The 428 Cobra Jet. If you're a power buff, you probably want one. If you aren't, you probably would still take it if it were handed to you. Judging from the look of this Calypso Coral Mach 1, we'd guess that Ned Bellenger of Bellevue, Washington, falls into the first category.
In its day, the 428 CJ was a real stomping, stump-pulling piece of hardware. Today, it is arguably the second most sought-after engine package behind the 289 Hi-Po. Despite this, the popular press of the day decried the car as an ill-handling cretin that would do only one thing quite well: go fast in a straight line. In our somewhat skewed view, the press really expected a lot from a Unibody chassis and F70-14 bias-ply Goodyears. This is especially true when you consider the engine's weight (the intake alone weighs a hefty 90-plus pounds) and the chassis' bulk. Inertia will not be denied. Even so, Ford sold an estimated 15,133 units in 1969, followed by 3,959 in 1970. We venture a guess that most folks really didn't care that the 428 couldn't catch a Porsche in a corner; they were looking for sheer, straight-line power for Chevy- and Pontiac-bashing.
Ned--whose other '70, a SportsRoof, appeared in the Jan. '99 issue ("When Green is Gold," p. 46)--received a tip about this Mach 1 via a friend, who is a member of Mustangs Northwest, the local Mustang club. At first glance, the Mach looked promising. At its former owner's home, it sat forlornly with tilt and power steering, power disc brakes, air conditioning, rear window slats, and a chin spoiler. The Mach also had the comfort of the black Mach 1 Sports interior. On the performance ledger is the aforementioned 428 Cobra Jet Ram Air engine, a C6 automatic, and a 3.00:1 Traction-Lok rear axle. Not bad. It even showed fairly low mileage at 78,000, so Ned and his wife, Gale, snapped up the big-inch Mach.
But all this doesn't mean that the car was a beaut. In fact, it needed some metal massage in the rear quarters. Why? Mud, lots of mud. Ned is probably scratching his head as to why the former owners might have chosen to put (or leave) copious amounts of rust-inducing dirt in the rear of the Pony. But this gave the folks at Exotic Motors of Bellevue some work to the tune of two new rear quarters. It also caused the cash to flow to Northwest Pony Shop for the beautiful Calypso Coral color.
Of course, no tale of conquest is complete without having those moments of frustration. For instance, one of the selling points for Ned was the Ram Air. But incorrect components mounted to the engine posed a problem. Another problem stemmed from a malcontent cam, which proved defective 5 miles into Ned's first drive. Even with those moments (or days) of frustration, Ned eventually built a winner; the car won a Gold in the Concours Street Division at its first outing. Not bad for a Mustang once named Mud.