Rare Rag­top

Only 122 Q- and R-code Mus­tang con­vert­ibles were built in 1969—this is one of the best

Mustang Monthly - - CONTENTS - Nel­son Car­dadeiro TEXT & PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Only 122 Q- and R-Code Mus­tang con­vert­ibles were built in 1969—this is one of the best

Early in the Mus­tang restora­tion hobby, a 428 Co­bra Jet Mus­tang con­vert­ible was thought to be a myth­i­cal crea­ture, like the Loch Ness Mon­ster or Big­foot. Co­bra Jet rag­tops were be­lieved to ex­ist, al­though few had ever wit­nessed one. Jack Brooks at­tended numer­ous Mus­tang shows in the 1980s, con­cen­trat­ing on his fa­vorite model years—1969 and 1970. He thought the ul­ti­mate pony­car would be a 428 CJ 1969 con­vert­ible. His Mus­tang bud­dies agreed that surely Ford had built a few, but in all their show-go­ing, there had been no ac­tual sight­ings. In 1986, Jack ac­quired a project R-code ’69 Mach 1 with a four-speed. What he re­mem­bers most about this trans­ac­tion is that when he went to pick it up and was pre­par­ing to leave, the seller told Jack to “wait a minute” while he re­trieved the Shaker hood­scoop as­sem­bly from the garage. Jack wasn’t plan­ning on restor­ing the Mach 1. In­stead, he was pre­par­ing to swap the driv­e­train into his ’69 302 con­vert­ible, creat­ing a tribute car well be­fore Bar­rett-Jack­son made it pop­u­lar. Jack fin­ished the trans­for­ma­tion and en­joyed the car that way for years. Then he no­ticed that authen­tic CJ con­vert­ibles were pop­ping up in the Mus­tang mag­a­zines. See­ing these fac­tory-built, mus­cle car drop-tops in pe­ri­od­i­cals re­ally got to Jack. “I just gotta have one,” he said. Plus, he wanted to re­store a Mus­tang to a high level. So Jack set his sights on find­ing an elu­sive 428 con­vert­ible. This was in the pre–Marti Re­port days, so no ac­tual pro­duc­tion num­bers were known. What was ap­par­ent was that very few were man­u­fac­tured.

In late 1992, Jack came across an ad in Hem­mings Mo­tor News for a project ’69 428 GT con­vert­ible in Colorado. Trou­ble was, it was be­ing sold as a pair with a re­stored ’69 428 CJ Grande. Al­though both cars were black four­speeds—a scin­til­lat­ing duo—he couldn’t swing the pur­chase price of two Mus­tangs. Since Jack was liv­ing in Colorado at the time, he called the owner, Kris Kanack, and made ar­range­ments to in­spect the con­vert­ible.

Jack found the car to be com­plete with just 52,000 miles, but it had been off the road since 1976 after be­ing in­volved in a mi­nor ac­ci­dent. Though it had been road­wor­thy for only seven years, it had been re­painted sev­eral times, in­clud­ing a gold shade for a while. It was def­i­nitely a project, but it could be brought back to life with some blood, sweat, and dol­lars.

Jack’s dilemma was pry­ing it away from Kris mi­nus the Grande. But Kris was firm that the two would be sold to­gether, since he was try­ing to fi­nance the restora­tion of a ’69 Shelby G.T. 500. How­ever, Kris was will­ing to have Kenn Funk (who you may re­mem­ber as the prior owner of our two 1968½ CJ cover cars in the Oc­to­ber 2018 is­sue: mus­tang-360.com/ fea­tured-ve­hi­cles/1807-atale-of-two-su­per-co­bra­jets), who was in­ter­ested in the Grande, con­tact Jack. This broke the log­jam. The deal was made, and Jack towed home the rag­top while Kenn had the coupe shipped to his Glen­dale, Cal­i­for­nia, home.

In 1997, while pre­par­ing for the CJ’s ren­o­va­tion,

Jack moved to Cal­i­for­nia. He also be­gan look­ing into the rare Mus­tang ’s past. He traced the his­tory back to 1974 and the sec­ond owner. After be­ing de­liv­ered new to J. Baglier Ford Sales in Gi­rard,

Ohio, the con­vert­ible some­how wound up on the West Coast. The sec­ond owner pur­chased it from a lo­cal used-car lot while sta­tioned at the Trea­sure Is­land Naval Base in San Fran­cisco. When the owner was dis­charged from the Navy, he moved to Den­ver, where the afore­men­tioned ac­ci­dent oc­curred. The car passed through other un­known own­ers be­fore Jack ac­quired it.

When the Marti Re­ports fi­nally be­came avail­able in 1999, Jack learned his Q -code GT con­vert­ible with four-speed trans­mis­sion was just one of nine built in 1969. All to­tal, there were 122 Q -code and R-code con­vert­ibles man­u­fac­tured that year. The re­port also noted the op­tions it left the fac­tory with: rec­tan­gu­lar elec­tric clock, con­sole, power front disc brakes, AM ra­dio, and color-keyed rac­ing mir­rors. Though not men­tioned on the Marti Re­port, Jack’s GT also has the rare, color-keyed Styled Steel wheels.

When Jack was ready to re­store his CJ, he chose Ar­mond D’Agos­tini in Lehi, Utah, to han­dle the paint and body­work. A ro­tis­serie restora­tion fol­lowed, with Ar­mond lay­ing down the

sin­gle-stage Raven Black fin­ish with just the proper amount of or­ange peel.

Jack han­dled most of the re­main­ing work him­self.

Nat­u­rally, he en­coun­tered some ob­sta­cles. One was find­ing a cor­rect drive­shaft. With the help of a lo­cal agri­cul­tural com­pany, Jack pro­duced a con­cours-cor­rect drive­shaft. When oth­ers saw the fin­ished prod­uct, they wanted one too; from there, his com­pany, Dead Nuts On, was born. Jack has gone on to pro­duce other con­cours-cor­rect niche parts, in­clud­ing brake booster hoses, air cleaner breather hoses, and more.

The restora­tion was com­pleted in Septem­ber 2006…sort of. Jack en­tered the CJ in the Mus­tang

Club of Amer­ica (MCA) show in Las Ve­gas, but the car was miss­ing the ex­haust sys­tem and a few other items. Nev­er­the­less, it won a Sil­ver award in the Con­cours Trail­ered class. Since then it has been awarded two Golds, one at the MCA Na­tional in Con­cord, Cal­i­for­nia, in 2007 and the other at the MCA Grand Na­tional in Park City, Utah, in 2008. It also won a First Place tro­phy at the Fresno Con­cours d’El­e­gance in 2009 in the Mus­cle Car cat­e­gory. Former MCA Head Judge Charles Turner once wrote on the Vin­tage Mus­tang Fo­rum that the best score he had ever given a car was to this CJ at the Con­cord show, though he did state his knowl­edge of ’69 Mus­tangs was some­what lim­ited.

Still, it shows Jack’s at­ten­tion to de­tail. That must be what he meant years ago when he said he wanted to re­store a car to a high level. Mis­sion ac­com­plished, Jack.

Be­hold the mighty 428 Co­bra Jet en­gine! In this en­gine’s first year, 1968, the air cleaner had a but­ter­fly valve on top that ducted fresh air through the hood­scoop, but it be­came stan­dard non-ram air in 1969.

The ’69 CJ scoop de­liv­ers fresh air to the en­gine com­part­ment, just not in a straight shot into the air cleaner.

Even the cor­rect Dill valve stem caps have been uti­lized. Wheels are the rare color-keyed Styled Steel wheels with chrome in­serts in the wheel slots.

A qual­ity restora­tion leaves no part of the car un­touched.

Proper amount of body-color over­spray cov­ers the floor­pans and fram­erails. Note mark­ings and ma­chine sur­faces on the third mem­ber.

The Au­to­lite oil fil­ter is painted blue like the ones that came off the as­sem­bly line.

The ra­dio ground strap has the cor­rect brass plat­ing and is fac­ing the en­gine com­part­ment like most Dear­born-built 1969 Mus­tangs.

Shocks are painted semi-gloss black with an or­ange paint daub to sig­nify heavy-duty sus­pen­sion.

Up­per con­trol arms are cor­rect with their shiny, stamped-steel fin­ish. They also have the cor­rect four riv­ets at­tach­ing the up­per ball joint.

Brooks’ Co­bra Jet has the cor­rect amount of ped­als—three.

The all-im­por­tant fifth digit in the VIN shows the car’s prove­nance—in this case re­veal­ing that it’s a Q-code.

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