COAL #15: The ’69 Mustang – My Little Pony (Car)

Return with me now to those bygone days… long before the PC, the internet, and the cellphone. In May 1972, when it came time to replace the ’66 Comet, I perused the few avenues then available to used-car buyers: newspaper classified “Autos for Sale” sections, Pennysaver listings, and Sunday-morning sojourns to the used-car lots of northern New Jersey new-car dealerships.

Why Sunday mornings? The dealers were always closed, meaning that I wouldn’t be accosted by any avaricious used-car salespeople hungry to make a sale. I could investigate each dealership’s offerings to my heart’s content, first doing a casual walk-around of the candidate vehicle, then peering through the driver’s-side window in an effort (usually unsuccessful) to read its odometer, maybe even crawling under a particularly interesting specimen in an attempt to gauge the condition of its chassis and underbody.

Lincoln-Mercury dealership signage back in the day.


On one such occasion, I found myself at Fletcher Lincoln-Mercury, in Summit, New Jersey. Briefly distracted by looking through the showroom glass (since they also held a Pantera franchise), I then ventured out to their used-car lot. None of their late-model pre-owned vehicles were of particular interest until a certain red two-door caught my eye…

To digress a bit: I’d been a Mustang enthusiast ever since attending the Ford exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, NY, where they were highlighted. A year or so later, I had a chance to closely examine a new Mustang hardtop (a Laurie Ford loaner) when our ’64 Galaxie went in for service. At the time, I remember badgering my father about trading in our big Ford for a Mustang, but he felt the latter was “too sporty” and not really a car for a middle-aged single dad…

Back to the red two-door. It was a ’69 Mustang fastback (or SportsRoof, in the FoMoCo terminology of the day), candy-apple red with an accent pinstripe and a black bucket-seat interior. I couldn’t quite see the mileage on the Mustang’s odometer when looking through the driver’s-door window, but I did note the presence of air conditioning outlets in the dash, as well as Ford’s floor-mounted T-handle SelectShift automatic transmission gear selector (I had not yet driven a stick-shift at that point. That would come a couple of years later.)

Ford highlighted the new Mach 1 when the Mustang was redesigned for the ’69 model year.


The Mustang seemed to be in good shape, inside and out. The body panels showed no obvious misalignment, and the interior looked clean and well-kept. I didn’t want to risk drawing unnecessary attention from local law enforcement by opening the hood, but the law of averages suggested that Ford’s base 302 V8 probably lay underneath. I resolved to return the next day for a more thorough inspection, which I did.

Monday afternoon found me back at the dealership, where a used-car salesman, noting my interest in the Mustang and presumably salivating at the potential to make a relatively easy sale, assured me that the SportsRoof was a one-owner, low-mileage car that had just been traded in on a new Mercury Cougar. He then quickly invited me to pull the Comet around to the back of the dealership (out of sight from Fletcher’s upper-middle class Summit, NJ clientele) so that it could be appraised.

In my previous post describing the trade-in of Dad’s ’58 Plymouth station wagon for Mother’s new ’64 Galaxie, I noted that our departing Plymouth’s value was pegged at about $375. I didn’t do much better with the Comet, which I admit looked a bit worse for wear after its partial rattle-can paint and several cross-country trips under its belt. Fletcher’s best offer was $400, ensuring that the six-year-old Comet would probably remain safely hidden from local code enforcement until it was disposed of… At any rate, the deal was soon done, and I became the proud owner of a three-year-old ponycar!

After heading back to Art Center late that summer for the Fall ’72 semester, the first thing I did was to drive onto the front lawn at 5353 West Third Street to take a few beauty shots of my new-to-me pony parked in its L.A. surroundings.

The student and his new wheels.


Of course, I had to add an Art Center decal in the corner of the windshield (ironically, a small detail that would have caused the car to fail annual inspection in NJ).

The purchase price of my ’69 SportsRoof is lost to memory. While I’ve managed to retain its VIN (9T02F211575, in case a lucky reader happens to locate it) after all these years, my only remaining paperwork is its Owner’s Manual.

This one’s a reproduction. Mine is now a bit more worn. (eBay)


Decently optioned when new, my Mustang would have had a base MSRP of $2,635 ($20,435 now). Adding in descending order: air conditioning ($379.57), SelectShift automatic ($200.85), 302 small-block V8 ($105.00), power steering ($94.95), high-back bucket seats ($84.25), power disc brakes ($64.77), AM radio ($61.40), whitewall tires ($47.00), full wheel covers ($21.38), color-keyed dual racing mirrors ($19.48), with driver’s side remote-adjustment ($12.95), and dual accent stripes ($13.90), resulted in an as-equipped total of $3,740.50 (now $32,320, or about the same as an entry-level 2024 Mustang).

…but I’d rather have the ’69!


As you might expect, there’s more to the story of the SportsRoof. Don’t worry – I’ll get to that soon, however I think it might be fun to review a couple of my Art Center student projects as my industrial design education continued…