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Chris73

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
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Location
Paragould, Arkansas
My Car
1973 Mach 1
I've been a longtime user of this site, but this is my first time posting. I appreciate all the knowledge shared here that has helped me many times working on my very first car, my 1973 Mach 1. Figured I'd contribute a little to the site instead of just being a silent observer as I have in the past, and to be honest I could use a little bit of inspiration as life has seemed to get in the way every time I try to work on my oh-so-close to being finished car. For a little background, I'm currently 23 so this has all happened in the past few years. Back in 2014, my uncle bought this 1973 Mach 1 after going to look at the Galaxie next to it:

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It had a 351 Cleveland 2V and a C6, and seemed all stock aside from an Edelbrock performer, Holley 600, air cleaner, and possibly valve covers? Still not sure on them.

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The next day we got the engine running on a boat tank, drove it around the yard a bit to make sure the transmission worked, and left it there with my uncle as the perfect start to a project. Unfortunately, he didn't have the time or motivation for it, and it sat for a couple years. After me bringing it up at every family gathering for the couple years, when he decided he wanted to sell it he gave me the first crack at it, and that's how I ended up with the very first car I ever purchased as a 17 year old being a 1973 Mach 1 back in 2016. After spending every penny to my name on this car, I had to let it sit a while as I finished high school and started college. It never left my mind though, as i planned and plotted with painters tape how exactly I'd paint the thing one day:

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Life happened, as it always does, and it was 2019 before I made any progress on the car. I stuck the car in my father-in-law's barn, threw what little money a struggling college student could at it, and spent all the time I had between going to college days and working nights to make this car into something. With a roof, plywood sheets on the ground as a floor, and (kinda) walls I could finally get the car in the air to do all the basics:

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The interior was in pieces laying inside the car when my uncle got it, and it was still that way when I started. There were several extra parts from other mustangs and other old fords which added to the confusion putting it all together. After cleaning out the car and somewhat organizing parts I was surprised to find no rust holes.

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With all the help I could ask for from my Dad, we dug into it. We started with the brakes, new pads and a new master cylinder, and after that was working we had a caliper sticking so we replaced that. We replaced all 3 rubber brake lines as they were very old and brittle. I had to make hard lines for the rear end, they were missing for whatever reason so I put new wheel cylinders and shoes in at the same time in hopes that I'd never have to tear into the drums again. My first mod that wasn't out of necessity was a set of Hedman headers, as there was no exhaust in the car when I got it so I didn't want to make exhaust all the way up to the stock manifolds when I wanted headers eventually anyway. As we tried to make the thing run a little better, we found out the distributor had fused itself to the intake, and ended up having to break it to get it to seperate, so I threw a cheapie HEI in it to get me going. Found some old turbine wheels with Hoosier drag radials on the backs for $100 on craigslist and I was running and driving on an old Holley that tried to die every time you came to a stop, with rear tires that rubbed the fenders every time I hit a bump, and in a bare interior with a half bolted down seat and no working gauges, but boy was I happy about it.

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Now that I had a running and driving car, my biggest issue was getting it reliable enough to be able to drive to work and college. I had big plans for this Mustang one day, so instead of going my usual route of finding a cheap used carb and making it work, I ate mac & cheese every night to save up for the biggest purchase of my life so far: A holley sniper stealth, as well as a matching Hyperspark distributor and ignition box, along with new tank, electric fuel pump, regulator, and everything else I needed to make it work. At the same time I painted the engine bay, valve covers, intake, and accessory brackets which really stepped up the look of the whole package from this:

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To this:
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At the same time we were working on the wiring and plumbing for the EFI conversion, I found a killer deal on some torq thrust lookalikes that were being discontinued. I got a set of 17x8s for the front and 18x9s for the back for $380 total, brand new straight from summit racing.

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I had my fiance make the stickers for the center caps with her Cricut vinyl cutting machine she made t-shirts with, I had 2 versions but I ended up going with the ones with the silver surround and black horse.

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At the same time as the EFI I wanted functioning gauges and at least a little bit of an interior, so I started with new carpet. I just used generic black carpet by the yard since it was a lot cheaper than a real carpet kit. Next there was a lot of time spent on the forum and looking over shop manuals to see how exactly the interior went together. It may not be concourse down to correct fasteners, but it's all together and I'm happy with the way it came out.

