1969 Mustang Convertible

This page is dedicated to the saga of the 1969 Mustang that I bought in 1991 at the age of 19. I originally picked it up for $900, thinking all I would need was a nice paint job, and I would have a cruising car to end all cars. Approximately $16,000 and 11 years later, I have a story to end all stories, and a car that is fun to drive, but only if it decides it wants to run. I reluctantly sold the Mustang when I decided to travel for a couple years and could not find anywhere to keep it.

Thus begins the saga of the mustang......

This is what it looked like when I brought it home.

The first thing I noticed about the car when trying to get my state inspection (as the current one was 8 years expired) was that mechanics would look under the car and quickly jump out for fear that it would fall on them. Yes, the floor was rusted so bad that they feared it would cave in. None the less, the law in PA allowed a newly purchased car to be driven for 2 weeks before it was required to have an inspection. At least someone told me that. So for 2 weeks, I drove a car that frightened mechanics to even be under. I drove it a lot, and I drove it fast. Chalk it up to one of those things you do when you're young, I guess.

(If you look closely, you'll see that you can see THROUGH 60% of the floor)

So, I ended up having my first big expense within a couple of weeks of owning the car. That was $2200 for new frame rails, floors, torque boxes, and inner fenders. Then I thought all I need is my paint, and I'm ready to go. I was soon to find out there was much more to that inspection.

The brakes needed to be re-done. This I tried myself. Well, it didnt go as easy as planned, and I ended up having a local mechanic do the job.
(Note the primer on the door in anticipation of the paint job).

The car had originally come with a straight 6 250cid motor. Supposedly one of the most reliable motors Ford has ever made. A newbie to the world of cars will quickly learn that the "clunking" in the motor means its time to check the oil. I blew my first engine in this car about 8 months after owning it and never checking the oil. Luckily, I had a friend that had a 69 hardtop he was willing to sell for parts with a perfect 250cid motor. I had a local mechanic make the swap. Shortly thereafter, the head went bad on that motor, and I had to replace it. This was the first repair that I decided to do myself. I needed to learn how to do repairs on the car or I would have to sell it. Plain as that.

This picture is me after completing my first repair. I successfully removed and installed a new head on the car. Yes, the car is actually running in this picture. I'm giving the 'ol "victory" sign here after not letting this car defeat me.

From then until about 1 and 1/2 years later when I finally got my car painted, the car was (and I guess still is) the butt of many a joke. Things seem to break on it all the time. In that short year and a half, I replaced suspension, steering components, fidgeted with the windows, and electrics and so on and so on. I did spend a lot of time on the interior. I wanted to resto-mod the interior with a beige color scheme. I scoured junkyards on and off, until I changed my mind when I found some grey seats (mint condition) out of 91 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS that I couldnt pass up. $50 for the pair. So, as the rest of my interior was trashed, I began replacing parts slowly. I re-skinned the rear seat with factory covers taken from a 1991 Nissan Altima. The door panels were warped and spotted, so I used the old ones as templates to build custom ones. I had done some interior work previously, so this was the one area I knew somewhat well. I found some nice door handles out of an Accord, and fitted them to the inside, using turnbuckles and coat hanger pieces. I never thought it would last, but its been flawless for about 7 years now. I also added a steering wheel from an 86 Escort GT. It has the Ford logo in the center. Then I added industrial grade carpet that I found being discarded at my dads office building (hey, I was in college and broke). I also recovered the rear inside quarters with the same material as the doors, and added speakers. The car has had every type of stereo imaginable. It started with an Alpine deck. That was stolen. Then I had a Sony CD changer with the controls to the changer mounted INSIDE the sunvisor. This is a fun thing to install, but it required a great deal of patience. Enough so that I dont think I'd attempt it again. I took that out for a Poineer CD with a bazooka subwoofer tube run off of A/D/S amps. Then I built a custom box, which I later took out. I replaced that with a Denon tape deck, and then another Alpine hooked to a Rockford Fosgate amp running JBL speakers, and now a Sony single CD. Whats next, who knows?

This was awesome (a Sony RMX2 controller), the changer unit went on the fritz and the controller didnt work with the new models.

Preparing for the long awaited paint job. Doing the door sills......

I tried to bondo a dent in the front fender, it didnt work and I bought a used one.

And finally bringing it home....

in this last picture above you can see the trunk re-done in carpet, with the changer in the side.

Notice that there is no chrome or locks installed. I was too eager to take photos.

