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Mike Dufford’s 1969 Ford Mustang
Now that 2017 is knocking on the door, it got me thinking about my relationship with Mustangs and Car Craft. I've been involved with the Mustangs of all kinds for more than 30 years and with CC a long time, too, since becoming a staff writer in 1994. In that time, I have owned a total of 22 Mustangs, including 11 late-model Fox-bodies and S197s.
But it's the vintage Mustangs that have me nostalgic as I write this, because the car that started it all for me was a 1966 fastback that came into my life in 1986 for the princely sum of $2,400. Just a month or two after a fresh red repaint in 1989, the car was relieved of my possession out of a San Diego State University parking garage—never to be seen again.
Bummed out, but not down and out, I got back into the scene again with a series of nine other vintage Mustangs, and my involvement continues to this day. Those vintage cars included five more 19651966s. From there I have also had four other fastbacks, including one of each from 1967-1970.
What's with the personal history as it relates to Mike Dufford's really cool, almost all-homebuilt 1969 fastback? Call me biased, but it has to do with the choice of Mustang he bought nearly 35 years ago and the one Mustang I have kept for going on 14 years among all the ones listed above. You guessed it, both cars are 1969 fastbacks.
My Highland Greencolored '69 (see picture) has a similar vibe to Mike's fastback (but not nearly as nice), so it's safe to say we seem to agree this year and body style is one of the best-looking Mustangs of all time—if not the best.
"In 1982, my older brother, Scott, and I were both into BMX bikes and made the transition into cars a couple of years apart," Mike said. "At age 15, my dad would take me around to look at cars I found in the classified ads. We went and looked at this '69 Mustang fastback that was about an hour away from our home. It had a nice, straight body and the owner told us it ran, but it had no battery and the alignment was out, as it had been run into a ditch. It was a well-optioned car with a 351 Windsor two-barrel, power disc brakes, power steering, air conditioning, and a fold-down rear seat. It seems the only option that wasn't checked was 'Mach 1.'
"We went home after looking at it, and my dad actually thought it was a pretty good car. I was worried because the seller was asking $1,200 and all I had was $800 in my account. My parents said they had given my brother a 10-inch, black-and-white TV for his room for his 16th birthday—this was back when having a TV in your room was considered special—and if I would forfeit the TV, they would give me the $100 it would cost. That got me up to $900. I very nervously called the owner and asked if she would take $900. She reluctantly agreed and we trailered the car home the next weekend. After that, it was gas, a battery and points, and it fired right up. I was on my way to a long history with this car."
Mike had a little help along the way in the early years: "My dad traded some welding work for a set of '68'69 Mustang/Torino GT 14-inch wheels that looked much better than the dog-dish hubcaps and steel wheels that were on there. I painted the car my junior year, and it was definitely a 20-foot job, and of course, it was bright red—this was the '80s after all. The car was hit over the summer, so I painted it again my senior year. After graduating, I used my money on new suspension parts."
Moving along, Mike related: "I was married at 20 and started my career as a commercial-glass glazier at 21, the car was my daily transportation until it got hot on my way back from my first apprenticeship class in San Francisco in 1988. My parents said I could park it at their house. In the meantime, life happened: kids, houses, coaching sports, and long commute hours. My dad offered to help fund an engine rebuild that happened in 1993, but by that time I had taken the car so far apart it wasn't driveable. So it sat with a rebuilt motor, only getting driven as I transported it from house to house."
Mike went on to explain the motivations for getting the car to its current state: "I finally got going on it after putting off the bodywork for a couple years. I think what really kicked me into movement was the passing of my only sibling, Scott, in 2012. His tastes ran a little different from mine, as he was into older hot rods and customs. He would see me block-sanding on the Mustang and would always say, 'Just drive it, Mike.' When Scott passed, I became more motivated to finish it, but was still only getting up to my parents' house maybe two weekends a month.
"The big push came when I got engaged to my then-girlfriend, Meaghan. She is not much into cars, but after a weekend when we borrowed my dad's '32 Ford three-window coupe to go to a car show with my parents, I asked her if she had a good time. Her reply set everything in motion: 'I had fun, but you know what would be great? If you could get your Mustang done so we could drive away from our wedding in it.' I jumped in full steam ahead and hoped to finish the car in time for our nuptials."
Mike drove up to his parents' house almost every Friday after work and stayed until Sunday working on the car as much as he could. "I think I only took five weekends off from August 2014 to July 2015 for things I needed to be at like my son's college graduation, family trips, and so on. I painted it the second week in November 2014 and thought a big weight was off of my shoulders. Little did I know I would really have to push to get it done in time," he said.
In the end, the wedding turned out great, and they got to drive their beautifully finished fastback away from their ceremony and spend a weeklong honeymoon driving the car every day for the first time in more than 25 years. Mike said, "I got to do a big burnout next to my brother's gravesite and I know he would have said, 'Is that all you got with that shiny car?' Those are the reasons why I built this car."
Who: Mike Dufford
What: 1969 Ford Mustang
Where: San Francisco, CA
Engine: The 0.030-inch-over 351W short-block is now a 357 and uses its original crank and connecting rods along with a set of Keith Black hypereutectic piston netting about a 9:1 compression. On top is a pair of Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum heads. A Comp Xtreme Energy 268 hydraulic flat-tappet cam along with a complete Comp valvetrain is used, and it's all topped with an Edelbrock Performer RPM 351W intake and a Holley 670-cfm Street Avenger carb. Other bits include a Pertronix distributor, ceramic-coated Hedman shorty headers, and Flowmaster mufflers.
Transmission: The Tremec TKO-600 five-speed manual has a 0.64:1 overdrive Fifth gear and a Kevlar clutch resides in front of it.
Rearend: 9-inch with a Yukon Trac Loc and 3.70 gears.
Suspension: The front has Maier Racing upper control arms, a 1-1/8-inch antisway bar, Global West adjustable strut rods, and Koni shocks. The rear has Maier Racing leaf springs, Bilstein shocks, and a Maier Panhard bar.
Brakes: Wilwood discs are all around with 13-inch rotors and Superlite 6 calipers in front and Superlite 4s out back.
Wheels/Tires: 18x9-inch E-T LT-III wheels with Falken Azenis RT615K, 275/35ZR18 tires. The rear LT-IIIs are 18x10s and are fitted with the same Falkens in a 295/40ZR18 size.
Paint/Body: Most of the emblems have been removed and Mike reports the paint is a Jaded Green (close to Ford Black Jade) urethane from Eastwood. Mike and his dad did the body and paint at his dad's shop, and as for the graphics, Mike said, "No! The 1990s are over!"
Interior: "The LeCarra leather steering wheel has been in the car since 1986," Mike said. And we really want a set of those Corbeau mircosuede seats for our car.