1969 Mustang SportsRoof – “Family Affair”!


Working on a car or something else with your son or daughter is a powerful way of boosting your relationship, since you spend your time bonding. During the working process you can learn few life lessons like determination when working on something and hard work.

That was the case with George Riese and Dennis, his son who were working together on this project you can see right here. Back in 2001, George heard of a `69 Mustang that was on sale and since it was nearby in the neighborhood he and his son went to take a close look at the vehicle. The car was in terrible condition but either way they decided to buy it knowing that it would take a lot of effort to make it ready to hit the road.

And just like that Dennis got his first chance to work on a car. Dennis, unlike his father didn`t have that much time to devote on the car`s restoration cause he was caught up between work, school and the restoration. So, the most of the work was left to George. As he was progressing, he replaced the wrecked 302ci for a 351ci Cleveland and fitted another C4 tranny as well.


Then, things got serious. After beeing diagnosed with lung cancer Dennis passed away six weeks after being diagnosed. Therefore, the Mustang was kept under a cover for the next eight years at Dennis` driveway. He was planning to continue the work at some point.

After some time, when Dennis` wedding was at the doorstep his fiancé Francesca got an incredible idea. She suggested that they could include the Mustang in the wedding photos. That way Dennis` father would be included at the wedding. That gave Dennis an additional motivation to finish the car.

And just like that Dennis had a mission. He commenced the restoration by calling his friend, , owner of Pete`s Auto Care Peter Fandaros, Lynbrook, New Yorki in order to find some place where he could execute the restoration to be. Peter was of help. He found a perfect place outside the shop where the restoration could be carried out.  When the vehicle got in the shop, and the restoration process commenced Dennis got a closer look at the state of his vehicle. He explains, “When I placed the Mustang on the lift for the very first time I realized what years of sitting under a cover can do to a car. The damage was extensive, many things were rotted. It needed a lot of work.” The car was rustier than ever and that called for an extra work. Having all this work to do, Dennis spent many hours, sleepless nights and long weekends working on the car.

When Dennis got familiar with the car`s damage, he knew that the best thing to do was to take the gut completely and placed it on a rotisserie. The first thing he did was taking the rotted metal out. He had to replace a whole list of rotted parts. He replaced the both rear tailpanel, rear quarters, wheelwells, torque boxes, toe boards, framerails, door skins, floors, lower cowl and most of the engine compartment sheet metal. Again when the body was complete, the underneath of the vehicle was blasted by a primer of epoxy, accompanied by a layer of POR-15, and afterwards finished it with a layer of spray-on truck Raptor bed liner. He then removed the door lock cylinder holes, smoothed out the line between the quarters and the sail panel and finally removed the body line between the tail light extensions and the quarters. When the body was in good shape once again, Dennis moved on facing another issues.

The 351 Cleveland engine that his father long ago fitted was no longer an option. He had to either rebuild it or replace it. Since he hadn`t much time at his hands, Dennis went for a Carolina Machine Engines in Johnston, South Carolina -- 351 Windsor. A Ford 8-inch Traction-Lok rear was also fitted and the C4 was also replaced with a T5 manual box. Dennis did many upgrades. He replaced the ancient Ford units with a full  Mustang GT `05 disc brakes and placed new leaf sprigs and a TCP coilover conversion that gave the car a meaner look.

The interior as the other parts of the car wasn`t doing its best. Dennis  hired Phoenix`s Interiors James Zabatta II, Franklin Square, New York,  to do the interior work. The Mustang was given a Sport Seat conversion at the front. He fitted a Year One gauge cluster as well.  An `05 Mustang GT center console was placed and the hand brake was relocated. A keyless entry system along with power windows and power locks was installed. The AM radio didn`t quite capture the new look that Dennis had in mind so James put in a Double-DIN DVD/NAV Pioneer system that enables him to connect in his iPod, or download some tunes from Sirius.

The paintjob was handed to New Yorks, Body Works Collision in Lynbrook. The only thing that Dennis wasn`t in charge of was exactly the paint.  Once the body was prepared, a two-tone mixture of KAD Nissan Gun Metallic and Black basecoat/clearcoat paint was applied by Vic Ram. It was hard to believe that this Mustang was the same car that Dennis and his father bought and worked on ten years ago. It was a very emotional moment for Dennis to see his car in this new state.

The car was finished two weeks before the wedding date. Francesca was of help too. She searched the net looking for suitable parts for the car in order their wedding photos to be top notch. Dennis was proud of the work he did. He is sorry that his loving father didn`t witnessed this, but he is sure that wherever his father is, he is looking after him and smiling.


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