Joe Greeves
October 2, 2012

Richard Scruggs, a Central Florida Power Company line superintendent, lives in Ocala, Florida, and enjoys his hobby of customized Mustangs. Although he has owned Cobras in the past and has recently purchased a Pantera, he keeps coming back to his favorite ponycar. You are looking at the second build for this '69 Mustang convertible--the first effort transformed a neglected basket case found in a field into a running and driving car with stock suspension and a stock engine. It turned out beautifully, and collected quite a few trophies, even in its basic form. Everything changed when Charlotte, his equally enthusiastic wife, said she would like a car of her own. Both Richard and Charlotte are members of the North Central Florida Mustangs with Charlotte as president and Richard the treasurer, so you know these two are genuine enthusiasts.

"We love to cruise, we love to drive our cars, and we love to hang out with our fellow club members," Charlotte told us. With enthusiasm like that, a car for Charlotte was an essential. Before long, they purchased her fastback; another neglected car that needed lots of work. After a year's worth of effort, however, Richard transformed it into a regular trophy winner. That's when the problems began. They say competition improves the breed, and with Charlotte winning all of the trophies, Richard realized he had some catch up work to do on his convertible.

"I decided to rebuild mine bigger and better," he said with a smile. Richard learned his restoration and customizing skills from his father, who was an active enthusiast years before. Richard's first car in high school came from two Mercury Cougars found in a junkyard. The father/son project started with a wrecked '67 and a '68--they were welded together to make one good car. That first one was great fun and a valuable learning experience that paved the way for the restoration effort on the '69 convertible; a project that challenged all of his previously learned skills.

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The ragtop had languished for several years in an orange grove before being rolled into the Scruggs' garage. The original six-cylinder engine was one of the first upgrades, and it was replaced with a 351 Windsor built by Paramore Motors in Ocala. Modifications were kept to a reasonable level, as the car is driven regularly, and racetrack speeds were never the goal. The internals include Wiseco pistons and a 292 Xtreme Energy Comp Cam with freer breathing facilitated by AFR cylinder heads. Professional Products' Powerjection EFI system with its self-contained computer system creates the air/fuel mix, routing it into an Edelbrock Air Gap intake. Hedman headers and Flowmaster mufflers scavenge spent gases. The combination creates 333 rwhp and 369 lb-ft of torque.

Getting the power to the ground is a homemade four-link suspension that Richard designed and fabricated in order to accommodate the fat 10-inch-wide rear tires. The four-link holds a Lincoln Versailles 9-inch rear that has been narrowed 3 inches and fitted with 4.11 gears and Moser 28-spline axles. Up front, the car uses a Mustang II frontend from Speedway Motors, fitted after trimming away the shock towers. Richard positioned the car's solenoids, switches, and wiring out of sight and hidden behind the inner fender panels. He then added QA1 coilovers to all four corners.

Although the body appears mostly stock, the only original sheetmetal left on the car is the firewall and the transmission hump. Richard replaced everything else. Custom touches include molded-in side scoops with stainless steel mesh grilles. A Mustang scoop was added to the hood along with a hood-mounted tachometer. "I had a hard time watching the tach when I was driving, but now it's in my line of sight." The unique rear wing is Richard's own design, and it sets off the car. Beginning with the spoiler from a '69 Firebird, he cut and reshaped until it fit the contours of the Mustang trunk lid perfectly, then added a third brake light for safety.

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Foose Nitrous II wheels got the convertible rolling, while Falken rubber ensures traction and responsive moves in the turns. Richard says that National Parts Depot played a significant role in the car's rejuvenation, as he used NPD fenders, rear quarters, hood, and scoop, along with the company's upholstery kit. The interior is brand-new old-school, redone with new seat covers, while the center console holds additional gauges and envelops the Hurst shifter for the Tremec T-5 transmission. A Flaming River tilt steering column and Grant wheel establish a hands-on feel. Whenever the motor music stops, another form of entertainment fills the air--thanks to the Alpine head unit that energizes 6-inch coaxial speakers in the doors, 6x9s in the trunk, and a 10-inch Kenwood sub hidden behind the rear seat. Cody Richel helped with the stereo.

Once the bodywork was complete, Richard painted the car in the family garage, choosing Dupont Chromabase Bright Silver Metallic and Bright Blue Metallic with white pearl in the clear, separated by a black pinstripe from Flat Out Graphics. Although the clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles took a little convincing, Richard's "TOPLS69" license plate became the perfect finishing touch. Now, for the rest of the story. The car that motivated Richard to rebuild his convertible for a second time was Charlotte's '67 Fastback, which was found in a sugarcane field in Okeechobee, Florida. Like the convertible, it was in very rough shape, and Richard points out that the only original thing left on her car is the inner skeleton. All the external sheetmetal has been replaced.

Since the car was expected to be her daily driver (Charlotte is a radiation therapist, driving 50 miles to work every day), one of the primary concerns was reliability. As a result, the project started with the purchase of a wrecked '06 Crown Vic Police Interceptor with only 13,000 miles on it. The donor car gave up its 4.6L Two-Valve engine, 4R07W transmission, wiring harness, and lots of extras. The three months of part-time effort to get everything properly connected was worth it because once everything was in place, the engine fired immediately.

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"That was a big day for me," Richard says smiling. The engine is essentially stock except for a re-flashed computer and custom-made driveshaft. Richard concealed the fuel system components under a false floor in the trunk, and a set of headers and new gears are scheduled to go in soon. Charlotte's car runs a Mustang II-style front end, custom-made by Newbarry Fabricators, complete with QA1 coilovers up front. Standard leaf springs and KYB shocks stabilize the Lincoln Versailles rear, complete with 3.25 gears and 10-inch disc brakes. Subframe connectors added rigidity to the unibody. External touches include a Shelby-style fiberglass hood from NPD, and a ribbed taillight panel in the rear. Getting the fastback rolling are Foose Legend rims with Sceptor rubber.

