1969 Ford Mustang History
Article by Mark Trotta
One of the most sought-after classic cars by collectors and enthusiasts is the 1969 Mustang. Aside from it's great looks, three new performance models were introduced this year, including the Mach 1, Boss 302 and Boss 429 models.
Ford's successful pony car continued in 1969, offered in notchback, SportsRoof (fastback), and convertible models. A revised front end featured a longer nose, with a second pair of head lamps added to the inside the grille area. The back end had a more rectangular tail-light panel than 1967-1968 Mustangs.
The Mustang's frame and wheelbase remained the same at 108 inches, but total length grew from 181 inches to 183.6 inches. Overall weight increased 150-175 pounds, but with more power available than ever before, it didn't hurt performance all that much. Some owners claim the added weight gives the 1969 models a more confident feel on the road than previous lighter models.
Front suspension continued as independent control-arms with coil springs and an anti-roll bar. In back, semi-elliptical leaf springs held up a solid rear axle. Manual 10" drum brakes front and rear were standard equipment. Power front disc brakes were offered as an extra cost option.
The Mustang's base engine was a 200 cubic-inch straight-six. V8 choices included 289, 302 and 351 small blocks, and 390, 428, and 429 big-block engines.
302 Small-Block V8
Ford's new 302ci V8 engine was basically a 289 engine stroked to 3 inches, and fitted with shorter connecting rods to allow the use of the 289 pistons. A two-barrel version produced 220 horsepower, while a four-barrel version produced 230 horsepower. A low-performance 195-horsepower 289 V8 was still an option, but the other 289's were gone.
Although similar in appearance to the 289/302 engines, the 351 Windsor had a unique, tall-deck block with larger connecting rods and main bearing caps. Because of it's cylinder head design, the 351W provided good low-end torque, but had limited high-rpm breathing. Two versions were introduced in 1969, a 250 horsepower 2-barrel engine and a 290 horsepower 4-barrel version. All 351W engines had hydraulic lifters, two-bolt main caps, and cast-iron intake manifolds.
351W vs 351C
There is a lot of confusion about the 351 Windsor V8 and the 351 Cleveland V8. The 351C motor was not officially offered in Mustangs until 1970. The easiest way to tell a 351W from a 351C is by counting the valve cover bolts. A 351 Windsor has six bolts per head, whereas a 351 Cleveland has eight bolts per head.
Big block engine options started with the S-code 390 cubic-inch big-block with four-barrel carburetor. With 10.5:1 compression, engine output was rated at 320-horsepower.
Three variations of the 428 CobraJet engine were offered. Appearing on the option list was the Q-code 428CJ (non-ram-air) and the Ram Air equipped R-code 428CJ. Not on the option list and little known was the 428 Super CobraJet.
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428 Super CobraJet
Unadvertised in any of Ford's literature at the time, the 428 Super CobraJet (SCJ) featured cast aluminum pistons, heavy-duty connecting rods, and special harmonic balancer and flywheel. The SCJ option was available only with "Traction-Lok" 3.91 or 4.30 rear-end ratios. The 428 SCJ option made it's way into 3,181 Mustangs, and all cars so equipped came with an external engine oil cooler. All 428-equipped Mustangs were fitted with shock tower braces.
Base transmission for the 1969 Mustang was a manual floor-shift three-speed. A three-speed automatic or four-speed manual were both optional. The four-speed transmission could be ordered with the V-8s, but not with the six cylinder engine. With the 390 or 428 big-block engines, only the three-speed automatic or four-speed manual could be ordered.
First Year Mustang Mach I
Named after a show car displayed by Ford in 1966, the Mustang Mach I package included a matte-black hood, non-functional hood scoop with turn signal indicators on the back side, and a front chin spoiler. The Mach 1 was available only as a SportsRoof (fastback) model. Although similar to the GT fastback, the Mach I came with a more upscale interior, including high-back bucket seats.
