Jim Smart
March 30, 2007

Like a lot of small towns along the Rust Belt, Shreve, Ohio, had its beginnings in 1853 with the arrival of the Pennsylvania railroad. A lot of towns popped up along major railroad lines, crisscrossing the country. Some grew to be large regional communities, while others faded away with the decline of the railroad industry. Shreve remains a solid survivor.

Locals talk about a place south of Shreve known as Centerville. Centerville was a small settlement originally known as Stuckeytown, named for Stuckey Robinson. Around 1850, Stuckeytown became Centerville. The town needed a railroad stop, which-with some political maneuvering-wound up in Shreve. Had you made a whistle stop in Shreve in 1853, you wouldn't have seen much. It was a small farming community isolated from the bustle of urban life, much like it remains today.

When Allen planned Chris' SportsRoof project, his mind was more on cruising and showing than raw horsepower and torque. So he focused his energy and resources on the body, interior, brakes, and suspension. When Jamie Reynolds went to work on this 351W, he did a balance and blueprint job on the engine's crank, rods, and forged Speed-Pro pistons. The pistons were dished to keep compression modest considering supercharging and nitrous. Allen understands the respect these elements need.

The dreamy, faraway sound of the old steam whistle has been replaced with the sound of General Electric and GM diesel-electric locomotive dual air horns in harmony, soliciting a lonely drone as trains diesel away from Shreve and Centerville. The clippity-clop of horse hooves and the rickety sound of wooden wheels have been replaced with the roar and smell of internal combustion, but the charm of Shreve hasn't changed much in 153 years.

Shreve's claim to fame is "Where Good Friends Get Together," and we believe that. There's just nothing else like rural life because people are as genuine as it comes in small-town America. There are civic meetings at the high school, cruises at the Dairy Queen, parades on national holidays, church on Sunday, and other activities celebrating the wonderfulness of rural life. And when the going gets rough, rural America understands what it means to pitch in and help a friend in need.

Allen and Chris Cornelius have the good fortune of calling Shreve, Ohio, home. Call it the solidarity of rural life where everyone knows your name-and friendships are made that last a lifetime. You can bet just about everyone in Shreve knows Allen and Chris. What's more, they know Chris has always wanted a '69 Mustang SportsRoof. When she turned 16 during the mid-'80s, her first car was a '77 Mustang II. With all this in mind, Allen went to work searching for a dream Mustang for Chris. Because this is in the heart of the Rust Belt, he knew it wouldn't be easy to find a solid project platform. Virtually all candidates would need sheetmetal replacement.

One of Allen's favorite haunts is a buddy's body shop in town. One day, Allen was wandering around the shop when he discovered just what Chris wanted-a '69 Mustang SportsRoof. When he expressed interest in buying it, his friend said it was a customer's car. It turned out to be a solid California car, void of rust but in need of bodywork and paint. Allen was determined to know if the owner would be interested in selling, and he was bold enough to call the owner and ask. An unfortunate turn of events led to the sale of the Mustang. The owner lost his job and needed the money badly. So, he sold Allen the car for what he had in it-$3,200.

One man's misfortune became a labor of love for Allen. He had the car media-blasted and sold the 351 Cleveland engine in it. He needed and wanted the appropriate 351W engine. Because he wanted to have the car ready for the SEMA show in Las Vegas 10 months later, he worked 16-20 hours a day for 10 months to meet the deadline. To get the job done, he had help from his buddies Jamie Reynolds, Brent Repp, Mike Hofer, and Dave Thomas. He also had help from CJ Pony Parts, which stepped up to the plate and provided a lot of parts for this project.

When it was time to build the 351W small-block, Allen looked to a variety of sources and helpers. Jamie went to work on Allen's engine, seeking great gains in power. It wasn't easy to get there-especially considering what these gentlemen had to work with. On the surface, it's a deceiving package that is essentially stock on the inside except for 4.030-inch pistons and a hydraulic roller cam designed for supercharging.

Allen looked to Paxton and Nitrous Express for his inspiration, which may have been more than he bargained for in actual practice. Running nitrous and a supercharger together isn't for the lame of heart. You better know what you're doing, and you better have spark curve and fuel delivery down cold before pinning the butterflies-otherwise, engines fail in nanoseconds. That alone should tell you something about this SportsRoof. It is more about show and less about go-hence the engine's rather stock demeanor down under. Rare is the occasion Allen will lay down rubber and show people the power this engine is capable of producing.

Inside, Allen practiced his craft, looking to TMI Products for his inspiration. Check out the carbon-fiber threads from TMI.

