1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 - Reader Resto

By: Ward Turner & Guy Allen, Photography by: Ward Turner & Guy Allen

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Ward Turner's Mustang Mach 1 came out of the California desert country complete, unmolested and ready for a resto

The story of my Mustang came about much by accident. Years ago I did up an XD Falcon and due to circumstances at the time, I had to sell it and wish I could find it again. Anyway the following 20 years was spent without a project until we became empty nesters and the opportunity and urge resurfaced. Initially, I was after a Falcon ute, XA, B or C, it didn’t matter. Out of the blue I found a repossessed WB ute of all things. It wasn’t what I was after but it was in too good condition to let go. Upon nearing its completion, my heart was always to do a two-door Falcon and I put the WB up for sale. By 2012 though, the Australian market had become so hot I turned to option B: an American muscle car.

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I was in Sydney at the time visiting an old friend in the car trade who had business connections in the US and casually mentioned the project I had in mind after parting with the WB. What were the chances of a good-bodied 1971 Mustang coming up quickly? Low percentage stuff but as luck would have it, a barn find surfaced in eastern California. After viewing photos, I managed to secure the deal at a time when our dollar was worth more than the Yanks dollar for a brief moment in time. A few weeks later and it was here. Typical of desert type cars, the body was weathered but excellent, but the interior looked like a couple of Bengal tigers had a scrap in it.

| 2019 market value: Ford Mustang Mach 1/Cobra-Jet/Boss 302/Shelby 1965-73

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The car was indeed an oddity in the sense that it was complete, it had never been apart and still registered in California (Rego was 50 bucks a year). More surprises to come, the rego papers and 1970 Specification book were all in the glove box. With this information, I got in contact with the previous owner and found out that I was the third owner, the car was put in storage in about 1995 and there it remained. It was destined for a rebuild but the old lady’s husband took ill and died, so the car just lay idle until she decided to downsize in 2012 and clear everything out.

| Read next: 50 years of Mustang - 1970 Mach 1

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Like many Mustangs and the Australian equivalent, rust was a huge issue and this one had the usual battery tray corrosion, some pitting in the front floor pans and very minor rust spot in a rear guard but nothing serious.

Originally, it was an M Code and I know many diehard enthusiasts will cringe with the alterations made, albeit very subtle to the naked eye. However, the intention was always to keep it looking as is, both inside and out, so if we went in a time tunnel back to January 1971, the car would be just like this one in the showrooms.

| Read next: 1970 Dodge Challenger Reader Resto

ford-mustang-mach-1-wheel-2.jpgOne of the most iconic motoring emblems of our time

Leigh Shorley of Classic Mustang Restorations, Deception Bay, was tasked with the paintwork and interior. Whilst at the workshop Leigh’s son, Kyle, did the steel fabrication work, namely the right hand drive conversion that was done as if it was originally built from factory. I’m not a LHD fan but Leigh was, so with gritted teeth he did it anyway.

The stripped down body was bead blasted and thankfully no surprises at all. I kept the original colour but I could not take to the green deluxe interior and opted instead for the black deluxe instead. Everything was renewed. While it was in its shell stage, the fish oil pressure pack cans copped a workout, left for a week and re done. The first paint application was a disaster and had to be redone. No one knows why, but it just did not take. Other than that, there were no surprises and the bodywork and interior went well. Brad Payne of Linehouse Graphics did the finishing touches of striping, which involved as much time spent on symmetry as on attaching them.

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The original D-Block engine went off for a rebuild and the bore was perfect. Shane Alex Engines at Sandgate took on the rebuild, which ended up being a trip down memory lane for him. He normally does Chev and GM engines, but had not built a Cleveland recently since cutting his teeth on one many years before. He installed the 393 kit, alloy heads and a host of inclusions that made it drive with nice road manners in all conditions. The transmission is a six- speed Tremec married up to the standard nine- inch Detroit locker. The gearing had to be changed from 3.0 to 3.7 to accommodate the two overdrives.

ford-mustang-mach-1-engine-4.jpgThe D-Block engine was rebuilt with added grunt

The exhaust and headers are full stainless 2 ½" from Carline Narangba. The radiator is the original and was recored as four-core, all copper with an electric fan from a Ford Territory that works a treat rather than the old clunker.

Whilst it was at the shell stage, all electrics were re-done. George Brischetto of All Auto Electrical Solutions Narangba, not only re-did the entire car but included some minor custom inclusions such as special electrical conduit, micro chipping, redesigning the air conditioning compressor bracket so it sits under the alternator instead of on top of the engine, the radiator shroud and updating the fuse system. The list goes on... This guy is a magician as well as being an auto electrician, nothing was a problem, there was always a solution and he still checks up to ensure everything is okay.

ford-mustang-mach-1-interior.jpgIt’s hard to believe it has been converted to a right hooker here as it looks factory perfect

After some mechanical setbacks that involved much of the installation having to be re-done, the Mustang eventually roared into life again in 2018 after lying idle since 1995. Tony Kubel of Motorcraft Mechanical and Performance Caboolture got all the mechanicals roadworthy including engineering (via Mustang Sally, run by his dad Paul), ensuring everything worked as intended. Of course with something so new and with the performance bits installed, it was off for a dyno tune. Luke and Dan at Advance Motorsports Caboolture have tuning down to a fine art and it ran magnificently. It certainly takes an expert in the field to tune a Holley and Luke is that man. The most difficult part of this process was road testing after he dyno tuned it, Luke is a giant and had to squeeze himself into the Mustang and almost had to be prised out – it was quite comical watching Luke unfolding himself from the car.

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The suspension was a little tricky because of the weight reduction on the front wheels. Due to the use of alloy, standard springs made it look like a pimp mobile. However, Pedders Suspension at Caboolture eventually got it to the exact millimetre either side and the ride is firm but not bone jarring. Furthermore, it was convenient that these places are literally across the road or next door to one another.

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The original motivation to get it done was two-fold. Yes, it was always a life-long ambition to restore a car like this, but when it began, I had a son serving in Afghanistan as a Combat Engineer. I said at the time I wanted to take him for a ride in it because if he was in it, it would mean he’d made it back and had all his limbs to be able to drive it.

Let the good times roll.

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1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1

Engine 5800cc V8 (std)
Power & torque 224kW @5400rpm, 522Nm @3400rpm
Top speed 183km/h
Transmission Six-speed manual
Suspension Coil springs (f), Leaf springs (r)
Brakes Disc (f) drum (r)

Length of restoration: One year 

 

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