Nelson Cardadeiro
June 1, 2002
Photos By: Eric Lindley

Back in the days of the Model T Ford, ordering a car to your personal taste was out of the question for middle class Americans. By the '60s, however, automakers were very interested in public opinion. When Ford introduced the Mustang in April 1964, it had mass appeal and gave birth to the "do-it-yourself" car. It was practical, economical transportation for single people and families; a tire-smoking warrior for performance buffs; and a mini-Thunderbird for luxury seekers. Those formulas worked for years, and, to some extent, still exist on the '02 Mustangs.

In 1969, the "do-it-yourself" theory was at its peak. With the usual 3 body styles, 10 engine options, 17 color choices, and 4 new specialty models added that year-Mach 1, Grande, Boss 302, and Boss 429-as well as the four-year-old GT, ordering a "customized" Mustang was possible.

Not seeing a car like his coming down the street is what the original owner of this '69 Mustang likely had in mind. First, they chose the base SportsRoof rather than the highly popular and flashier Mach 1. Rather than selecting a standard hue, they picked color code V, the sedate Copper Flame, available only on the Thunderbird. To propel this restrained-looking ponycar is a nearly unrestrainable Ram Air 428 Cobra Jet. Transferring the under-rated 335 horsepower to the rear wheels is a four-speed transmission and an open 3.50-geared 9-inch rearend.

But other than an AM radio, which is really a "standard" option, and a tachometer, no other goodies were added to the order form-no power steering, no power brakes, no console, no sport mirrors. And no styled-steel wheels. Simple dog-dish wheel covers with color-keyed 14x6 rims were just fine; not a hint of a Mach 1.

Fast forward to December 1987: The "custom" SportsRoof had become somewhat more mainstream with a flashy red coat of paint and chrome American Racing wheels. It still sported its shaker hood scoop, now painted red to help it stand out in a crowd.

That's how David Peterson found it sitting in a parking lot in front of a Chinese restaurant. The Livermore, California, resident was intrigued by the Cobra Jet-adorned shaker. He took a closer look at the vehicle identification number and found the correct "R" in the fifth digit. By then, the current owner came out of the restaurant.

"He asked me if I liked the car and I told him I did," David remembers. "He told me he had just sold it, but that the deal might fall through." He told David to give him his phone number and he'd call him if the car became available. In early January 1988, after attending a Bay Area Mustang Association meeting, David had a message on his answering machine stating that the SportsRoof could be his for $3,500. The next day, David picked up his new ride.

But David still did not realize how rare the car was. "I started to decode the data plate and found the color code was blank. I started looking around the car and looking behind the trim panels and trunk area and found the copper color." He then researched paint chips for '69 Fords and found the T-Bird-only Copper Flame. He also discovered that of the 13,271 CJs built in '69, approximately 600 were standard SportsRoofs. So with the special-order paint and lack of options, David decided to keep it rather than sell it and make a quick buck. He instead sold his restored, 351-2V Acapulco Blue Mach 1.

Recently, David ordered the Deluxe Report from Marti Auto Works. Ford records show that 28 R-code SportsRoofs were built with special paint, 20 of those going to the Cleveland District Office for an unknown reason. David's is the only one of the bunch ordered without power steering and brakes and with a four-speed. Unfortunately, records don't show if his is the only one sprayed in Copper Flame.