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Found a low miles 73 mach 1 for sale close by. Looking for advice for when I go to check it out.

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Posted (edited)

Back in the 80s, my mom, 18 at the time, had to sell her Mach 1 because she was extra pregnant and couldn't do the car seat in the back.  She sold it for a 4 door chevelle, but thats a different story for a different forum.  :D

Anyhow, her current car is falling apart and we found what's advertised as a 73 Mach 1 not too far from me.  I spoke with the guy and saw his title.  Title showed 18k miles on it when he got it and he's put another 2k miles on it.  He said this car belonged to a military guy who mostly left it parked in the garage.  It spent most of its life sitting there, getting wiped down with diapers and waiting for the 1 weekend a month he would drive it around.  Eventually that guy retired and sold it to the next military guy who did about the same thing with it.  1 or 2 owners later, and this guy ends up with it, and now its for sale.  Mom is looking at buying it to be a daily driver to and from work and around town.

The vin on the title starts out 3F05H.  From looking at the photos of the car, I do see a couple things that don't look quite right.  Like the front headlight bezels are the silver instead of the black mach 1 ones.  And its a standard gas cap instead of the flip open one.  I do see the valve covers have been changed and the factory AC compressor is taken off.  Seller says he has the AC compressor in the garage and it will be included, and the carb is swapped to a holley 650 or something around there.  The paint in his first photos was a bit rough.  He just got it back today from getting some sort of paint work, so later photos, at the least the black on the hood looks blacker.

I was thinking maybe the hive here could look at the photos and let me know if there are any red flags in his story or in the photos.  The non-mach 1 parts have me a bit worried.  I was thinking I can look up under the fender and verify the partial vin against the title and dash board.  Are there other vins located on the tags on the cowl or radiator support or anything that would help verify the VIN of this car?  On a '73 that shipped with a 351C 2V, and I'm guessing an FMX transmission, where would I look for tags and stampings to verify its numbers matching?  Aside from the usual leaks and squeaks, shavings/coolant in the engine oil, burn up transmission fluid, and rust at the bottom of the doors and quarter panels, what sort of stuff would you suggest looking at on this car before purchasing?  What sort of stuff would be a deal breaker and just walk away?  And I guess if the VIN does check out an everything looks good and mechanically sound, what would be a fair price for the car, understanding my mom will probably be willing to pay a little over fair market just cause she had a car like this and gave it up as a teenager.



































Edited by giantpune
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First of all: nice to hear your mother would like to have such a car as a daily driver and you assist her to find a good one! That's aweseome! 

On the car I find nothing serious from the photos, obviously there have been some things changed and it's not perfect. But when the price is ok and it's running strong then why not? If she's driving it all day long and the found things are nothing that you can change from time to time. One thing to consider is the fact, that such a car would not be that watertight, so the usage of the car depends on your region where you live. Usually they are not absolutely waterproof around the rear window and the quarter windows. There they leak often, furthermore if the frameless sidewindows aren't set right it will leak there too. And in the winter you would ruin that car in a few years if the roads would be salted. These are only some things to consider too when you want to drive a real classic car as a daily. Unless you live in a real dry area... 

So I see here and there that the paint is a little rough on the lower panels but that wouldn't bother me if this is meant to be a driver and the price is right. Valve covers, valve cover bolts, fan shroud are the obvious changed things, the gas cap is original to the car. The pop up gas cap disappeared between '71/72. Concerning the ram air it would be interesting if a Marti Report states that it is a rare H-code Ram Air car originally. And if the hood locks/TuTone thing is too. If so that car would be attractive - again, if price is right. The underbody seems fine, it looks like dealer added undercoating as on mine so all good. Rust nothing serious, looks all very original. Is the color the original color? Other obvious things are the not so correct TuTone scheme (but have seen a lot worse) and the side stripes aren't correct, "Mach 1" missing... 

A no go would be if you feel says overall "no" after intensive visit of the car. When it starts and running troublesome, is leaking oil here and there, makes weird noises, gets hot fast, low oil pressure, shifting bad and you have the feel, there would be thousands of dollars to spend in the future unless you make a Concourse restoration nonetheless then it would be better to let it stay where it is. It is difficult to give a state on pictures, unheard, unseen... 

As I follow these cars a few years now I would say in this current state a fair price would something between 15 and 20.000 bucks, nothing more. If running fine, mechanical sound you could make a real headturner of this car. 

Concerning the body number but also other consistent things look here 


With a little angled mirror, some light and bravery you could try to see the VIN under the fenders. You could look out if there is the buck tag of the car still there, it would be on the left or right front side of the radiator core support. Other than the dash vin and the door decal there aren't any other hints without getting too deep. Again, a Marti Report would be fine. 

Hope this helps a bit... 

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Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly :runninpony:

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Posted (edited)

We're in the south east USA.  It doesn't snow here, so no salt on the road to east our cars up.

Does the marti report need to say its a ram air car?  The vin number has the H engine code, which I thought meant it was a 351C, 2 barrel, with ram air.  Did some H code cars make it out of the factory without ram air?

As far as the original color, I haven't checked yet.  My initial thought is yes, just based on the interior also having red accents.  I know the 70s were a strange time, so maybe somebody did order a car with red accent interior and a different color outside paint. 