The interior makeover on Charlotte's car began with seats from an '87 Fox-body Mustang, reupholstered by Lucky and Sons in Belleview, Florida. Charlotte chose a black and silver, carbon-fiber look to the upholstery, with the running Pony logo and "4.6" incorporated into each high back bucket. The red piping in the seats matches the red seat belts perfectly. The seats are so comfortable that Richard bought another set that will soon be installed in his convertible. The car has a center console and a custom stereo setup, built by Ken Harris Radios from NPD, incorporating a vintage Mustang look with modern digital sound technology. The head unit controls a pair of 6-inch Pioneer coaxials in the kick panels, and a second pair of 6x9s, visible when the rear seat is folded down.

The silver paint on Charlotte's car is the same Dupont Chromabase Bright Silver as Richard's car, and the stripes down the center are metallic Black Pearl. "I usually start painting on Friday night," Richard told us, "and I'm done by Sunday afternoon, assisted by my good friend Sam Warren. Sam helps with the taping and watches to ensure that I lay a consistent wet coat." No passive participant, Charlotte was also often elbow-deep in grease throughout the build. Her license plate? "67 FSTBK," of course. What does she think of her finished car? Charlotte is Richard's biggest fan."He is amazing! When I first saw the car it was just a bucket of rust. Now look at it!" Richard said his job was easier thanks to National Parts Depot. He was particularly pleased that the company is headquartered in Ocala, not far from his home. "We saved a fortune in shipping and handling, since both cars were essentially built from the NPD warehouse." Charlotte jokes that, "I always knew where Richard was. If he was not in the shop, he was at NPD." Now that both cars are complete, they have become regular drivers with Richard and Charlotte active in the show scene in Central Florida. Now the one burning question is can Richard catch up to Charlotte on the trophy count? Only time will tell.

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The Details

Richard Scruggs' '69 Mustang convertible

Engine

  • '77 Windsor 351 truck block
  • 4.030-inch bore
  • 3.50-inch stroke
  • Stock Ford crank
  • Stock Ford forged truck rods
  • Wiseco 10.5:1 pistons
  • Comp Cam hydraulic camshaft
  • AFR aluminum heads
  • Professional Products Powerjection III EFI system with 65-lb/hr fuel injectors
  • Edelbrock Air Gap intake
  • MSD 6AL ignition, 6,000 rpm rev limiter

Transmission

  • Tremec T-5, five-speed
  • 10-inch Centerforce clutch disc and pressure plate
  • Hurst shifter

Rearend

  • Lincoln Versailles 9-inch limited slip, narrowed 3 inches
  • Richmond 4.11 gears, Moser 28-spline axles

Exhaust

  • Hedman Headers 15?8-inch primary tubes
  • 2-1/2-inch exhaust system
  • Flowmaster mufflers

Suspension

  • Front: Mustang II, geometry from Speedway, QA1 coilovers
  • Rear: Mini four-link fabricated by Richard Scruggs, QA1 coilovers

Brakes

  • Front: 10-inch disc brakes, GM metric calipers.
  • Rear: Versailles 10-inch disc brakes, stock Ford calipers

Wheels

  • Front: Foose Nitrous II, 17x7
  • Rear: Foose Nitrous II, 17x10

Tires

  • Front: Falken ZIEX, P225/45ZR17
  • Rear: Falken ZIEX, P275/40ZR17

Interior

  • Black NPD interior package, Auto Meter instruments in console, Alpine head unit, Infinity 6-inch speakers in the doors, 6x9s in the trunk

Exterior

  • Bright Blue and Bright Silver paint with white pearl, four coats of clear, sprayed by owner, pinstriping by Flat Out Graphics (Ocala, FL), fiberglass scoops on the hood and quarter-panels, custom spoiler on the trunk lid, lowered 3 inches in the front, 2 inches in the rear

The Details

Charlotte Scruggs' '67 Mustang Fastback

Engine

  • '06 Triton Police Interceptor Two-Valve
  • 4.6L engine
  • Factory stock internals
  • Re-flashed computer

Transmission

  • Ford 4R07W transmission
  • Custom-length driveshaft

Rearend

  • Stock Lincoln Versailles 9-inch
  • 3.25 gears

Exhaust

  • Factory exhaust manifolds and tubing

Suspension

  • Front: Custom-fabricated Mustang II-style front end by Newbarry Fabricators (Ruskin, FL), QA1 coilovers
  • Rear: Factory Mustang leaf springs, KYB shocks

Brakes

  • Front: 10-inch disc, GM Metric calipers
  • Rear: Versailles 10-inch disc, stock Ford calipers

Wheels

  • Front: Foose Legend, 17x7
  • Rear: Foose Legend, 17x7

Tires

  • Front: Sceptor G/P 326R, P235/45R17
  • Rear: Sceptor G/P 326R, P245/45R17

Interior

  • Reupholstered silver and black Fox body high-back bucket seats with carbon-fiber fabric by Lucky & Sons (Belleview, FL), Grant wheel, Auto Meter gauges, Classic Auto Air, center console, custom stereo, 6-inch Pioneer speakers in the kick panels, 6X9 speakers on rear access door, NPD black carpet

Exterior

  • NPD Shelby-style fiberglass hood and rear grille, center-fill gas cap, Bright Silver paint with Black Metallic stripes sprayed by Richard Scruggs