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Jim Ward's '69 Mustang
This is a Grande with an Attitude
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Originally, this Grande was a sedate little cruiser. The "big mill" under the Wimbledon White hood was, by 1969, not so big anymore. The 351 Windsor was creeping up on the venerable big-inch 390 with its 290 horses. In other words, to have a 390 4V by 1969 didn't put you at the top of the Ford performance heap. It got you close, but it wasn't an over-the-top solution to the battles being waged on the boulevards of America. But who cared when you were skimming along in the luxo car of the Mustang set? Even with the additional sound deadener, the FE power was good and strong, with ample torque right in the bottom end where you needed it. This factor made it more than capable of getting you out of the way of oncoming traffic. Besides the FE, this car was plopped down in its Louisville, Kentucky, DSO with the sturdy and precise C6 automatic, handling suspension (an option but still part of getting the 390 GT), power steering, power disc brakes, and the then unusual option of whitewall radial tires wrapped around the wire wheel covers.
Luxury items that make a Grande truly grand came along for the ride as well. Accompanying the standard Grande fare were the optional Select-Air air conditioner (in the black upscale interior) and the console. Ford even surprised us by charging extra for the console (come on, it's a Grande; one would think that the console was part of the package)! The original invoice also shows the optional Visibility Group, which included the left-hand mirror and the glovebox lock as well as lights in the luggage compartment, in the glovebox, under the dash area, and over the ignition switch. A parking brake warning light is also included in this package. As a final measure, there was the less-than-impressive AM radio.
When Jim Ward of Port St. Lucie, Florida, first drove the Mustang 18 years ago, he was impressed. Jim expressed to us what his thoughts were: "I thought, This car feels like a Shelby or a Mach 1; this car seems like a GT in disguise."
For 15 years the car saw light-duty driving and little else. Then in 1997 Jim got busy. The FE was gone through by Mad Max at South Florida Crank, then Max (or would that be Mad?), Mike Covey, and Jim tackled the detailing. While the engine was undergoing surgery, the C6 received the same treatment by C.P. Competition Race Transmissions in Lake Placid, Florida. The car was also media-stripped, and Craig Moore sprayed it the original Wimbledon White.
After a brief mental struggle, Jim decided that the car was too plain, so he threw on some Styled Steel wheels and raised-white-letter tires. Even with that bit of jazz, Jim still wasn't satisfied, so out came the Sawzall and in went a shaker scoop. Now the car says just enough to the would-be hot rod next to Jim to let him know he's not dealing with a feather duster; he's dealing with a velvet-covered hammer.