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Perfectly Paired: Combining a 1969 Mustang with a 2013 Mustang
With the recent success of the newly designed Mustang, there have been countless attempts by overzealous car builders to crossbreed the old with the new, only to realize the finished product missed its mark. Then a loyal Mustang Monthly subscriber from Minnesota reached out to us with a picture and description of his one-of-a-kind Gulfstream Aqua 1969 Mustang built on a 2013 Mustang GT platform with its flawless execution of conceptual design.
Several years back, Mustang enthusiast and avid car collector Tom Welle bought a non-running 1969 Mustang Mach 1 with plans to use it as a foundation to build a Shelby Mustang clone for his only granddaughter. Not long after purchasing the car, the idea struck to crossbreed it with a newer model. He planned to take the body shell of the 1969 and drop it onto a newer-model Mustang platform. The idea of pairing the sculptured iconic look of the 1969 Mustang SportsRoof with the performance, power, handling, durability, and creature comforts of the newer Mustang was enticing.
Over the years, Tom had become friends with award-winning car builder Barry Dohrmann, owner of Dohrmann Custom Automotive in Foley, Minnesota. Barry is a talented out-of-the-box creator with the vision to build one-of-a-kind hand-fabricated automobiles.
When Tom decided to put a modern drivetrain in the 1969, he considered the crate-engine option. After adding up the price of the engine, processor, transmission, and shipping cost to deliver it to Minnesota, he got a severe case of sticker shock. He immediately shifted gears, choosing to monitor the used-car auctions for a wrecked 2011 or newer Mustang with a running engine and operating drivetrain. After making numerous bids and striking out on several cars, he came across a wrecked 2013 Mustang G.T. with the Coyote 5.0 V-8 engine and five-speed transmission. It was listed as a salvage title with one catch: “No guarantee the engine would run.” The insurance company holding the title initially threw out a ridiculous price for the wrecked Mustang, and after some haggling, the two parties agreed to an acceptable price for the car. Tom chose to roll the dice and went for it
While going back and forth with the seller, Tom noticed in several pictures that it appeared the 2013 had sustained extensive damage to the driver’s side fender and shock tower area. The sheetmetal looked distorted and was pushed into the engine.
After the purchase, Tom had the Mustang shipped to Dohrmann Custom Automotive, where owner Barry was blown away with how intact it looked. It had taken a minor hit to the driver’s side front fender and door, but for some unknown reason, the Jaws of Life had been used to cut away the door and peel back the roof panel in the area above the door opening. The driver’s side wheel and tire were damaged, yet the suspension and engine bay looked intact with no visible signs of damage. On a hunch, Barry picked up the driver’s side floor mat and found the keys. He installed a freshly charged battery and hit the ignition, then stood back to hear the roar of the running Coyote V-8 engine. After scanning the interior, his eyes locked on the instrument cluster. The three digits totally caught him off guard. The odometer showed this wrecked 2013 GT had only logged 204 miles since new!
Barry called Tom, who was vacationing in Arizona, and gave him the low down, congratulating him on the fantastic GT he’d bought. It was going to make an exceptional donor car for the build. “Would you consider dropping the 1969 body on the 2013”? Tom said.
“Can you do it?” Tom said.
“I’m certain we can make it happen, and we’ll do it right.” Barry said without hesitation.
The Shelby clone build formally planned was now a thing of the past.
The 1969 fastback build required ingenuity to let the exterior body panels properly fit onto the 2013 platform. Only one structural change was required. The left and right side rocker panels were given 1 1/2 inches of depth to cover the bottom of the undercarriage. It was done more for aesthetics than anything else. The fabrication, welding, and surface preparation work on the rocker panels turned into the most labor-intensive part of the build.
During a mockup to see how the build was coming together, a major issue surfaced. The front and rear tires were making direct contact with the wheel lips on the body panels. Tom and Barry were left with two options. One, widen the fenders and quarter panels, or two, narrow the front and rear suspension. From day one, Tom wanted the 1969 body to look original, so altering it was out of the question. After carefully measuring the rear suspension, Tom and Barry decided to narrow it by cutting the housing and installing shorter axles.
The front suspension was narrowed using adjustable struts. They were moved inward to the desired width, then forward 1 3/4 inches to allow the tires to fit the fender openings, similar to an original factory look.
Tom is over 6 feet tall, and when attempting to get in and out of the driver’s seat, his head narrowly missed the door header. So to give him enough leg and headroom, the driver’s side seat reinforcement bracing was lowered 2 inches. While trying to install the floor console, Barry could not get it to align properly with the seat and instrument panel. It was obvious the height level was much different than the factory original position. He cut away 2 inches of material from each side of the console, and gave it a clean factory style look. Remarkably, the instrument panel fit nicely onto the cowl and firewall panel without any significant modifications.
According to Tom, one of the most challenging parts of the build was setting up the power windows. The 2013 Mustang power-window regulator is cable-driven, while the 1969 used a tooth-and-gear type system. By shortening the amount of cable travel and fine-tuning its operation, they integrated a fully functional power-window system into the older style 1969 Mustang door shell and header. Making the door glass slide into position, while slightly compressing the window seal was tedious.
The finished product is world class and truly showcases the iconic design of the 1969 Mustang fastback. All functional items from the 2013 were added to the car, except the power mirrors and rear-window defrost. The Mustang has a balanced exterior look with the 2013 tire and wheel combination filling the wheel openings to perfection.
When you can pair up a 1969 Mustang fastback with a 2013 GT, give it a factory style look, and throw in the performance and technical advancements of today’s pony car, you’ve done something truly one of kind. Tom with the help of Barry at Dohrmann Custom Automotive has truly created the perfect pairing with their 1969-2013 Mustang creation.