Monday, August 31, 2020

Hunting the perfect 1970 Mustang Mach 1 project

Now He is Just Mach(ing) Us! Raised in a car enthusiast family and continuing to infect his family with the JYLD (Junkyard Life Disease), Alabama's Mike Clay began a search for his elusive Waterloo… a 1970 Mach 1 Mustang. Arguably, one of the finest looking in the vast history of Ford Mustangs. Searching hither and yon with a full understanding that he may have to travel a hefty distance to find this soul pony, the search began!

  The search seemed futile at times. Mike and his wife, Val, started looking about seven years ago, but got more serious about searching for the past 18 months for the perfect vehicle. Val, although admittedly is not a “car girl,” but has seen several at the cruise-ins, agreed they are attractive vehicles. And as we all know, when mama is on board, the project is more likely to be completed. Game on!

  "I scoured online venues but they are mostly rusted out cars with no engine, in the $10k range, or “finished” (are they ever really finished?) vehicles for $35K and up," Mike said. 

  Mike even “settled” on a couple of Mustangs of the 1965 and 1966 era. We at Junkyard Life would have been happy with one of his Pony car substitutions. At one of Mike's Christmas parties we even snuck one out of the garage. Included with the holiday cheer only a 4-speed can provide. Mike decked the halls and burned the tires all in the same night.

Mike Clay ready to unload the 1970 Mach 1.

  Fast forward to a search finally gone well. Call off the automotive bloodhounds that Mike alerted all over the country. Why? Because his Mach 1 search ended (somehow) within an hour of his house! And this wait was worth it! He found a willing seller of a red 1970 Mach 1 in the hands of the same lucky owner since 1986. It served duty during his high school and college years and he always held on to it. 

  Southerners are by design great storytellers. However, try as we might, we couldn’t squeeze a single story out of the seller. To his credit, it probably was a rather emotional day. Grand moves and storage issues dictated that it was finally time to let it go to a new owner, Mike had a great idea of where it needed to go… his house. So a new adventure and a new life begins for this pony.

Twist type hood pins were new for the 1970 Mustang.

Look what I found

  Having done his homework on 1970 Mach 1 knowledge, Mike spotted something that indicated it may have had a shaker hood at one time, which was available on the 351C-4V. He also has reason to believe the mystery hood the car is wearing now may not be the original one. It does have the twist pins like it should. Here is a case of no bad options. Everything this car could have had would be very welcome. The Shaker hood, the single black stripe hood or even the flat black hood. They all would look awesome on this color. Paint code T tells us Candy Apple Red was the color. Stunning.

Do I spot a Shaker hood air cleaner assembly?

Hood up!

  Under said hood awaits a 351 Cleveland with a Holley four-barrel atop a vintage Edelbrock Torker intake. Also present are some 1980’s speed shop finds such as Mallory ignition. The books claim this monster to make 300 hp, but keep this in mind… 1970 was the pinnacle year for Detroit’s historical horsepower war. They were also fighting the insurance war and purposefully under rating power figures to keep wives, mothers and insurance salesman happy*.


  The interior is present, but not installed. This was fine for Mike, because it allowed him a true view of what he was buying and he liked what he saw. The bucket seats are beautiful and the Teakwood accents really harmonize with the black on the dash and door panels. We love the famous Mach 1 siding.  The most important black accent on the car to us is the deck spoiler and the louvers.

Original Magnum wheels were stashed away 35+ years ago.

Father knows best
  When the previous owner first acquired the car in 1986, the original Magnum wheels were yanked and replaced with some sporty aftermarket aluminum wheels. Although when this pony was 
 extracted, Mike also scored the original wheels. The owner still had them! He recalled his father telling him NOT to discard the original wheels.

  “Somebody will want them someday,” he recalled his dad saying. 

  Well, someday is now and the somebody is Mike. Sage advice from Dad.

What next?

  We may not see Mike for a while. He has big plans for this Mach 1. He is no longer in fantasy mode, this is real. Paint and body work are already scheduled. The plans for a five speed manual are already in gear (get it? “in gear?”) Very cool, Mike. The equestrian pursuits have been very kind to you. Congratulations. This is truly a great find.


Ron Kidd

— Junkyard Life

A rim blow steering wheel frames a host of gauges for the driver.

