Last night, in my Research and Writing class, we participated in a “description” exercise. Our instructor started us out with the generic term “car” and we built on it from there. She actually started going down the path of a Ford Mustang, and we just kind of started filling in more details. However, my friend Keith and I found it rather funny, how we started to describe -my- car, the 1971 Mach I Mustang I’ve owned for 20 years. So I thought I’d continue the exercise here.

I own a classic 1971 Ford Mustang, Mach I. The Mach I’s were built using the “fastback” body style, with the 1971 premiering the longest hood-line ever to appear on a Mustang. It’s painted a very dark blue, so dark that most people mistake it for black until they are up close. In the early days, it sported a set of Crager SS wheels with fat tires, very much like you would find on Hot Wheels RedLine cars of the late 60’s. Today, it has a set of Campagnolo’s originally made for the DeTomaso Pantera, with Goodyear NASCAR 1, raised yellow letter tires. Barely visible just in front of the rear tires, below the body, you can make out a set of black CalTracks solid-link traction bars from Calvert Racing. These bars really give the body rigidity when launching from a dead stop, and they don’t stick out like those chrome “slapper bars” do.

On the rear deck, attached to the truck lid, is a stock rear spoiler, looking very much like an inverted aerofoil with the ends tipped down at about a 45 degree angle, and sitting on two pedestals. Above that, over the massive rear window that takes up the majority of the “fastback” body-line, is a set of window louvers that keep the hot sun out of the car. Dual sport mirrors adorn the doors for better visibility. A front stock front spoiler is mounted just below the front valence, and I’ve replaced the lower turn signal lamp assemblies with some thin yellow fog lights. A second set of turn signal assemblies resides in the grille, which of course, sports the famous running horse logo of the Mustang. The hood, is the Mach I style with two NASA air scoops with vacuum actuated doors. This allows the doors to be closed at mild throttle positions, but opens them during higher throttle requirements allowing more air into the air cleaner and carburetor for faster engine response.

The engine is a home built 351 Cleveland, so named for the foundry where the block was cast. It’s a 4V build, which means it has the larger diameter port heads, and uses a four barrel manifold and carburetor. The heads are quench-style, meaning higher compression, more horsepower. I run a street/strip hot camshaft in it that uses hydraulic roller lifters, and I’ve installed roller rockers. Each of these roller components reduces friction and allows the engine to “spin-up” faster. Other gadgets inside the engine include an oil restrictor kit that meters oil to the cam bearings, a windage tray and oil scraper which helps prevent foaming of the oil in the oil pan which can reduce lubricating efficiency, a gear-drive timing set with torrington thrust bearings, which prevents timing loses due to chain stretch and reduces friction. Outside the engine I have an external oiling system using a two-quart oil accumulator which helps prevent oil starvation during high speed cornering, Super-competition Hooker headers that feed into a massive three inch exhaust system and dump out dual pipes cut into the rear valence. It sports a March pulleys which dress up the engine compartment some, and provide a different ratio for the water pump and alternator, providing better cooling and charging. A massive three-row radiator rides in front, with a sharp looking flex fan right behind it in a stock fan shroud.

The engine is coupled to a C6 automatic transmission via a custom made torque-converter with a slightly higher stall speed than stock. The trans is also a home built unit by me. This build includes a wide-ratio gear set that uses a lower first gear for faster starts off the line from a stop, with the same high-end ratios needed for faster top end speeds. I included a “shift kit” in the valve body which helps regulate fluid flow for more solid shifting when really pouring on the speed, while maintaining milder, softer shifts when cruising around town. The majority of thrust washers were replaced with torrington thrust bearings which reduce friction loads.

Overall, the engine and transmission duo can get me up to 60 mph in about four seconds, give or take depending on conditions. The engine will rev easily to 7,000 rpm, but I keep it to 6,500 which is the recommended rpm for the cam. It’s a lot of fun to be sitting in the drivers seat, driving with one hand on the wheel, and one on the shifter. With the windows rolled down into the doors, or just slightly above, about four inches. A special treat I’ve installed to my Mach I, are electric rear quarter windows. In the Mach Is, these windows are normally fixed in place, but I managed to rig up some motors from a coupe and they work great.

The interior is a mix and match jumble of different items, starting out with stock seats covered with dark gray sheepskin seat covers. The carpet is black, as are all the seat belts and hard trim. The door panels are original and dark brown in color. I’ve not got around to replacing them, but surprisingly, they look pretty good with the black. The stock Mustang center console has been replaced with a console out of a ’67 Chevy Chevelle, along with the dual-rail shifter handle. This piece is a special one for me, and I’ve modified it so it fits perfectly and works like it was made for this car. The dashboard sports the full gage package, including the tachometer, speedometer, oil pressure, temperature and ammeter. The fuel gage sits between the tach and speedo. Just above the center console rides an Alpine pull-out stereo head unit, and above that, an Alpine equalizer. The steering wheel is an aftermarket four-spoke chrome wheel I found at Sears of all places, back in about 1981. I can no longer find this particular wheel, so it’s pretty special to me now.

Future plans are to put in a new front and rear sway bar, to help keep the car level in high speed corners. I’m considering converting to fuel injection for better fuel economy and better throttle response, more upgrades to the interior to include new door panels, and a few more electronics It needs the bodywork and paint freshened up too.

What a ride, a general mix of classic styling and newer technology. This car is a keeper.

Asa Jay

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Copyright 2014, Asa Jay Laughton