Secratariat Special – Big Block 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1

Although first-generation Mustangs comprise four different body styles from 1964 1/2 to 1973, we think Ford’s early pony car should be broken up into two categories, first-gen 1.0 and 2.0.  First-gen 1.0 Mustangs were built from 1964 1/2 to 1968 and were smaller and easier to handle than first-gen 2.0 Mustangs, and owed much of their sales success to the fairer sex buying them up in droves. Six-cylinder “secretary specials” accounted for a sizable portion of early Mustang sales.

When the 1969 Mustang appeared, it was enlarged to accept the biggest big-block Ford V8 available at that time. The culmination of this size and weight creep was the 1971-73 models that were more like Clydesdales than lithe little ponys. Looking back, the slow drift away from the tidy size of the Gen 1.0 cars was a key factor in waning sales and the Mustang II was Ford’s knee-jerk reaction to the problem.

Looking back today, all that seems irrelevant. First-gen 2.0 Mustangs don’t seem as big today. Especially when compared to late-model SUVs with their Loomis armored car dimensions. These Mustangs were also the recipient of fantastic, swoopy styling touched by the hands of legendary designer Larry Shinoda and other talented stylists at Ford. 1969 was the incept year of the First Gen 2.0 Mustang and it created a big splash. It was also the first year of Mach 1, a sub-model that continues on sporadically in Ford’s pony car stable to this day.

A 1969 Mach 1 began life as a V8-powered SportsRoof with a flat black hood treatment, hood pins, two optional induction scoops, performance suspension, chrome gas cap, rally wheels, trim rings, and Goodyear Polyglas tires, A deluxe interior, and optional, dealer installed chin spoiler, rear deck spoiler, and SportSlats rear window louvers, rounded out the gear.

The engine options were mind-boggling. Standard equipment was a 351ci Windsor 2V engine with a 3-speed manual gearbox, and a heavy-duty Ford 9-inch rear end. A 351W 4V, 390ci FE V8, and the 428ci Cobra Jet 4V with or without Ram Air forced induction were also available. 1969 also saw the introduction of the “drag pack” option with the big daddy 428ci Super Cobra Jet engine with a 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission.

Robert Lubecky from North Royalton, Ohio has a nice example of a 1969 Mach 1 and we were lucky enough to catch up with him and his musclebound Mustang. Robert is married to Linda and they have a son and two grandkids and these days, he’s retired. Robert has collected cars since 2012 and this Mustang is one of his latest acquisitions.

He bought the Mustang around twelve years ago in much the same condition as you see here. Originally, it was a clean, rust-free South Carolina car that underwent a complete restoration in the Palmetto State around 2007. Looking quite fetching in red with black accents on top of a deluxe interior, it retains a stock OEM look, although never judge a book by its cover. Not a garage queen, the car had roughly 63k miles on it when he bought it and Robert has put roughly 10k miles on it since then.

This red Mach 1 originally came with a fairly tame 351ci V8 mated to a C6 transmission, but a 429 big block bored out to 513ci was shoehorned in later in its life. Around 2014, the engine blew and Robert sent the motor over to engine builder Gary Box at Box Performance, based in Columbia Station, Ohio, who worked his considerable talents on this FoMoCo mill. He increased displacement to 557 cubic inches, added Edelbrock heads, and an Erson cam. Next, they installed an aluminum driveshaft from Precision Shaft Technologies and then connected that to a nine-inch Ford rear end with gears swapped from 4:10 to 3:23 so it would behave nicely on the street. Last but not least, spent engine gases are expelled via a three-inch custom exhaust system.

With a stout 11:1 compression, Robert estimates the mill is pumping out a stump-pulling 725hp. To keep things running cool, a push/pull fan was added behind the radiator, and while they were at it they beefed up the C6 transmission with a stronger torque converter as well.  The car has Wilwood 10″ disc brakes all the way around with 15″ Magnum 500 wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich and Mickey Thompson rubber, front and rear respectively. Barr Restoration of Naples, Florida handled all the work in this phase and took about a year to complete. To the untrained eye, this car seems stone stock, yet the modern updates are there, lurking under this Mustang’s OEM skin.

Inside, the Mustang has a bone stock interior in excellent shape. Molded plastic automotive parts from the late sixties were embryonic technology and are notorious for premature aging, yet  Robert’s car seems to have eluded this curse. The car came from the factory with a deluxe interior consisting of padded door panels with “Woodtone” trim, high back bucket seats with red accents, and an original, working, rim-blow steering wheel. 1969 was the first year for the dual-cowl dashboard that had distinct C2 Corvette overtones. This was a very modern dashboard back in the day and still looks cool, especially with the full instrumentation and the clock way over on the passenger side.

Robert won a 2nd place trophy at the 2016 Cleveland Autorama car show in “Street Class” and now that all the revisions are complete, he’s enjoying driving the car.  This Mustang is now more like a fire-breathing Sacratariat than a little pony and that’s just fine with Robert. With his wife Linda, they are toying with the idea of taking the Mustang on Route 66 road trip from Chicago to LA. We love the imagery of letting this racehorse run free on the interstate, at full gallop in its natural habitat. The sonorous wail of a big block Ford at full song, with smiling happy people at the reigns.

Photography Randy Pugh Full Throttle Studios

About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
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