DREAM CAR, THEN & NOW

Mike Bought This Mach 1 Twice

Muscle Car Review - - Contents - By Steve Natale

Mike bought this Mach 1 twice

As soon as he could hold a toy car in his hand, the fix­a­tion with cars be­gan. As a kid, Mike Que­rio spent hours leaf­ing through car mag­a­zines, rac­ing slot cars with his friends, build­ing model cars, and loi­ter­ing around car deal­er­ships col­lect­ing sales brochures near his home in Wal­nut Creek, Cal­i­for­nia. He grew up around cars and trucks, and his father fa­vored the “Fam­ily of Fine Cars” pro­duced by Ford. The Rett-White Ford deal­er­ship was lo­cated just next door to their fam­ily-owned truck­ing com­pany in Wal­nut Creek, and his father was a good cus­tomer.

Mike remembers Fords were al­ways in the drive­way. “My mom had a 1957 Fair­lane,” he says, re­call­ing his child­hood. “One day my dad traded it in on a new 1968 Mus­tang coupe with­out dis­cussing it with her. I thought it was great, but she did not. My mother com­plained that the Mus­tang was too small for a fam­ily car, and of course she was right. Soon the Mus­tang was gone, re­placed by a brand new 1969 LTD with a 429 un­der the hood.”

De­ter­mined to have a new Ford of his own, Mike set his sights high. For his first car, he would not set­tle for a used car or a fam­ily hand-me-down like most teenagers.

He wanted not only a brand new Ford, but a hot new mus­cle Mus­tang. All through high school he worked hard at the fam­ily truck­ing com­pany, plus he worked as a bus­boy in the evenings. Most Fri­day and Satur­day nights his friends were go­ing to movies or on dates while he worked at the restau­rant. The tips were much higher on the week­ends, and he wanted that money to buy his car. He still rode his bike to school even af­ter he and all his friends got their driver’s li­censes.

As soon as Mike grad­u­ated high school, cash in hand, he went to the Ford dealer to pur­chase his dream car: a new 1971 Mus­tang Mach 1. The newly restyled, lower, longer, and wider 1971 Mus­tang Sport­sRoof fea­tured a wind­shield slanted at a 60-de­gree an­gle (a slope in­crease of 5.5 de­grees). The ex­treme fast­back de­sign came with an al­most flat back glass that looked sporty, but of­fered min­i­mal vis­i­bil­ity for the driver. It was an in­ter­est­ing and fu­tur­is­tic de­sign to Mike, who was about to be­gin col­lege as a de­sign stu­dent. Af­ter all the hard work, hours of lust­ing over images of the new Mach 1 in mag­a­zines, and drool­ing over them at the nearby Ford dealer, at 18 years of age, Mike was ready to place his or­der.

He knew pre­cisely what he wanted from the op­tion list. The first thing he spec­i­fied was the 429 Co­bra Jet en­gine with a four­speed trans­mis­sion, Hurst shifter, and Trac­tion-Lok dif­fer­en­tial. He also chose front power disc brakes, power steer­ing, and a set of F60-15 white-let­tered Wide Oval tires. He chose not to opt for the pop­u­lar Mag­num 500 wheels, know­ing he was go­ing to mount some af­ter­mar­ket mags on the car soon af­ter tak­ing de­liv­ery.

Want­ing some lux­ury to go with his mus­cle, he checked off sev­eral deluxe in­te­rior op­tions, in­clud­ing the Mach 1 Sports in­te­rior group, a tilt steer­ing col­umn, a con­sole, an in­stru­men­ta­tion group, the Sport Deck (fold­ing) rear seat, tinted glass, and a Stere­osonic eight-track tape sys­tem with AM ra­dio. The most ex­pen­sive and lav­ish lux­ury item or­dered was air con­di­tion­ing at a cost of $412. The fin­ish­ing touch was to or­der the car painted in Light Pewter with op­tional body side tape stripes. The only thing left was to wait for his dream car to be built. Or so he thought.

A few days later the Ford dealer called. The sales­man told Mike that he had re­ceived a Telex from the Dear­born factory in­form­ing him that Ford dis­con­tin­ued the 429 en­gine in the Mus­tang. Af­ter some think­ing and num­bers crunch­ing, Mike changed his or­der to an M-code 351 four­bar­rel with Ram Air. He could have or­dered

the higher-horse­power Boss 351, but that would have been more money, and he was tapped out fi­nan­cially.

In Au­gust 1971, Mike took de­liv­ery of his new Mach 1, and not long af­ter he started to per­son­al­ize it. The steel wheels with hub­caps and trim rings were among the first things to go, re­placed by a set of 15inch slot­ted mag wheels mount­ing big, L60-15 tires. He jacked up the back of the car and in­stalled a set of Gabriel High­jacker shocks and trac­tion bars. Un­der the hood he in­stalled a set of Hooker head­ers and an AC­CEL Su­per Coil. The stock in­take and carb were re­moved in fa­vor of an alu­minum Of­fen­hauser in­take and a Hol­ley 780 carb crowned with a Co­bra air cleaner. A set of fog­lights was in­stalled, as was a pair of rear stereo speak­ers. At a lo­cal body shop, Mike had a ra­dio an­tenna frenched into the right quar­ter-panel. Some of these mods might make you shriek to­day, but in the early 1970s they were con­sid­ered cool by many.

