Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
September 1, 2008
Photos By: Jim Smart

To read the books and magazines, including this one, while at the same time marveling at the prices from Barrett-Jackson, one would almost think that the majority of Mustangs produced from 1969 to 1973 came with Boss or Cobra Jet engines. Yet while performance-oriented Mustangs captured the hearts and wallets of enthusiasts, as they still do today, it was the hardtop and SportsRoof models, most with base six-cylinders or two-barrel small-blocks, that were parked in driveways and garages across America. For example, in 1969, less than 1 percent of all Mustangs produced had a Boss or 428 Cobra Jet engine. All the others came with regular passenger-car engines.

Introduced in 1969, the Grande took advantage of the base Mustang's popularity by adding luxury, not performance. Offered as a hardtop only, the '69 Grande package added a vinyl roof, pinstripes, wire wheel covers, a special interior, additional insulation, and even unique rear spring bushings to provide a quieter ride. When the Mustang's body style changed for '71, the Grande continued as the luxury Mustang with minor changes in content, although the larger overall size provided an improved ride for a more luxurious feel.

The Grande's fifth year, 1973, was its last. A new, smaller Mustang was on the way for 1974, and the Grande, along with the convertible body style, would fall by the wayside. Looking more luxurious than ever on the mildly revamped '73 body, the Grande went out in grand style by selling 25,274 units, more than any other Grande model year. The fact that it retailed for only $206 more than the standard hardtop-$2,946 versus $2,740-obviously didn't hurt.

The Grande package for '73 was similar to previous years-vinyl roof, pinstripes, dual racing mirrors, wheel covers on the outside, and its own special interior consisting of high-back bucket seats covered with Lambeth (named for a well-heeled London borough) cloth and vinyl, molded door panels with woodgrain inserts, a deluxe instrument panel with black camera-case and woodgrain panels, and an electric clock.

The base engine was the 250ci inline six-cylinder, but most Grande buyers opted for one of the three available V-8s-302 two-barrel, 351C two-barrel, or 351C four-barrel. Interestingly, according to Kevin Marti's Ford production database, only 548 '73 Grandes came with the top-of-the-line V-8, the Q-code 351 four-barrel that, while detuned for emissions, was still a formidable performance engine. Of those, 89 were optioned with four-speeds, with seven of them also equipped with the 3.50 Traction-Lok rear axle.

As you might expect, Grandes were typically well-optioned with available air conditioning, power steering, console, AM/eight-track, power front disc brakes, electric rear-window defrost, power windows, and the Convenience Group, which included automatic seatback releases, a glovebox lock, parking brake and headlight reminder lights, courtesy lights under the instrument panel, map and glovebox lights, and lighting for the trunk and underhood. You might think Grande buyers would opt for special paint from the Thunderbird or Mercury color pallets, but according to Marti's information, all were painted in standard Mustang colors. Available vinyl roof colors included black, white, blue, ginger, avocado, and brown.

Grandes can be identified by their 04 code in the Vehicle Identification Number and the 65F body code on the door data sticker.

'73 Grande Package

  • Vinyl roof with Grande emblem
  • Color-keyed dual racing mirrors
  • Body accent stripes
  • Unique wheel covers
  • Trunk mat
  • Grande interior
  • Deluxe instrument panel with woodgrain
  • Bright pedal trim
  • Lambeth cloth and vinyl bucket seats
  • Molded door panels
  • Electric clock

1969 22,186 (14.7% of hardtops)
1970 13,583 (14.1% of hardtops)
1971 17,406 (20.9% of hardtops)
1972 18,045 (23.9% of hardtops)
1973 25,274 (32.9% of hardtops)

Hometown Memories:
Bill Whiteside's '73 GrandeI came to know Bill Whiteside in the spring of 1974. We went to the same high school in Bowie, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. I drove a '67 Mustang hardtop with chrome reverse wheels. Bill drove an Indian Fire '70 Mach 1 with a 351C.

We lived in a huge planned community known as Belair at Bowie. Bill and I were ships that passed in the night. I'd see his Mach 1 in the Bowie High parking lot or at the mall. Sometimes, I'd see him cruising up Stonybrook or Belair Drive. It wasn't until I started dating Bill's neighbor that he became more familiar. I had a crush on Pam, so I was at her house every chance I could get.

As most things go in high school, my relationship with Pam faded, and Bill Whiteside passed into the hard drive of my mind as someone I never dreamed I'd see again.

Years later, as I opened reader mail in my Los Angeles office, an envelope from a suburb of Kansas City got my attention. Bill Whiteside was a name I'd heard before. I learned from Bill's letter that the Mach 1 was gone, but he currently owned a '73 Grande. He and I had both moved far from our roots, but our Mustang background included a common denominator-Bowie's Melvin Motors. My '67 hardtop, totaled in an accident in 1976, was a Melvin Motors used car. So was Bill's '70 Mach 1. And so is Bill's '73 Grande.

Bill swapped his Mach 1 for the Grande in 1975. Recently restored by Colorado Mustang, the Medium Yellow Gold Grande features a Ginger interior and power by the two-barrel 351C/FMX automatic transmission combination. Options include air conditioning, a Deluxe Rim-Blow steering wheel, and an AM/FM stereo. Sport wheel covers add pizzazz over the standard Grande covers. -Jim Smart