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So then I finally had a car that was reliable, everything mechanical worked, was street legal, and had a halfway decent interior. Next I drove the hell out of the thing for about a year, including a few trips out of state, cruised just fine whether it was 45 around town or 80 on the interstate. It really gave me an appreciation for how good these cars are even at 50 years old.

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Then I daily drove the car like that for a year. Driving 30 miles to college every day, then 20 miles to work, then another 10 miles back home, and it never missed a beat or left me stranded. I loved the car so much I saved up to give it the paint job it deserved, and in 2020 me and my Dad did just that. It was our first time painting a car, but I think we did a great job and I'm happy with it and that's what matters. I've reached my attachment limit for a post and I just realized how long this is, maybe too long for an introduction. If there's any interest I can make a thread showing more of the car like our paint job.

Thanks for the great forum with all the useful knowledge,
Chris
 

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Joined
Sep 12, 2018
Messages
778
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Location
Clinton, NY
My Car
1973 Grande
Wow, that's a great story. You should be proud of yourself. It looks like you've done some quality work and gone about doing it the right way.
I for sure would be interested in your pain job thread.
Keep up the good work.
Glad you finally decided to post.
Mike
 

Sheriff41

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 5, 2019
Messages
760
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594
Location
Texas
My Car
72 Mustang Q-code
Welcome and howdy from Texas! Nice introduction. These old cars have a way of becoming part of the family. Keep us posted on your progress!
 
Joined
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Location
Ross, Ohio
My Car
71 Sportsroof Bright Red.

Welcome from Ohio. Really like the fact that you stayed with it. Nice to see the younger generation take interest in these and bring them back to life. Please keep posting so we can see the results of your hard work and how you ended up painting it. Don't know if it makes a difference on post size limit but you could copy this on over to the "mustang-registry-project-build-threads" section. Keep up the great work Chris.
 

Chris73

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
22
Reaction score
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Location
Paragould, Arkansas
My Car
1973 Mach 1
Thanks for all the kind replies! I'll work on making a build thread to show the paint scheme I ended up going with and how the car sits as of today.

Cool car. Love those valve covers. The decals for the wheels are great too. Well done mate.

I absolutely love them too. I know they still make them, but these were on the car when I got it and it was last registered in 91, so they've got to be older than that. I get a lot more satisfaction making something old look as good as new-if not better than new-myself than I do just buying pretty new parts to bolt on.

On the left was as they sat on the car, the right was after a good cleanup for paint prep:

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And below is after spraying black, taking a palm sander to all the raised edges, and then clear coating over it:

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Don't remember why I took the picture on the washing machine but I'm sure there was a good reason at the time lol.

I actually did the air cleaner and the intake to match at the same time, again using the parts that were already on the car:

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Lot of taping and redoing the air cleaner lid as the letters weren't flat so I couldn't just cheat and sand them off and I wanted the polished metal to shine through instead of just painting the letters silver. Was a fun process and very satisfying when I was done.
 
Joined
Jul 10, 2011
Messages
2,046
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Location
Germany, Southwest, Black Forest
My Car
1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1 T5 Q-Code 4-Speed
Thanks for sharing your story and I am definitely interested in the current state of your Mustang. I have respect that you held on your car that long despite life came in the way many times. I know your feelings and please don't ask why - it's now 8 years in a restoration which was planned to be a 2 year one on my car. But back to you: hold on, be strong and keep us posted!

Welcome from Germany!
 

Chris73

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
22
Reaction score
51
Location
Paragould, Arkansas
My Car
1973 Mach 1
Thanks for sharing your story and I am definitely interested in the current state of your Mustang. I have respect that you held on your car that long despite life came in the way many times. I know your feelings and please don't ask why - it's now 8 years in a restoration which was planned to be a 2 year one on my car. But back to you: hold on, be strong and keep us posted!

Welcome from Germany!
Thank you for the warm welcome! I made a build thread for the car this morning to show the whole process up to where it sits now. Here's the link to it:

 
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
608
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Location
Pittsford, NY
My Car
My all time favorite vehicle is our 1969 Shelby GT500
Wow! What a cool project! And the Cricut vinyl pieces both look really nice. I know some folks regards the 1973 Mustangs to be lesser vahicles compared to 71 & 72, and even more so when compared to 66-70 model years. I have seen folks say the 73 is heavier than prior years due to the federally required energy absorbing bumpers, and added strength inside the doors. There is also mention about how the 73 bumpers stick out an unusual amount. Well, if that is all anyone can say about the 1973 models, it is my feeling they are barking at the moon - much to do about nothing. I am a raving fan of the 1969 model year, but will not stick my nose up in the air on any First Generation Mustang or Shelby. It took me a few decades to begin to appreciate the 71-73 model years, and now we have two 1973 Mustangs (Convertible and Mach 1). I have found they are just as wonderful to work on, tinker with, drive, and show as the earlier model year Mustangs.

