Miles Cook
January 21, 2015
Photos By: Al Rogers

Clearly having a preference for Mustangs of the larger ’71-’73 variety, retired police officer Bill Morgan has had a number of them. They include a ’71 Mach 1, a ’72 convertible, a ’72 Mach 1, and this ’73 Mach 1—a car he has owned since 1981.

Bill picks up the early part of the story for us: “While searching for one of the last Mach 1s made, I located this one for sale in the small Michigan town of Hemlock. The body was rust free, but was definitely in need of some attention. The original owner was asking $3,200 for the car—I offered him $3,000 but he stood his ground and I paid his price. With the help of my lifelong buddy, Jim Work, we pulled the 302 and cleaned up the engine compartment. While collecting various shiny parts for the car back in those heady days of the early ’80s, we ran across an old Shelby tri-power at a swap meet and I had to have it. Jim also found a set of air cleaners for the tri-power that worked into our build perfectly. I wish I had a dollar for every guy who said, ‘I’ve never seen a Ford with tri-power,’ when actually they had probably seen many but they were hidden under a giant oval air filter.

“Jim has been a Ford guy all his life and, while attending a yard sale, he spotted a pair of early 351 Windsor heads. And as luck would have it, Jim just happened to be friends with another Ford guy whose name you might recognize, Jack Roush. We took the Windsor heads to the Roush facility in Livonia and Jack graciously let us use his equipment to port and polish them but checked our progress periodically to ensure we didn’t take too much material out of them. We then treated them to a three-angle valve job, new valve guides, and hardened pushrods. Upon showing Jack the tri-power setup, he stated we could have probably derived an additional 15 hp out of a good four-barrel,” Bill adds.

Bill explained to him that the car was being built not to race, but to cruise and occasionally show. Jack then said he’d make up the additional horsepower and started by supplying a set of roller rockers. The Shelby intake was sent to be machined to mate with the 351W heads and the roller rockers were installed.

Being from Bill’s generation, Jack conceded that nothing beats multiple carbs and a healthy sound. The acoustics came via DynoMax headers, dual stainless exhaust, and 40-series Flowmaster mufflers. The block was then taken to Thompson Automotive, in Redford, Michigan, where it was bored 0.030-inch over. Engine freshening continued with the original crankshaft being cleaned up and polished. Pistons, and a cam that had been recommended by Roush, were then added to the rebuilt short-block.

Three years ago, Bill spotted the current Weber IDF 44 carbs on the Inglese website and said to his wife Peggy, “wouldn’t these look pretty under the Christmas tree?” Peggy had her boss order the setup and had it shipped to his house. He then smuggled it over before Christmas and she wrapped it. “How many wives would buy their husband carburetors for Christmas?” Bill muses. Getting the Webers set up properly was a challenge that was taken on by friend Paul Mercure, who Bill says understands how to make them work. Spark comes from a PerTronix ignition and a Flamethrower coil. Behind the 302 is the car’s rebuilt original C4 trans with a B&M shift improvement kit.
The chromed American Torque Thrust II wheels are 15x7 at each corner. The BFG Radial T/As are P235/70R15s.

At an all-Ford swap meet in Columbus, Ohio, Bill subsequently picked up a 3.50:1 Traction-Lok for the 8-inch rearend. The car was eventually repainted in its original code 9A White in 1992 and Bill added the stripe to accent the vinyl top, which is a rare option on a Mach 1. The engine compartment was also painted body color for a more uniform appearance.

Bill also told us that, “my wife Peggy affectionately claims the car takes me away from her for most of the summer months. She does, however, have a hidden affection for it, as years ago I had a chance to sell it for more than it was worth. My neighbor offered me cash on the spot but Peg wouldn’t let me sell it—a decision for which I am forever grateful. In truth, I bought this car the year we got married and she has actually stated, ‘It’s part of the family now.’”

Freshened up with upholstery and carpet from NPD, the original look inside remains unaltered. A slightly smaller-diameter Grant steering wheel is the only deviation from stock.

Over the decades, Bill has participated in every Woodward Dream Cruise, as well as just about every other major automotive event in Michigan nearby his home in Commerce Township. He has also done 22 consecutive years of the Frankenmuth Auto-Fest and three Old US-27 Motor Tours. Five Hot Rod Power Tours, including the long haul from San Bernardino, California, to Pontiac, Michigan, via Route 66 are additionally in the car’s travel history.

Bill says, “I’ve had more fun with this car than I could have imagined over the course of 34 years. I have made numerous friends that I wouldn’t have met without the ownership of it. And I’m not done yet.”

As Bill commented, his objective was to find a “last” of the Mach 1s and the ’73s are it. First introduced in 1969, the Mach 1 continued through 1973 and didn’t reappear again until the ’03-’04s during the SN-95 “New Edge” generation.