Jeff Ford
August 5, 2003
Contributers: Jeff Ford

Back in the day, Tom Gerardi wanted a Mach 1. He even tried (with no success) to get his dad to buy one in 1969. His dad, in need of a pickup truck, opted for a brand new F-250, instead of what must have seemed at the time a frivolous car. The truck must have been pretty awesome, as Mr. Gerardi still had it at his passing in 1976. The truck was passed on to Tom, and he lovingly restored it to new condition. Still, like so many of us, the Mustang had its teeth firmly in Tom and they would not let go. Of course, it took 24 years for Tom to realize his desire, but that's OK; it gives us hope that good things really do come to those who wait. And wait he did; until he could stand it no more and decided to go looking.

Tom had to start somewhere. He looked high and low for a clean piece of Ford iron and came right back to his Ocala, Florida, home city to make his purchase. "When I got Mustang Fever, I answered multiple ads and looked at cars all over the country. As luck would have it, I found this Mach 1 right here in Ocala," says Tom. Indeed, it seems as if sometimes the best things are right in your own backyard. What Tom got was a Wimbledon White big-block beast. The engine, a woolly FE 428 Cobra Jet, is the biggest thing Ford shoehorned into the Mustang for '68 ½-'70, outside of the 429 Boss. Couple this with a brawny four-speed and 3.50:1 Traction-Lok, and you have everything a growing boy needs to get the grins--non-stop--and Tom is one such boy (at heart, anyway). In the engine bay are the mandatory options of power steering and power disc brakes. Outside, Tom decided the Ford wheels were good enough and kept them in lieu of going aftermarket.

Tom found the car to be show-worthy, but in need of some detailing. That detailing netted him a new hood, a dashpad, and a paint job using Sikkens base clear to replicate the original Wimbledon White finish. The hood was refinished in Sikkens semi-gloss black to replicate the original look designated by its M5 paint code. Inside, the seats were left alone but the dashpad was pitched in favor of a replacement with less cracking. The rest of the interior is as Ford built it in 1968.

Tom relates that his late wife Terri, who lost a battle with cancer a little over a year ago, was always supportive if not amused when unpacking his bag from frequent trips to California where he'd get parts--dirty engine parts--and bring them home in his luggage, often on top of his business clothes. She weathered these events with a smile, and we're sure she liked seeing Tom enjoy the car. After completion, Terri did much of the show duty with the Mach since Tom was out of town quite often. She must have done something right since the car has taken numerous Firsts and Best of Shows.

So we guess, in a way, this car is an ode to Tom's dad and late wife Terri--and a good ode it is.