Larry Jewett
August 1, 2001

It sat in a backyard, overrun with grass and exposed mercilessly to the elements. It’s cruel treatment for any car, but the severity is even more pronounced when it’s a convertible.

Even a 13-year-old boy could see what was wrong with this picture. The lad, Larry McNally, was able to rescue the ’69 ragtop from its inhumane deterioration sentence. Since cars are inanimate, it’s not known if the vehicle was thankful. It is known that the young boy who purchased the car developed into a man who loves Mustangs.

Larry, of Buford, Georgia, has a stable of cars. This is but one. Stablemates include a couple of Bosses, including a Boss ’9 in the midst of rehabilitation. Yet, it is this once-forlorn ’69 that remains as the teacher’s pet.

Back to 1977. “My dad helped me for the next two years rebuilding the car. We put a motor in it, a new top on it, and gave it a paint job. It got its wheels and tires, and I used it for the next five years, every day,” says Larry.

Alas, when he turned 20, he opted for another car to provide his transit. The ’69 was put away—this time, in a more humane fashion. The owner knew this partnership hadn’t seen its last days.

In 1992, it was time to bring the car forth once again. Out came the engine and transmission. In went a brand new 302 engine right out of the crate. A Crane E303 cam helped give it the “deep sound.” A C4 transmission took care of orchestrating the gears.

Panels like the sail panel and taillight panel got total NOS replacements. Larry went to the day’s color chips to come up with the modern-day Strawberry hue for the skin. It replaced the Wimbledon White that had been applied in November 1968 when the car was built.

For good measure, a new convertible top went on the car. Beneath that top, a Shelby rollbar from Tony Branda added a touch of class. Ssnake-Oyl Products had Shelby seatbelts for an additional enhancement. The car was rewired to accommodate a tach dash and complete the high-performance feel inside. To drive home the point, the driver looks out at a shaker hood, cutting the original to make room and painting the area flat black for feel.

Magnum wheels on all four corners are wrapped by Goodyear ST tires. Gabriel shocks help the stock springs keep the ride nice and smooth for those cruises around Lake Lanier, if the weather and mood is right. Larry will generally drive the car "not too often; during the spring and fall to shows and to the mountains for a nice weekend of cruising."

This car, along with the others in the family, has a Web home, too. You can see Larry’s handiwork at www.69mustang.com.

You have to love a story that ends with a "happily ever after." Larry has turned an ugly duckling into a swan, Cinderella into a beautiful princess, and he did it with the knowledge and love it takes to make a Mustang glow. It's a true '69 love affair.