Extreme Restoration – The Stunning Mach 1
Early images of this Mach 1 Mustang rebuild lead me to conclude that it may have enjoyed far less corrosion if it spent a decade under the North Sea; what followed is just amazing...
The most turbulent time in American history saw the country involved in the Vietnam conflict, civil unrest and a war between car manufacturers to supply the fastest ¼ mile street racer. Chevy and Chrysler had stole-a-march on Ford’s dated Mustang forcing Dearborn to respond with the Mach 1. 1967 saw a fastback concept tour dealerships and new car shows across the nation, whilst magazines featured Ford’s styling exercise. Right from the off the Mach 1 could be purchased in a hundred different variants including 16 exterior colour choices, six engines, five transmissions and 10 axle types. Ford was determined to cover all the bases with a great level of standard equipment and a never ending list of accessories and factory options. The 1971 model saw the most dramatic changes; a one inch wheelbase increase with the overall length growing several more, so did the Mustang’s weight. Henry Ford II was responsible for ‘headhunting’ ‘Bunkie’ Knudson from General Motors, the man largely responsible for the 71’s new look. Powered by the 351 Cleveland V8 which had originated in the 1970 car, Ford like other manufacturers followed the faster-larger trend that customers desired just as the world was changing and politicians demanded smaller-slower.
One person must be credited with saving this Mach 1 from certain destruction, Paul Ray from Lancashire. He purchased the car in 2004; it included a short MOT and red paintwork plus rust, quite a lot of rust. The Mustang resurrection was undertaken by Russ Fielding’s Westwell Garage in Blackpool and after speaking to Russ it would be fair to say neither he nor Paul envisaged the size of the task they had undertaken. ‘Over at least 12 months I had someone working on the car eight hours every day’ Russ confirmed. One man who put everything into the job was panel beater Steve Proudlove and the quality of his work would be influencing car show judges over a decade later. The Mach 1 entered Westwell Garage in February 2005 and wouldn’t see road use until the last day of March 2006 after 2200 man hours had been clocked. Options were thin on the ground, ‘either cut it all out and replace or write the car off’ Russ explained, but like most restorations with costs already mounting there would be no turning back.
The Westwell team took to the mammoth task with some vigour and the only panel that wasn’t repaired or replaced was the roof. The engine was taken down to its component parts and rebuilt with the best internals ignoring any budget, then the block was smoothed-out requiring 40 hours toil; finally lavished in a 2-pack black gloss finish. Russ also persuaded Paul to change the exterior from not so Bright Red to Kia Yellow. The bright exterior contrasts perfectly with the black interior and especially the amazing work carried out in the engine bay with all the clutter removed or hidden. Moving the battery to the rear and the clever use of disappearing wiring the bay is home to the engine only; even the brake lines are shrink-wrapped in black to help them vanish. The spotless yellow floor pans highlight the stainless exhausts and the perfectly painted gloss black mechanicals.
The finished product was really special as confirmed by owner Paul Ray, ‘the 3 guys Russ (mechanic), Steve (body shop) and Bob (paint) all deserve an Oscar for their dedication & enthusiasm during the rebuild whilst I spent many hours on the laptop searching for the correct parts across the world. The highlight was winning ‘Best Mustang’ at the Stars & Stripes show in 2006’. ‘Although it has been many years since I sold the car I still miss it, circumstances beyond my control forced the sale but I certainly don’t regret saving this Mach 1 from the scrapheap’. It would be this effort and attention to detail that fascinated the cars next custodian from ‘down-south’.
For Hayling Island residents Alan and Becky Renwick, it has been the V8 soundtrack and the sheer presence of ‘Stateside’ machines that has played a major influence in their lives. In the mid-70s Alan repaired the ‘pin-setting’ machines at the Airport Bowl near Heathrow, it was the place he first met Becky and also offered his first involvement with a V8 motor maintaining and road testing a local Corvette. A small garage in West London called Clock Tower was his daily job and a 72 Mustang would often come in for servicing ‘I can remember it now; it wouldn’t have been very old at the time, absolutely gorgeous and finished in Grabber Blue’. The chance to own his first Mustang arrived in 1979. Alan’s journey to work took him passed a 66 Fastback every day, the temptation proved too much and their first Mustang would remain with them for many years. ‘When we moved, the car came with us, although we never got around to restoring it fully’ Alan reminisced.
