Joe Greeves
March 19, 2014

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.

The modernization effort continued inside, beginning with quarter-inch foil-backed polyurethane heat and sound insulation along with an additional layer of Dynamat on the floors. One of the problems with the '69 was the roll up side windows that were glued into the channel. When Bill got the car, they were misaligned and glued at the wrong spot. Attempting to readjust them resulted in a pile of broken glass inside the door panel. Bill solved the problem by buying 1970 glass channels that were bolt-ins and they worked perfectly with no wind noise inside. The thigh-bolster buckets came from an '89 Mustang GT, fitted with '69-style covers from TMI Products. The rear seat was covered to match.

Making a solid connection between car and driver is the wood-rimmed Grant wheel on the ididit tilt column. A Rally Pac-style gauge cluster holds an Auto Meter tach and an AEM Air/Fuel Ratio gauge. The instrument panel uses white faced, electro luminescent gauges that change color but Bill plans to swap them soon for a new Dakota Digital package. The modern Pioneer stereo powers four 6-inch mids in the doors and rear package tray along with additional tweeters positioned in the doors and the original central dash location. The Scosche amplifier and Sony 10-CD player are concealed behind a panel in the trunk. Rounding out the grand touring amenities are the power windows, satellite radio, cruise control, remote-controlled door locks, and a security system.

The Wimbledon White exterior is essentially stock with its satin black Mach 1 hood insert and side stripes along with Tri-Bar headlights, the distinctive second set of Delta Xenon lights in the grille, hood turn signal indicators, hoodpins, and chin spoiler. Bill added sequential taillights and rectangular exhaust tips cut into the rear pan. The car rolls on Coys 17x8 inch rims up front and 17x9s in the rear wrapped in Pirelli PZero Nero all-season rubber.

The completed car has become the perfect occasional driver and a regular on the show circuit. It's also a continuous work in progress whenever Bill feels like spending time in the "Taj Garage." Bill is a charter member of the Daytona Mustang Club and a former president, as well as the current MCA liaison for the club. Bill and Ruth genuinely embody the Mustang spirit and enjoy driving the cars that brought them together.

The Details

Ruth and Bill Dean's 1969 Mustang Mach 1

Windsor 351 V-8, now 408ci by Raabe Racing Enterprises (Ormond Beach Florida)
4.030-inch bore
4.00-inch stroke
Eagle nodular cast iron crank and chrome-moly connecting rods
Summit forged pistons
Comp Cams hydraulic roller tappet camshaft
Air Flow Research 185 aluminum heads, ported and polished
Holley 770-cfm vacuum secondary carb with K&N filter
Edelbrock Air Gap intake
MSD 6AL ignition and plug wires
SPAL dual electric fans
March pulley system

'78 Ford AOD built by Stan's Transmissions (Daytona Beach, FL)
Lentech valvebody with full manual control and Lentech shift kit

Ford 9-inch
Detroit limited-slip differential
3.50 gears
Stock Ford axles

Hedman headers
Flowmaster mufflers
2½-inch dual exhaust

Front: Stock with Monroe shocks and Shelby modified control arms
Rear: Subframe connectors, 1-inch Ford lowering springs, and KYB gas adjustable shock absorbers

Front: Baer disc, 13-inch rotors
Rear: Baer disc, 13-inch rotors

Front: Coys C-67, 17x8, three-bar spinner caps
Rear: Coys C-67, 17x9, three-bar spinner caps

Front: Pirelli PZero Nero All Season P225/45ZR17
Rear: Pirelli PZero Nero All Season P245/45ZR17

Sound and heat insulation throughout; '89 Mustang thigh-bolster seats with '69-style covers from TMI, rear seat recovered to match; wood-rimmed Grant wheel, Rally Pac-style gauge cluster with Auto Meter tach and AEM Air/Fuel ratio gauge, white-faced, electro luminescent instrument package; Pioneer stereo with mids in the doors and rear package tray with additional tweeters in the doors and central dash location, amp and CD player in the trunk

Tri-Bar headlights; Delta lights in the grille; hood pins; chin spoiler; sequential taillights and rectangular exhaust tips cut into the rear pan; Wimbledon White with satin black Mach 1 accents sprayed by a custom shop in Douglasville, Georgia, no longer in business