Isaac Mion
December 1, 2008

As owner of Hot Rodifications, Mike Gerace needed a vehicle to promote his business and his abilities to build one-of-a-kind hot rods. He had always told his wife he would build her one, too. "My wife has always loved hot rods and muscle cars," said Mike. "After all, she spotted me in the summer of '86 while cruising the local hot spot. I was in my '66 Chevelle. She says she saw my car first. Of course, I like to think that I had something to do with it." Mike knew she loved classic Mustang fastbacks. So when it came time to build his muscle-car memento, he knew exactly what to look for. He studied the lines on the '65s through the '68s, looking for the right combination of vintage flavor and aggression.

"Then one day I was thumbing through a magazine and I saw an article on the Air Ride Technologies poster child for classic Mustangs," said Mike. "That brought the cross-hairs into full focus. It had a stance like no other Mustang I had seen before." With its earlier roots, a longer hood and rear window lines, the '69 SportsRoof was born. Mike found his through an Internet ad, hooked up his enclosed trailer, armed himself with a cashier's check, and headed off to fetch the SportsRoof. "A friend and I left Denver that afternoon and got to L.A. around 7 a.m. the next morning," Mike tells us. "I inspected the car and we had a deal. The whole trip lasted 36 hours and 2,200 miles."

The car had been in storage from 1983 through 2004, an original R-Code with 38,560 original miles. Apparently, the original owner of the car owned a Mustang Performance shop and used the car for R&D. Thus, the car had a few modifications when Mike picked it up. The car had been mini-tubbed and the front framerails and the shock towers had been notched to accommodate a 427 side oiler. Another cool modification was the nitrous tank saddle. This was hidden between the rear seat and a firewall in the trunk, with the braided lines running under the sill plates then under the dash where the solenoids were mounted.

In turn, the lines ran out of the firewall to the engine. As the bad guys in cartoons always said: "The only thing better than being evil is being sneaky!" Also, the Mustang was raced for a while, so there was, in Mike's words, "enough Auto Meter gauges to launch Apollo into space."

At this point we have to applaud Mike for his honesty. Take it from this journalist: Many in the biz have purchased a vehicle already modified and taken credit for the full buildup. Not Mike--he was clear that the body came with a change or two, such as the widened rear fenders and the brilliant red paint job. While the body is morphed and menacing, the motor is as well. With a 428 Cobra Jet strapped between the shock towers, the lighting of the fire begins with a full MSD ignition system and is fed through a 750-cfm Demon carburetor. Ponies pushed out by this big-block are an estimated 450 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. A C6 trans channels the big-block's power to a 9-inch with 31-spline axles and 4.10 gears wrapped around a Traction-Lok differential. There's P265/35ZR19 Michelin rubber up front and P315/35ZR20 aft to help control the power. These treads wrap 19x9 Bonspeed Huntington alloys up front and massive 20x12s out back.

The wheel tuck and the stance are what really make this '69 special and what really exemplify Mike's skills as a fabricator and builder. As you can guess, the car is on air--Air Ride's Air Bar and Shock Waves to be exact. Other suspension components include Total Control Products tubular A-arms and a Randall's rack-and-pinion.

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In order to get the car this low to the ground, a fair amount of re-engineering was required. Much of it is hush-hush, but Mike did admit to us that he had steering arms fabricated, added different spindles and reworked a bunch of Total Control Products parts up front, then cut the Air Ride bar out back. The end result is a stance that is absolutely dumped in the weeds. Mike even fabricated a 3⁄16-inch stainless steel skidplate that would help protect the oil pan from more than the occasional ant crossing the road.The original '69 SportsRoof is a dramatic yet subtle extension of the '65-'68 Mustang fastback with it's longer hood and rear window lines. This is why Mike Gerace of Hot Rodifications chose it to modify for his wife Dianne. "She puts up with me doing this all hours of the day, so the least I could do was build her a hot rod," Mike explained. Taking an already fantastic Ford and turning it into a menacing emissary with the scowl and stance of a crouching mongoose is a feat in itself. When it's done properly, the result is pure hot rod magic.

The Details
Mike and Dianne Gerace's '69 Mustang SportsRoof

428 Cobra Jet
Edelbrock aluminum heads
Edelbrock intake manifold
750-cfm Speed Demon carburetor
MSD Pro Billet distributor
MSD 6AL ignition
FPA ceramic coated headers
Be Cool aluminum radiator

C6 three-speed automatic

9-inch axle
Traction-Lok differential
4.11 gears

Front: Total Control Products tubular A-arms and strut rods, Randall's rack-and-pinion, Air Ride Technologies Shock Waves
Rear: Air Ride Technologies Air Bar and Shock Waves

Front: Baer Racing Track Kit, 13-inch cross-drilled/slotted rotor, two-piston aluminum caliper
Rear: Baer Racing Track Kit, 13-inch cross-drilled/slotted rotor, single-piston aluminum caliper

Front: Michelin, P265/35ZR19
Rear: Michelin, P315/35ZR20

Front: Bonspeed Huntington, 19x9
Rear: Bonspeed Huntington, 20x12

Saleen bucket seats, Auto Meter gauges in stock cluster

Ford Vermillion Red base/clear, rear-wheel openings enhanced for 20-inch rims and rear wheel house mini-tubbed, rear end narrowed for wheel fitment, shaved sideview mirrors and antenna, original shaker hood

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