The car being original is not *that* important to my mom, other than the fact of getting what you're paying for.  In all honesty, she'd be fine with one that's been around the block and beat up on a bit.  And she couldn't tell the difference between a 302 and a 351 as long as it started and rumbled like a V8 and got her where she wants to go.  The car is advertised as being low miles and mostly original and numbers matching and thats what his price is based on.  I don't want to get there and start looking at things and it turns out its really a "mach 1 tribute" car that started life as a 6cyl or has a 302 in it or it has 200k miles but was restored in the '80s and has the wrong interior or whatever.  If its listed and priced as a low mile mach 1 numbers matching car, then that's what we want to be able to confirm, at least as well as one can on short notice.

I did spend some time looking through our concourse subforums here.  I'll look for things like the paint stripes on the front springs and drive shaft and engine and transmission tags and stickers under the hood.  If this car has spent most of its time parked indoors for the past 50 years, there should be most of those sort of thing still visible.

Edited by giantpune
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The H and Q code Mach 1s came with a NASA style hood with non-functioning scoops. Due to emissions restrictions the only available Ram Air option was on H codes. 

You can download the 1973 Facts Book here

1973 Mustang Facts Book (revised 1/73) - Individual Project Build Threads - 7173Mustangs.com



“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”

--Albert Einstein


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Posted (edited)

Ahh.  I see now.  I was looking at some online VIN decoders and several of them listed that the H code was the code for ram air, not that it was the 351 and had the option for ram air.  So the H just meant 351C with 2 barrel carb.

Can anybody weigh in on all the red highlights on the interior?  The red accent around the dash and the red pleather in the seats.  Did ford offer black seats with red?

Edited by giantpune
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14 hours ago, giantpune said:

Ahh.  I see now.  I was looking at some online VIN decoders and several of them listed that the H code was the code for ram air, not that it was the 351 and had the option for ram air.  So the H just meant 351C with 2 barrel carb.

Can anybody weigh in on all the red highlights on the interior?  The red accent around the dash and the red pleather in the seats.  Did ford offer black seats with red?

I think Ford offered the black seats with red inserts (they sell upholstery kits in the black and red) but the pin striping is definitely previous owner addition,

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2 hours ago, Tnfastbk said:

I think Ford offered the black seats with red inserts (they sell upholstery kits in the black and red) but the pin striping is definitely previous owner addition,




Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly :runninpony:

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Hello from N.C. I am an original owner of a 1973 Mach 1 so know them pretty good. The car does look to be pretty solid but one thing on engine sort of raises a flag that it might have been changed. The fan shroud it totally not a Mustang. Check the partial VIN on the block and transmission should be stamped on top of tail shaft on auto usually.
Too bad he screwed up the hood should be flat black along with the spoiler.
I would for sure check the VIN on the inner fender under the front fender. The rear valance is from a 71 0r 72 has the eyebrow cuts for a Q code dual exhaust. As stated the side stripe is wrong, hope they did not paint on. No trunk stripe either.
I am suspect of miles the interior looks to be repo. The inserts should be comfort weave, a woven vinyl. Those look to be the printed or embossed repo versions. The red on the dash is totally wrong should be chrome.
You better dig deeper into the VIN# today you cannot trust anyone.
The undercoating you see is the factory sound deadening not dealer added.
One thing that will need attention is the valve stem oil seals. They dry out with age and fall apart and get into the oil pan and can cause oil pump failure.

Here are a few pics of my 73 with 12,000 miles all original. Notice the side stripe and hood black. Also the forged aluminum wheels wheels were 73 only. I added the ram air which was like stated not optional on a Q code. They did make 309 H code ram air fastbacks. Zoom in on the inserts in the seats and see the woven Comfort Weave.
I am in Hendersonville, N.C. what part of Georgia are you in? For reference I have never been offered more than $25,000 for this car. I would not sell for that but what was offered.
There might be some hidden issues with that car so check VIN closely.







When a man is in the woods and talks and no women are there is he still wrong??:P


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Welp, that car ended up being a bust.

The body had a handful of dents and you can tell from inside the trunk the rear quarters had been wrecked and repaired.  Inside the glove box, i could see the cowl was rusted through.

I could tell the engine and transmission were not original and not hooked up like ford or a professional would have done it.  It looks like a back yard engine and transmission swap.  The engine was leaking oil, transmission lines were hooked up to some 80s aftermarket cooler instead of the radiator.  And like you guys called out, the front seats were not woven.  The pattern was molded into the vinyl.

The heads had the 4 cast into the corners.  Really, it wasn't a bad little car.  351 v4 with headers, h pipe, and ram air.   He just wanted way too much for what he had.  Probably has seen too many episodes of antiques roadshow.

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Good that you stood away from that car in the end... You will find surely a much better one that this hack-puzzled car. Low mile doesn't mean necessarily it must be a good and original car... 




Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly :runninpony:

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I appreciate all those cars from that era. Mom has good tastes.

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Wisdom, knowledge and intelligence are three very different things.

1971 convertible, H-code, Ram Air

1971 Mach I, M-code, Ram Air

1972 Mexican GT-351

1988 Bronco II

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