Most young men would have tossed the orig­i­nal parts they re­moved from the car and for­got­ten about them, but Mike was not your aver­age young man. He says, “A les­son I learned from my dad when we started to re­store Model A Fords in the 1970s was to al­ways save your orig­i­nal parts. You never know when you’re go­ing to need them. So I boxed them all up and stored them in the at­tic.”

In 1975, Mike’s then-girl­friend (later his wife) pur­chased a 1966 Shelby G.T. 350. Af­ter rid­ing in and driv­ing the Shelby he was hooked and wanted one for him­self. He pur­chased a 1966 Shelby for $3,000 for him­self, but that meant the Mach 1 would have to go. His uncle had al­ways liked the Mach 1, so he sold it to him, along with all the orig­i­nal parts he had stored, with the stip­u­la­tion that his uncle would of­fer him the car first if he ever de­cided to sell it.

That stip­u­la­tion took ef­fect 28 years later when, in 2003, his uncle asked him if he would like his old car back. Of course Mike said yes and went over to pick up the car.

His uncle had in­stalled a hot rod 351 Cleve­land en­gine, but he had only put 5,000 miles on the car the en­tire time he owned it.

Even though the car was in need of restora­tion, it had gone only 70,000 to­tal miles, and it had been parked in­side a garage the en­tire time. As part of the deal, the re­place­ment en­gine would go back to his

uncle; how­ever, the orig­i­nal en­gine was sit­ting in the garage right next to the car. His uncle had saved all the orig­i­nal parts that Mike had given him with the car, and he handed every­thing back to Mike, still in the same boxes Mike had packed them in.

The Mach 1 was in re­ally good con­di­tion, with a well-pre­served orig­i­nal in­te­rior and an uneven but orig­i­nal metal­lic paint fin­ish. Af­ter 30 years, Mike had grown out of his teenage hot rod tastes, and in 2007 he de­cided to re­turn the Mach 1 to ex­actly how it had looked when he’d taken de­liv­ery in 1971.

It was time to re­move all the af­ter­mar­ket parts Mike had bolted on it when he was a teenager. “I had to un­screw up my own car,” he says. “I wish I could go back and talk to that 19-year-old!”

As restora­tion be­gan, the car re­vealed it­self to have a su­per-solid body and an ex­cep­tion­ally clean in­te­rior, in­clud­ing a beau­ti­ful and in­tact dash pad. One of the chal­lenges was re­pair­ing the dam­age to the rear in­te­rior sheet­metal where speak­ers were mounted more than 30 years ago. To do the re­pair to the dam­aged speaker ar­eas cor­rectly, an en­tire rear clip sec­tion from an­other 1971 Mus­tang fast­back was ac­quired. The needed metal was sur­gi­cally re­moved and care­fully in­stalled in Mike’s Mach 1 to look per­fect. A bonus was a set of N.O.S. car­pets, pur­chased by his uncle years ago at the Ford dealer, still in the orig­i­nal box.

The restora­tion took about a year, and the re­sult is stun­ning. Every­thing on the car is now cor­rect. Re­sist­ing the urge to add Mag­num 500 wheels, a rear spoiler, or any mod­ern up­grades, Mike took great pains not to de­vi­ate from the build sheet, re­turn­ing his car to ex­actly as it had left the factory. Hav­ing all the orig­i­nal parts was a big help.

“Al­ways save your orig­i­nal parts. You never know when you’re go­ing to need them.”

Larger than the ones that came be­fore, the 1971-1973 Mus­tangs are con­sid­ered the fi­nal restyle of the first gen­er­a­tion. Mike Que­rio drooled over these cars at his lo­cal Ford deal­er­ship as he savedmoney for his very own Mach 1.

A look un­der the hood shows the func­tional Ram Air plenum and the bot­toms of the twist­style, chrome-plated lock­ing hood­pins that came as part of the pack­age.

Dur­ing the years Mike’s uncle owned the Mach 1, he in­stalled a hopped-up 351 Cleve­land. But the orig­i­nal-is­sue M-code 351 was stored right next to the car and went back in it dur­ing the restora­tion.

The pop-open gas cap was avail­able on the 1971 Mach 1 only; it was re­placed by a more con­ven­tional twist-style cap for 1972. Mike’s de­sire to re­turn the car to ab­so­lute as­de­liv­ered con­di­tion meant putting steel wheels with hub­caps and trim rings on, rather than up­grad­ing to Mag­num 500s.Long-term stor­age by his uncle kept the orig­i­nal in­te­rior in Mike’s Mach 1 in mint con­di­tion. Mike treated him­self to a few in­te­rior ameni­ties when he or­dered his Mus­tang, in­clud­ing a tilt col­umn, a con­sole, air con­di­tion­ing, and the eight-track/AM ra­dio. To­day the Mach 1 trig­gers an early-1970s flash­back for Mike ev­ery time he gets be­hind the wheel. He loves pop­ping in an eight-track tape and go­ing for a drive, back to 1971.If you were a teenager in the late 1960s to early 1970s, your tape se­lec­tion prob­a­bly looked a lot like this, too.

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