Jim Smart
January 1, 2003
Photos By: Jeff Ford

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P180950_large 1969_Ford_Mustang_GT_Convertible Front_Passenger_SideP180951_large 1969_Ford_Mustang_GT_Convertible Rear_Passenger_SideP180952_large 1969_Ford_Mustang_GT_Convertible InteriorP180953_large 1969_Ford_Mustang_GT_Convertible InteriorP180954_large 1969_Ford_Mustang_GT_Convertible EngineP180955_large 1969_Ford_Mustang_GT_Convertible Front_View

For most of us who understand classic Mustang madness, the '69 model year brings to mind the Mach 1--at the time, an exciting change for Mustang. Sporting a new name that year, Mach 1 roared onto the scene with fury and a wide variety of powertrain options, ranging from the nimble 351W small-block V-8, all the way to the mighty 428ci Cobra Jet. Most Mach 1s were powered by the 351W V-8. A fortunate few received the big-inch powerhouse.

In all of that Mach 1 mania 33 years ago, the Mustang GT option was quickly lost in the shuffle. It is impossible to believe this option survived the corporate chopping block, considering the eyewash we got with the Mach 1. Pity the poor Ford salesman trying to unload a '69 Mustang GT of any kind when Mach 1s were rolling off car haulers by the dozens. Any Mustang GT on the lot in 1969 needed a sales stimulator--a distinct advantage--to get the mental camlobes turning. Just imagine Eric Harris' '69 GT convertible on a Chicago-area Ford dealer lot long ago, flanked by Mach 1s. A tough sell? Maybe. But consider the features that made this beastie boy an easy sell. In addition to visual characteristics, such as the convertible option, Raven Black color, and White Vinyl top with White Ruffino Vinyl interior, the GT was also equipped with 3.25:1 Traction-Lok, C6 Select-Shift automatic, tilt-wheel, glass backlight in a power top, power front disc brakes, and center console. Oh, did we tell you it's powered by the 335-horse 428ci Cobra Jet V-8? This isn't Eric's first '69 Mustang convertible; he had a ball with a '69 drop-top in high school. When he took off for college, his parents sold the car, and he's been looking for another one ever since. His goal wasn't to own another 351W-powered plain-Jane convertible like he had in high school, but something specific, with the GT Equipment Group and 428ci Cobra Jet. His search would not be an easy one--at least not for most people. But because Eric earns his living as an insurance, malpractice, and workers compensation investigator, he had the tools necessary to find his dream-pick Mustang. While searching motor vehicle records nationwide, entering the relevant information into his computer, he found "R" and "Q" engine code '69 Mustang convertibles from across the country.

Most people Eric contacted were well aware of what they had--none of them willing to sell--until he stumbled upon someone in St. Joseph, Minnesota. When he arrived in Minnesota to view the car, he felt an adrenaline rush over the Raven Black/White Vinyl combo. It was striking, and it was a GT.

What fascinated Eric most was hearing the seller tell of the car's history. Surprisingly, it was stolen from the original owner and wound up in a high-speed chase by police wherein bullets were fired into the tailpanel. Eric is seeking the police report at press time. Eric's research hasn't stopped at the police report. A call to Kevin Marti of Marti Auto Works revealed that only two other convertibles like his were produced.

Eric enjoys the distinction of his Mustang. For one thing, it isn't just another '69 GT convertible that Ford had difficulty selling three decades ago. It is one of just three like it in the world, with a wild and crazy history to boot. When Eric pins the butterflies on the 735 cfm Holley four-barrel, positive pressure in the backside brings home a new blast from the past he never experienced in high school.