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1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 - Second-Owner Survivor
35 Years of neglect couldn’t kill this Mach1
As a teen, Bob Proulx got his first speeding ticket in a brand-new ’67 Mustang GT. For some, such an experience might have left long-lasting negative connotations and hard feelings toward the “guilty” automobile. Not Bob; he’s been a dyed-in-the-wool FoMoCo fan in general, and Mustang enthusiast in particular, ever since. And he’s showing no signs of slowing down. Meet his latest pony project: an M-code ’69 Mach 1 of which he’s only the second owner, and which he’ll be campaigning in the MCA’s mega-picky Concours Trailered class for the next couple of years.
So with only one name before his on the SportsRoof’s chain of title, Mr. Proulx’s Acapulco Blue automatic must have been in pretty good shape when acquired, right? Uh, well, no. Though complete and original right down to the factory drivetrain, and minus only its spare tire, Bob tells us the first-year Mach was a yard-find, and had been sitting unused outside since 1973. In essence, this classic Mustang had been wasting away—a victim of the harsh Canadian elements—for 35 years until a friend noticed it and emailed Bob a snapshot of the tarp-covered hulk sitting just a few miles from Bob’s Ilderton, Ontario, home. This was in November 2008, and Bob soon made a deal to rescue this one-owner find that he describes as “a total mess and rusted out very badly.”
So why bother? One of the major factors that compelled him to invest in the overtly oxidized survivor was that it had originally been sold through the same Sarnia, Ontario, dealership (Lambton Ford) as Bob’s own bought-new ’03 Mach 1. He just thought it would be cool to have two wholly different generations of Mach 1s that had come through the same dealership, sitting in his garage. And he was prepared for the time and dollar investment necessary to make it so.
And so the five-year project began. While Bob tackled many of the project’s mechanical necessities—rebuilding or freshening the original four-barrel 351 Windsor, FMX trans, and 3.25-geared open-differential rearend—he also began acquiring shipments of fresh sheetmetal required to whip the festering unibody back into shape. Like most of us, Bob handed off the bodywork itself to a pro. In the capable hands of body and paint specialist Dave Moniz, the SportsRoof was pieced together and ready for paint by early 2012, yet when the doors to the paint booth finally swung open, the result didn’t look quite right; the hue of the supposed Acapulco Blue just didn’t seem accurate enough for Concours Trailered standards. Bob conferred with Moniz, Moniz conferred with the paint manufacturer, and it was ultimately discovered that the manufacturer had erred in its original color mix. So, once the correct mix was attained, Moniz once again painstakingly disassembled, completely repainted, and reassembled the entire body shell, which was then returned to Bob for final assembly.
Shortly, though, Bob found himself hitting something of a wall: “Even though I had done a lot of pre-assembly work during the body and paint process,” Bob says, “I was not proceeding very well in the assembly process and was now very concerned I would not be able to meet my goal in completing this car as a Concours Trailered project. I very quickly realized I would miss too many important details to meet the standard required in an MCA judged show. I thought very seriously that I would change my mind and just build myself a good driver, as I had done in the past with other Mustangs I had owned. I didn’t feel I had the talent required to step up to the level of a Concours car. I was discouraged and felt I should rethink what I was doing. Sometimes we have to accept our limitations.”
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But then he had a coffee-shop meeting with his old friend and fellow ’69 Mustang nut, Barry Bergmann (a couple of whose cars have previously appeared on these pages). Bergmann strongly encouraged Bob to stick with his original plan, and agreed to help. That was a turning point. Says Bob, “With Barry’s help, the car was completely reassembled in just three months. His assembly skills—which he calls ‘tinkering’—made it happen; you couldn’t stop him from moving forward. Without his talent, I would not have reached my goal, and I am very grateful for his help and guidance.”
Completed in December 2013, this small-block, automatic Mach 1 now shares garage space with Bob’s ’03 Mach 1, his pristine ’92 GT convertible that he bought new, and another ’69 Mach 1 that sees Sunday drive and local cruise duties. And yes, Bob realizes his decision to add the oft-seen, but Mach-incorrect, front and rear spoilers and slats will cost him judging points when it comes to originality. But that’s a price he’s willing to pay to have the car his way—and it already received a Bronze award in its first MCA National judging.
To sum up, there’s nothing rare about this particular Mach. In addition to the M-code 351 and FMX automatic, it’s optioned with power steering, power disc brakes, AM radio, HD 55-amp battery, and, as a nod to Canada’s frisky climate, an immersion block heater. It is, then, about as “typical” as a ’69 Mach 1 could get, yet its ability to draw complements and admiring glances four-and-a-half decades later shows just what an out-of-the-park hit Ford’s code 63C Mustang was, and still is.