Additional features on the first-year Mach I included chrome rocker panel moldings, hood pins, and reflective body side stripes. Engine designation badges were affixed to each side and accent stripes around the upper portion of the rear body panel. A rear spoiler and rear window louver were popular options.
Mach I Engine Choices
Standard engine for the 1969 Mach I was the H-code 351 two-barrel, producing 250 horsepower. Next up in performance was the M-code four-barrel 351 Windsor, producing 250 horsepower. The four-barrel S-code 390 was also available. Finally, three versions of 428 CobraJet were offered.
1969 Mustang Boss 302
The Boss 302 model was purpose-built to have Mustangs eligible for SCCA Trans-Am racing. There were two engine classes; "Under 2.0 Litre" (European cars) and "Over 2.0 Litre" (American cars). Engine displacement in the latter category were limited to 5.0 litres (305-cid).
Available in fastback body style only, the Boss 302 featured a blacked-out hood, trunk lid and taillight panels. Brakes were upgraded, suspension was stiffened, and all extraneous body parts were removed. Exterior C-stripes and a front chin spoiler were standard, with a rear spoiler and rear window louvers optional. The Boss 302 was not in the standard sales brochure, and only 1,628 were built.
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Most of the Boss 302's power was due to the large-port, large-valve, free-flowing heads. A beefed-up bottom end included forged steel crankshaft, heavy-duty connecting rods, and forged pistons.
Insurance companies would charge a premium to cover high-horsepower cars, so manufacturers purposely under-rated their performance engines. The official stats for the Boss 302 engine were 290 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 290 lb-ft at 4,300 rpm.
1969 Mustang Boss 429
While the Boss 302 was designed to competitive in road racing, the 429 was designed for straight-line acceleration. It also helped Ford to qualify for race rules, requiring at least 500 production cars to be manufactured and sold to the general public. Built from mid-1969 through 1970, the Boss 429 is the largest engine that Ford ever offered in a production Mustang. The front suspension was modified to handle the extra size and weight.
Featuring a displacement of 4.36 bore x 3.59 stroke, the 429 cubic-inch motor was advertised at 375 horsepower, although minor tuning unleashed nearer 500 horsepower. To help with the already over-laden engine compartment, the battery was moved to the trunk for weight concerns and extra clearance. As the large motor would not quite fit under a stock hood, a hood scoop was placed on all 429-equipped Mustangs.
1969 Mustang Grande
The 1969 model year is remembered most by Mustang fans for it's performance models, so the upscale Grande is often overlooked. Offered for just four years (1969 to 1973), the Grande offered buyers a sporty luxury car that still had plenty of power. Comfort-adding features included additional sound-deadening materials, padded interior side panels, and extra-thick carpet on the floorboards.
Mustang Grande interiors featured simulated teak wood trim and a "Rim Blow" steering wheel, which allowed the driver to sound the horn by squeezing the wheel. Minor exterior queues included two-tone narrow stripes, racing-style mirrors, chrome rocker panel moldings and wire-style wheel covers. The Mustang Grande was offered in hardtop only, with a color-keyed vinyl top and a small 'Grande' emblem on the rear roof pillar.
1969 Mustang E
In a year filled with unparalleled performance options, 1969 also gave us an "economy" Mustang. Limited to just 50 models, the Mustang E was a SportsRoof model fitted with a 250 cubic-inch six cylinder. It was available with automatic transmission only, and featured a high-stall torque converter and 2.33:1 rear differential. To help provide maximum fuel economy, air conditioning was not available.
1969 Mustang Production
Model-year production total for the 1969 Mustang was 299,824 (all models).
- Mach 1 - 72,458
- Convertible - 14,746
- Grande - 22,182
1969 was the last year for the GT option. 5,396 Mustangs were so equipped.
1964-1966 Ford Mustang
1967-1968 Ford Mustang
1987-1993 Ford Mustang