Ah, the '69 Mach 1. There was a time-and not so long ago, either-when it seemed that only Cobra Jet versions were deemed worthy of the time and effort of a full-on restoration. Only after the 428s became priced beyond the reach of mere mortals did the less powerful but decidedly scarce S-code 390 Mach 1s start gaining resto popularity. Even then, the H- and M-code small-blocks, by far the most numerous of the 72,000-plus Mach 1s built for '69, still languished somewhere below the 100-point restorers' radar. But time heals all wounds, and the ubiquitous 351 Windsor Mach 1 is finally starting to get the attention to detail that its well-balanced performance deserves.
Like their big-block brethren, each of these cars have a story to tell. This one begins with a late-'60s sales contest at a Texas oil business. It seems that Fiske Brothers Oil in Dallas decided to motivate its sales staff with the promise of a new car of choice to be won by the coming year's top producer. As the story goes, upon hearing of the contest, a Fiske salesman by the name of Bill Foster walked into the boss's office with an ad for the just-announced '69 Mach 1, proclaiming, "Order this now; I'll be back in a year for it." Brash? Maybe, but true to his word, Mr. Foster worked hard enough to win the contest and soon found himself making sales calls in an M-code, four-barrel 351 Mach 1, optioned with automatic transmission, air conditioning, and an AM/FM stereo radio to keep him entertained on those lengthy Texas highways and byways.
This history comes to us by way of 35-year-old Duke Clancy, the Candy-apple Red Mach 1's restorer and current owner. Though the Mach had passed through a number of hands in between, Duke acquired it in 1999. Negotiations took a full year, and the deal cost him his first Mustang, a nicely detailed Springtime Yellow '66 convertible, in trade for the not-so-nice Mach with 178,000 miles on the clock. Although it was pretty solid and ran well, it apparently needed lots of TLC. Duke was thrilled when the vendor finally agreed to the swap, but not Mrs. Clancy, who still loved the yellow ragtop. That was until Duke suggested she take the Mach 1 on some of her errands. As Duke explains: "After receiving several hoots and whistles and one marriage proposal, she returned with her own set of keys from the hardware store and a big smile on her face." Everyone in the Clancy household was now happy.