It’s not the rustiest car I’ve seen, but it’s probably the most banged up of any car I have owned. There’s not a straight panel to be found on it, but from a rust standpoint, it’s not too bad, or so I’ve been told. That’s the initial assessment of this ’69 Mustang SportsRoof that I picked up for a mere $1,700.
Thanks to a treasure trove of receipts that came with the car, I can tell you that the guy who kept all of these records purchased the car in 1983 with 97,000 miles on it while residing in Arizona. I’d love to know what happened in those first 97,000, but the Mustang’s second life started with a bang, or rather a collision with a ’79 Honda not long after purchasing it—I suspect the Mustang faired better than the Honda given the considerable size difference of the two models.
U-Haul receipts from May 1985 in Phoenix suggest that said owner loaded up and moved to the Sunshine state, and there is a copy of an application for a Florida vehicle registration from October 1985. It noted there were 111,000 on the clock at the time.
In 1987, an appraisal was performed by the Florida Mustang Connection, stating value for the SportsRoof at just $4,500. Pretty cheap by today’s standards for a SportsRoof in good running condition, but then the muscle car auction market wouldn’t hit the big dollars for years to come.
An interesting receipt for a cylinder head R&R in Houston suggests that the Mustang saw a bit of cross-country travel. That would certainly suck to break down in the middle of your 2,000-plus mile journey, and no doubt be stranded for a few days there while your ride is being fixed and your vacation money is drained.
Plant City, Florida, seemed to be where the Mustang spent a bit of time—a receipt in 1988 for a ball joint and stabilizer bar bushings showed the odometer read 131,000. There are a number of minor receipts taking the Mustang through to 1994, where a brake job was performed with a stout 226,000 miles on the clock. The U-joints took a dive at 227,000, and a tune-up followed at 230,000.
If you haven’t fallen asleep by now, I’ll wrap this history lesson up with the engine replacement in Tampa at 285, 290 miles in 1998—it was a bargain at just $1,955 for parts and labor. The last dated receipt in the box was for a Sears battery in 1999, and I suspect that year is when the multi-car collision that rendered the car in its current condition occurred. It was sold to another party who planned to make it a father/son project, but they got sidetracked with Fox-body Mustangs that didn’t require so much bodywork. Thanks to my buddy Jim Veenstra, I got word of the SportsRoof coming up for sale, and with it located less than a mile from my house, it had to give it a look.
I’ve been on the hunt for a Falcon to play with for some time, but I’m a sucker for the fastback/SportsRoof body style, and have always been a ponycar owner for the most part. I was immediately hooked when I saw the car in person, but I also knew there was going to be a lot of work just based on the rust issues and rippling quarter-panels. I never noticed the frame damage, but in all reality it’s probably of little consequence because most everything that is attached to the framerail is getting replaced due to rust issues anyway.
Aside from overseeing our Colt of Personality pro-touring buildup, it’s been a while since I’ve tinkered with a project of my own. After laying down the cash, the owner dropped it off at my house with his rollback and soon I was elbow deep in the interior, armed with a Shop Vac and a need to clean the inside and survey the pieces and parts that came with it.
I made several attempts at getting the engine started, but didn’t have any luck. I had to borrow a starter from my friend, John Paolillo, and he also loaned me another carburetor after I poured out rusty dust from the feed line of the original. I have a feeling the piston rings are not holding any compression—I didn’t bother to perform a compression test, as I figured that the drivetrain would be coming out anyways.
After Gillis Performance Restorations’ owner, Rusty Gillis, took a look at the car, he offered some space in his shop for me to work on it there. I originally planned to work on it in my garage, as I have done quite a bit of work in it over the years, and I will likely continue the project there once the bodywork and paint is done.
For the time being, I’m going to take advantage of having GPR looking over my shoulder and pointing me in the right direction as I take on the metalwork. I’ve seen my share of it done, and have performed very minor amounts on my own in the past, but this will be the first time I’m cutting and welding and shaping major parts of the car.
You’ll have to wait and see how this project will unfold, as I don’t quite have an overall plan just yet. I keep changing my mind from day to day, but I think I’m getting close. Be sure to check back as I plan to have regular installments on this project, and I’ll be posting to our Facebook and Instagram (modifiedmustangs1) pages with updates as I find out just how hard this can be.
Be sure to check back as I plan to have regular installments on this project!
20. If the rolled up panel beneath the bumper wasn’t evidence enough of the collision, sur
Measuring from the frame to the ground just above the axle revealed that the frame resides