Of course the car couldnt just run fine for me. Contrary to popular belief, a new paint job doenst make a car run better. The second engine died, and It was time to build one that would last. My freind, Kurt, without who's help this car would never have made it past its first year, insisted that I needed a V8. I disagreed to the end, but now I'm glad he convinced me. The original motor was sitting in a junk year somewhere with a huge hole in the side of the block, so the numbers would never match anyway.

I got a 302 from a 67 Mustang parts car, but the motor was originally from a 72 truck. We ordered everything from Summit. New pistons, pins, rings, bearings, Holley 650cfm 4bbl carb, a 262/272 cam, new lifters, pushrods, low-rise aluminium intake, distributor, water pump, oil pump, fuel pump, hoses, belts, wires, plugs. Everything but the block and crank were new. And those were bored and turned to be new. No expense was spared in building the motor right and making it have a little kick to it. Then with some red paint to match the car we put it in.
The only trouble we had was getting the wrong lifters from Summit. That set us back about a month. I had to take the motor back out and to a shop to have it diagnosed. This, after trying 4 different oil pumps to cure the curious lack in pressure.

Since these photos, I've added some new chrome around the front, and some 5.0 badges, which I've been given grief about on many of occasion, but I was in college, they were less expensive that the "Mustang" badges, and they give it a moded look, which kind of goes with the interior. I've also found some nicer wheels, some spoke mags. These photos were taken at lunch the other day. These photos might illustrate about how 'daily' the car is really treated. I drive it in the snow, rain, dirt roads. For all intents and purposes it is built to be and is used like a daily driver. I take excellent care of my car, but I would never say its babied or pampered to the point that I dont sit on the hood while tail-gating at concerts, etc.

That would be me, leaning on the door, along with 2 co-workers, one on the trunk, and one behind the car.

So whats left? Well, the steering is acting up so thats next on the agenda. I've just installed a dash cover in it, and next I'd like to put in a new stereo (surprise). This is what it looked like as of 4/99. I'll have some more recent photos up once the sun comes out and its back on the road.

As of September 2001, I got the car back on the road. The "steering problem" turned out to be rusted shock towers. That wasn't good. It took about $3000 in work to get it back on the road. It was nice to have it running after it had sat for about 2 years. I would drive it around the block to keep it going, but as it had no inspection sticker, that was about it. About 2-3 weeks after I got it back on the road, one of my friends got married at the beaches of North Carolina, 6 hours away. I had to take the Mustang.

That was a fun trip. I made the whole drive with the top down, and it was the clearest, most starry night I'd seen in a long time. I ended up getting my directions wrong, and drove to the end of the island and ended up actually on the beach. I just reclined the seat, looked up at the stars, and enjoyed the sound of the V8 and the waves.

I had a BBQ this summer where someone mentioned to me that they've always wanted a 69 convertible, and I toyed with the idea of selling it. Whether or not I would actually go through with parting with it is debatable. In any case, here is the list of modifications I've done to the car, which I sent in an email to the person who made the offer.

After I got it back on the road, I took out the Sony CD player and put in a new stereo. Now this might be a bit of a backwards idea, considering my interior. I've modded the interior so heavily, that its clear I'm not keeping it stock, but yet I've dressed up the CD player to look similar to a stock radio when its not in use.

I started with a Kenwood CD player, KDC-516S, which circuit city was selling at the bargain basement price of $180. A great deal considering the features. One of the features it has is D-Mask, which you can use to either remove the faceplate, or to simply flip it over to reveal a black flat front.

When you then flip the face to reveal the digital face of the unit, the black part faces the rear and is hidden. There is about 1/8 of an inch of space between the black face and the CD unit. I used this 1/8 inch to create the look of an older AM/FM radio. I used the plastic faceplate piece from a radio from a 77 Corvette, which I got for $5 (Ford parts would not work, I tried). I put a sliver of red electrical tape on the back of it to simulate an indicator. Then I bought 2 black jacket buttons from a craft store ($3) and filed off the back part where the thread went through. I used clear marine sealant to put all 3 pieces on the front of the black face. Here is the result.

This is what it looks like when it is off.

Then you push on the face anywhere, and it flips down half way.

Then you push it the rest of the way manually, and it reveals the digital face.

Like I said, its not real convincing as the rest of my interior is modified, it would make sense that the stereo would be modified as well. But I like the look, and it can fool most people at a quick glance.

Shortly after the radio install, I put on a brand new white top, to replace the other one which lasted 33 years. It makes it look like a new car.

Hope you enjoyed my saga.


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