Dale Amy
July 22, 2014

Jim and Ted Daminski have a thing for '69 Mustangs, especially the first-year Mach 1, of which they currently own three. These 50-something brothers from western New York apparently inherited a Blue Oval fanaticism from their father, who earned a living in the Lackawanna Ford Stamping Plant, near Buffalo, for 38 years. But the brothers weren't always good caretakers of the breed. "In our younger days," says Jim, the elder sibling, "we owned about 15 Mustangs. We bought them, beat them, and junked them." Upstate New York's wicked winters probably didn't help the lifespan of these unfortunate earlier rides. Luckily, they saved and stashed what parts they could, and now put them to good use.

Their dad had also introduced the brothers to indoor hot rod shows at an early age, events like Buffalo's Clutch Artists Autorama, which had been started by one of the boys' cousins. So Jim and Ted also caught the custom car bug. Meaning we shouldn't be surprised to see that the Daminskis now have this decidedly custom Gulfstream Aqua '69 Mach 1 with huge, tub-required, rear skins and a mammoth Roots 8-71 blower—originally designed to supply the airflow needs of a 568-cube diesel—poking through its matte black hood. Funny thing is, the brothers didn't set out to build it that way.

"We bought this Mustang from Atlanta, Georgia, back in 2003 off eBay, hoping it was a somewhat solid car," explains Jim, "but when we got into dismantling the car, we found a lot of surprises—most not good. Someone had tried to make a race car out of it. They had it tubbed with the frame narrowed, and when we took the rear frame out of the car and dropped it on the ground, most of the welds broke. The rearend was mounted upside down. We started to cut the rusted sections out and, before long, there was not much left…when all was said and done, the only things left were the firewall and front subframe, along with the shock towers."

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Having originally intended to restore this small-block Mach 1, Jim and Ted instead decided to "play with it," but perhaps didn't fully comprehend the technical scope of the project. As Jim explains, "We started in late 2003 and soon began to realize my welding skills were sub-par. I called a good friend and co-worker, Rusty Rueger, and asked him to give us a bunch of welding lessons. After a while, we got to be somewhat good until we tried welding sheetmetal and, again, it was time to make another call. We took the shell over to our friend, Jeff Zoltak, to do the paint and bodywork, and the first thing out of his mouth was ‘Who the hell did the welding?'"

Over the next nine months, Zoltak proceeded to fix all of Jim's welding issues, fabricate wheel tubs along with a support frame for an 18-gallon fuel cell, and generally whip the Mustang's metal into pristine condition—despite having to contend with Jim and Ted's weekly "visiting nights" when they would come over, hover like expectant parents, and generally get in the way. Zoltak apparently got his revenge by one day calling the brothers and telling them they'd better come over because their Mustang had fallen off the rotisserie. Indeed it had, but not in a bad way. "We got there thinking how bad things were going to look," says Jim, "and there sat our freshly painted Gulfstream Aqua Mach 1 body."

Zoltak's work wasn't quite done, however. Once the brothers had wrestled a freshly built and strengthened 351 Cleveland between the shock towers, wearing a microwave-oven-sized 8-71 blower topped by a pair of Holley double-pumpers beneath a bug-catcher-style scoop, Jeff had to cut out a suitably large opening in the hood and then close off all the sides of the hood bracing that had been exposed by the cut.

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The brothers then set about assembling the supercharged SportsRoof, including fitting an interior that is mostly factory in appearance—at least until you look behind the buckets and see the cabin's rear area dominated by a 6-point cage and huge, carpeted wheeltubs where a back seat used to be. And, in looking at the rest of the finished fastback, it should be obvious that the Daminskis spared no effort nor expense in creating a Roots-blown Pro Street ride that still manages to pay homage to the Mach 1's classic styling roots. It was a 41⁄2-year labor of love that the boys have dedicated to the memory of their parents.

As you might imagine, with a manual-shift valvebody in a three-speed auto teamed with 3.88 gears behind a 750hp small-block fed by upwards of 19 pounds of Blower Drive Service 8-71 boost, this isn't exactly a long-distance tourer. That said, Jim and Ted certainly aren't afraid to drive it, but they usually end up at some form of show gathering, either local or national in scope, where their Mustang is apparently a favorite of spectators and show judges alike. We've seen their trophy room, and it's overflowing with hardware, comically including one for "Best Hood Ornament"—referring of course to the towering blower. No less a hot rod authority than John Force gave the car a big thumbs-up, and then he and his whole drag team proceeded to sign its blower belt. So have NHRA Pro Mod driver, Mike Janis, as well as Chip Foose, so the Daminskis may soon run out of belt space.

They won't run out of '69 Mach 1s, though. The brothers already have an award-winning, stock-restored four-speed, 351W version in Indian Fire Red, and are currently working together on another in Acapulco Blue.

The Details
Vehicle: 1969 Mustang Mach 1
Owner: Jim & Ted Daminski
351 Cleveland
4.030-inch bore
3.500-inch stroke
Ford Racing steel crank
Eagle rods
J&E forged pistons, 8.5:1 compression
Custom Comp Cams hydraulic cam
Ported and polished Cleveland iron heads
Custom Hampton intake
Two Holley 750 double pumpers
BDS Roots-style 8-71 blower, 19 psi boost
750 hp/725 lb-ft
Built by Billy Leverentz; East Aurora, NY
C4 auto with manual valvebody
B&M 3000-stall converter
B&M Quicksilver shifter
By Altec Transmission; Elma, NY
Ford 9-inch (narrowed)
3.88:1 gears
Moser 33-spline axles
MagnaFlow headers, 1.75 primaries
Solo Performance stainless 3-inch mufflers
Installed by Muffler Man; Buffalo, NY
Front: Lowered 1 inch, Flaming River steering box
Rear: Chassis Engineering ladder bar, adjustable coilovers
Frame narrowed
Front: Wilwood 11.5-inch disc, stainless lines
Rear: Wilwood 11.5-inch disc, stainless lines
Front: Weld Racing Sportsman, 15x6
Rear: Weld Racing Sportsman, 15x15
Front: Hoosier, 26x7.50R15
Rear: Hoosier, 29x18.50R15
Stock-style upholstery with custom rear tub covers
SIx-point 'cage by Ken Young
Five-point Force harnesses
Summit Racing combined tach, volt, water temp, and oil pressure gauges
PPG Gulfstream Aqua base/clear by Jeff Zoltak; South Wales, NY
Custom airbrushing by Dan the Airbrush Man; Buffalo, NY
With a manual-shift valvebody in a three-speed auto teamed with 3.88 gears behind a 750hp small-block fed by upwards of 19 pounds of Blower Drive Service 8-71 boost, this isn't exactly a long-distance tourer