Though recognizably Mustang, the '69s somehow looked more "adult," more serious. Surprising many, the galloping horse and "corral" were gone from the grille, replaced by a small pony tri-color on the port side. The grille itself was visibly vee'd and made broader to cradle high-beam headlights at its outboard ends -- the first quad-lamp Mustang. Low beams nestled in the flanking "sugar scoops."
The hood was also vee'd and slightly domed between newly peaked front fender lines leading to a more exaggerated hop-up. Instead of the signature body side sculpturing, hardtops and convertibles wore a more subtle "character" line trailing back and slightly downward from the nose to end just behind the door, with a slim, reverse-facing dummy air vent below. SportsRoofs capped the sideline with a simulated scoop faired into the hop-up, an echo of the discarded shorty fastback. Taillights again grouped into two clusters of three vertical lenses, but the back panel reverted from concave to flat.
Rooflines changed too, with more steeply raked windshields and, for hardtops and convertibles, wider "formal" rear-roof quarters. The SportsRoof sported a "faster" roof sloping down to a vestigial spoiler, plus first-time rear-quarter windows, which flipped out instead of rolling down. All models lost front vent windows, adopting a new forced-air ventilation system with hidden extractor outlets. A big, round Mustang medallion replaced roof louvers on fastbacks.
The instrument panel was naturally redesigned, still a "twin cowl" affair, but the cowls were more prominent. Lower surfaces on either side of the console were angled forward, which at least gave the illusion of extra leg space. Gauges sat ahead of the driver in four large, round recesses; a fifth hole ahead of the front passenger was used to house the clock. A debatable new extra was the "Rim-Blow" steering wheel ($66). Instead of pushing the wheel hub to sound the horn, you simply squeezed anywhere on the rim. Though supposedly a "blow" for convenience, the device worked a bit too well. Fast wheel twirling was often a comically noisy affair.
Knudsen's comment about "models for specific segments of the market" only parroted a previous Ford decision to expand the Mustang line. The model year opened with two additions. One was the Grande, a personal-luxury hardtop pitching the same buyers as cousin Mercury Cougar and the Pontiac Firebird. Priced about $230 above the $2635 standard issue, the Grande featured a vinyl-covered roof with identifying name script; pointy color-keyed "racing" door mirrors; wire wheel covers; two-tone paint stripes beneath the beltline; and bright wheelwell, rocker panel, and rear-deck moldings. The interior was upgraded with standard clock, convincing imitation teakwood accents on the dash and door panels, and seats with "hopsack" cloth inserts and vinyl bolsters. Appropriate for its upscale character, the Grande got a slightly softer suspension than the base hardtop and an extra 55 pounds of sound insulation.
Besides a more expansive package, the '69 Mustangs offered the widest choice of models and powertrains yet, with some introduced after the late-August 1968 showroom debut. The stalwart 200- and 250-cubic-inch sixes returned with 115 and 155 horsepower, respectively. The base 302 V-8 option remained at 220 horsepower, but the big-block 390 was back to 320, down five from '68. In between these was a pair of important new 351 small-blocks, more of which shortly. Again topping the list was the muscular Cobra Jet 428, available with and without ram-air induction but conservatively rated either way at 335 horsepower. Transmissions were the usual three- and four-speed manuals and Cruise-O-Matic, but Ford actually used two different four-speeds and three different automatics depending on engine.
Want to find out more about the Mustang legacy? Follow these links to learn all about the original pony car:
- Saddle up for the complete story of America's best-loved sporty car. How the Ford Mustang Works chronicles the legend from its inception in the early 1960s to today's all-new Mustang.
- In 1967, the original pony car was up for its first major revamp. Learn how Ford retooled and updated the 1967-1968 Ford Mustang to meet public expectations and to keep pace with the competition.
- With sales down and criticism abounding, the Mustang struggled in the early '70s. Learn what went wrong (and what went right) for the 1971-1973 Ford Mustang.
- The 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 428 Cobra Jet was the muscle car Mustang fans had waited for. Gallop into its profile, photos, and specifications.