When we photographed Michael Tinsley's '73 Mach 1 on a balmy Arizona spring morning, he was deep in the throes of the flu-high fever, chills and sweats-and about as miserable as one can get and still feel a pulse. He showed up for our photo shoot anyway, fresh from the doctor's office and eager to tell his story.
Michael's Mach 1 adventure began at age 14 when he spotted this Medium Metallic Blue '73 Mach 1 stored alongside his father's boat. Each time Michael and his father inspected the boat, he felt increasing interest in the Mustang his father had owned since 1986. The car was soon turned over to Michael, but not for free. Michael would have to put some sweat into the car if he was going to keep it.
"I spent my entire summer stripping and sanding the body," Michael said. "By the time I was finished, it looked like an aluminum Cobra body. Then we towed it over to my dad's buddy's house where we took a shot at painting the car ourselves."
They chased the car building process in every detail, including the interior, engine, driveline, suspension, and brakes. Much of it was a learning curve for Michael and father Randy. Tackling a full-scale restoration was a learning experience for both of them.
Over the next two years, as Michael neared driver's license age, the Tinsleys spent their spare time building the 351 Cleveland top-loader four-speed and 3.75:1 9-inch Traction-Lok rearend. Randy owns The Mustang Shop in Chandler, Arizona, and hitting a home run on Michael's first car project was easier than it would be for most people.
It's no mystery how this slippery fourth-generation Mach 1 turned out so well, or why Michael has so much fun driving it now, at the age of 18. Michael benefited from his father's experience, leading to an extraordinary first car project they were able to enjoy together.
Michael's first car runs strong with a 351C-2V middle-block-that wasn't a typo: a 351C-2V-with a Motorcraft 2150 two-barrel carburetor beneath the Ram-Air air cleaner. Because Arizona emission standards are strict, Michael stayed with the factory induction system for his Mach 1.
Owning a classic Mustang as his first car has given Michael the nostalgia that comes with old-world technology. When he grabs the Hurst four-speed shifter, he knows what it felt like to drive a Mustang in the old days. Those 3.75:1 rearend gears make the Cleveland rev at speed-just like an old hot rod.
We give this father/son duo a lot of credit for tackling a classic Mustang with zest to keep the spirit alive.