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Rat Stang! This 1969 Mustang Is Officially The World’s Coolest Parts Hauler
A pair of conspirators had their priorities straight while building this '69 Mustang fastback. They left the paint—or what's left of it—as-is, and worried about the good bits like engine and suspension.
The previous owner was mid-restoration when he sold it to Terry Howard of Reidville, South Carolina in 2010. From the moment the Mustang was purchased, his best friend and owner of Stallion Autosport, Jonathan Bridwell, pestered Terry to sell it to him. Instead, the duo tore into it and went to work, creating what they call the "Muscle Rat."
Our story starts much earlier, however, when Jonathan learned how to detail as a preteen. "My father put a buffing wheel in my hand at age 12," he says. Jonathan taught himself most everything after that and developed a knack for fixing body shop mistakes. He picked up big contracts and evolved into making enough money to supply his racing addiction.
Jonathan began a career in road racing after watching his father race Corvettes most of Jonathan's adolescence. Once he turned 18, he picked up more driving gigs including seat time with BMW and vintage road racing.
"I had it in my blood, but didn't have the funds to do it. I met up with some guys in road racing, they saw my ability, and gave me chances," said Jonathan. "I started making money to cover the bills. I worked to pay fuel bills, hotel bills, tire bills, and for things I broke."
As Jonathan's detailing business grew, he taught himself bodywork and metal shaping. He said local shops refused to hire him, so he began to work for himself. The local paint-supply business required a shop name in order to purchase paint, so Jonathan had the bright idea to start his own.
"My high school nickname was the Italian Stallion," said Jonathan. "Then there's this shop in Virginia I've always been a fan of, known for making high-end, quality hot rods. They had 'Autosport,' in their name." Thus Stallion Autosport was born.
Road racing took a back seat to marriage and family as the business grew. Now, the muscle rat is the shop vehicle that is driven on most occasions. Terry has since sold the Mustang to Jonathan, but Terry is still involved because, well, who wouldn't be with a fun machine this cool? (If we didn't know better, Jonathan and Terry could very easily be the real-life version of Krass and Bernie!)
"We've thought about painting it 100 times, but there's no plans," said Jonathan. "It's the only car we have to jump in and go and act a fool and not worry about it. We drive the car, play with it, enjoy it."
Who: Jonathan Bridwell
What: 1969 Mustang fastback
Where: Reidville, SC
The engine keeps with the theme of the car, built with tech available at the time. The original 302ci Windsor was rebuilt 8,000 miles ago.
Dimensions remain about the same with a mild .030-over bore. The rods and pistons are courtesy of Eagle Specialty Products, and the combination now results in a 10.5:1 compression. Jonathan says he normally runs 93 octane, but occasionally mixes it with leftover race fuel, "just for the smell really," he said with a laugh.
The cam is a special-order from Comp, with a combination Jonathan came up with after his years of racing. He says it works best with an automatic. Comp double springs, retainers, and 1.72:1 roller rockers finish out the valve train.
The short-block is topped with GT40 heads and a port-matched Edelbrock Performer intake. Fueling comes from a Holley 600, which Jonathan went through and says now pushes about 635 cfm. An Edelbrock water pump plumbs into a generic three-core aluminum radiator with a Flex-a-lite fan and no shroud.
Hedman Headers long-tubes dump into 2 1/2-inch exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers. A TCI torque converter with a 3,200-stall and a C4 transmission built locally (with a performance shift kit) makes for a muscle car that's enjoyable to drive.
The stance began with the budget-friendly "Shelby drop," which lowers the mounting holes of the stock upper control arms by 1 inch. This lowers the center of gravity of the car and adds camber gain in the corners, a trick Carroll Shelby started with the 1965 G.T. 350, hence the name.
Jonathan reached into his old shelves of race car parts for a set of Maier Racing 585lb coil springs, and called CJ Pony Parts for single-adjustable Koni Classic shocks. Up front is a one-inch sway bar. A 1-inch lower block and 1-inch drop 4.5-leaf mid-eye leaf springs (also from CJ Pony Parts) finishes out the rear suspension. The ride height was never measured before and after, but Jonathan guesses the combination results in about 2-3 inches of drop compared to stock.
The stock 9-inch rear axle features a 3:50 gearset with an Eaton TruTrac and 31-spline axles stolen from a Boss 302.
Stopping power comes courtesy of NOS Kelsey Hayes Shelby brakes, with a non-power master cylinder and 11-inch rotors with two-piston calipers. This set up was available on 1967 Shelby GT 500s.
The Mustang was purchased with painted Fox-body seats—the original owner's addition. Jonathan and Terry got lucky with a set of NOS original seats in immaculate condition. The door panels were replaced along with a new carpet.