Jerry Heasley
June 1, 2013

The One-Dollar Mach

A dollar won't buy a hamburger off a 99 cent menu. Scott Johnson of Social Circle, Georgia turned his buck into a complete '73 Mach 1.

Of course, there was a caveat. Scott's mother-in-law works for a doctor. In 2011, the doctor mentioned that he needed to sell an old Mustang. Immediately, she thought of her son-in-law, Scott Johnson, who collects old cars.

Johnson recalled, "She called me up and said, ‘Hey, the doctor has a '73 Mustang he is looking to sell. Would you be interested?'"

Johnson admits he wasn't looking for a Mustang, although he likes them. Yes, he was interested.

Apparently, the doctor drove a Mach 1 in high school and wanted another one like it. He found the '73 Mach 1 in North Carolina in 2008. He brought the car home and parked it in a barn on his horse farm in Georgia.

Johnson drove out for a look. He found the Mach 1 in the pole barn alongside a bale of hay. He couldn't believe his eyes when he peeled back the tarp. The base V8 engine, a 302 with two-barrel carburetion, powered the ‘73 Mach 1, red with black stripes. Behind the 302 was a stock FMX automatic transmission.

The Mach 1 sat in an old pole barn under a tarp. Pulling back the tarp revealed original paint underneath a thick layer of dust.

"That's not going to stand out to anybody but I liked the car," Johnson said. The body had rust issues but overall the '73 SportsRoof appeared complete, right down to the air cleaner. Johnson found the A/C compressor in the trunk.

Johnson was in for a shock when he asked his mother-in-law about the price. "When my mother-in-law told the doctor I was interested in the car, he said, ‘You know what? I'll sell it to him for a dollar.'"

Johnson explained the dollar figure as best he could. The doctor had intended to fix the Mach 1. Instead, he neglected the car. The tires were flat. The chrome on the wheels had started to flake off. The body was rusting.

An opportunist might have flipped the Mach 1 for a profit. Instead, Johnson decided he liked the car. He laughed when he said the tow bill to get the car home was 60 times the purchase price.

Right away, he turned his attention to getting the car road worthy. "I did the brakes –new master cylinder and all the wheel cylinders, whatever it needed, including rebuilt calipers. I rebuilt the carburetor, put in a new air filter, drained the gas tank, filled it with fresh high-test, and fired it up."

Johnson is simply driving his dollar Mach. He realizes the body is rusty. The hood is the worst, with rust on the underside where the hood hinges attach. He has spotted rust on the quarter panels. But except for the replaced driver's front fender (with Bondo and flaking paint), the body has original paint, what Scott says is "excellent patina."