Refurbishing my '73 after 48 years of ownership

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Aug 9, 2020
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North Idaho & The Bahamas
My Car
1973 Mach 1
Some other Fords
I'm going to start a build thread on my car.

I redid my '73 a couple of years ago. Before I was really familiar with this forum, I posted all of my progress in the long thread "What did you do to your car today". I regret doing so, and in hindsight I should have documented my efforts in a new "Project Build" thread.

This may take awhile, but I am going to attempt to cut/paste and document my efforts here. For the old timers, I apologize for the repeat posts. Although if you are like me, after a year or two I can't remember anything anyway so it might read like new.

I am going to start with the post I made when I introduced myself to the forum back in September 2020 as it gives some history on the car. Here’s my/the car’s story:

While I am not the original owner, I am pretty close. With my dad's help I bought the car in 1975 used from the local Ford dealer. It is a 1973 2V automatic Mach 1. When I acquired it there were 8000 miles on the clock. The woman who bought it originally traded it for a Mustang II.

I was in college at the time in Southern California and this is my first car. I was a road racing fan at the time and my Mach saw many late night high-speed runs on the Angeles Crest highway back in those years. During my college days I made a number of “improvements” on the car [pretty much anything that was on sale at Pep Boys :) ]. All of this work was done in the parking lot or under an apartment carport.

Hedman headers, Offenhauser Dual plane intake, Holley 650 double pumper, Ram air, 351 Boss valve covers, 1971 4V Ford HO Cam, Rear sway bar, radial tires, Mallory electronic ignition, 1971 rear valence and dual exhaust. I am sure I am leaving out a number of things, but that is what I remember. The car ran pretty well and I managed a high 14 second run in the quarter at Pomona which is saying something given the 2.75 open diff.

In about 1980 I moved in next door to a guy with a 1971 Mach 1 4V HO car. He was going to trade his Mustang in on a BMW so I asked him if I could swap out some parts. He said no problem, and over the next week or so I ended up with his 4V heads, carb and intake manifold. He traded in a slightly modified ’71…

Well come the early 80s and life got in the way. New wife, job, small garage…like many it was time to part with my pride and joy. I had a great dad who when learning that I was going to sell the car offered to buy it from me and store it until I could buy it back someday. He was sure I’d really like to have my “first love” back at some point in the future. He, like so many others, always regretted selling his first car.

As I recall he gave me $3000 for it. We never did any paperwork so legally I continued to own it. I guess the transaction is better classified as a fully collateralized loan where there were no payments and he held the collateral. He stored the car in his airplane hangar and drove it monthly around the airport taxiways to keep it fresh.

Fast forward to around 1992. My life situation changed and I was able to “buy” my Mach back for the same $3000 I gave him 10+ years earlier.

I decided the first order of business was to take her back closer to stock. I removed the headers, installed factory exhaust manifolds and factory dual exhaust. The ignition went back to points, coil back to yellow top, steering wheel back to original along with a few other things. She didn’t run nearly as strong anymore, but my days of racing up the Angeles Crest were behind me and I was happy to have my first car back.

Well, again life got in the way, my automotive interests changed and the old Mach ended up languishing in storage and un-driven for 25+ years which brings us to today. Now retired, I have the time and flexibility to work on the car again. I’m going to get her back running and do some things I have always wanted to do.

Here are some photos of the old girl:



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I am very fortunate to start with a rust free and very straight car always stored inside. It also helps to be intimately familiar with all of the history.
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Sept 29, 2020

So I am tearing down the externals on my engine getting ready to do some painting on the engine. I am not going to remove the engine since it appears to be in good shape.

I pulled the plugs and borescoped the cylinders and they are all rust free and thankfully appear to be in good shape. With all the accessories & water pump off the front of the engine, the crankshaft turned easily and smoothly with a ratchet wrench. I have not done a compression check, but at this point I have no reason to expect I have a problem.

My next step is to remove and refurbish the valve covers. Back in 1975 I purchased and installed a set of the Ford aluminum Boss valve covers. They have not been off the car since maybe 1980 or so. Today after removing the valve cover bolts I attempted to remove the covers. First a tap with my fist, then using a rubber luck. I used a thin gasket scraper and gently tapped it between the cork and the head on the front of the engine (see photo) and with a bit more tapping still no luck. After recommendation from another forum member (c9zx) I applied some heat and they popped off.


Once I got the covers off I cleaned them up a bit. I sprayed the cover down with Aircraft Paint Stripper (remove black paint between the top fins that I applied as a teenager in 1975). Then 0000 steel wool and finally Eagle One Etching Mag Wheel Cleaner as recommended by c9zx.

One side done, one side left to go:

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Jan 10, 2021

Got a bunch of the engine externals put back together; fuel line, spark plug wires, heater hoses and valves, alternator/regulator and wiring, engine bay wiring harnesses, etc. Unfortunately I am heading to warmer climes until April so nothing more is going to happen until then.