I hope to see progress photos of your Mustang as time moves forward. When it comes to the final painting I can tell you a few things. If there are any defects in the body/metal work, the better your paint job the more evident underlying defects will appear to be. The secret to having an excellent finish is partly based on the quality paint you select, and very heavily based on surface preparation. On our 73 Mach 1, which we had deeply re$tored the other year, after every base white, color, and clear coat the technician did a full blocking and wet sanding before any subsequent coat of paint was applied. We used PPG Sunset Orange, shot on top of a base white (PPG) to get the candy effect. There were 4 coats of clear coat, and the blackout was PPG Hot Rod Black Matte. For the "351 RAM AIR" Call-Out on the two NACA/NASA hood scoop inlets we used a paint template as opposed to applying a decal, so the characters are displayed where the colored paint peers out from behind the overlaid Hot Rod Black paint - which I feel makes for an awesome look.

I never asked for a breakdown of how much the paint work was compared to the rest of the body work performed. But, were I to have had the paint related work broken out it would have likely scared me re: how costly the paint work was, as no doubt the labor involved with the block and set sand between every white, color=, and clear coat would have come to one heck of a large figure. But, the results speaks for itself. Below is a YouTube link showing our Mach 1 in a walk-around video on its last day of its 13 1/2 month long restoration.



Lynda and I would visit the Mach 1 every week just to take progress photos of what became to feel like a never ending project. I initially felt we would maybe have $15k put into it, but the further they went the more they found with some deeply hidden corrosion. We had our personal reasons for opting to pursue the repairs being done fully and properly, as opposed to scrapping the Mach 1 and looking for a different Mustang to bring back to life. It was a very, very costly decision - but one we made with eyes wide open, and without grumbling as we knew we were getting a top notch, high quality job. We had the bucks to do it right, and for love of the breed decided to resurrect this one. Although we are very pleased with our outcome, the level of work done with the cost involved is not something we would recommend to most folks. I prefer to not share what we put into the restoration, but I will say it was a few times more than the market value of the finished project. A year later we replaced its original C4 tranny with an AOD, which turned out to be an excellent move. Now at freeway speeds (60 MPH) we are only turning 1,850 RPM as opposed to previously turning 2,850 RPM with the C4 (3.5:1 TractionLok rear axle gear set).

Here is another YouTube link. This video is made from a series of photos we took during the restoration, in case you are interested in what we were up against. Attached are some photos of the Mach 1 when we purchased it. The color when we bought it was Valspar Sunset, a very slightly different hue than the PPG Sunset Orange we selected. The Sunset Orange is a very fine grain metallic translucent that is intended to be shot on top of either a white or silver base color to achieve its intended candy color effect. We felt a silver base would be a bit much, and went with the white base.



We love to work on and tinker with the Mach 1, and drive and show it also. It never fails to draw attention anywhere we go with it, and it is a fun cruising machine. The engine was originally a 302 2v, but the prior owner replaced it with a moderately street/strip built 351W (not C) that produced 360 HP at the crankshaft, enough to have some great fun, especially with its 3.5:1 rear axle gear set (it was originally a very steep 2.79:1 ratio gear set in the rear axle assembly). It is a very spirited running vehicle, especially with its 4 speed automatic overdrive transmission. During the AOD swap I took a bunch of videos (or course). Below are the various YouTube links showing the AOD swap, and subsequent Throttle Valve Pressure setting. One of the links shows how I spliced in the AOD Neutral Safety/Backup Lights Switch into the original C4 Neutral Safety/Backup Light Switch. The various vendors and parts used are in the various video descriptions, and I attached a file giving that info as well, in case you or someone else reading this long post is interested in doing an AOD upgrade.

Have fun with it!












