Dale Amy
April 1, 2016

By 1969 the S-code 390 was a big-block in limbo. King of the Mustang hill when it debuted for 1967, the 390 4V began a precipitous slide into obscurity once the 428 Cobra Jet swaggered onto the scene in the spring of 1968. Sure, the 1969-vintage 320hp S-code was no slouch: It thumped out off-idle torque in spades and was an inexpensive step up for those who couldn’t warm to the idea of having a mere small-block underhood. Trouble was, the Q-code Cobra Jet cost just a few bucks more, and for that additional investment a buyer was rewarded with the panache of packing 428 ci.

When all was tallied up, only around 3.5 percent of the nearly 300,000 1969 Mustangs built carried an S in their VIN’s fifth spot. Nick Glowacki’s featured convertible was one of them, though admittedly it didn’t look much like this after trundling off the Dearborn assembly line back in mid-July 1969. Shipped across the border, this big-block ragtop was delivered (from Northtown Ford Sales in Toronto, Ontario) in code-I Lime Gold Metallic paired with a code-2A standard black interior. The C6 automatic fed the FE’s prodigious torque to a 3.00:1 open differential on the way to skinny E78x14 rubber capped with full wheel covers, making it fairly obvious that this was ordered more as a cruiser than road warrior. Still, it was an uncommon combo: reportedly only 252 Mustang convertibles came stuffed with a 390 in 1969, of which 146 were teamed with a C6 auto.

In 1999, Glowacki’s became the seventh name on this Mustang’s chain of title, all because of a for-sale flyer the previous owner had placed in his 1970 428CJ Mach 1 at a London, Ontario, car show. Glowacki, who admits to having owned 15 1969 or 1970 Mustangs over the years—seven of which were CJs or SCJs—was aware of the overall rarity of 1969 S-codes and decided to buy what was basically a tired rolling chassis for $2,000. And yes, it was in abysmal shape, having contended with not just decades of an inhospitable Ontario climate, but also a stint as a drag racer beginning in the mid 1970s. When acquired, Glowacki’s ragtop was painted banana-yellow with extensive airbrushing on the hood and was lettered up as the “Widowmaker.” Gutted, rusty, and with poorly flared rear wheelwell lips, this would become a long-term project.

Glowacki didn’t even drag the carcass home until 2002, the previous owner having agreed to store it for the intervening three years. The convertible remained in Glowacki’s own storage for another four years while he acquired a stack of necessary parts, including a period-correct 390 sourced from Quebec and a proper, 1969-vintage S-code intake out of Columbus, Ohio.

Overshadowed by the mighty 428 CJ, the venerable S-code 390 is a rare sight under a 1969 Mustang hood.

That replacement 390 was rebuilt in 2004, and then, in fall 2006, Glowacki traded a 1982 Puma sports car (remember those? I don’t) to a skilled welder for repairs to his Mustang’s rusty unibody structure. With that welder working on it only part-time, those extensive repairs weren’t completed until 2009, at which point the now-solid project went back into storage as Glowacki sought out a paint and body shop. In 2012, the sheetmetal was massaged and the car was shot with what Glowacki refers to as a “driver-quality” paint job. That was all he wanted at the time.

Which brings us to the fall of 2013, when Glowacki bumped into his old pal, a 1969 Mustang, expert, Barry Bergmann (we’ve shown you other samples of Bergmann’s handiwork in previous issues.) Working in a two-car garage, Bergmann has proven to be a wizard at speedy and detailed assembly of 1969 and 1970 ponies, but in order for his builds to proceed in timely fashion, he has to have all the necessary bits and pieces on hand to form a complete Mustang puzzle. And before those pieces could be acquired, Glowacki and Bergmann had to sit down and map out a precise direction for the build.

The ragtop’s original standard black interior is long gone. In its place is a much more upscale Mach 1–style Deluxe Interior Décor setup.
We’ll bet you don’t need too many fingers to count the times you’ve seen a Shaker atop a 390. Still, the combo was available, and it makes a nice complement to that blacked-out hood.

Since there was nothing particularly special about this convertible in its original form (aside from that S in its VIN), the guys decided to dress it up as something of a “what if” package rather than return it to bone stock. But this wouldn’t be a restomod, as it would include only Ford-offered options or hardware (or reproductions of same). Since this was to be a fantasy, turn-the-clock-back-to-1969 build, Glowacki’s first choice was to replace the original Lime Gold hue with the same year’s Champagne Gold metallic that he preferred. He turned to Dave Moniz for that paintwork, and we can tell you from close examination that this is now way beyond a driver-quality finish.

The guys also chose to add all components of the GT Equipment Group, another package rarely ordered in 1969. And nothing goes better with their added matte-black hood treatment than a shaker, most often associated with CJ cars but also optional on 351 and 390 applications in 1969 for a mere $84.25. The nose was then finished off with a Boss chin spoiler, all morphing what was initially a cruiser into something having a notably more athletic personality.

Champagne Gold makes for a classy convertible. But with 4.88 gears still onboard from its drag racing days, this may not be the ideal cruiser.

Inside, they opted for a Mach1–style Deluxe Interior Décor look, complete with woodgrain appliqués and Comfortweave high-back buckets, and finished off with a three-spoke, Rim-Blow steering wheel. That faux wood really goes well with Champagne Gold.

The finished product (still missing some elusive tonneau trim) emerged from Bergmann’s garage in September 2014. The result of this collaboration speaks for itself. What you can’t see is that, in a bizarre nod to the car’s tenure as a drag racer, Glowacki opted to leave in place the insanely steep 4.88 gears that were in the differential pumpkin back when he bought what was left of the Widowmaker. Meaning it almost gets into Second gear just driving up into the trailer. Born a cruiser, and then mutated into a quarter-miler, this rare S-code ragtop now lives somewhere in between.

Conversion to a drag racer sometime in the 1970s did nothing for its looks, but probably saved the Widowmaker from completely rotting away on salty Canadian winter roads. Still, it’s no wonder the restoration took more than a decade.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery