My 1969 428 CJ Mustang Grande By Scully Dulkie
‘Back in August of 1996 my brother and I were searching used car lots near his home in San Leandro, California. My brother was looking to buy a 1985 – ’90 5.0 Mustang. We stopped at a used car consignment lot in Hayward so he could view a late ‘80s GT. I then noticed in the front row a blue ’69 Mustang Coupe. Since I own (and it’s my first car) a ’69 Mustang SportsRoof I have always made a habit at taking a closer look at any ’69 or ’70 Mustang. When I got closer to the blue coupe I noticed the Grande emblems on the vinyl top and the holes in the quarter panel extension where the moldings should have been. Torino hub caps were in place where the wire wheel covers should have been. It had a quickie paint job with some shoddy body work underneath. The interior was worn and need to be restored, but wasn’t trashed. So far just an old, used up Grande coupe.
I gave a quick look at the VIN and noticed a “Q” for the fifth digit of the VIN which designates the engine size. After doing a double take I popped open the hood and there was the 428 Cobra Jet engine with its smog equipment still intact. The underside of the hood showed the original color, Lime Gold. The asking price was $4995 and that was reduced from $6995. I decided that this would need some further investigation. Why hadn’t anyone else jumped on this rare find? The lot was located on a very busy boulevard in Hayward and the Grande was parked in the front. Granted it didn’t look like much and there was no hood scoop or emblems giving away its secret under the hood.
The next day I called my friend David Peterson who owned a plain-jane, R-code ’69 SportsRoof. David agreed to inspect the vehicle the next day with me. He found the block had the correct VIN number stamped in the back, but that the heads, intake manifold and carburetor had been changed. We found minor rust on the right floor pan and other various places. We took the Grande for a spin and though it did run, it definitely needed attention. I decided to go ahead and make an offer on it. The sales man said he would run it past the owner and get back to me. The next day after a little more haggling we had an agreement of $3900 out the door. I was to come by with the deposit the next day.
When I arrived at the lot, I noticed the trunk of the Grande was open. When I went inside the sales office, the owner of the car and the salesman said they had been trying to reach me to say that the owner had received a better offer elsewhere. I was crushed, but I decided I was not going to get in a bidding war. I did find out from the owner that his father was the original owner and that the wire wheel covers were stolen while the car had been parked at the lot.
I then went home and tried to forget about the 428 CJ Grand and as time passed I nearly did. Then one afternoon in March ’97 my brother called to say that the Grande was back at the same lot. I called the salesman the next day and he verified that the Mustang was back and still had the same owner. Dave and I went back a couple of days later and verified it was still intact. I mad another offer, but the owner could not be reached. The salesman later called me at home and said my offer of $3500 was accepted and that the owner would be going out that afternoon to obtain a smog certificate.
Then another bump in the road. A few hours later the salesman called back and said it passed smog, but that the smog technician told the owner that the car was worth more than my offer. I was expecting to hear a new price a few thousand dollars higher, but instead I was told a deal could still be made if I upped my offer to $3700 and they kept the aftermarket stereo in the vehicle. Done!
I picked up the car the following Tuesday with no problems this time and drove it to my parent’s home five miles away so I could arrange to tow it home. I noticed on the smog paper work that the technician put down that it was a 390, not a 428, so he didn’t know what it was. Also in the trunk was a new set of simulated ’66 styled steel wheel hub caps that I was able to sell to a club member for $100.
I spent the next few years accumulating parts for the full-scale restoration. I located the correct heads, intake manifold, carburetor and various NOS moldings and sheet metal. In 1999 Kevin Marti from Marti Auto Works was able to secure build records from Ford so I ordered one of those early Marti Reports to verify the options and find out exactly how many 428 CJ Grandes were built in 1969. Kevin told me that only 37 Q-code Grandes were built in ’69, 28 automatics like mine. He said a Grande could not be ordered with the Ram-Air R-code 428. The Marti Report verified the options on the car included power steering and brakes, heavy-duty suspension, black vinyl roof, console, tinted glass, visibility group, tilt-away steering column, deluxe seat belts, power ventilation (a very rare option), and E70x14 belted white wall tires. Two options were missing from the car that it originally came with: AM/FM stereo radio and front bumper guards. So I later located replacements for those two items.
A later report from Kevin Marti showed that my Grande was one of two 428 CJ Grandes that came in Lime Gold and mine was the only one with black interior making it a one of one. It is also the only 428 Grande with power ventilation.
In 2001 the car was sent to David’s house to have the car completely disassembled and commence the restoration. It was then taken to the media blaster before being sent to D&S Auto Body in San Ramon repair the sheet metal, install used, rust-free quarterpanels and an NOS rear body panel and fender apron. Over the fresh, solid metal the much-maligned Lime Gold was applied.
When the car returned to David’s house in 2005, David spent the next two years meticulously reassembling the Grande to showroom condition. He rebuilt the motor, installed all new suspension bits and made sure all the factory correct markings were applied.
Though 22,186 Grandes were built in 1969, some Grande-specific parts have not been reproduced. For seat upholstery, many Grande owners settle for the available deluxe interior seat covers with its Comfortweave and ruffino inserts rather than the correct hopsack cloth. I wanted this car to be correct so I purchased three yards of the correct material from SMS Auto Fabrics and had Super Auto Upholstery in Hayward copy my original seats and retain the original piping.
The unique two-ton Grande stripe also has not been replicated. I considered buying an NOS kit but figured a 40 year old stripe was not going to work. Instead I bought a NOS stripe kit on eBay and had my friend Ken Souza who owned a graphics company duplicate the stripe with new 3M tape. Ken and his son then installed their finished product, giving the Mustang a correct Grande look.
The car was completed in September 2006, debuting at the Mustang Club of America National in Las Vegas. Many attendees had never seen a 428 Grande before. Judges were impressed as well as it captured a Gold in the Concours Trailered Division. It has since obtained eight more MCA Golds and has moved into the Conservator class.’
‘Also other major awards: Goodguys Mustang 50th Anniversary pick, Hillsborough concours 1st place Mustang class, Ironstone concours 2011 & 2014 class winner.’
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