Old-timers used to advise not to buy a "pig in a poke" (a poke is a sack), meaning that you should never pay for something you haven't actually seen and touched. But in today's fast-paced, high-tech world, this sort of thing takes place regularly. In the car hobby, it's common to find people buying parts and even cars that they've never seen, particularly through the Internet. Such transactions always involve a degree of risk, requiring the buyer to believe the seller's description.
Mark Mathieu found himself in the midst of just such a transaction several years ago when he purchased his '69 Mach I. Mark had lusted for a '67 Shelby Mustang since he was a youngster, but by the time he was old enough to afford one, they were considered collectible and priced out of his reach, prompting the search for his second favorite car: the '69 Mach I. Knowing how values of these cars had gone up, Mark was willing to settle for any '69 Sportsroof Mustang, and wound up with a '70 model wearing a '69 front clip. Being from Minnesota, the car was heavily rusted, and fairly battered to boot, but attempts to procure something better turned up only overpriced Bondo-buckets.
This Mustang left the factory with a 351W, and while the current engineis based on a Winds
A friend of a friend traveling in the Southwest knew what Mark wanted, and relayed news that he'd found a "solid, rust-free '69 Mach I that needed a drivetrain and some bodywork." Mark followed up and took that leap of faith since the price was right. But when he received the car, he found it to be almost as bad as the '70 he already had. The saving grace was the rock-solid unit-body, and the fact that this car was actually a true '69 Mach.
Fortunately, Mark had accumulated extensive sheetmetal working skills over the years, which came in handy since he wound up replacing the floorpans, one rear quarter-panel, the taillight panel, the radiator support and splash aprons, and the roof skin, along with all the bolt-on sheetmetal up front. Working in his own garage and using a mix of NOS panels and clean used stuff, Mark pieced the Mustang back together, even replicating the factory seams in lead and correcting some factory panel alignment issues common to that vintage Mustang.
When it came time to spray the paint, Mark had to have friend Len Hujanen help him "double gun" the job, because he felt it necessary to have two guys spraying opposite sides of the car to get the metalflake to lay out evenly, with no "tiger stripes."
All this attention to detail was largely because Mark's original intent was to restore the Mach to concours standards, though by the time drivetrain decisions had to be made, Mark had been infected with the need for speed. Now an aluminum-headed 408 pushes the Mach to 11.60s at 117 mph. Despite that, it remains a true street car, having made the 3,200-mile round trip to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, last year without a hitch.
The interior is mostly stock, with only the aftermarket gauges andshifter hinting at the i
Although this project has taken many turns since Mark first decided to build a Mustang, he's quite satisfied with the end result, and continues to fine-tune the combination for improved performance, but it brought up an ironic twist on the whole project. "I built this car because I thought I couldn't afford a Shelby. But for what I have in it, I probably could have bought the Shelby and had some change." Is that a regret? "No way-the Shelby wouldn't be as much fun."
Car Craft Q&A
CC: You bought a car from Arizona to avoid the rust, but it turned out to be pretty rough-why'd you continue?
MM: The car turned out to be nearly junk, but the unit-body was completely rust-free, and everything else I'd looked at, even cars that looked good, were patched up rust-buckets, so I stuck with it.
CC: Was your intent to build a nice-looking car for the street and strip?
MM: Actually, I had intended to do a concourse restoration on the car, though all my hot rod buddies made fun of me. A friend with a '69 Road Runner was particularly hard on my project, so I decided I'd build it to beat his 440 with a small-block Ford.
The fit and finish on the Mustang are impeccable with all work completedby the owner, Mark
CC: Did you make it?
MM: He runs 11.63 at 116; I ran 11.65 at 117.8 last year and the car's faster now. We've yet to actually line up.
Car: '69 Mustang Mach I
Owner: Mark Mathieu
Engine: Ford 351W stroked to 408ci with an Eagle crank, Carillo rods, and JE pistons (10.4:1); machinework by Ernie Brottem of Ernie's machine in Zim, MN
Heads: Edelbrock aluminum Victor Jr. with 2.05/1.97 stainless valves
Induction: Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake, Holley 4150 at 830 cfm fed by Carter electric pump
Camshaft: Comp Cams XR289-R solid roller with 242/248 degrees duration @ 0.050-inch lift and 0.609/0.616-inch lift, Crower roller lifters, Trick Flow pushrods, Comp Cams 1.7:1 roller rockers
Exhaust: Hooker Super Comp 171/48-inch headers, custom stainless 3-inch system with Hooker Aero Chamber mufflers
Transmission: Ford C-6 by Performance Automatic with full-roller bearing conversion and Performance Automatic 3,000-rpm stall converter
This view illustrates that the attention to detail extends to theundercarriage. The stock
Rearend: Strange Ford 9-inch, Richmond 4.10:1 gears and Strange 31-spline axles
Front suspension: Stock '69 Mustang
Rear suspension: Stock '69 Mustang
Brakes: Stock '69 Mustang 10-inch disc front, stock 10-inch drum rear
Wheels and tires: Magnum 500 wheels, 15x7 front, 15x8 rear, with BFG Radial T/A 235/60-15 front, BFG Comp T/A Drag Radial 275/60-15 rear
Body mods: U.S. Body Source cowl-induction hood
Paint: PPG Smoke Gray by Mark Mathieu and Len Hujanen
Cost to build: Budgeted $13,000 spent that on the motor