In the ordinary world, engines are built for a project car, where the platform and parts are chosen to best complement the project and the ultimate goals. Nonetheless, in the world of dream cars where Bodie Stroud and his crew at BS Industries operate, sometimes the order gets flipped. Such was the case with this ’69 Ford Mustang dubbed “The Real Thing” built by BS Industries. The discovery of an extraordinarily rare and storied big-block Ford engine instigated and shaped the whole project.

What was so special about an old 385-series Ford? What had arrived in Bodie’s shop was a genuine Ford 494ci Can-Am aluminum block—one of 10 (or 12, depending on the source) aluminum blocks ever produced. But it even goes beyond that; this particular engine was part of the Holman Moody program that powered an M6B McLaren Can-Am racer known as the “429er.” And the man behind the wheel was none other than Mario Andretti. Now that’s provenance. But there was no Can-Am car accompanying it when the bare block originally arrived at BS Industries. The question of the day was: What do you do with an extraordinarily rare and valuable old race engine missing all of its original parts? Garage art? Coffee table base? No way! This baby had to run again.

So its new home had to be a radical road race car, right? No, but you could say a famous drag car provided the inspiration. Production Boss 429s existed simply for NASCAR Grand National Division racing homologation and wound up shoehorned into Mustangs to give Ford’s ponycar a rival to the ZL1 Camaros. And despite NASCAR’s shortsighted decision to outlaw them, lots of Boss engines went on to have successful racing careers on the quarter-mile. While sitting around having coffee and brainstorming about the new project with the Can-Am’s owner and his son, Bodie threw out the idea that the ultimate Boss engine really should be in the ultimate Boss Mustang—but the question was, what exactly did ultimate mean?

Other than a lack of A/C due to engine compartment real estate constraints, off-the- showroom-floor Boss 429s were well-appointed cars for the street. That genre fit more in line with what Tom Fry (the Can-Am’s caretaker) wanted, except that rather than a well-appointed ’69 interior, he decided that he wanted something that felt like a cross with a ’11 5.0 Mustang—still appropriately retro styled for a ’69, but designed with driving pleasure and modern amenities in mind. After that, any pretenses of building a stock-appearing or original Boss were brushed off the table and the customization ideas for how to build the ultimate reimagined and modernized ’69 Boss Mustang flowed forth.

While they were bench racing their thoughts, Tom’s son, Tim, happened to mention his love for the shape of nostalgia Funny Cars, and, in particular, Harry Schmidt’s original Blue Max ’69 Mustang that kicked off the famed Blue Max lineage. Of course, Funny Cars run wildly altered fiberglass shells only very loosely based on production bodies, but after pulling up a picture of Blue Max, Bodie was inspired and contended that a few of the more tasteful Funny Car body mods could be subtly integrated into steel to create a better looking SportsRoof Mustang. After more discussion and a quick sketch by Bodie to explain, the deal was sealed.

The problem was, Bodie had dealt himself a difficult hand. The main touch he wanted to borrow from Blue Max was to lower and reshape the roofline of the Mustang, but to make it flow correctly with the Mustang’s body lines and retain the iconic silhouette, it needed to be so subtle that casual observers would be left trying to figure out exactly what was different. Chopping any muscle car is hard enough, especially fastback-style roofs, but this was uncharted territory. Personally, we’ve never seen a chopped Mustang that didn’t immediately look a little off, so the potential for fugly was high. That’s why while a fresh ’69 Mustang body from Dynacorn waited patiently in the corner of the shop, Bodie began experimenting on a rough, vintage ’69 body to see if what he had in mind would better the Mustang’s looks—or slide into the realm of things better left undone.