From the moment the Mustang was introduced as a '64 1/2 model, the vinyl roof was listed on the factory option sheet as a classy dress-up for the hardtop. Fastbacks were obviously seen as more of a sporty model, so the vinyl roof was never offered from the factory until 1973-and even then it was a "3/4" version that didn't cover the entire roofline. However, around 1967, some California Ford dealers began offering a vinyl roof as a dealer-installed option for fastbacks.
The vinyl roof Mustang fastback is nothing new for Dave Miller. In October 1970, his mom purchased a Grabber SportsRoof from Cortese Ford in Richmond, California. It was equipped with the vinyl roof, as listed on the window sticker as a $40 dealer-installed option. Dave remembers driving the Bright Yellow Mustang as a teenager, confessing, "I got my first traffic ticket in it."
Introduced in 1970 as an economical Mustang with muscular good looks, the Grabber Mustangs were equipped with the base 302 two-barrel engine and came in the brightest Mustang colors-Grabber Blue, Grabber Orange, Grabber Green, Vermilion, and Bright Yellow-with Boss-like reflective C-stripes, black-out rear panel, dual racing mirrors, and 14-inch wheels with Corporate hub caps and trim rings. According to Kevin Marti's production data, 5,120 were built in 1970. As far as Dave Miller can tell, his Mom got the only one with a dealer-installed vinyl roof.
Mrs. Miller drove the Grabber Mustang as her daily commuter until 1989. Dave's father then began "tinkering" with the car, which included a swap to Magnum 500 wheels, but handed it over to Dave in 1995. After three years of collecting parts, Dave began a full-on restoration with the goal of keeping the exterior mostly stock while dressing up the engine and underhood area.
DeRosa Paint and Body in Antioch, California, stripped and repainted the never-wrecked SportsRoof in its original Bright Yellow color, including the engine compartment. Dave then delivered the car to Eric Wise at Old School Autoworks in Antioch, California, to complete the Mustang's reassembly. Eric also rebuilt the original 302 but beefed it up with an Edelbrock four-barrel intake and carb, street cam, and MSD ignition. Following the yellow and black theme, the engine is painted black in contrast to the Bright Yellow engine compartment, which was tidied up by hiding all of the wiring. The small-block is also dressed out with chrome pulleys and brackets, finned aluminum valve covers and air cleaner, and custom plumbing. The original C4 automatic was rebuilt with a B&M shift improvement kit.
Other mods include a Granada front disc brake conversion, Grab-A-Trak rear leaf springs, and 620 lb. front springs with half a coil trimmed off. Inside, Dave added Scat racing seats and Custom Auto Sound stereo with custom installation of front and rear speakers. A 6-disc CD player is mounted in the trunk.
As you can see, Dave swayed from the stock Grabber look by keeping the Magnum 500 wheels and adding a rear valance with Mach 1-style exhaust cutouts. The rear panel also lacks the black-out; Dave says he plans to add it in the future "just to change things up a bit."
Today, Dave uses his modified Mustang for local Mustang Club of America shows and his family's annual trek to Hot August Nights in Reno, Nevada. Obviously, the yellow '70 Grabber gets a lot of attention with its rarely-seen fastback vinyl roof.
Vinyl Top Fastbacks
Long-time Mustang enthusiast and MCA national judge Jeff Speegle has been observing Mustangs in California for over 30 years. He's seen and inspected a number of fastbacks with the vinyl roof.
"All of the vinyl top material was consistent, as was the chrome/stainless trim used around the top, so they all appear to have been done by the same trim shop (dealers using them as an outside source). I don't recall seeing any advertisements for the option. So far, 1967 is the earliest fastbacks I've seen or heard of being done this way."
(Editor's note: If you have additional information about the vinyl roofs offered as a dealer-installed option for '67-'70 fastbacks in California, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org).