We all dream about owning a low-mileage Mustang in like-new condition. And that's what Christopher Lemp visualized when he clicked on an eBay auction for a 4,800-mile SCJ Mach 1 back in 2000. While some low-mileage cars were properly stored and even pampered, many were simply neglected for various reasons. Christopher's Mach falls into the latter category.
I bought it from the widow of the original owner," Christopher explains. "He bought it for drag racing, which is why the mileage stayed so low."
Other than the drag racing heritage, Christopher was unable to learn much more about the car's history. He does know that when the owner passed away, the wife handed the Mach 1 over to her son, who at one point dissembled the car in a failed restoration effort. But for the most part, the Mustang sat in a garage where it was apparently used as a playground. Christopher says there were a lot of dents in the sheetmetal and the roof was partially caved in from kids walking over the top of the car. When he took possession, the drivetrain and interior were out, the doors and front fenders were missing, and many of the important detail items, like bolts and clips, were gone.
But there were positives. Other than some mild rust in the rear quarter-panels, the sheetmetal and undercarraige were rust-free, despite the car's early years on the east coast. "It was never driven on the street in the salt and snow," Christopher says. "The undercarriage was the cleanest I'd ever seen."
It's also a coveted R-code Mach 1 with the Ram-Air 428 Cobra Jet, four-speed, and Drag Pack with 3.91 gears, which turns the 428 into a Super Cobra Jet with oil cooler and beefed up internals. Options are few: power steering and brakes, AM radio, tinted glass, and F70x14 white-letter tires. It seems odd that a car purchased for drag racing doesn't have the factory tachometer, but Christopher reminded us that many drag racers by-passed the tach option because they planned to install a more accurate aftermarket tach, like the Sun Super Tach.
With low miles and the SCJ package, Christopher figured the Mach 1 was worth saving, so he sent it to Don Goebel at Goebel's Performance Corner in Evansville, Indiana, for a restoration to Mustang Club of America Thoroughbred standards, a class designed for "restored and/or unrestored cars in original condition with the correct OEM Ford factory-era parts." Goebel had the car for four years; much of that time was spent searching for NOS parts to replace missing or incorrect parts, like the front suspension and rearend that had obviously been changed during the car's early drag racing days. (Editor's note: Christopher was still looking for correct parts when we photographed the Mach 1 during the MCA judges meeting at Perkins Restoration last fall. He gets credit for the engine photos, taken after he had obtained the correct black-case Autolite Sta-Ful battery).
While Ohio George Montgomery rebuilt the engine and Don handled other details, the body was sent to Stilwell's Obsolete, also in Evansville, where Greg Stilwell massaged the dented and bent sheetmetal back into shape, including the rear wheelwells that had been "hammer modified" for larger tires, before applying fresh Candyapple Red paint. Once back at Goebel's Performance Corner, Don reassembled the car, taking special pains to detail with the correct chalk marks and paint daubs. Other than the reproduction exhaust system from Fuller Exhaust, everything on the car is either original or NOS, including the battery and cables, belts, hoses, and clamps. Although reproduction tires were on the car for our photography, they have since been replaced by hard-to-find NOS originals.
Final detailing was handled by Bob Perkins, an expert on '69-'70 Mustangs and technical consultant for the MCA. He was so impressed by the car that he asked Christopher to bring it back to his shop for last year's MCA judges meeting, where the Mach 1 was hoisted on a lift so judges could inspect the undercarriage detailing.
Christopher points out that the Mach 1 has been restored to its factory condition without exterior add-ons, like spoilers, rear window slats, and Magnum 500 wheels, as found on many '69 Mach 1s today. "According to Perkins, no '69 Mach 1s came from the factory with spoilers or slats," Christopher says. "In fact, they weren't even available for dealer-installation until after the Boss 302 came out in April. Are slats and spoilers cool? Yes. Are they factory correct for a '69 Mach 1? No."
We mentioned the low-mileage and SCJ status, but there's another reason why Christopher wanted to save this Mach 1. He's a big fan of red Mustangs. His collection includes a 4,500-mile '68 1/2 Cobra Jet, a 28,000-mile '70 CJ Mach 1, a 20,000-mile R-code (351 HO) Mach 1, and a pre-production '64 1/2 convertible. All are red with black interior. And that doesn't include his red '70 Quarter Horse, one of two built by Kar Kraft with Shelby front fiberglass as prototypes for a possible mid-'70 model. That car is headed for a restoration at Goebel Performance Corner later this year.
Now this Thoroughbred-quality SCJ Mach 1 can take its rightful place in Christopher's impressive red Mustang collection.