Blacked-out taillamps and dark windows complement the red exterior and lend it a more aggressive look, while Ride Tech's air-adjustable suspension system gives the car a decidedly aggressive stance. It consists of StrongArm tubular front control arms, a bolt-on four-link rear suspension and ShockWave dampers that replace the coil springs and shocks. An LCD control box on the Mustang's dashboard directs the system, feeding commands to the large Airpod compressor in the trunk.
"The ride quality is phenomenal," says Waltjer. "It drives like a modern car; very smooth and controlled. I love it, especially being able to drop the stance at shows and cruise-ins."
Contemporary rack-and-pinion steering and Baer four-wheel disc brakes with ABS Power Brake electro-boost also contribute to the car's contemporary driving experience, giving it a more immediate and connected feel on the road. For those who haven't heard about ABS Power Brake's system, it replaces the conventional brake master cylinder with an electric-hydraulic system that is very compact. It doesn't require vacuum for operation and features a built-in accumulator, so if the engine stalls, the brake pedal can still be pumped 20 times before the power assist goes away. For big engines in tight engine compartments—namely FE-powered Mustangs—it's a godsend.
While Waltjer may have initially wavered on what to do with his Mustang after finding out it wasn't a true Mach I, his vision for a street-friendly driver was always clear.
The engine produced more than 600 horsepower and 640 lb-ft of torque on the engine dynamometer
"It's fast, but it's also comfortable and I made sure we didn't compromise or skimp on items like air conditioning. That's a must down here in the Houston area," he says. "It idles great and doesn't get hot in traffic."
Still, the family's first high-powered hot rod has taken some getting used to by at least one family member.
"My 16-year-old and 12-year-old sons love it, but my wife is always yelling ‘slow down… slow down!'" Waltjer says with a laugh. "I try to keep it all reasonable on the street, but after waiting so many years to finally build the Mustang I always wanted, I'm definitely going to enjoy driving it."
And that's exactly what he plans to do for the foreseeable future, including bolting on a set of drag radials to see what sort of elapsed time 600 horsepower's worth of FE fun will deliver at the dragstrip. That's one of the reasons he went with a built automatic transmission and the ratcheting shifter.
For an enthusiast who thought he was buying an original piece of muscle car history, the outcome of Craig Waltjer's Mustang quest proved much more interesting and personal. Instead of adhering to the conformity of the restoration world, he was able to indulge his creativity and build a unique car that balances classic styling with a modern driving experience.
Indeed, it appears that surprising Marti report was a blessing in disguise, transforming what could have been a huge disappointment into a genuine thrill ride.
Craig Waltjer's '69 Mustang GT SportsRoof
Ford FE-type with Genesis 427 cylinder block
530 cubic inches
4340 forged steel crankshaft
Eagle H-beam forged connecting rods, 6.70-inches-long
JE forged aluminum pistons with friction-reducing skirt coating
Total Seal piston rings
9.5:1 compression ratio
Comp Cams roller camshaft with 0.515/0.520-inch lift and 224/230-degree duration
Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum cylinder heads, ported and polished
Ferrea valves, 2.25-inch intake and 1.75-inch exhaust, Manley dual-coil valvesprings
Speed Pro 3⁄8-inch-diameter pushrods; 8.50-inch-long (intake) and 8.55-inch-long (exhaust)
Crane 1.76-ratio roller rocker arms
Edelbrock Victor Jr. aluminum intake manifold
Holley 950-cfm three-barrel carburetor
MSD distributor and 6AL ignition box
Old Air air conditioning system
Horsepower: 604 at 5,500 rpm
Torque: 640 lb-ft at 4,400 rpm
Engine built and dyno-tested at Cressman Enterprises, Hartford, South Dakota
Ford AOD four-speed automatic, modified by Lentech Automatics, Richmond, Ontario, Canada
Lentech torque converter, 2,800rpm stall speed
B&M Hammer ratcheting shifter
Ford 9-inch rearend
Detroit Locker differential
Ford Powertain Applications headers, 17⁄8-inch primaries, 31⁄2-inch collectors (with electronically controlled cut-outs)
3-inch stainless steel exhaust system
Spin Tech mufflers
Front: Ride Tech StrongArm tubular control arms and ShockWave air-adjustable dampers
Rear: Ride Tech AirBar four-link and ShockWave air-adjustable dampers
ididit tilting steering column
Front: Baer Track disc, 13-inch rotors, four-piston calipers
Rear: Baer Track disc, 13-inch rotors, four-piston calipers
ABS Power Brake Systems electro-boost master cylinder
Front: Bonspeed Quicksilver, 19x8-inch, polished aluminum
Rear: Bonspeed Quicksilver, 20x10-inch, polished aluminum
Front: General Exclaim UHP, P245/35ZR19
Rear: General Exclaim UHP, P295/30ZR20
Black with red trim, custom center console, carbon-fiber instrument panel bezels, Auto Meter gauges in JME gauge panel, '08 Mustang seats with TMI Mach 1 seat covers and three-point lap belts, Momo steering wheel, Alpine head unit and Rockford Fosgate sound system
PPG Velocity Pearl red with Black Pearl hood and taillamp panel accents; Anvil Auto body-colored fiberglass rear bumper and matching body-colored front bumper and grille trim; extended rocker panels, shaved door handles, shaved driprail moldings, shaved side-marker lights; filled body seams, bodywork, and paint performed by Muscle Car Creations, Tea, South Dakota