Jim Smart
November 29, 2006

There has been a lot of talk from career politicians about family values. True family values don't come from an overindulged American politician making empty promises from behind a podium. They come from actually walking the walk of family life-caring for each other, doing things together, sharing passions, holding hands in prayer-and most importantly, being the best kind of support system there is.

When we arrived at the Bryner home in Sandy, Utah, an exceptionally large family greeted us-created by Jay and Jan Bryner in their three decades together. What makes this unusual is their status as baby boomers. Baby boomers traditionally haven't created large families, but the Bryners have. They raised well-grounded children and grandchildren.

The Bryners have a large family of classic Fords as well-a '69 Shelby GT500, a '70 GT500, a '70 Boss 302, a '70 Boss 429, a '69 Cobra Jet Mach 1, a '57 F-code factory supercharged Thunderbird, a '56 Ford F-100, a '99 Mustang Cobra, an '01 F-150 Lightning, a '74 Bronco, and this extraordinary '69 Mustang restomod. This isn't just a retirement plan-it's a well-thought-out agenda that would make even the most dreamy-eyed rock and roller jealous because baby boomers aren't your traditional retirees. Toss the rocking chair and shuffleboard equipment on the woodpile because we're going to party until we're 99.

The Bryners don't do much of anything like their contemporaries either.

  • Big family
  • Extraordinary car collection
  • An ironclad commitment to each other
  • Strong work ethic
  • Instilling solid values and morals in their children
  • And a '69 Mustang hardtop that changes all the rules about what we think of classic Mustang notchbacks.

When enthusiasts think of dream cars, they picture Bosses, Mach 1s, Shelbys, Cobras, and GTs. They don't think of a generation of hardtops originally purchased by teachers, librarians, and accountants. At a previous Restomods In Reno, we were prompted to stop at Jay Bryner's '69 Mustang hardtop and shake his hand. It was the most striking third-generation Mustang hardtop we had seen in more than two decades of automotive journalism. It demonstrated what you could do with a Mustang body given talent, vision, and buckets of inspiration.

Jay bought this Mustang from his brother as cheap transportation in 1973. He drove the car to high school and to work at his part-time job. As you might imagine, Jay and Jan were high-school sweethearts who survived the '70s. A year after Jay started college, he parked this Mustang in a barn on the family farm for two years and went to serve his mission with the Mormon church. After returning home, he hauled the Mustang out and got it back on the road. It served him and Jan through college, their courtship and engagement, the wedding, one heck of a reception, the honeymoon, and more.

In 1979, the Bryners decided to put their Mustang into dry dock while they raised children and built lives together. They never thought much about what they would do with the Mustang later on. It wasn't a lifelong dream, but they knew they would never sell it because it is where they began their life together. In 2002, Jay and his sons decided to blow off the dust and apply what they knew about cars to a full-scale car-building project. They wanted to build a Mustang like no one else had. The objective was street-rod nuances applied to a classic Mustang-slamming it down low, large wheels, custom interior, awesome sound system, billet accessories, air-grabbing scoops, and the thundering roar of an American V-8. Getting there would not be easy. There would be blisters from working around the clock and tremendous pride in a job well done. And there would be questions:

  • How radical should we build the engine?
  • How "out there" should we take the interior?
  • What's the largest wheel you can stuff in these wheelwells?
  • Do we stick with the Mustang's factory suspension?
  • What's the number for House of Kolor?
  • What brakes do you think we should use?
  • Who's a good metal polisher and plater?

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

These questions naturally led to experimentation and lots of practice. Some approaches were applied while others were tossed aside. Jay knew he wanted a radical small-block Ford commanding attention and respect. He went with an exceptionally bumpy Crane hydraulic camshaft for that traditional "rumpity-rump-rump" idle we associate with an old hot rod. He pulled the car's original 302, building a nice short-block with Speed-Pro forged aluminum flat-top pistons, shot-peened and reconditioned connecting rods, dynamic balancing, and a hot cam. World Products Windsor aluminum cylinder heads fitted with 2.02/1.60-inch valves vector and contain the action. A dual-quad F28 Edelbrock intake manifold packing a couple of Edelbrock 650-cfm atomizers makes things exciting.

Jay will tell you his engine-building experience did not go well. He wound up with too much cam going in-great for high-rpm racing, but miserable for street use. It had that radical idle he desired, but it was a dog at low rpm. It lacked the good low-end torque he wanted and needed on the street. That's a lesson for any of us planning a restomod. Cam, cylinder head, and induction system selection is crucial to building an engine you can live with. Jay opted for a milder flat-tappet Edelbrock hydraulic camshaft, keeping the rest of the engine virtually the same. Though the engine employs a smoother idle, it still isn't where Jay would like it because he still needs to fine-tune component compatibility. Dual-quads always look terrific, however they aren't always practical for street use. Larger 2.02 intake valves can sometimes be too large, which can adversely affect torque on the street. Valve shrouding is yet another issue when valves become too large-sometimes hurting power in the process.

Let's face it, this isn't a car for running to the market or Saturday night cruising-it is pure, unadulterated eyewash Jay and the family trailers just about everywhere because it is all about show. It goes on ramps above mirrors so you can see just about everything possible underneath. It is a remarkable display of thought, planning, and craftsmanship.

Jay didn't think much of the Mustang's factory coilover-upper arm front suspension system. He opted instead for a custom-built, Art Morrison full-frame underneath, giving the car more of a street/race demeanor. This eliminated the obtrusive shock towers and Falcon-style suspension system. It changed the whole personality of his once daily transportation. Those are Ford binders visible through the polished Budnik wheels wrapped in Michelin rubber. In back, an Art Morrison four-link coilover suspension system replaces those original leafs. A Flaming River rack-and-pinion steering system rounds out those awesome underpinnings.

The House of Kolor Midnight Blue Pearl finish changes color depending on the light. In bright sun, it fluoresces in a pearlescent glow that just takes your breath away. This is the same House of Kolor hue we laid down on a '66 Mustang in Mustang & Fords three years ago. Color depth is determined by how much Blue Pearl we lay down over the black basecoat-the more blue, the lighter the color. We're convinced Jay applied just one coat of Blue Pearl to achieve perfection. Then he applied several coats of rich clear to give him room for color sanding and rubout.

Surely Jay and Jan couldn't have imagined what this daily driver Mustang would become decades later as their children came of age. The Bryners view their extraordinary '69 Mustang hardtop as a rolling symbol of family unity because this is where they began some 33 years ago. That makes this Mustang a family heirloom to be treasured for generations to come.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Here are more shots of the Bryner family's 1969 Ford Mustang Hardtop. There were too many good shots of this stunning Midnight Blue Pearl Stang, we had to so you more. Click on the links with your current screen resolution and set this car up as your wallpaper.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery