Often robbed of the spotlight by more famous models, the Mustang Mach 1 was still a potent pony car. Today they still measure up to their famed siblings.
How much to pay
• Project $10,000-15,000 • Good $20,000-30,000 • Concours $35,000+
Running costs ★★★★
DIY Friendly ★★★★
- Fancy a different Mustang? Check out our complete guide
- We've got loads of Mustangs for sale!
The Shelby Mustangs get all the hype, followed closely by the BOSS 429 and the BOSS 302, but in 1969 you could buy a Mach-1 with all the BOSS goodies. The option list in 1969 and 1970 was over 60 items long, not to mention 10 engines. The suspension upgrade, disk brakes, centre console, fold down rear seat, were all available on a Mach 1. If you ordered a Mach 1 with the “M” Code 351 you actually got the same horsepower as the BOSS 302.
All Mach 1s were fastbacks and in 1969 were blessed with scoops under the C-pillar and 4 headlights. These features were dropped for 1970, but the 351 Cleveland replaced the 4-BBL Windsor engine. Although the same size as the Windsor, the 4-BBL Cleveland used the heads from the BOSS 302 and much larger valves to produce significantly more horsepower with hydraulic lifters. Revered in the 70’s the Cleveland became the 4 bbl engine of choice for high performance becoming the BOSS 351 in 1971 with solid lifters and 330HP.
The Mach 1 package included suspension upgrades and ten inch drum brakes, front disc brakes were optional on all Mach 1s. The interior appointments included high back buckets seats and even a clock. One of the best aircraft style cockpits ever done for a car, the interior was downright luxurious for the time.
Your AutoClassicsFord Mustang Mach 1 inspection checklist
The 351 Windsor and the 351 Cleveland are both bulletproof engines. Hydraulic lifters meant there is very little maintenance. The 4 bbls are high compression engines, so finding fuel for them is a real problem.. If you rebuild one I would suggest giving up on the 10.6:1 compression ratio and moving down a peg depending on the fuel you have available.
If there is a weakness in the 351W it is that it was designed for around 300HP and with bolt on parts you can get over 475HP today. These engines were not designed for that! Connecting rods, pistons, etc all begin to give way. The 351C was basis for the racing engines of the 70s and 80s (think Nascar). Much stronger, but again if you create a 500HP 351C with stock internals I’m pretty sure you’ll break things.
I’ve only ever driven the 4-speed “top-loader”, but it is a blast from the past with a long throw, but the synchros are fantastic and you could probably speed shift this transmission for years without damage. The top loader was used in SCCA Trans-AM series and with big block BOSS 429 engines to give you an idea how tough it was.
Suspension and brakes
Drop the clutch on these cars and axle wind-up is brutal, although Mach-1s that had staggered shocks to help solve this problem there are plenty of third party solutions that are much better. In the front there are grease fittings everywhere and if not maintained, all the bushings go bad. Good news is that all these parts are available.
There are no brakes, and what little stopping power these cars have is gone by the second corner. Front disc brakes are a must. The period correct upgrade was a lot better than the ten inch drums but given all the aftermarket options I would upgrade.
Not sure how to say this, but you can hear these cars rust beneath you — there are just too many nooks and crannies. The inside of the doors, the trunk, the torque boxes all hold water and rust as you drive. Mach 1 wheel wells are another problem spot. If you buy one, pull the doors apart and spray the inside with rust proofing. The torque box is critical to the car stiffness so make sure they are solid.
The Interiors are all vinyl and very tough. I can see an original interior lasting many years, but if they don’t all the parts are available. The fold down rear seat are a must-have option, making your look like a 2-seater and the carpeted surface looks so 1970s.
- There were over 72,458 Mach-1s made in 1969
- There were 40,970 made in 1970
Is the Mach 1 the ultimate pony car? There were more powerful Mustangs, but the 351 Mustang Mach-1s were cheap to run and made you feel like Parnelli Jones. The interiors are fantastic period pieces and you never tire of that incredible 4Bbls V8 rumble.
Having driven these beasts, the 4 speed is a must have and you really do need to upgrade the brakes. I would add the Boss 302 air damn, aerodynamics are not exactly perfect and the front tires will come off the ground at about 125mph… Don’t ask.
Looking to buy a classic Ford Mustang?
We've got loads of Ford Mustangs for sale!
Mach 1 Cleveland/Windsor H-Code