We've seen plenty of Mustangs here at PHR, and we've seen several companies build cool cars as rolling examples of what they're all about, too. When we got the call about this particular car going together for COMP Cams, we wanted to hear more. It wasn't a shoe-in for a feature, since we like our Mustang coverage to focus on either the finest or fastest of the breed. What we found was both. After COMP completed their awesome SB2-urged '69 Camaro convertible project about three years ago, they mentioned to us how they'd like to have a Ford product to accompany it. They wanted it to also share a '69 vintage, and they preferred it be a droptop. Like the Camaro, it should represent the cutting edge of style and function (with a powerplant guaranteed to impress) while showcasing COMP's engineering talents. While we expected to find a newly built Mustang, what we actually found was a new way to build a Mustang.
The results met all expectations, as a NASCAR-based Robert Yates Ford engine was teamed with a Richmond six-speed transmission to provide insane power. The suspension was treated to many modern amenities and adjustment points to expand upon the traction capability over the factory offerings. Team this hardcore engineering flavor with a street rod-quality buildup, let Tim and Carrie Strange finish off the interior, and you've got yourself quite a car.
The Stablemate took advantage of the aftermarket in a big way and even wears some prototype parts that should be available to the general public by the time you're reading this. Like any handbuilt hot rod, there are also some parts that are one-off, custom-made goodies for this particular car. Taming a Yates NASCAR engine to run comfortably on pump gas and live in a street environment presented some unique challenges, so unique parts were required.
It's obvious the powerplant really got us fired up, so let's begin telling this tale by peeking underhood. This engine served Dale Jarrett's #88 Ford as both a qualifying and race day powerplant over its professional life. The cylinder heads, block, crank, and rods are all NASCAR spec. The engine's transformation to life on the street involved a new camshaft profile (from a solid, flat-tappet profile to one of COMP's Endure-X solid roller street setups with matching springs), lower-compression pistons (to bring the squeeze from a track-ready 12.0:1 to a street-sane 10:1), and the addition of EFI (all Wilson goodies, from the modified intake to the throttle body and fuel rails). After this de-tuning session, the engine still managed to crank out 665 hp (at 7,800 rpm) and 513 lb-ft of torque (at 6,400 rpm). The belt-driven dry-sump oil system is still in place and functional, which is admittedly over the top for a street-based car. But, since the engine was received by COMP with all the dry-sump mods in place already, it was actually easier for them to keep it functional rather than make modifications to allow for a traditional wet sump. The oil tank was mounted ahead of the right wheel, and a service door was added to the custom-bent sheetmetal of the inner fenderwell.
Mustang traditionalists are surely scratching their heads wondering where all this room was found. Early Mustangs weren't noted for their huge front wheelwells, and with an oversized wheel and tire under it, there shouldn't be enough space under this car to fit an oil tank. If the front suspension had remained the way Ford intended it, there wouldn't be.
COMP knew this car needed to handle, and they knew there'd be a need for adjustable ride height and freedom to create. The answer was to design and build a complete front chassis for the car and eliminate the factory shock towers. By switching to a traditional double-A-arm front suspension, COMP could gain valuable underhood real estate and incorporate proven suspension and brake components into a more compact package. Atlanta Street Rods took on the task, and it's their workmanship we're seeing.
The wheels and tires have plenty of room to turn, the steering was upgraded to a rack-and-pinion setup, and there's plenty of space for accessories, like the oil tank. Plug access is excellent, and the overall effect is one of greater convenience for maintenance and a smoother, cleaner appearance. A pair of PRO adjustable coilover shocks now works with tubular Mustang II independent arms to support the front end.
The rear suspension may be more familiar to Mustang fans. Based on factory suspension points, the 9-inch, Currie-built rear axle (armed with 3.42:1 gears) is located by a three-link setup. Another pair of adjustable PRO coilover shocks work in concert with the leaf springs, but these particular springs are custom-made with an additional leaf to stiffen the suspension. There was still enough space under the car to fit fat rubber at all four corners, and BFG's g-Force TA tires were selected in 275/40-18 (rear) and 265/40-17 (front) to fill the wheelwells. The car's final stance has yet to be reached, as it still sat a little high for COMP's taste as seen in these shots. This is due to the custom-made exhaust system hanging a bit lower than expected, specifically the driver's-side header flange. COMP is confident a tighter-fitting part can be made now that the car is in one piece, and the desired lower stance will follow after these mods are made. The adjustable coilover shocks make ride height adjustments fairly simple.
Nailing the look COMP was after meant extensive homework would be required to research the right size, style, and backspacing for the wheels. Since the rolling stock defines the ride, COMP opted for Billet Specialties Legacy wheels. This particular wheel infuses a blend of traditional big-window, five-spoke competition style with modern engineering and manufacturing, resulting in a wide range of sizes to fit most applications. The Stablemate is no exception, checking in with 18x8s on the rear with 4-inch backspacing and 17x7s for the front with 3.5 inches of backspace. Filling the wheels are Baer Racing stoppers featuring 13-inch rotors and four-piston calipers on all four corners. Stopping this car will not be a challenge for these outstanding parts.
The car was actually assembled using parts from two donor cars, a vast array of body panels, and parts from National Parts Depot, including the prototype fiberglass cowl scoop. While this hood may be available now, it was this car that prompted its creation. We like the look, as it incorporates the cowl look made popular by late-model 5.0 racers, yet it blends seamlessly with the traditional lines of the Mustang. This should become a very popular part. The Shelby rear spoiler and a factory Mach I front spoiler fill the need for aerodynamic flavor but do so with conservative appeal.
With the custom chassis work accomplished, the body remounted and straight, the racy powertrain developed, and the custom work underhood complete, the car was finally ready for paint and interior finishing. While the crew at Atlanta Street Rods painted the car, Tim and Carrie Strange of Strange Motion completed the interior. Based on simple needs and a desire for comfort, the results speak volumes and don't overshadow the car. We've seen several new cars being built with mini-truck-style wild interior treatments, but we prefer the understated elegance of Strange's work. The custom console and dash full of Auto Meter gauges lets enthusiasts know what this car was built for: driving! It begs for a spirited run at high speed with the top down and the Yates powerplant singing.
It's not a project that happened quickly or without careful planning. It's one of the more interesting new cars we've seen come together, since it is an early Mustang, but is also a rather unusual '69 convertible. We just haven't seen too many of these rebuilt for street machine duty, and certainly not to this level of excellence. What could be next?
We're not geniuses, but after seeing COMP develop and assemble some of the finest Chevy and Ford convertibles from the musclecar era, we'd venture a guess that a Mopar may be in the future for the cutting-edge cam company. The Chevy is complete, and the Mopar may be in the future, but for now we ask you look over this Ford. We feel COMP's Chris Brown and Jay Adams did a wonderful job in conceiving this car, and we've got to give credit to the crew at Atlanta Street Rods for assembling this righteous red ragtop.