If we had a buck for every time we heard someone say, "I wish I hadn't sold that car," we'd be well on our way to serious financial independence. Sometimes, however, a momentary and regretful lapse of reasoning can have a positive impact on the future. Gordon Trifts of Seattle, Washington, is quite familiar with the surprising curves life decisions can throw back at you. The sale of his high school Mach 1 led to a treasured father-son restoration project nearly 20 years later.
Gordon explained that he owned a '72 Mach 1 while in high school in 1976, but the relationship didn't last long enough. "Unfortunately," Gordon says, "I sold it after college, and I've always regretted it."
Understandably, however, the love of the ponycar never left him. In 1992, while eating lunch and leafing through a local automotive classified magazine, Gordon stumbled across something interesting-a '70 Mach 1 for sale.
"It was in bad condition," Gordon says. "The engine smoked and had little power. The rearend clunked, etc., but it had all the right options. I was looking for a car to rebuild, and this was going to be the one."
The Mustang definitely had the makings of greatness. Aside from being a Mach 1, the car sported a 351 4V Cleveland backed by an FMX auto tranny, Shaker hood, 3.25 rear axle, AM stereo and tape deck, Deluxe black interior, fold-down rear seat, and the Convenience Group.
"The car had a $79.95 silver paint job, and on the way home I stopped and had it steam-cleaned. This is when the silver paint came off and the original Calypso Coral color was found underneath."
No problem. Gordon remained undeterred and set out to recapture the car of his youth.
Being a home builder, Gordon said he applied his trade philoso-phy to the restoration task-specifically, taking the Mach 1 to a frame shop to make sure he had a solid foundation to work with. From there, Gordon berthed the Mustang in his garage and spent the next eight years applying himself to what he describes as an "on-and-off, ground-up restoration."
"After dismantling the car," Gordon says, "I realized just how many pieces there were. Luckily, I have a large garage where the car could stay until it was completed. I started detailing each piece over the next few years. I went to salvage yards and swap meets to find the correct pieces. I traveled to shows with my son to see other Mustangs, and took lots of pictures. I even joined Mustangs Northwest to gain more information and to be involved with other Mustang enthusiasts."
Really, it was Gordon's son who made the process so rewarding. "My son, Brian, was two years old when I bought the car," Gordon says, "so he has grown up helping me with the restoration. At first he would pass me tools, and as he got older he would help me restore parts."
Between the two of them, Gordon and Brian performed all the restoration work them-selves, except machining and balancing the engine components (a task handled by Dave at Genuine Parts Company in Seattle), rebuilding the FMX tranny (which was managed by the folks at Aamco), and applying a fresh coat of Calypso Coral (sprayed on by Huddleson's Auto Color World).
Today Gordon and Brian bask in the glow of a job well done and hard fought. They like to take in shows and display their handiwork, but the most fun comes from the good ol' highway cruise. Of course, Brian has his young eyes firmly set on the Mach 1's key ring.
"Now, he takes his friends to the garage, removes the car cover and shows them 'his' car."
So, perhaps in hindsight, had Gordon not divested himself of that first Mach 1, he and Brian may never have enjoyed bringing a vintage Mustang back to life, or spent the quality time together that all parents long for these days.
Like we said, it was for the better.