Modified Mustangs & Fords
1969 Mustang SportsRoof - Hot Rod Magic
People build hot rods for many reasons. For some, it might be the perfect way to showcase the work of a small business. For others, it might be a labor of love. For Mike Gerace, it was both.
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.