Junkyard Life Fun Facts with Mike, Mustangs and More

  • Long ago (a couple of Mustangs back) Mike’s wife Valerie asked us to help her find a 1970 Mach 1 to surprise him. We failed and wished her luck on this elusive car.
  • 1970 Mustangs had a new steering wheel not carried over from the 1969 model that was supposed to allow for easier entering and exiting.
  • Mike once drove a 1976 Cobra II from California to Alabama with no clutch. Nothing stops this guy except Nevada.
  • Oddly, the 428 Cobra Jet was not offered with a Shaker hood in 1970.
  • Only 22% of Mustangs were of the Mach 1 pedigree in 1970.
  • 1970 Mach 1 hoods came with a new “twist” lock design instead of the hood pin the 1969 models had. A little safer in theory. Mike’s is correct for 1970.
  • Advertising for the 1970 Mach 1 hinted their marketing intent with an ad that helped you pronounce it in context….”Mach Won” and sometimes “Mach One”.
  • County Police once caught Mike and Ron street racing in Mike’s Cobra II. As punishment they made Ron do push ups on the side of the road because he was driving when they busted them.
  • Years later the same County showed up to arrest Mike and Ron again when they had a newly purchased Ford Falcon jump off a faulty car dolly. That doesn’t sound illegal , but the elderly farm owners who witnessed the entire accident thought it must be. “Arrest them.” Maybe they were not Ford people.
  • Ford enjoyed a variety of high performance options for their 1969/1970 Mustang buyers. Boss 302, Boss 351, 428 Cobra Jet to name a few were ruling the sanctioned racing on the tracks and quite a force to reckon with on the streets. 


(Editor’s note 1: Junkyard Life has never mentioned “wives, mothers and insurance salesman” in the same sentence before. Without Ron my job would not be as exciting and a lot easier)

(Editor’s note 2: The CDC has not officially named Junkyard Life Disease, but it is a real thing nonetheless.)

Speed parts found their way onto the 351-V8 decades ago.

Solid looking all around and underneath the ’70 Mach 1.

Back when Mustang emblems looked dangerous.

90k miles showing on the 1970 Mach 1. An aftermarket tach held tight by a hose clamp on the column.

Redesigned headlight placement

The 1970 Mach 1 is Ford paint code T - Candy Apple Red.

The interior was loose and scattered in the cabin allowing for close inspection of floor pans.

Billboard-sized rocker molding announce this a Mach 1.

Aftermarket aluminum rims sent the original Magnum wheels to the storage shelf.

Everything ok down there? A shock absorber lost its perch.

Muscle car pinnacle? Yes, at this angle we agree on 1970.

Owner's view: What makes a 1970 Mach 1 your dream car?
A quick Q&A led to a deep discussion on the virtues of Ford's finest 2-year period building Mustangs. Mike Clay, new owner of our featured find shares his thoughts:
  "I’ve owned three early Mustangs (two 1965’s and one 1966), four 1964 Falcons, one 1974 Mustang II and one 1976 Cobra II. In the Navy, I drove a friend’s 1972 coupe all the time. I’ve enjoyed each one for what they are but the early Mustangs were constructed on a budget by Ford; so, while they have good acceleration, many upgrades, such as disc brakes need to be performed to bring them up to the handling and safety one would expect. On the other end of the spectrum, the Mustang 2’s handled and braked very well, but lacked performance, so you had to do many engine upgrades (and remove the smog equipment) for any hope of acceleration.  In the middle, the '71-'73 Mustangs are huge and float like a Buick Roadmaster. 
  To me, the 1969 and 1970 Mach 1’s were the epitome of performance and style; they were larger than the first Mustangs, but not too large and Ford finally paid some attention to the handling with large sway bars and disc brakes. On the performance spectrum, you could get anything from a small block 302, to the huge 429. The former lacked sufficient performance; the latter really affected the handling of the car. The 351 Cleveland was the best compromise, as it was not much heavier than the small block engines but packed much more performance. Granted they were not a 428 SCJ, but I want a car to drive not necessarily to drag race."  

As found in the garage when answering the ad on Craigslist.

Black roof slats and rear spoiler enhance the tough, go-fast vibe on the Mach 1.

This 1970 Mach 1 is on the fast track to a restoration, stay tuned for more!

Know a junkyard that we need to visit? Got a car story?  
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1 comment:

Karolina said...

Thanks for posting thhis