Jeff Smith of Lakeland, Florida, is the type of guy who does what he says he'll do. His attitude goes back to the days when a man's word was his bond. When he said he'd do something, he meant it. So when we asked Jeff to be at our offices at 8 a.m. on a Saturday with his '69 428 Super Cobra Jet Mach 1, we knew he'd be there waiting on us. You see, we'd promised Jeff several months ago that if he held on to the car, we'd do a photo shoot of it. Just like Jeff, we do our level best to keep our word.
There really aren't enough words in my feeble little cranium to explain how this Mach-and indeed any '69 bearing the Winter Blue topcoat-looks in early morning light. With the pale blue sky overhead and the glow of a new day, the basecoat/clearcoat finish on the car pops. Of course, since Jeff is a pro painter-who has his own shop (aptly named Jeff Smith Auto Body Collision)-it's no wonder that the Mach is a rolling billboard for his work.
"I've always been into Fords," Jeff confessed. "My first car was a Cougar, but I have always been partial to the '69 Mach 1." In our opinion, if you're going to be partial to a car, the one Jeff owns is hard to beat. The reason? The shaker hoodscoop poking out of the center of that semigloss black hood tells some of the story and is especially telling with the Cobra Jet script. Those "in the know" know that it is an R-code, arguably the most popular Mach 1 ever built with 12,212 units pouring out of the three plants in 1969-by the way, that's just R-code cars alone. As a bit of FYI: there were only 2,920 non-ram air 428 CJ Machs assembled that year, making these cars actually more rare than the shaker variety. Has this slowed the sales or dropped the prices of the R cars? Nope. What makes Jeff's car even cooler (except in the Florida summer) is that it's a Super Cobra Jet "Drag Pack." This package came with the car when ordered with the 3.91:1 Traction-Lok or the 4.30:1 Detroit NoSpin rear axle. For the additional green backs invested in the Drag Pack, your 428 Q- or R-code Mustang received Le Mans rods, a heavier balancer, and an oil cooler. Sadly for Jeff, air conditioning was not an option.
What was a mandatory option pair on the big-cube beasts (according to Ford literature) was power steering and power disc brakes, both of which are on Jeff's car. Since Jeff spends much of his time behind the wheel of the Mach, he has chosen to add the flair and better handling of P235/60R15 BFGoodrich T/As and Magnums, as well as a chrome export brace. He also slipped the more aggressive chin spoiler, rear louvers, and rear deck spoiler onto the macho/classy chassis. "I replaced the 3.91:1 rear gear with a 3.50:1," said Jeff, "for better cruising rpm. The only thing I really wish for [in the summer months] is air conditioning." Even so, we figure that Jeff will muddle through somehow with his 2-60 air conditioning system. We also figure that he misses the A/C even less when he cranks open the four throats on the Holley and gets better than 2-60 cooling from his Mach.