By the conclusion of the 1968 model year, Ford’s Mustang was available in just about any guise: from conservative economical cruiser to a street bruiser; even a Corvette combatant, thanks to some fine tuning by Shelby American. In theory, the one thing missing from its résumé was luxury, an attribute more closely affiliated with upscale intermediates and full-size platforms. For those discerning owners who were enticed by the pony’s appeal, Ford provided the new Mustang Grande for ’69.
The interiors of these posh ponies were finished with rich teak appliqué on each door panel, as well as the instrument panel and glovebox door. A faux-wood finished three-spoke Rim-Blow steering wheel, door panel courtesy lamps, bright pedal pads, and bucket seats trimmed in durable vinyl with hopsack cloth inserts were included. A teak-trimmed center console was optional, along with choice of radio, air conditioning, “Fingertip Speed Control” and a series of power accessories. Isolating passengers from the rest of the world was 55 pounds of extra insulation.
Only available as a hardtop, the Grande’s exterior was just as refined. Wheel lip and rear decklid moldings accompanied full wire wheel covers, rocker panel molding and two-tone tape stripes. Ford also offered, in their words, “a vinyl roof that looks like real leather–in either black or parchment.” The only twist to this list of finer appointments was the color-keyed racing mirrors usually found on racier editions.
Behind the grille was an economy six-cylinder with a displacement of 200 cubic inches rated for 115hp, backed by a three-speed manual. But as was the case with the rest of the Mustang lineup, other engine/transmission combinations were readily available, including a 428 Cobra Jet and a four-speed manual; which is exactly what lies below the hood of this Raven Black Grande. It effectively breaks the unwritten performance luxury rules.
The Q-code 428CJ originated from the FE-series of mills, with 4.132 x 3.98-inch bore and stroke dimensions, cast-iron crankshaft, Police Interceptor type connecting rods, cylinder heads with 2.09 x 1.66-inch intake/exhaust valves, and a hydraulic lifter camshaft from the 1968 390 GT engine. There was also a 735-CFM Holley four-barrel carburetor and a cast-iron hi-rise, dual-plane intake manifold. Altogether, the 428CJ was underrated at 335hp and 440-lbs.ft. of torque.
This particular Grande was also assembled with a Hurst-shifted Top-loader four-speed; Ford’s durable 9-inch differential with a 3.50:1 ratio within (strangely without Traction-Lok); Competition Suspension (heavy-duty coil/leaf springs and larger 15/16-inch anti-roll bar); power front disc brakes; power steering; tinted glass; AM radio; and E70-14 Wide Ovals–the styled steel wheels were added more recently.
Although 1969 Grande production ended at a healthy 22,182, 428CJ-powered examples were true rarities: A mere 37 were built. Of those, only nine featured a four-speed manual.
This article originally appeared in the February, 2013 issue of Hemmings Motor News.