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Early in the Mustang restoration hobby, a 428 Cobra Jet Mustang convertible was thought to be a mythical creature, like the Loch Ness monster or Sasquatch. Cobra Jet ragtops were believed to exist, although no one had ever seen one.
Jack Brooks attended numerous Mustang shows in the ‘80s, concentrating on his favorite years – 1969 and 1970. Jack thought a 428 ’69 convertible would be the ultimate pony car. His Mustang pals agreed that surely Ford had built a few, but in all their show-going, nobody had an actual sighting.
In 1986 Jack finally acquired a project R-code ’69 Mach 1 with a four-speed transmission. What Jack remembers most about this transaction was when he went to pick it up and was preparing to leave, the seller told him to “wait a minute” while he retrieved the Shaker assembly from the garage. He wasn’t planning on restoring the Mach 1. Instead he was preparing to swap the drivetrain into his ’69 302 convertible, creating a tribute car well before Barrett-Jackson made it a household word.
Jack finished the transformation and enjoyed the car that way for years. But then, authentic CJ convertibles began popping up in Mustang periodicals. Seeing these factory-built muscle car ragtops in magazines really got to Jack. “I just gotta have one,” he thought. Plus he wanted to restore a Mustang to a high level, so Jack set his sights on finding an elusive 428 convertible. This was in the pre-Marti Report days so actual numbers were not known. What was known is that there weren’t many.
In fall, 1992, Jack came across an ad in Hemmings Motor News for a project 1969 428 GT convertible in Colorado. Trouble was it was being sold as a pair with a restored ’69 428 CJ Grande. Both were black 4-speeds which made a scintillating pair, but Jack couldn’t swing the purchase of both. He called the owner, Kris Kanack, and made arrangements to inspect the cars since he was living in Colorado at the time.
Jack found the convertible to be complete with just 52,000 miles, but it had been off the road since 1976 after being involved in a minor accident. Though it had been roadworthy for only seven years it had been repainted several times, including a period in a gold shade. It was definitely a project, but could be brought back to life with some blood, sweat and dollars.
Jack’s dilemma was in prying it away from Kris minus the Grande. Kris was firm that the two would be sold togther since he was trying to finance the restoration of a 1969 Shelby GT500. What Kris was willing to do was to have Kenn Funk contact Jack. Kenn was interested in the Grande. This broke the logjam. The deal was made and Jack towed home the ragtop while Kenn had the coupe shipped to his Glendale, California home.
In 1997, while preparing for the CJ’s renovation, Jack moved to California, and also began looking into the rare Mustang’s past. He traced its history back to 1974 and the second owner. After being delivered new to J. Baglier Ford Sales in Girard, Ohio, the convertible somehow wound up on the West Coast. The second owner purchased it from a local used car lot while stationed at Treasure Island Naval Base in San Francisco. When the owner was discharged from the Navy he moved to Denver, where the aforementioned accident occurred. It passed through an unknown other owners before Jack acquired it.
When the Marti Reports finally became available in 1999, Jack learned his Q-code GT convertible with four-speed transmission was just one of nine built in 1969. All total there were 122 Q-code and R-code convertibles manufactured that year. The report also noted the options it left the factory with; rectangular electric clock, console, power front disc brakes, AM radio, and color-keyed racing mirrors. Though not mentioned on the Marti report, Jack’s GT also has the rare color-keyed styled steel wheels.
When Jack was ready to restore his CJ he chose Armond D’Agostini in Lehi, Utah to handle the paint and bodywork. A rotisserie restoration followed, with Armond laying down the single-stage Raven Black finish with just the right amount of orange peel. Jack then handled most of the remaining work himself.
Naturally, Jack encountered some obstacles. One was finding a correct drive shaft. With the help of a local agricultural company, he produced a concours-correct drive shaft. When others saw the finished product, they wanted one too and from there, his company Dead Nuts On was born. Jack went on to produce other products that for concours restoration, like brake booster hoses, air cleaner breather hoses and other concours-correct niche parts.
The restoration was completed in September of 2006. Sort of. Jack entered the CJ in the Mustang Club of America National show in Las Vegas, but the car was missing the exhaust system and a few other items. Nevertheless it won a Silver award in the Concours Trailered Class. Since then it has been awarded two Golds, one at the MCA National in Concord, California in 2007 and the other at the MCA Grand National in Park City, Utah in 2008. A first-place trophy was won at the Fresno Concours d’elegance in 2009 in the muscle car category. MCA Head Judge Charles Turner once wrote on the Vintage Mustang Forum that the best score he has ever given to a car was to this CJ at the Concord show. Though he did state his knowledge of ’69 Mustangs is somewhat limited. Still it does show Jack’s attention to detail. That must be what he meant when years ago he said that he wanted to restore a car to a high level. Mission accomplished.