Jerry Heasley
December 12, 2017
Photos By: Owner

A classic Mustang came into Terry James’ field of view in a very unusual way. He was driving around Wichita Falls, Texas, waiting for the opportunity to take a photo of his old truck’s odometer as it flipped to 300,000. He said, “I turned down a street where the sun was right, took a picture, and looked up to see a yellow ’70 fastback in this driveway and kids playing football in the street.”

The front end of a 1970 Mach 1 was “sticking way up in the air,” in James’ words, so he thought that maybe the owner wanted to get rid of it. James asked one of the kids if he knew who owned the Mustang. It was owned by the kid’s father, Ben, who was home at the time. James said, “He came out and talked to me and said it wasn’t for sale, but he’d just bought a ’69 fastback from his preacher. He was just helping his preacher out, and if I wanted that car I could have it, but it was rough.”

This 1969 Mustang SportsRoof is a project car no doubt, but a very desirable one, and just what Terry James was looking for—a “blank slate” to build a modified.

The preacher’s daughter’s husband had owned the Mustang since 1990, but they needed to sell the car. The preacher, from Oklahoma, was the intermediary in the deal that sold the car to Ben, who now offered the car to James. Are you still with us here?

James was hunting for a blank canvas to work on, and this ’69 seemed to be exactly what he was looking for, so he made an appointment to see it. “I’m 58 years old and for years I’ve had Shelbys and Machs and all these really nice cars,” James said, continuing, “I always kept them the way Ford made them. I did that for five years in a 1969 G.T. 350 and loved it.”

The entire driver-side taillight assembly had been cut out, and with it the lip of the outer wheelwell.

James wanted to build his next Mustang just the way he wanted. He could modify a plain Mustang, born as a two-barrel 302/automatic, not a Mach or a Shelby or anything special, but still a hot-looking SportsRoof.

James met Ben in nearby Burkburnett, Texas, at an old shop, where they had cleaned out a spot in front of the door to shove this car between a ’71 Cougar and a Fox-body Mustang being set up for drag racing. Half in red and gray primer and half in multiple colors of purple and blue, the SportsRoof was “rough,” as described, and in pieces with the driver’s side quarter missing—but nothing fatal. James said the ’69 was “just what I was looking for, just a car.” So he struck a deal and loaded the car on a trailer bound for his shop in Wichita Falls.

The driver-side front end had been hit, damaging the side apron and radiator support.

His plan was to paint it Black Jade, put a black hood on it, Boss 302 blackouts on the decklid and tailpanels, no stripes, convert to a four-speed, and just enjoy it; but then fate intervened in the form of a Marti Report. James was intrigued to see this Wimbledon White SportsRoof came from the Metuchen Assembly plant with Black-Out Hood Treatment and Sports Appearance Group with Tape Stripe, turning the Mustang into what James calls “a poor man’s Mach 1.”

So, should James go back stock or modify? He hasn’t decided. Send us an email with your opinion. For now, James will do the body work and then sort it out mechanically. Then, he may just put it back exactly the way Ford built it. He likes that white paint with the black hood, which turns out to be extremely rare—just 46 built with these paint/trim codes.

The only rust was in the bottom of the quarter panel behind the rear wheel on the passenger side and the front floorpans.
The car was original except for the engine, which was a 1978 vintage 302 with 351 heads (in the trunk), an Edelbrock intake and carburetor, and Tri-Y headers. The transmission is from a 1966 Galaxie. The drum brakes are manual. The car has power steering and no air conditioning.
The intake and carburetor were sitting on the driver-side floor.
This Rare Find is a project, originally Wimbledon White with red interior, which had been sitting for about 20 years.
Terry James may go back stock with this ’69 SportsRoof because he likes the stock Black-Out hood treatment with the Wimbledon White paint—a very rare combination, and much like a “poor man’s Mach 1.”