June 11, 2021

Yesterday I pulled the gas tank and fuel lines. The tank was corroded through on top but was not leaking. I have no idea what the 25+ year old gasoline turned into after sitting for so long, but it was as thick as pancake syrup.

The body metal above the tank is in surprisingly good shape. Just very minor surface rust in a few spots.

Photos below:




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June 21, 2021

Over the past two weeks I have researched and ordered all the parts to redo my suspension and brakes. I'm just going for stock performance. Rock Auto and NPD have been burning up my credit card. Since I don't want to tear things down until all my parts are here I have been working on repainting and cleaning up cosmetic stuff.

Pics below are of my repainted RAM air cleaner and the shock tower braces (yeah, I know they are supposed to be slop gray, but black is what I have). I didn't want to bore everyone with all the other stuff.

I am holding off installing the new gas tank until I replace my rear springs and sway bar rubber. Eaton shipment should arrive Wednesday.

Sure is fun to be working on the old girl again!


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June 26, 2021

I spent today doing some more cleaning/painting. Radiator brackets, hood latch bracket, horns, misc. small stuff. Cleaned up the front grill turn signal lights per David of Carolina Mountain Mustang's write up a while back.

Finally unpacked and cataloged all the parts I ordered. Other than a missing box containing the new U-bolts and shackles for the Eaton rear springs (thanks FedEx for routing them incorrectly) everything is here and ready to go. I'll be starting on the suspension and brakes tomorrow!

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June 29, 2021

Busy day today. Installed new gas tank, rear leaf springs, rear brake hose, new rear shocks and rear sway bar bushings and end links.

In the middle of the afternoon UPS brought me a present from Modern Driveline!


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July 3, 2021

I finished the front end suspension work. All new MOOG stuff including tie rods.

I have decided to remove the air conditioning from the car. Here in North Idaho there really is no need for A/C, and there is so much more room in the engine bay without it.

Since I'm removing so much weight from the front end, and since our Mustangs tend to sit a tad nose high anyway, I cut the front springs down 1/2 coil to give me a slight drop. Now that she is down off the lift I can see how she sits with the new rear leaf springs as well.

I've included two photos, the first taken right after lowering from the lift. The second a couple of months later once she's had a chance to settle.

I'm pretty happy with the stance. Brakes next.


July 5, 2021

Well, turns out I did not have everything I needed for the front brakes after all so that'll have to wait a few days.

Back to the engine bay...

Today I installed rebuilt power steering pump, pump hoses and cooler. Ditched my flex fan and installed a thermostatic clutch fan. Put in the radiator, the cleaned up original shroud and of course, the obligatory "caution fan" sticker.

Brake booster/master cylinder and tower braces will wait until I get the new clutch cable installed.

A couple photos below- pre and post radiator and air cleaner install.


July 12, 2021

So, from a photo a couple of days ago it should be obvious I have decided to convert my car from an automatic (FMX) to a T-5 five speed manual. First up, adding the third pedal.

I pulled the pedal box out (a much more difficult job than I anticipated) and added the clutch pedal in anticipation of the new T-5 install. As any of you know that have performed this conversion, you reuse the automatic sized brake pedal by cutting it to size.

Of course there is always something...when dropping the steering column I discovered the rag joint was shot so I have ordered a new one.

Hoping to drop the old FMX transmission tomorrow.

July 12, 2021

Well, the old FMX is out. Damn is that thing heavy. The new T5 will save me about 75 pounds.

Brake parts and the new rag joint arrived this afternoon. Tackling those items before moving to install the new transmission.




July 19, 2021

All the parts finally came in so I was able to install the front brakes.


I also installed a new rag joint.

You can see I cut off the automatic transmission lock out tab on the steering column since it won't be used after the conversion to manual transmission. You can also see the new clutch cable exiting the firewall next to the steering column.

July 21, 2021

I installed the new Tremec T5.

Once I got the bell housing installed I needed to index it. The opening needs to be aligned within .005 of the crank shaft. This is normally a two person job, with one person spinning the crankshaft and the other watching the dial indicator. Since I don't have any convenient help I had to do it solo. By taking a reading every 45 degrees I was able to verify that I am within spec. Good news since I really did not want to try and remove the 50 year old locating pins!


Here's a shot after clutch and throw out bearing installation:


Now ready to slide in the transmission. With everything lined up it slid in like butter!


Next, transmission cross brace installed and the clutch and speedometer cables hooked up.


The shifter came right up through the stock automatic transmission shifter hole without modification. Oh yeah!

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How wonderful it is when everything goes to plan. All in all I'd say the most difficult part of the whole conversion was pulling the pedal box to install the clutch pedal.

Next step is to install the new rear end so I can get the driveshaft measured and ordered.
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