Mike Campbell's not sure exactly how hot his '73 Mach 1 is. "I've never had it over 125 mph because I've never found a stretch of road long enough to check it out."
Cobra Jet is Ford's catchword for performance. While most of us apply the term to the tire-smoking big-blocks of the '68-'71 era, under the hood of Mike's Mach is the Q-code 351 four-barrel, commonly called the 351 Cobra Jet, which took over the reigns as the hottest engine in the Mustang stable for '73.
Take a peek inside Campbell's white '73 Mach 1 and you'll see not just a four-speed Hurst T-handle. By '73, even the top performance dogs in the lineup came with the amenities we see on virtually every car today. Mike's Mach has air conditioning, power steering, and power brakes with front discs. Visible above the aluminum T-handle is a stereo system with a combination radio and eight-track tape player.
When Mike bought the Mach a few years back, "It looked nice," he says, "but the more I started cutting out the little spots of rust, the more I could see this thing needed some serious work. So I put on new doors and rear quarters. I found a hole in the floor, so I went ahead and put new floors in it. I pretty much redid the whole car because I couldn't see it go to a scrap yard."
Now retired, Campbell has a soft spot in his heart for older vehicles. "To me, these old cars are our legacy. They need to hang around. And we need to put all our thoughts and efforts into them so we can keep them looking nice."
Mike pegs the '74 model year as the last for the great American musclecar. But the last Mustang musclecar appeared in '73. He owns a prime example. The 266hp 351 CJ was the hottest engine in 1973, available in any of the Mustang body styles; hardtop, convertible, or fastback.
However, for great musclecar graphics and image, the Mach 1 was the way to order a CJ Mustang. All were fastbacks, which Ford marketed as the "SportsRoof." The one concession for '73 was the NASA-scooped hood. Oddly, it was functional with the two-barrel engine but not with the four-barrel V-8.
Inside, bucket seats with racing stripes add to the sporty appearance. Mike's Mach came with the optional Mach 1 Sports Interior.
The Q-code 351 CJ was a popular choice for '73. Of the 134,867 Mustangs produced in 1973, 12,558 came with the 351 CJ. Ford built 3,610 Mach 1s with the 351 CJ and four-speed manual transmission.
Mike mainly drives his Mach to "cruise-ins and parades," but he recently took a bronze award in the Mustang Club of America's Concours Driven class. He plans to correct the little things so he can score higher and move up to silver and eventually gold.
The car looked perfect to us. Even the undercarriage is detailed and includes factory color-coded parts, same as the engine bay. The reproduction Firestone Wide Ovals are correct for 1973. Most '73 Mach 1s you see today are equipped with the optional aluminum mags. Mike's still has the "corporate" hubcaps with trim rings, which were the standard Mach 1 wheels for '73.
So, how hot is the Cobra Jet '73 Mach 1? Mike has hit 125 mph and "I know there was plenty of pedal left," he says.