Eric English
September 1, 2014

No doubt you've heard the saying "you can't have your cake and eat it too?" It's an old-timey expression that really points to the fact that precious few of us can have everything we want in life, and such is the case for Ed Hill of Shelton, Washington. As it turned out for Ed, that old saying really translated into "you can't have your old Cougar and Mustang too." Hmm, tough choice for sure.

Up until 2009, Ed had an extremely appealing and rare '68 Cougar XR7-G—Madras Blue with factory sunroof and all. It was a car that provided him and wife Mary with a lot of personal enjoyment, and never failed to illicit positive comments from interested onlookers. But for all the pluses the big Cat had going for it, it didn't have a family story. Normally that wouldn't be a particular issue, except in this case, Ed had another car that did have an important familial connection—the '70 Mach 1 you see here. Ed's stepfather Ron Nelson, had purchased the car in 1980, driven it for 10 years, then tore it down for restoration. For years he collected a variety of N.O.S. and rare parts, and yet in the end succumbed to cancer before he could get started with the heavy lifting. The Mach 1 became Ed's a year prior to Ron's death, setting up the scenario for which Ed had to choose between FoMoCo Pony car siblings. To do the Mach 1 right would mean selling the Cougar to fund the project. In the end, you already know what Ed decided.

Rowing through the four-speed and listening to the Cleveland suck copious amounts of air through the Shaker, Ed’s Mach must be a blast to drive!

Once the Cougar had gone off to a new owner, Ed started on the Mustang in earnest. He evaluated what the car was, what was in his stepfather's stash of parts, and what he wanted at the end of the project. The Mach 1 was a great piece as delivered, a factory Grabber Blue 351C/4V with four-speed. That was about it though in the way of options, beyond a simple AM radio and tinted glass. Ed figures the car was probably ordered for dealer stock, as the Marti report shows it sat on the sales lot for about six months before finding its first owner. "The dealer undoubtedly ordered this thing with a low price in mind, figuring the strong drivetrain and eye-popping color would make for a pretty quick sale. As it turned out, I'd guess it sat because most people wished for power steering, power brakes, and a few other creature comforts."

Ed's stepfather surely wanted those things, and it turns out that Ed saw it the same way. "Ron had already started down the road of throwing a few more options at the Mach 1 during the restoration. He'd purchased a shaker setup, Magnum 500s, console, fold-down rear seat, and some other nice additions. Ron had a real appreciation for stock Mustangs, but he wasn't enough of a purist that he felt encumbered to build the car identical to the way it rolled off the line. Frankly, neither am I." To that effect, Ed decided to continue where Ron left off, and pretty well threw the option book at the Mach 1 during the restoration. In addition to what Ron had already acquired, Ed added those power front discs and power steering, along with factory air conditioning, tilt column, tach, AM/FM radio, Sports Slats, spoilers, and space saver spare. To say the least, the result is a full boat '70 Mach 1 that's tough to take your eyes off of.

The Shaker-topped Cleveland now wears factory air conditioning and power steering, making the Mach a pleasure to drive.

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Ed had Spencer Cochran put the unibody on a rotisserie, media blast it, and then tasked Dennis Williams with spraying fresh Grabber Blue everywhere it was appropriate. Stepbrother Mike Nelson was hands-on in every nook and cranny, among other things taking responsibility for getting the drivetrain in order. Mike rebuilt the matching number four-barrel Cleveland, put a small parts kit in the close-ratio Top Loader, and assembled a Traction-Lok 3.25-geared 9-inch in place of the stock open 3.25s. Proflections Metal Polishing worked over the stainless trim and rechromed the factory bumpers. N.O.S. parts abound, including the exhaust tips, backup lights, taillights, rear honeycomb panel, and more.

Mach 1 interior features include the Rim-Blow steering wheel, woodgrain dash trim with Mach 1 emblem, full console, electric clock on passenger dash pod, and more.

After the car was finished in the summer of 2012, Ed brought the Mach 1 to several local shows to rave review. "People seem to really like this car" Ed says, reflected by First Place awards two of the first three times out. No doubt Ron would have liked it too, as Ed's meticulous standards have yielded a '70 Mach 1 that stands tall in any crowd. Yet the most important thing is that Ed likes the car, and finds it a worthwhile trade-off, considering the loss of his XR7-G. In the end, it's almost as if the full monty of added options really has allowed Ed to have his cake and eat it in the end. Nothing wrong with that!

"People seem to really like this car," Ed says, reflected by first place awards two of the first three times out.

N.O.S. parts about on Ed’s Mach, including the rear honeycomb panel, exhaust tips, taillights, and backup lights all at the rear of the car seen here.