Jim Smart
April 21, 2003

Tom Farrington comes from a long line of Ford people. There are memories of a '49 Ford coupe, a '55 sedan, a '63 Galaxie, a '67 LTD, and a host of others since. Tom first became acquainted with the '70 Mustang Mach 1 when he was serving in Vietnam. He became excited over the all-new SportsRoof body first introduced for '69.

If you're a Vietnam vet who served around the same time as Tom, you can undoubtedly relate to the adrenaline rush that came with stepping off a "Stretch Eight" (Douglas DC-8 Super 60 jetliner) in the States--free, ready to enjoy life as a civilian. After Tom got stateside, he set a steady course to the Ford dealer, determined to put Vietnam memories behind him. For many of our vets, it was the beginning of a very tough transition back into a world they didn't recognize--going from combat to the LAX concourse in a matter of days. At the dealership the salesman sat down and penciled out an order for Tom: 1970 Mach 1, Grabber Orange, 351C-4V, four-speed, and a whole lot more. When the salesman came back with payments of $65 a month, Tom shook his head knowing he couldn't begin to afford it. He walked away with nothing but a dream unfulfilled.

Twenty-five years later in 1995, Tom spotted that dream-pick Mach 1 he wanted so badly just after he returned to the world from Nam. There was a "For Sale" sign in the window. He handed the seller $1,700 and hauled it home. The car needed major work; there was rust, bondo, and body damage. However, there were Magnum 500 wheels, sport slats, and matching numbers. In short, it was all there.

Restoration began in earnest right away. The original 351C was rebuilt by Steve Hughes at Midway Engines in Salinas, California. Steve bored the standard block .030-inch oversize and fitted it with forged pistons from Federal-Mogul. Tom opted for an Edelbrock dual-plane high-rise, a Holley 600-cfm four-holer, an MSD billet distributor, Jacobs ignition wires, and Jet-Hot-coated Hooker Super Comp headers. Flowmasters improve the Cleveland's performance and throaty message. Prunedale Automotive freshened up the close-ratio Ford Top Loader four-speed and 3.50:1 9-inch.

For Tom, the restoration process was long and involved. There were floorpans to be replaced, a body to be massaged, and paint to apply. Mustangs Only in San Jose, California, tackled most of it for Tom. Ron Morris Performance in Modesto, California, reworked the underpinnings with Grab-A-Trak suspension components from Mustangs Plus. Inside, Mustangs Only weaved its magic with a new Knitted Vinyl Sports Interior specific to the Mach 1.

Especially groovy is the hood tach Tom installed when the restoration was complete. The tachometer was available for Mustangs with standard instrumentation from the local dealer's parts department. Some folks mistake this tachometer for the hood tach common to Pontiac GTOs of the era. But this one has a Ford part number and a history with Ford service departments way back when.

Today, Tom is 54, with very distant memories of his time in Vietnam. For Tom, the Mach 1 symbolizes a joyful spirit he feels in his heart these days as a proud veteran and a cancer survivor. With wife Janis at his side and a Mach 1 strapped to his backside, Tom understands quickly that life doesn't get any sweeter than this.

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