The following link is for the Neutral Safety/Backup Light Switch splicing:





https://youtu.be/yHWY903N4bs



https://youtu.be/XZ7CkcY1vFQ



https://youtu.be/vdR-z3KV0UE



https://youtu.be/YCBBgd-olQ0



https://youtu.be/NcYr68atRjM



https://youtu.be/iFNXTGXNNcQ



https://youtu.be/2tTwnbcZZkY



https://youtu.be/8QncIKQTvNo



https://youtu.be/b4lnPReGWuM



https://youtu.be/zfYe--Gsjdk
 

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Last edited:

Chris73

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
22
Reaction score
51
Location
Paragould, Arkansas
My Car
1973 Mach 1
@mrgmhale Sounds like a fun car and looks amazing! Way higher caliber than what I'm capable of with my limited experience and funds, but I plan on keeping my first car forever for the story if nothing else, so there's always more time and money to be thrown at it. I learned a lot in the painting process, I've detailed it in my build thread I linked in an earlier post. I did know prep was 90% of painting before I started, and I like to think I did a very respectable job on the prep and spraying side of things, I just made some mistakes on the final wet sanding and polishing that I need to correct.

Though I'm personally past the point of the AOD swap myself, I very much appreciate detailed write ups on this site like the one you posted. I should probably document some of the things I've done for others to see, as I've found some low buck alternative solutions for several things like the AOD swap, EFI conversion, and some other things that may be useful to people trying to build on a budget.
 
Joined
Aug 6, 2019
Messages
133
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153
Location
Usa
My Car
1973 Mach 1 completely stock ivy green with silver stripes.
wow ! You’re doing an amazing job . Keep up the good work. Speaking of Arkansas that’s where I got my 73 Mach 1 from. It was sold new in Little Rock and remained in Arkansas its whole life until I got it 4years ago. Now it resides in Maryland.
 

Chris73

Member
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Paragould, Arkansas
My Car
1973 Mach 1
Strangely enough mine was built in Dearborn, shipped out to Washington State according to the DSO number on the data plate, and then over the years it made its way to Southwest Georgia where my uncle bought it. I then bought it from him and pulled it to Arkansas. Crazy to think how this car has seen more of the country than I have! Almost as crazy as the thought of a machine older than my parents being reliable enough to get me to work and school with a lot of original parts still on it.
 
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
608
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481
Location
Pittsford, NY
My Car
My all time favorite vehicle is our 1969 Shelby GT500
@mrgmhale Sounds like a fun car and looks amazing! Way higher caliber than what I'm capable of with my limited experience and funds, but I plan on keeping my first car forever for the story if nothing else, so there's always more time and money to be thrown at it. I learned a lot in the painting process, I've detailed it in my build thread I linked in an earlier post. I did know prep was 90% of painting before I started, and I like to think I did a very respectable job on the prep and spraying side of things, I just made some mistakes on the final wet sanding and polishing that I need to correct.

Though I'm personally past the point of the AOD swap myself, I very much appreciate detailed write ups on this site like the one you posted. I should probably document some of the things I've done for others to see, as I've found some low buck alternative solutions for several things like the AOD swap, EFI conversion, and some other things that may be useful to people trying to build on a budget.
EFI converswions are quite costly, and frankly in my opinion the EFI solutions bring some good for some folks, but if you are after
"more performance" you should know a well tuned carburetor will bring you about the same power as an EFI system. Arguably the EFI systems are more reliable than the original carburetor systems. I say "arguably" because no doubt there are plenty of folks who would say it is a reliable solution until a problem occurs. Now it is a matter of ascertaining the cause of the EFI problem, which can become pretty interesting. The carburetor based fuel systems are less complex, to say the least, and far easier to diagnose and repair.

The one area I feel EFI offers value is for a car that is changing altitudes often, (routine driving from a valley into the mountains, for instance). The carburetor systems require you to either change the jetting at the high and low points of your journey, or for a driver to put up with a too rich or too lean condition at a higher or lower altitude. With an EFI system the Air.Fuel ratio is monitored and adjusted electronically to accommodate the changes in altitude. For some folks the expense of an EFI system may be worth it, but for me where the altitude changes afore nominal at worst a well tuned carburetor does just fine.

If you do decide to go to EFI, do not go cheap. Some lower price systems do not "require" a fuel return line. I suggest you get a kit with a return fuel line required, They are terribly costly, but systems with a return fuel line are better designed than systems not requiring a return line. Jut remember to not go cheap and you ought to be fine IF you decide to go EFI.
 
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