Jim Smart
September 1, 2008

When buying a Mustang, have you ever settled for less than you wanted but ultimately discovered more than you expected? That's how George Parker's story goes. In the beginning, it was just an old Mustang.

The story begins with George's son, Jon, who bought this '69 SportsRoof while attending Virginia Tech in 1980. As daily transportation, it wasn't in the best shape. By the time Jon graduated four years later, it needed a full-scale restoration.

In 1984, George bought the Mustang from his son with the intention of performing a concours overhaul. He just didn't know it was going to take 18 years.

George did know that the car was everything the warranty plate said-Black Jade, standard black interior, M-code 351W four-barrel engine, and four-speed transmission with a 3.25:1 Traction-Lok rearend. Not only was it a low-production GT, but it also came with the Rim-Blow steering wheel and AM/eight-track, la carte items not typical with a standard interior. Apparently, it was ordered by someone who wanted the car just this way.

Before beginning the restoration, George did his homework, figuring out what he needed and how he was going to get the job done. As he disassembled the car, his list of needs grew considerably longer. Because the car was originally from upstate New York, there was more rust than George initially thought. He hauled the disassembled shell from his Springfield, Virginia, home to Mid-County Mustang in Eagle, Pennsylvania, where the body was mediablasted in preparation for sheetmetal replacement, including the torque boxes, floorpans, trunk floor extensions, and more.

When George brought the car home in 1987, he began a three-year effort of removing every trace of rust because he didn't want it haunting him again. Rust removal involved wire wheeling, grinding, several burned-out electric drills, and a splash of phosphoric acid gel to properly etch the metal, which reduces the risk of future rust by eliminating electrolysis. Before closing up, he sealed the metal with a self-etching primer/sealer as used in ship hulls.

George was also obsessed with accumulating parts-new, N.O.S., reproduction, and used. "I started this when you could still get parts from the Ford dealer," he says. "I obtained other parts from flea markets, salvage yards, and magazine ads." He still has the 17-page parts list.

In 1990, satisfied he'd done all he could, George found WW Motor Cars, which finished the bodywork and paint. The company also rebuilt the 351W-4V engine, enabling George to haul the car home to begin assembly.

Further fueling George's imagination was the C9OX-9424-A aluminum intake manifold with Holley carburetion, a dual-plane piece from Ford's old Muscle Parts program. George could've shelved the manifold in favor of the correct factory cast-iron intake, but since the unusual manifold had been on the car a long time, he wasn't about to change it. He did sideline the worn-out Holley in favor of an Autolite 4300, which was original for this engine.

A humorous footnote to this induction story is George's efforts to find the correct air cleaner and hot-air tube. He located both in Arizona and restored the rust-free pieces for his 351W. But when he closed the hood, the air cleaner wouldn't clear. He had to opt for an open-element Hi-Po air cleaner instead.

You have to admire the detailed restoration. George worked at his restoration slowly and steadily, sweating the details and missing nothing along the way. We like the exhaust system with its proper hangers, hardware, transverse muffler, and quad exhaust tips. The argent Styled Steel wheels with trim rings and GT center caps are a nice touch. The pop-open GT gas cap was one year only-unique to the last Mustang GT Ford would build until 1982.