Drew Phillips
July 14, 2010

Gary Young has been involved with cars his whole life. Even in his early childhood he can remember working on cars, and that continued with auto shop in high school and later on while working at Chrysler in the 1970s. Even today he owns a company that provides fasteners to the automotive industry. Fortunately, Gary's business has done well, and it has allowed him to build quite a collection of vehicles, all American, of course. His cars range from classic muscle cars like a '70 Chevelle LS6 and '70 Hemi 'Cuda to modern ones like a Cadillac CTS-V. Incredibly, Gary has never sold any of the cars he has bought. "I have no sad stories of the one that got away," he says with pride. One of those that didn't get away is a very unique '69 Mustang that Gary has owned for more than 35 years.

Gary first spotted his future ponycar in Marina Del Ray, California, in 1974. At that point the car was already far from stock, with the owner replacing the stock 428 Cobra Jet with a 427 Medium Riser. Once acquiring the car, Gary continued to customize it by adding T-tops, fender flares, a tilt front end with rectangular headlights, and a shaved gas cap. "It was all pretty cool in the '70s, but not what I would want today," he tells us jokingly.

Around the same time that Gary bought the Mustang he also saw an ad in a local paper for a Ford 427 SOHC V-8 for $2,000. "I intended on someday putting it in my Mustang," he tells us. That, however, didn't happen for quite a while. Gary drove the car until 1986 when he settled down and focused on starting a family. The Mustang sat idly by for nearly two decades until 2004 when he decided he wanted to bring the car back to life.

While Gary knew he wanted to do something with his Mustang, he didn't quite know what. He took the car to Performance Restoration Services in Chatsworth, California, where he met Kevin Bollinger. "The car was a mess. The old mods were terribly done and I really didn't know what I wanted to do," Gary remembers. However, he and Kevin discussed what they should do and decided to install the 427 SOHC "Cammer" engine in the Mustang and do a full restoration, both inside and out.

Before that could happen, though, lots of work had to be done to remove some of the earlier modifications done to the car. "The previous bodywork was poorly done and so a new roof and rear quarter-panels had to be fitted along with the rear panel," Gary tells us. The tilt front end remained, and we're glad it stayed. It makes this Mustang one of the more unique we've ever seen. The exterior is finished off with a coat of Ford Screaming Yellow paint, commonly found on the New Edge Mustang GT and Cobra.

The interior of Gary's Mustang wasn't restored exactly the way it came out of the factory, but it still looks very clean. Some things, like the stock high-back bucket seats remain in the car, but a removable three-spoke Grant steering wheel, Dakota digital gauges, and an Alpine head unit have been added. Even with the dual Kenwood speakers in the trunk, Gary claims that he would rather listen to the engine while driving and hasn't even turned on the stereo yet since completing the build.

The structural components of Gary's Mustang also needed quite a bit of work. With its tilt design, the frontend needed a complete makeover to be able to carry the new engine. Excluding the lower framerails, an entirely new assembly was fabricated. To provide some extra stiffness, a set of subframe connectors and additional supports from Total Control Products were also added.

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While Gary knew his Mustang would be fast with the new engine, he also wanted it to handle well too. The front suspension was completely changed out for a tubular A-arm design with coilovers, while the rear suspension retained its leaf spring setup. Next, a rack-and-pinion steering system from a Mustang II was installed, and Wilwood 12-inch brakes with drilled and slotted rotors were added, both front and rear, to provide sufficient stopping power. Finally, Gary had Performance Restoration Services fit a set of sticky Goodyear Eagle F1 tires over the American Racing Torque Thrust II wheels.

While various aspects of restoring the car offered up different types of challenges, the biggest obstacle by far was the engine. "By far the engine build was the hardest part," Gary says. "Production was very limited, so finding parts or even someone who knew anything about them was difficult." He turned to Butch Engelbrecht of B.E. Motorsports in San Diego. Engelbrecht was able to correct some problems created by previous work done to the engine and was able to locate some hard-to-find parts. He was also able to provide less aggressive custom Crane camshafts so that Gary could more easily drive the Mustang on the street.

With all the parts he needed in his possession and the engine ready for assembly, Gary then took the Cammer over to QMP Engines in Chatsworth for the final blueprinting and build. Both the bore and stroke were increased to 4.26 inches and 4.25 inches respectively, yielding a total displacement of 484 cubic inches. QMP fitted the V-8 with H-beam connecting rods, JE forged pistons with a 10.5:1 compression, and T&D roller rocker arms. The engine also features dual Holley 650 carburetors, Mallory fuel pumps, a CSR electric water pump, a custom Ron Davis aluminum radiator, and an MSD Pro-Billet distributor. On the exhaust side are full-length thermal-coated headers and Flowmaster mufflers. In total, when Gary's Mustang is strapped to the dyno, the SOHC 427 puts out a healthy 538 rwhp and 560 rwtq.

While some people have told Gary they think he should restore his Mustang to its original condition, he likes it just the ways it is. "I wanted something that would be unique, and this sure does turns heads," he says. At the time that we photographed the car, he hadn't taken it to any car shows, but he definitely plans to in the future. And would he ever consider selling his Mustang? Not a chance.

The Details
Gary Young's '69 Mustang SportsRoof


  • 1967 Ford 427 SOHC, cross-bolted mains, side oiler, 484ci
  • 4.26-inch bore
  • 4.25-inch stroke
  • Stroked/ported/blue-printed
  • Built by QMP Engines, Chatsworth, CA
  • 4340 H-Beam connecting rods
  • JE forged pistons
  • 10.5 compression ratio
  • Crane custom cams, 0.580/0.587 lift, 245/253 duration
  • Ford SOHC hemispherical combustion chamber cylinder heads
  • 2.25-inch intake, 1.90-inch exhaust valves
  • T&D roller rockers
  • Ford dual quad intake
  • Dual Holley 650s with Mallory fuel pumps and regulator
  • MSD Pro-billet distributor
  • MSD 6AL ignition


  • Ford C6 three-speed automatic
  • Continental 2,600 stall converter
  • Shift improvement kit


  • Factory 9-inch
  • Detroit Locker differential
  • 3:50 gears


  • Full-length custom-built headers
  • 3-inch thermal-coated exhaust by Royal Muffler, Chatsworth, CA
  • Electric cutouts
  • Flowmaster mufflers


  • Front: Tubular A-arm coilover with crossmember, Mustang II rack-and-pinion, QA1 adjustable shocks
  • Rear: Stock leaf springs, QA1 adjustable shocks, subframe connectors


  • Front: Wilwood disc, 12-inch cross-drilled and slotted rotor, four-piston caliper
  • Rear: Wilwood disc, 12-inch cross-drilled and slotted rotor, four-piston caliper Hydroboost power assist


  • Front: American Racing chrome Torque Thrust II, 17x8
  • Rear: American Racing chrome Torque Thrust II, 18x9


  • Front: Goodyear Eagle F1 All-Season, P235/45ZR17
  • Rear: Goodyear Eagle F1 All-Season, P255/45ZR18


  • Restored black interior, high-back bucket seats, Grant removable steering wheel, Dakota digital gauges, Alpine head unit, 6x9 speakers


  • Water base single-stage DuPont '05 Ford Screaming Yellow; bodywork by George Gray, Van Nuys, California; paint by B&E Custom, Chatsworth, CA; fiberglass tilting front end