Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
March 24, 2014
Photos By: Courtesy Of Jeff Lilly Restorations

You'd be hard-pressed to think much of this Mustang from its outward appearance. Sure it has a nice paintjob, the panel gaps have been painstakingly tightened, and you might even notice that the Magnum 500s are just a bit different. A quick glance at the engine bay might lead you to think differently, though.

Carefully crafted by the folks at Jeff Lilly Restorations (San Antonio, Texas), this Mustang Mach 1 is a one-owner car that celebrates the classic style of the '71 fastback Mustang while embracing a modern driveline and suspension.

The story of how Ken Lowe became the owner of this Grabber Green Metallic filly begins in the late '60s, when Ken was attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The tired Cleveland powerplant that served duty until the makeover was sidelined in favor or a much more powerful 351 Windsor crate engine

"Growing up in North Carolina (I hailed from the area of Mt. Airy, better known as Mayberry), I was hooked on cars at an early age just by hanging out with my dad," Ken recalls. "He loved cars, loved to work on them, and did his share of a little open-road drag racing. He took me and my brother to NASCAR races all over the South, when the top drivers were Junior Johnson, Richard Petty, and Ned Jarrett." Ken tells us that his family was a true car family; even his mom had a bit of a lead foot and could drive with the best of them.

"My dad eventually began selling cars in the mid '60s at Simmons Ford in Pilot Mountain, North Carolina (or Mt. Pilot according to the Andy Griffith Show). He was a Ford man and we were expected to always be seen in a Ford product. In fact, my first car when I turned 16 was a '63 Ford Galaxie fastback with a 428ci engine. It was 3 years old when I got it, but it ran like a rocket and I loved that car. But I longed for my first "new" car."

Ken eventually put away enough money to get that new car, and in 1971, he ordered a brand-new Mach 1 Mustang through his dad at Simmons Ford.

"To this day, I don't think I've ever been more excited as I counted down the days for that Mustang to be built in Detroit and shipped to Pilot Mountain. My dad and I stood side by side the day the driver rolled the shiny new green Mustang off the transport. The feeling of slipping behind the wheel and cranking up that 351 Cleveland motor was exhilarating, and I can still recall it to this day."

Ken put "many loving miles" on the car before he turned it over to his brother, Bruce, when he got married and moved to Houston in the mid '70s. Bruce spent years enjoying the Mustang as well, eventually putting it out to pasture at their father's farm. There, Ken's dad drove, tinkered with, and admired that car for years.

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Some time later, Ken got the inkling to have the Mustang restored so that he could once again enjoy that exhilarating feeling behind the wheel of his ponycar.

"I decided to ship it to Jeff Lilly Restorations (JLR) in San Antonio for a complete makeover," Ken tells us. JLR's Jack Petlewski handled all of the research and organization duties on the project, with Lou Carrillo taking care of the fabrication and custom-built components.

You can see extensive build photos on JLR's website —overall, the car was in pretty good shape, but like any classic, the fit and finish were never great from the factory. JLR's Bob Ives performed the bodywork, rust repairs, tightening of the panel gaps, and laying down the Grabber Green Metallic paint.

Nat Ramirez took care of the body blocking, color sanding, and polishing of the clearcoat, while Eric Orishak handled the assembly and any tweaking the finished product required.

The tired Cleveland powerplant that served duty until the makeover was sidelined in favor or a much more powerful 351 Windsor crate engine. Handling the additional horsepower is a TCI AODE transmission that ensures the Mach 1 can handle today's highway speeds with relative ease.

Handling the additional horsepower is a TCI AODE transmission that ensures the Mach 1 can handle today's highway speeds with relative ease

Underneath the pretty paint you will find a bevvy of Total Control Products suspension upgrades, including coilover shocks at all four corners, and the company's trick pushrod rear suspension with torque arm. Just like the engine compartment, the undercarriage and suspension components have been painted with subdued tones that leave a somewhat stock appearance to the otherwise high-quality aftermarket products. That subdued line of thinking is also why the Mustang no longer wears any Mach badging.

"It didn't look as clean with the Mach 1 stuff on it," Lilly quips. The omnipresent Jeff Lilly maintained quality control over the build, as well as design direction, and then provided us with the beautiful studio shots that really show off the car's lines and color. The result is a different kind of stock appearance, however, one that most Mustang aficionados are likely to appreciate.

The Details

Ken Lowe's 1971 Mustang Mach 1

Engine
Ford 351ci Windsor small-block V-8
Eagle forged steel crankshaft
Eagle forged steel connecting rods
Mahle forged aluminum pistons
Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum cylinder heads
Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold
F.A.S.T. electronic fuel injection
MSD Ignition
Vintage Air accessory drive

Exhaust
Hooker long-tube headers, 1¾-inch primaries
3-inch stainless steel exhaust tubing with X-pipe and Deeds Engineering V-band connections
Cherry Bomb mufflers

Transmission
TCI AODE four-speed automatic with overdrive
TCI 11-inch torque converter

Rearend
Chassisworks Fab9 9-inch
Strange Engineering axles
3.55 gears

Suspension
Front: Jeff Lilly restorations-modified Total Control Products coilovers
Rear: Jeff Lilly restorations-modified Total Control Products pushrod-style coilovers with torque arm

Wheels
Front: Wheel Vintiques Magnum 500, billet aluminum, 17x7, 41⁄4-inch BS
Rear: Wheel Vintiques Magnum 500, billet aluminum, 18x8, 41⁄2-inch BS

Tires
Front: Goodyear Eagle ResponsEdge, P225/50R17
Rear: Goodyear Eagle, ResponsEdge, P255/45R18

Brakes
Front: Wilwood disc, 13-inch rotors
Rear: Wilwood disc, 13-inch rotors

Interior
Stock-style black upholstery restored by Jeff Lilly restorations, Auto Custom Carpets black rug, Dynamat installed on floors, custom rear package tray, Alpine stereo head unit, added roof supports above headliner

Exterior
BASF Grabber Green Metallic by Jeff Lilly Restorations, black vinyl striping, smoothed engine bay, custom radiator support trim panel, all fender and bumper gaps tightened, Xenon headlight conversion