We notice that one special Mustang is missing from the Livonia collection. Turns out, Jack's maroon '69 Boss 429 is at the Roush Fenway shop in North Carolina. "I bought it in 1971," Jack says, "from a young man who was having trouble with the payments. He tried to drag race it and had blown the engine up twice. After storing it for about ten years, we got it out and restored it to showroom condition. It's the 429th car produced in 1969 out of about 500 cars."
Jack's daughter, Susan Roush-McClenaghan, oversees the Roush auto collection, which is located in one of the many Roush buildings in and around Detroit. It's open to the public on special occasions. Susan is a racer in her own right, competing at NMRA and NMCA drag racing events in her '03 Mustang.
As Jack describes his Mustangs, we notice a common thread running through much of the collection. "I'm a nail-straightener," Jack explains as he notes Mustang after Mustang that he's saved from the junkyard or Ford scrappage. It started in the mid 1960s when he bought a '66 Mustang convertible that had been damaged by an engine fire. It's still part of his collection. More recently, he took a Roush Mustang that had fallen off the hauler and turned it into the first Roush BlackJack.
We asked about the attraction to P-51 fighter planes. "It was the coolest, meanest-looking, fastest, most efficient airplane that the Air Force had. It would burn roughly half the fuel and go faster than any other airplane that the U.S. Air Force had in their inventory. So with the fuel they could carry on-board, they could escort bombers all the way from England through Germany and into western Russia. I knew that even as a youngster."
"I've got three children-Susan, Patricia, and Jack-and I gave each of them a choice of restoring a car, whatever they'd like, when they graduated from college. This '65 GT fastback was for Jack. We went to a Mustang show at Charlotte Motor Speedway around 1990 and this car was for sale. We rebuilt the Hi-Per powertrain but I think the paint was pretty much as you see it today. From time to time in the summer, we'll go for ice cream in this car."
So whether it's a car or an airplane, if it's a Mustang, Jack Roush has a place for it. "The least Mustang that I ever drove-or flew-was just wonderful."
"I went to the same Charlotte car show a year later and bought this maroon Hi-Per fastback, which was more of a project-it had some rust and things. I found a California body that had missing components but no rust and put the two cars together."
"For the Mustang's 25th anniversary, Ford asked us for a powertrain proposal for a 25th anniversary edition. We started with a marine 351 engine and added the marine camshaft and put fuel injection on it. We gave it back to Ford and they said the performance was improved over the 5.0-liter but it wasn't enough. At the same time, we were working on the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe with the small Borg-Warner turbocharger. So I hung two turbochargers on the 351, one on each exhaust manifold. Ford said it was irresponsible. It was so fast you couldn't keep it in your lane if you stepped on the gas. The result was that they did something that did not have a powertrain feature for the 25th anniversary. The only car that I think was done correctly is here in our museum. It's a one of a kind."
"In the late 1980s, early 1990s, Ford made the decision to shut down the Dearborn Assembly Plant, which had been building the Mustang all those years, and they were going to rebadge the front-wheel-drive Probe as a Mustang. After market surveys, they figured out that the car was not going to be well-received. That's when Ford came to me. They said it would take them 50 months to completely redesign the Mustang. But they didn't have 50 months. So they asked what I could do. After talking to my guys, we said we would make a commitment to do the job in 30 months if they would co-locate the Mustang team-designers, engineers, planners, and prototype build activities-in one of our buildings. For '93, they were just hanging on with what they could do with the dated Fox-body platform. So they decided to do a Cobra Mustang with better flowing cylinder heads and intake manifold, bigger brakes, different front fascia and rear spoiler, etc. We bought this '93 Cobra off the production line. It has no miles on it."