Ben Hoskins
January 9, 2012

There are DIY fans and then there are DIY heroes. Fifty-five-year-old Laurie Attard definitely falls into the latter category. Not only because the Sydney, Australia, resident built this incredible '70 SportsRoof in the garage at home, but because he learned all the skills necessary through trial and error and a real pioneer spirit.

"I picked up the skills as I went along--self-taught really," Laurie says, an earthmoving contractor by trade. "If things didn't work the first time, I'd pull it apart and do it again."

Laurie's can-do attitude and obvious natural ability with his hands has seen him partake in a lot of interesting things over the years, including plenty of race car fabrication and even some time spent working with famed Australia race car driver Glenn Seton. "I did a bit of everything for Glenn, but mainly fabrication and design," Laurie says. "I'd go out to the tracks on test days as well as tire test days with Bridgestone, testing compounds and tire construction."

Laurie isn't the only member of the Attard family with ties to motorsport: His brother Bill actively competes in the Historic class in a Mazda RX2. Laurie himself has worked on, built, or rebuilt a number of other machines in his time, including a GM-powered, tube-chassis Nissan sports sedan, a 300ZX, and a line of Capris and Falcons. However, there has always been one car that held a special place in Laurie's heart: the '69 Mustang SportsRoof.

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"I've always liked the Allan Moffat Mustang," Laurie says, referring to the iconic Australian touring car that won 101 races from 151 starts between 1969 and 1972. "I really built mine to look kind of like a road-going version of his race car."

Laurie purchased the Mustang back in 2005 and from what he's been able to find out, the car is the only one to roll off the production line with its specific list of options. "I gave Kevin Marti the VIN and he went right through the original Ford records," Laurie says. "He gave me the production dates and everything that went into it from the factory. Out of all the '70 Mustangs that were built, this was the only one of this body style with the 302ci, C4, fold-down rear seat, wing, and all the other options it had."

That sense of uniqueness didn't prevent Laurie from forging on with his desire to pay homage to the Moffat car, stripping the car down to a bare shell and completely rebuilding it over a three-year period. Amazingly, the only job on the car that was farmed out to a professional was the interior; meaning that die-straight panel work is all Laurie's hard work.

"I painted the first two coats here at home and blocked it back, and then I painted the rest at a mate's panel shop, borrowing his spray booth on the weekend," Laurie says. "The only real problem I encountered in the entire build was some out-of-date primer and filler that I ended up having to strip back and do again."

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It's the same story with the 347ci stroker that lives up front: it's all Laurie's work, too. Using the original numbers-matching 302ci as the base, he bolted in a Scat forged crank and rods that swing a set of matching pistons. Squeezing premium unleaded and bulk air from the eight 45mm DC&O throttle bodies against a set of Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum heads, the static compression sits at a relatively conservative 9.5:1. But with the combo making nearly 400 hp at the 10-inch Performance alloys out back, there was no reason for Laurie to push the envelope or risk having to run exotic fuels.

The stroker is surrounded by a flawless engine bay containing plenty of Laurie's custom one-off machined components that he created on a manual mill. While the pulleys are from the March catalog and the bracing is part of the many pieces from RRS, all the billet caps are his work, including the billet bonnet hinges. "It took me 13 days to mill all the components in the hinges," Laurie says. "That's just in the milling process. If something didn't come out quite like I'd hoped, I'd just take it out and try again."

Even the cool carbon-fiber airbox that surrounds the eight throttles is Laurie's work, the result of his previous contact with the material on a number of race cars. "For this kind of thing, it's really not much different to working with fibreglass," Laurie says. "It just takes more curing time, because if you take it out of the mold too early, it distorts more. What I did was put it in the back of my ute under the tonneau in the sun and that was enough to cure it properly."

While the upholstery was something Laurie actually did have someone else complete, he still took care of any fabrication work before the gray velour and cloth went over the top. "Gary from Gary's Trimming and I came up with the design and figured out what would work and what wouldn't," Laurie says. "I did the fab' work and they took care of the rest."

"Driving the car for the first time on a winding, slightly bumpy and lumpy country road was probably the best part of the build for me," Laurie says. "I was doing about 60 mph and it handled beautifully. After the challenge of trying to do as much of the car myself as I could, it really proved to me that the hard work had been worth it."

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The Details

Laurie Attard's '70 Mustang SportsRoof

Engine

  • 347ci '70 Windsor
  • Scat forged steel crank
  • Scat rods and pistons
  • Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum heads
  • Crower hydraulic camshaft, Yella Terra roller rockers
  • Eight 45mm DC&O throttle bodies, custom carbon-fiber airbox
  • Autronic CDI and ECU
  • Carter lift pump, Bosch 044 main fuel pump, PWR aluminum radiator, March pulley kit

Power

  • 415 hp (309kW), 419 lb-ft (567Nm)

Transmission

  • Top Loader four-speed manual
  • 11-inch single-plate clutch

Rearend

  • Narrowed ZD Fairlane 9-inch, 3.00 gears, limited-slip differential

Exhaust

  • Custom ceramic coated tri-Y headers (1-3/4-inch primaries)
  • Twin 2 -inch stainless steel exhaust
  • H-pipe
  • Hi-Tech straight-through mufflers

Suspension

  • Front: RRS strut conversion, custom adjustable strut tops, Eibach springs, Koni adjustable shocks, 1.1-inch antisway bar, RRS power steering rack, Flaming River steering column, RRS strut brace kit
  • Rear: 1.77-inch-wide custom rear leaf springs, Koni shocks, custom 0.7-inch antisway bar, custom adjustable Panhard bar

Brakes

  • Front: Disc, PBR two-piston calipers, slotted 11.7-inch rotors, braided lines, XB Falcon booster, XY Falcon master cylinder
  • Rear: Disc, single-piston calipers, slotted 9-inch rotors, braided lines

Wheels

  • Front: Performance Wheels Ultra Lights, 15x8
  • Rear: Performance Wheels Ultra Lights, 15x10

Tires

  • Front: Yokohama 352, P235/60R15
  • Rear: Yokohama 352, P295/50R15

Interior

  • '69 Mach 1 steering wheel, customized '69 Mustang Grande front seats, modified fold-down rear bench, custom VDO gauges, inertia reel seatbelts, custom door trims, lighted Pony sill covers, Pioneer head unit, 6-inch coaxial front and rear speakers

Exterior

  • PPG Ford Venom Red, '69 Mach 1 front air dam and rear wing, '69 302 hoodscoop, reflective side stripes, '69 Mustang headlight buckets and front grille assembly

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