Modified Mustangs & FordsFeatured Vehicles
1969 Ford Mustang - More Than Just Transportation
Embracing the Mustang lifestyle
Cars have a practical side, but quite often, they become more than just transportation. Finding someone who likes cars as much as you do often leads to a great, long-lasting friendship. Bill and Ruth Dean, from Ormond Beach, Florida, met about 16 years ago and it's safe to say that cars brought them together. They were both single neighbors who owned vintage Mustang convertibles. Ruth had a '65 and Bill a '66. One of their first dates was a car show and as it turns out, they have been going to car shows ever since. After they were married, the house they built together included an attached four-car garage; a perfect urban corral for their ponies. It's air-conditioned with a lift, and the home's fourth bedroom was converted into a garage workshop. If that wasn't enough to convince you that they are serious about their cars, their Christmas card shows the smiling couple in front of their garage and four-car Mustang collection.
Bill has a wealth of experience in the automotive field and he started early. We are certain of that since his tech sheet says he has been a car enthusiast for 75 of his 79 years! He's owned a service station and automotive repair shop, owned and managed several car dealerships, and while working for Ford, he even did a stint as a field service engineer assigned to the White House maintaining the presidential Lincoln and the armored vehicles used by the Secret Service. "The goal," he says smiling, "was to ensure everything always ran perfectly and that nothing ever broke down on national TV!"
Bill is a staunch Ford fan and cars have always been both an occupation and hobby. The '66 Mustang in his garage has been one of his favorites since he bought it back in 1972. Assembled from just a shell and boxes of parts, the car was thoroughly reworked with a modern powertrain and suspension. While that first Mustang was great fun to drive, the building process was just as much fun, so once the '66 was complete, Bill began looking around for a follow-up project. In 2005, the 1969 Mach 1 in the photos was listed in the classified ads in Douglasville, Georgia. When Bill and Ruth first saw the car, the owner was having some work done at a local body shop. Everything looked good and Bill put together a deal that included buying the car and having the body shop complete some additional work before he drove it home. Bill's original intent was to finish some engine work prior to painting the car, but a phone call from the shop owner assured him that they were the ones for the job. Bill agreed, thinking that if the same guy who did the bodywork did the paint, there could be no excuses. As it turned out, the quality of the Wimbledon white paintjob was just what he was looking for. Ruth smiles as she recounts the drive home with their newest addition. Bill planned to do several of the finishing touches himself, including adding rubber door seals and adjusting the windows for an airtight seal. The problem began when Ruth started having trouble with her car. When she tried to contact Bill in the '69, she realized the noise level inside his car was so high that he couldn't hear the phone ring! They did manage to make it home safely, but weatherstripping and window adjustments were among the first items on Bill's To-Do list.
Another of Bill's early personalization choices was replacing the original three-speed transmission with a modern four-speed AOD automatic beefed up with a Lentech valve body and shift kit. It sends power to a 3.50 Detroit limited-slip diff rear. The old drum brakes were next, swapped out for modern Baer 13-inch power discs. Suspension upgrades include subframe connectors along with 1-inch lower Ford springs in the rear and KYB gas adjustable shocks. Up front, in addition to new Monroe shocks, Bill chose a Shelby modification, drilling new control arm holes that enhanced the camber rate in turns and also lowered the front of the car one inch.
The motivation for upgrading the engine centered on problems with the original engine oil seal.
"The two-piece unit was difficult to maintain," Bill told us. "I bought a later model 351 block with a one-piece rear main oil seal that doesn't give nearly as much trouble." Bill does a lot of work himself, but chose Raabe Racing in Ormond Beach, Florida, to accomplish the engine work. The block was bored and stroked to 408 cubic inches with ported and polished AFR 185 aluminum heads. The first configuration was not quite what Bill was looking for, with a lumpy cam and a Quick Fuel carburetor with no choke. The second attempt refined the power using a milder Comp Cam with roller rockers and a Holley 770 vacuum secondary carb on an Edelbrock Air Gap intake. Hotter spark from MSD and free flowing, ceramic coated Hedman headers helped to produce approximately 500 hp at 4,900 rpm, now with a perfect blend of performance and driveability.