How many Mustangs have gone through this man’s hands? After the 66 came a 69, then a 79, followed by a 67 and now the Mach 1; looking back the couple have never had a garage without a Mustang parked in it. One deviation from the Blue Oval was an extreme rebuild of a 1957 Plymouth Fury that lived up to its ‘Christine’ persona and was incredibly lucky to escape Mother Nature’s wrath.
In 2005 the Fury sat on a highway in Mississippi amongst thousands of cars all fleeing the incoming Hurricane Katrina. Alan flew out to Ocala and purchased the Plymouth complete with a termite nest in the door panel. After collecting the car from Felixstowe several weeks later Becky’s reaction was ‘what have you bought?’ as the rusty shell exited the container. Opening the trunk revealed no floor at all and the sills had turned to tissue paper but the chassis was solid. Two years to complete and the only element Alan was looking to outsource was the finish but in true ‘Christine’ style the first professional willing to take on the painting was taken ill with a stroke. The second volunteer suffered a heart attack, so Alan was left to spray the car himself, in a cold barn during November 2007. What happened to this labour of love? A beautiful car without doubt but it lacked the ‘soundtrack’ and ride they had come to love so much with the Mustang. After a couple of years and many ‘Best in Show’ trophies the Fury was sold on with a vow ‘never to endure another restoration’, but the hunt for another Mustang was on.
The Right ‘1’
Time passed and eventually a Mach 1 appeared for sale; on the plus side it was a 429 Super Cobra Jet but required stripping down and repainting. A deposit was paid but before it could be collected a Kia Yellow 351 appeared on line for sale in Blackpool and for Becky this was the car, also Alan could honour his vow not to spend another couple of years working all hours in a barn. Down payment forfeited, the long drive to Lancashire followed but returning home the Mustang presented several issues that needed sorting. It seems once completed the Mach 1 had seen very little use; one reason may have been the overheating engine that would boil over when given any time stationary. Coolant also poured from the misshapen thermostat housing and although the engine turned over readily it often just refused to fire. The dash was removed after a wiring issue filled the cabin with smoke but this repair gave Alan a chance to replace a leaking heater matrix that was soaking the carpets. None of these problems could deter the couple, as Alan put it ‘I could see the potential immediately and just looking at the body I thought ‘wow’ that is something else, then looking under the bonnet sealed the deal’. Alan desired larger rims and rubber which entailed raising the ride height, the front was straightforward as he found the springs could accommodate some spacers ordered from the States.
The rear leaf springs were taken to a specialist who increased the bow and installed an additional leaf. With easy access to all the running gear Alan took the chance to replace the control arms, ball joints and even the half shaft seals; whatever it needed the Mach 1 was given. The car repaid all this effort over the first year by breaking down at any opportunity, mostly when the couple arrived at a show or event. The overheating was solved with a rebuilt radiator carrying two extra cores and the addition of a switch operated extra fan. The rear wheel cylinders leaked profusely in front of the MOT tester, it was as if the car was testing their patience. Occasionally the car would refuse to turn over at all, just the dreaded ‘click’. Putting it down to a failing battery, the couple called into a trusted parts supplier on route to a local show. The battery test came up fine but when help looked under the bonnet they found the metal hydraulic hose for the PAS was acting as an earth for the engine and in fact glowing red!
After fitting a new earth the Mustang fired up on the button but unbeknown to the couple the hose was damaged and finally let go in a massive cloud of smoke, just as the car pulled into the event; they still won Best in Show! Finally, the fight was over, there was always going to be one winner and for the past year the Mach 1 has behaved faultlessly. With plenty of shows and events to attend where this car always attracts an audience; this Mach 1 has finally settled. It now drives perfectly and still sports a superb finish lavished on it by skilled craftsmen over a decade ago.
Thanks to Russ Fielding, Westwell Garage, Blackpool (01253623608), Paul Ray and the Renwick’s, Alan and Becky for their time and input.
1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Specification
- Engine: 351 V8 re-bored + 30 thou. Clevite 77 bearings, Melling oil pump, Silvolite Pistons with Speed Pro rings, Comp Cams hydraulic lifters and camshaft, standard polished and ported cylinder heads, Holley 650cfm carburettor. Cloyes roller timing gear, Edelbrock Performer manifold, Hedman headers and Petronix Ignitor ignition.
- Transmission: Rebuilt Ford C6
- Axle: Rebuilt Ford 9 inch
- Suspension: Fr Munroe standard shocks with standard springs
Rear Uprated 5 leaf springs with Munroe adjustable gas shocks
- Steering: Standard unit
- Tyre sizes: Fr 245x60R15 Rr 275x60R15
- Interior: included replacement headlining, carpets and clocks with leather seating.