`Wow, this looks like PHR.
Before you even read the first sentence to this story, we know what preconceived notions already crossed your mind. You acknowledged this fastback's undeniable excellence, figured it cost two arms and two legs to build, then resentfully concluded that it's yet another example of rich guys encroaching on our turf. We'll give you the first two, but there's a big difference between wankers who happen to collect expensive cars and real-deal car guys who happen to have a few extra bucks to spend. The former think that a musclecar's hip factor compensates for their engorged midsections and utter lack of hot rodding aptitude. The latter represent what the average greasy-fingers car guy would do if his bank account weren't so average.
That's not to say that we'd all go out and build a $70,000 Pro Touring street machine. However, regardless of whether the money gets spent on the motor, suspension, or paint and body, you'd gladly take your car to the next level if you could. That's what Sriyantha Weerasuria's (S.W. for short) '69 Mustang is all about. It's not that rare. It doesn't have a matching-numbers this or an all-original that. It's not a pretentious exercise in flamboyance, either. And once you get past the stereotypes typically associated with high-dollar buildups, it's clear that this Mustang isn't too different from cars built on more pedestrian budgets. It's just a bit more polished.
Granted, building a car of this caliber requires a sizeable budget, but it's a far cry from the hundreds of thousands of dollars the pseudo-car guys spend on Boss 302s and Shelby GT350s at Barrett-Jackson. The experience of bolting a car together yourself is what this hobby is all about, and that's exactly what S.W. did. It took him over a year to find a suitable rust-free car, and he picked it up for $20,000. Again, that's more than the average person has to spend on a project-but let's face it, no one really wants a raggedy beater. You're just forced to settle for them more often than you'd like. Spending more up front often saves time and money in the long run, which is certainly the case here. By starting with a car that had already been restored, only the doorskins needed to be replaced. The bulk of the bodywork involved closing up the gaps and aligning the panels to perfection. The driprails were shaved for a subtle and tasteful touch.
As with the bodywork, rebuilding the motor was something S.W. wanted to do right the first time, so he enlisted the help of a trained professional. Since the goal was a mild-mannered street motor, he had Port Pros build him a production block-based 351W with forged internals and an Edelbrock top end. At 547 hp it's nothing over the top, but more than enough to dispose of aggressors on the way home from cruise night. Likewise, its hydraulic roller cam has enough lope to rattle the shaker scoop at idle but is tame enough to attenuate bucking and surging at low speed.
With the engine and bodywork complete, S.W. assembled the rest of the car himself with the help of his friend Rick Flores. For someone who's built Camaros in the past, the Mustang presented some unexpected challenges. "It was fun putting this car together, but finding parts for it was very difficult at times," he explains. "It took a very long time for me to get an original dash and tach, and I ended up finding them on eBay. Also, no one makes an aftermarket wiring harness with a stock tach lead, so I had to have it custom-made." Since S.W. didn't plan on wringing the Mustang out on a road course, the stock gauges and dash are meant to preserve the vintage feel of the interior. He says there are too many Pro Touring posers with rollbars and racing buckets, and we have to agree.
Unfortunately, there are no performance numbers to report, which most grassroots enthusiasts will probably snort about. Sure, some track time in the Mustang would be nice, but we can't really blame the guy for using it as a cruiser instead. He's got plenty of other cars to race in, and it would be rash to assume the man's got no skills. S.W. currently owns or has owned 9-second Vipers, 9-second C5 Corvettes, and Ferraris that get pounded on at the road course. His impressive collection of racing trophies would make all but the most experienced racer look foolish. S.W.'s current road car of choice is a race-prepped, 427-powered '01 Z06, which is probably a far superior tool for the task at hand than the Mustang anyway. Maybe we should be thanking him for not defiling a classic in the name of portraying a certain image.
With the means to enjoy so many exotics, S.W.'s penchant for Detroit iron may seem a bit peculiar. Ask him about it, however, and it all makes perfect sense. "No matter what you do to a musclecar it will never drive or handle like a new Z06, but late-models can't touch the experience of driving down the road in a musclecar," he opines. "The way these cars look and sound-there's just nothing like it. Anyone can go out and buy a new Z06 or a Viper, but it takes a lot more work and dedication to build a musclecar." That sure sounds like a genuine car guy to us.
Like most hot rodders, S.W.'s never quite done scheming up new plans. He's debating minitubbing the Mustang and adding a couple of hundred extra horsepower with a wicked 427 small-block. By now it should be pretty clear that S.W. isn't too different from the average car guy. He's just blessed with the resources to build cars we'd all love to build someday, to an exacting level of quality most people can only dream about. It shouldn't be news to anyone that building high-end cars requires high-end budgets. So don't hate the players; hate the game. In the meantime, enjoy their cars.
What: '69 Ford Mustang SportsRoof
Owner: Sriyantha Weerasuria (aka S.W.)
Hometown: Austin, Texas, which has the fewest Bubbas of any city in the state
Engine: These days, it's just as easy to make lots of power with a 351W as it is with an SBC. The factory block was cleaned up and fitted with an Eagle 4.00-inch crank, Eagle 6.125-inch rods, and JE 10.8:1 pistons. A Canton 7-quart oil pan holds the lube, and an MSD distributor provides the spark. On the pump, the Windsor serves up 547 hp at 6,400 rpm and 470 lb-ft at 4,300 rpm. Harold Hallam at Port Pros (Austin, Texas) did the machine work and assembly.
Camshaft: A Comp 250/256-at-0.050 hydraulic roller cam actuates the valves.
Heads: Port Pros mildly massaged the Edelbrock Victor castings.
Induction: The hoodscoop supplies fresh air to a Barry Grant Demon 750-cfm carb, which mates to an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold.
Exhaust: JBA 131/44-inch shorty headers coated by HPC dump into 3-inch collectors and a custom X-pipe. Dual Flowmaster mufflers dampen the exhaust pulses.
Transmission: Multiplying the torque is a Tremec TKO 600 five-speed gearbox. A QuickTime SFI-approved bellhousing houses a Spec clutch and flywheel, and a Hurst shifter actuates the shifts.
Rearend: DTS assembled the 9-inch rearend with 31-spline Mark Williams axles, 3.89:1 gears, and a Detroit Locker differential.
Suspension: Straight out of the Pro Touring playbook, the front suspension features tubular upper and lower control arms, 600 lb/in drop springs, a 171/48-inch sway bar, and urethane bushings, all from Global West. Out back there are CalTracs traction bars and a 1-inch Global West sway bar. De-arched factory rear leaf springs lower ride height by 4 inches, and KYB shocks tame the spring oscillations at each corner.
Brakes: Power-assisted Ford Motorsport two-piston calipers squeeze cross-drilled 13-inch rotors up front. Single-piston calipers and 12-inch rotors get the job done in the rear.
Wheels/Tires: The front Fikse FM5 wheels measure 18x8.5 inches and are paired with 245/40-18 BFGs. The rear inner wheelwells were massaged to provide clearance for the 295/35-18 tires, which wrap around 18x10-inch rollers.
Body: Starting with a rust-free car that had already been restored kept bodywork to a minimum. The doorskins were replaced, and the driprails, emblems, and antenna were shaved. Rodney Austin did the work and sprayed the car with Glasurit black.
Interior: While there are some modern upgrades, the interior retains its stock flavor. A Budnik steering wheel and in Alpine stereo add some modern flair but blend in nicely with the stock gauges and dash. Side bolsters were added to the stock seats, then covered in vinyl by Tico's Upholstery.