Larry Vigus is one of the good old boys from Texas. He drills holes for a living. We didn't ask if the holes are for water wells or oil. Large rigs surround his shop, right next to his house in a rural setting north of the tiny town of Anna, directly north of Dallas. We were more interested in his Mustangs.
His daily driver is a '65 fastback, for "going to Wal-Mart and parts stores" whenever he doesn't want to drive "one of my more expensive cars."
His '69 coupe fits into the latter category, and the cognoscenti know why at first glance. You can't miss the Shaker scoop poking through the steel hood or the Cobra Jet chrome script on each side of the black scoop. Larry admits he added the Styled Steel rims. They're period correct, utilized to slightly doll up an otherwise utilitarian coupe. Dog-dish hubcaps were original from the factory, with the rims painted gold to match the body. The original tires were whitewalls.
All a racer had to do in 1969 was pop the caps and hit the dragstrip. Flip them over and you could feed the dog while you were out.
In 1969, nearly everyone looking for performance chose the Mach 1. But the really serious drag racers realized the coupe shaved off 200 pounds of flab, all the better for quicker acceleration.
Larry assumes the original buyer must have had serious quarter-mile aspirations. More than a Cobra Jet, this one is a Super Cobra Jet, which came with the Drag Pack option. Larry has confirmation in the factory invoice obtained from the Lois Eminger files.
Although Larry got the car in pieces, the engine and many of the performance parts had been rounded up by the previous owner, Greg Cly, who bought the car as a shell. Still, Larry found a telltale reminder of the car's tire-smoking past. "Somebody really ran it hard, and they were sneaky, too, cutting up the inside of the dash to hide a nitrous bottle. The car probably led a hard life."
In the collector-car era, restorers have rushed to the rescue of history. After all, wouldn't the 428 SCJ coupe be the fastest of the breed? "Everybody has figured out how rare they are, so they are going back and saving them," says Larry.
For collectors, paperwork has proved invaluable. Larry knows exactly how his coupe was equipped at the factory, right down to the AM/eight-track tape, tinted windows, and the standard clock on the passenger side of the dash. Apparently, the original buyer wanted to know the time. He wanted to hear some tunes. And he wanted shielding from the sun. But, primarily, he wanted to accelerate fast in a straight line.
Options, which appear few, start to mount up when one considers performance. The coupe is well equipped with the Shaker, indash tach, 3.91 Traction-Lok gears, and four-speed transmission. The Super Cobra Jet consisted of either a 3.91 or a 4.30 rear axle, along with the engine oil cooler, capscrew connecting rods, modified flywheel, and modified damper. According to Cobra Jet expert Mike Ulrey, 4.30 gears from the factory are exceedingly rare.
Larry assembled the car when he wasn't drilling holes in the earth. He has a passion for his Mustangs. The third "expensive" car in the Vigus stable is a '66 Shelby GT350. All are back to stock condition, and all are driven.
Larry's other concession to factory OEM on the SCJ coupe is an aftermarket wood steering wheel. Under the hood, the SCJ is 100 percent factory concours correct, right down to the 48-states Thermactor smog air pump and canister. The color is Champagne Gold, accented with a Gold Nugget interior.
Just 52 R-code (ram-air) coupes were built in 1969. Of those 52, even fewer were four-speeds. When you narrow it down to the Super Cobra Jet option, the color on Larry's coupe is appropriate-it's as rare as gold.