Allen looked to The Carb Shop in California to program his 4150 650-cfm Holley for supercharging and nitrous. Milodon provided an 8-quart oil pan to ensure adequate oil supply to both engine and supercharger. He opted for the PerTronix Plug & Play billet distributor sparked by a Flame Thrower ignition coil and ignition wires.

Because Allen wanted the car more true to its roots, he opted for a Ford Top Loader four-speed and a 9-inch with 3.50 gears and a limited-slip. When he grabs the Hurst Competition Plus shifter, it makes it easier for him to relate to the original musclecar era that baby boomers fantasize about today.

That's DuPont Hot Hues Silver Leaf with 20-percent black added to achieve a crystal effect. Allen takes credit for this portion of his effort because this is what he does best. He builds cars at his AC Customs shop in Shreve. Doing a car like this was a natural for him because he does it so well.

Inside is a TMI Products interior from top to bottom in black vinyl. You've gotta love the carbon-fiber look from TMI, which infuses attitude and richness to just about any Mustang interior given imagination. These colors tie in nicely with what Allen did outside. Grant Products did the woodgrain Mustang steering wheel, which offers a classic look. Those are BBK billet-aluminum pedals below; Auto Meter did the instrumentation. Allen provided the monochrome demeanor throughout.

If you like this SportsRoof's stance, thank Air Ride Technologies, which provided the Shockwave suspension system. In front are Air Ride's Shockwave V3.0 shocks. Out back is a sophisticated four-link system from Air Ride-the AIRBAR-with Shockwave 7000 rear shocks. Control is provided by the Ride Pro compressor and tank from Air Ride Technologies. Flaming River set up Allen with a complete rack-and-pinion steering system. Stopping power comes from Extreme Force 10 binders from Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation.

Any way you slice or dice Allen and Chris Cornelius' '69 SportsRoof, it's impressive by anyone's standards. It began as a dream Allen was hell-bent to achieve for his wife. When you study all the details, it becomes astonishing what one man's love for a woman can bring to fruition.

The Details
'69 Mustang SportsRoof
Owners: Allen and Chris Cornelius, Shreve, OH

At first glance, this trunk is rather intimidating. The Air Ride Technologies air tank handles the Air Ride suspension system underneath. A compressor keeps this air tank fed and the air bladders inflated below deck. A duo of Nitrous Express bottles is there for visual entertainment and those occasional moments where Allen gets to show off.

351W small-block V-8
4.030-inch bore, 3.500-inch stroke
3M cast-iron crankshaft
Forged I-beam C9OE connecting rods, shot-peened for strength
Forged Speed-Pro dished 4.030-inch pistons (8.5:1 compression)
351W cast-iron heads, 1.94-inch intake/ 1.60-inch exhaust valves
Paxton Novi 1200 supercharger
Crane hydraulic-roller cam, 0.484/0.512-inch lift, 272/284 duration, 216/228 at 0.050 inch
Comp Cams 1.6 roller-tip steel rockers
Carb Shop tuned 650-cfm Holley carburetor
Nitrous system from Nitrous Express

Top Loader four-speed

3.50 gears
28-spline axles

MagnaFlow custom 2 1/2-inch dual exhaust system Hedman Elite Series headers

Front: Air Ride Technologies ShockWave V3.0 shock/spring, stock control arms
Rear: Air Ride Technologies AIRBAR four-link, ShockWave 7000 shocks

Front: A120-11 Force 10 Extreme, four-piston caliper, 12.5-inch rotors
Rear: A111-20 Force 10 Extreme, R1 single-piston caliper, 11.25-inch rotors

As an OEM technical rep for DuPont, it was a given that Allen would use DuPont's Hot Hues finishes for his project. Hot Hues Hot Efx Crystallized liquid mask with Charcoal Candy and Charcoal basecoat were used to make the killer hood and deck inlays.

Front: American Racing Torq-Thrust, polished with custom-painted center, 16x8, 411/42-inch offset
Rear: American Racing Torq-Thrust, polished with custom-painted center, 16x8, 411/42-inch offset

Front: Goodyear Eagle F1, P225/55ZR16
Rear: Goodyear Eagle F1, P245/55ZR16

TMI carbon-fiber in black and charcoal, including custom headliner and door panels, monochrome appointments, Auto Meter carbon-fiber electric gauges, Grant "Mustang" steering wheel, BBK pedals

DuPont Hot Hues basecoat/clearcoat in Silver Leaf; fiberglass parts from MAS Racing; AC Customs custom steel work, including welded-in, steel sail-panel scoops