reflecting a slight difference in pricing from what you'd find on an identical US-sold convertible (if one existed). As you'll see, this was an expensive Mustang for its day.
Base price V-8 convertible $3,555.00
Two-Tone black painted hood $22.90
428 4-V Ram Air $471.50
High-back bucket seats $99.70
Glass backlite $45.60
Black power top $60.10
GT Equipment Group $170.10
Select Shift Cruise-O-Matic $261.80
Visibility Group $11.50
F70x14 wide oval WSW (5) NC
Power steering $107.90
Power front disc brakes $72.60
Tilt-away steering wheel $77.30
Deluxe interior décor group $155.10
AM radio $85.00
Tinted glass—complete $37.80
Deluxe belts/warning light $18.10
Distribution & delivery $25.90