We’d love to try and describe the process, but honestly we can’t. Similar to traditional custom car chops, the whole roofline has actually been reshaped, extended, and repositioned. We did get to see the test car a few times during Bodie’s design process, and the most we can divulge is that everything north of the beltline was removed at some point and sliced into a jigsaw puzzle of steel in order to bring the roofline down significantly and lay the windshield back a few degrees, all while keeping the shape distinctly ’69 Mustang. Not only did that work achieve a sexier profile, it had the effect of making the nose appear stretched—another understated nod to Blue Max.

There are many more subtle touches as well; the quarter-panels and endcaps appear stock, but are actually significantly wider. But enough about the bodywork; remember that awesome engine that was the genesis of the whole project? Word got around the hot rodding community that the Can-Am Boss that QMP Racing Engines was preparing for the Mustang was one of Andretti’s old bullets. That spawned many admirers, and even a few detractors who couldn’t bring themselves to embrace the engine’s heritage without some sort of cold hard proof. They’d soon get it.

At the 2010 SEMA show, a satin black cover was draped over a low, though clearly muscular shape in the middle of an exhaust company’s booth in the Central Hall. Observers and media milled about, inquiring about the car and when it would be unveiled. Lips were sealed until the morning of November 2 when a huge mass of people filled the booth and surrounding aisles, pressing inward toward the car with cameras ready. When the cover was pulled away to reveal the Mustang, now known as The Real Thing, everyone was agape. While most were immediately taken in by the impact of the stance, wheels, and alluring roofline, one man went directly to the engine compartment. Andretti knew exactly what the real part of this Mustang was. He smiled as he looked over the trumpeted EFI induction, simplistically beautiful engine mounting plate, front drive assembly, and Kaase cylinder heads. The Can-Am had never looked so good in his McLaren. With the blessing of the owner, Andretti signed the valve cover, adding his corroboration to the Mustang’s moniker and the engine’s heritage.

Overall, everyone present at SEMA was blown away by the Mustang’s dramatic charisma. Of course, there were a few murmurs about the heresy of placing such a historic engine into a high-end touring muscle car. They’re missing the point though, it’s an epic engine born again into an epic muscle car. Rather than sit in a shop in a race car that’ll never be driven, this 777hp Mustang will prowl the streets and be enjoyed. Nothing wrong with that at all, no matter where the engine came from. If there’s one other opinion other than Tom’s that carries some weight on The Real Thing, it’s Andretti’s. So what did he think of the new and radically dissimilar home his old engine had been placed into? In two words: loved it. Andretti may be one of history’s most talented racers, but he loves a finely crafted hot rod as well. He really only had one question, “When can I drive it?”

By the Numbers

1969 SportsRoof Mustang

BS Industries • Sun Valley, CA

Engine

Type: 494ci Boss Can-Am
Block: Ford Aluminum Can-Am, Darton iron sleeves
Oiling: Aviaid dry sump oil system
Rotating assembly: Crower billet crankshaft, Ross Racing dished pistons
Cylinder heads: Kaase Boss CNC ported by QMP Racing
Camshaft: custom cam by LSM Systems Engineering
Valvetrain: Kaase/W.W. Engineering rocker system, Manley titanium valves, COMP Cams titanium retainers and valve locks
Induction: Holman and Moody fuel injection converted to electronic by Kinsler Fuel Injection
ECU: FAST
Exhaust: Magnaflow 3-inch stainless builder’s kit and mufflers
Fuel system: custom stainless steel tank, Aeromotive fuel pump
Ignition: MSD Pro-Billet distributor, Moroso plug wires
Cooling: custom C&R aluminum radiator
Output: 777.5 hp at 7,000 rpm; 579 lb-ft of torque
Built by: QMP Racing Engines

Drivetrain

Transmission: Tremec T56 Magnum, McLeod clutch and flywheel
Rearend: shortened Ford 9-inch

Chassis

Suspension & Chassis: BS Industries Mustang full frame with tubular control arms up front and four-link rear with Panhard bar, RideTech Titanium series ShockWave with nitrogen-filled canisters, electric steering by Flaming River
Brakes: 14-inch Brembo six-piston brakes front and four-piston rear

Wheels &

Wheels: 18x8 and 18x15 Rushforth Wheels
Tires: 26x8.00R18 and 30x18.50 Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R Radial