April 9, 2022
About a year or two before I got my first car, I started building model cars, RC cars, and helping my dad work on his cars. When I was twelve I knew that I wanted a Mustang. I worked weekends at my uncle's sports store to save up some money. Around age thirteen I bought my first Mustang. It was a 1965 coupe with a good 302 and a ton of rust, since it sat in Pacifica for years. We decided to keep the motor and sold the rest. I then got another 1965 coupe, which I drove. It turned out to have a lot of underlying issues, so I sold that one as well. My dad found a '66 Mustang coupe that we were going to look at. At that point I told him I really wanted a '67 or '68 coupe. A short time later my dad got a call from a high school friend (owner #2 of my Mach 1). My dad's friend said he was moving to Washington and couldn't take the Mach 1. He offered to sell it to my dad at a hell of a price. My dad asked me if I wanted to buy a 1970 Mach 1 instead of a '67 or '68 coupe. Ummmm...HELL YEA! Coincidentally, that year my middle school had construction going on. One of the foreman had a blue 1970 Mach 1. Before I bought my car I told a friend that I would own a car like that some day. Fate worked out to make that statement true the next year.
My 1970 Mach 1 was built in San Jose, CA in late 1969. It was ordered as a Mach 1 with a 4-barrel, 351 Cleveland, FMX automatic transmission, medium gold metallic paint, and a "ginger" (light brown) interior. It was first owned in Redwood City, CA. The second owner was in Redwood City before moving to San Jose. I became the third owner around 2000 or 2001. My dad knew both prior owners, and went to high school with the second owner (while he had the car). The car needed an engine rebuild, suspension, transmission rebuild, paint, and interior. But, it was pretty rust-free and I knew the entire history of the car.
We bought the car with it not running. It needed everything. We took the motor out, tore it apart, and found that every intake pushrod was bent in a "Z" shape. Somehow, the timing gear broke, causing the pistons to slam into the valves. My uncle worked at a machine shop and he cleaned up the block, did a small bore in the cylinders and resurfaced the heads. He gave us the bottom end assembled, and my dad, one of his friends, and I put the top half of the motor together. We put in a mild cam, Edelbrock aluminum intake, and Edelbrock 600cfm carb. At the recommendation of a transmission shop, we used a rebuilt C4 transmission with a shift kit. In hindsight, I wish that we had kept the FMX, but the C4 has been okay. The suspension, disk brake conversion, and a lot of parts came from Mustangs Plus in Stockton. The paint and interior came about a year after we got the car on the road. The majority of the work was done by my dad and myself in our one-car garage. We would have to push out the part of the car we wanted to work on in order to have room. It was truly a family build.
My favorite thing about this car is the memories it holds. This car is my photo album. The sights, the smells, the sounds, the door dings, the rips in the interior; all of it brings back memories for me every time I drive it. I remember the day we fired the motor up for the first time and my dad drove it around the block with me and my brother in it (I didn't have a driver's permit yet). I remember the first time I drove it to high school; my dad had to drive it away since I only had a learner's permit. The day I got my license, I drove it from the DMV to see some friends, but none of them were home. In high school, my friend had an '86 Camaro and we would cruise back and forth on El Camino. I've had first dates, last dates, drives to clear my head, driving mistakes that left me stranded, loaded the car with friends to go to the beach, loaded it with gear and went camping, and so much more. The car has been with me as my daily driver in high school, college, police academy, and drove my wife and me away from our wedding. Now, I have memories with my daughter riding in her car seat with ear muffs on, giving me a "thumbs-up."
Before I owned the car my dad had a connection to it. While he was in high school, my dad and owner #2 were friends. He told me stories of street races they would get into. When we were building the rear end, he said that the right rear wheel bearing may leak a bit, since his friend stuffed that wheel into a curb in high school (fortunately, it hasn't leaked). My dad's best friend (an uncle to me) took the car to his senior prom. He passed away a few years ago, but that memory lives in the car, too. There are so many stories in that car, and it's hard to name them all.
My vision for the future of the Mustang revolves around being able to drive it as much as possible. I plan to put in a larger aluminum radiator since it gets hot in the summer, and upgrade the steering to a steering box and manual steering tie rod to increase the feel. I want to lower the front end an inch, and upgrade the suspension a bit. The big change will come with the transmission. I was able to get the 4-speed Toploader that my dad had in his 1968 Mustang back when he was in high school. I plan to rebuild the 4-speed and run that in a factory-type set-up (maybe with a Gear Vendors OD if the funds are there). Either way, I'll keep driving my 1970 Mach 1 to keep building memories and to relive the past. See pictures below. Follow Peter on Instagram @70_goldmach