As the first-generation Mustangs entered their sunset years, the cars not only grew in size, their refinement and option content expanded into the realm of decadent. Plushness and comfort, with a healthy dose of performance, ruled the day.
Michael Paluh of Herndon, Virginia, owns a '73 Mach 1 that pretty much epitomizes the lavish appointments which characterize many of the latter-year, first-generation ponycars. Boasting an enviable slew of optional equipment, this Mach 1 also is fortunate to have nearly all of its original goods intact.
The Mustang was built on December 8, 1972, at the Dearborn assembly plant-destination: Tom Coward Ford in Oxnard, California. Two days after Christmas the Mach 1 was handed over to Terry and Suthira Garrett, also from Oxnard.
The Garretts' Pony was one of the more desirable California cruisers at the time. Powered by a strong but conservative Ram Air 351W 2V, pleasure driving was easy with the FMX auto tranny and highway-friendly 2.75 rear gears. The car also cut a pretty dashing figure with its glowing Light Pewter Metallic topcoat, tinted glass, front spoiler, rear wing, and Deluxe Bumper Group. Inside the black-and-silver Mach 1 Sport interior, the Garretts found pure driving comfort: power steering, power brakes, the Rim-Blow steering wheel, an AM/FM radio, a fold-down rear seat, a full console with a clock, the Instrumentation Group, and the Convenience Group.
During the next few years the Mach 1 chewed up the Southern California highways. When the Garretts headed for Vienna, Virginia, to relocate at the opposite end of the country, the Mustang came along for the ride. In the fall of '88, the Garretts sold the Mach 1 to Mark Clause. Mark bought the car for interesting interim transportation while waiting for the purchase of a Jaguar.
Enter Michael Paluh. Michael, a lifelong Mustang enthusiast, was working at the Jaguar dealership in Herndon, Virginia, when Mark drove onto the lot in the Mach 1 to buy a Jaguar. After Mark bought his new ride, Michael asked Mark what were his plans for the ol' Pony. Mark explained that he planned to sell it immediately, and Michael jumped. The owner of a '72 Mustang convertible, Michael was loath to allow the highly optioned Mach 1 slip away. Needless to say, it didn't take long to complete the transaction.
Michael tells us that aside from the tires and a not-so-complementing paint job (silver), the Mach 1 was completely original. After a few months of spirited driving-during which time the Mustang became intimate with a guardrail-Michael embarked on a five-year restoration.
"The restoration took a long time," explains Michael, "because I was putting in long hours at the dealership while [simultaneously] restoring my Ferrari."
The Mach 1 would be a concours-level restoration, and the result was a top-placing show car. To that end, Michael spent considerable attention to details, including dropping in a 27-year-old OEM exhaust system with a resonator, a N.O.S. spoiler, and Goodyear Polyglas tires.
Michael's hard work and focus paid off big. Since setting the Mach 1 onto the show circuit in 1993, Michael's Pony has captured nine Golds, three Silvers, and a Silver in the Concours-Driven class during his first MCA Grand National at last year's Raleigh, North Carolina, gig.
Whether on the show field or on the boulevard, it's obvious that this Mustang rides in high style wherever it goes.