Jerry Heasley
August 2, 2017

“There were places where we would step on the ground, and not only would you sink in, but the water was rushing so fast it would run six or eight inches up your leg,” Pete Rudometkin says.

Pete wasn’t about to let the worst rains in Northern California in 30 years stop him from getting to a 1970 Mustang sitting in a field on a ranch between Petaluma and Rohnert Park. He was on the trail of more than a fastback—the car was a Mach 1. And an R-code 428 Cobra Jet, which translates to a shaker hood scoop for ram air. All that was reason enough for him to get very excited, but what really made this fastback super rare was the W-code 4.30:1 Detroit-Locker rear axle. And to think Pete got this lead after hearing a stray comment while visiting retired fireman Garrett Moore’s man cave.

“We were having beers,” Pete says. “There was another fireman from a ranching family in this area. For some reason, my Shelby came up in the conversation. The guy looked at me and said, ‘I think we have a Shelby out on our ranch, but it’s pretty bad.’”

“Yeah, I was excited. I knew it was something that needed to be saved,” Pete Rudometkin says. He bought the Mach 1 at a price that was pretty reasonable.
Not visible from a public road, this 1970 Mach 1 had been parked in this field on a Northern California ranch for many years.

Pete was intrigued, but skeptical. The Mustang he spoke of had been parked outside for many years. Could this car be a real Shelby? If not, maybe the car was a high-performance Mustang of some interest. To get the ball rolling, the fireman said he would snap photos and email him. Pete is 54 years old and has been a Mustang and Shelby fanatic his entire driving life. His first ride, at 17, was a 1970 Drag Pack, 428/4-speed, Detroit-Locker Mach 1. The man had owned many high-performance Mustangs and Shelbys, which is why he asked him to snap a photos of the VIN, too.

When the photos hit his inbox, Pete knew right away this Mustang wasn’t a Shelby. But, the fifth digit of the VIN was an R, which decodes as a ram air 428 Cobra Jet. The digits 05 in the VIN verified that is was a Mach 1, and the model year was 1970.

“I told him I’d like to go out and put my hands on the car,” Pete says. “It took about a month and a half because we were getting so much rain. One day, we made it out there, but it was still pouring down rain when they showed me the car. The earth was so soft, even a tractor couldn’t get back there. This car was 300 yards up a hill and 100 yards down into a little valley. I looked at the car and just got a quick peek. I could see a clutch pedal, a tach in the dash, and the fold-down rear seat that was still there. The motor and transmission were gone. It had a 9-inch in it, but it was 28-spline. It did not have the three dots.”

The rains stopped long enough for a tractor to drag the Mach 1 out of the soggy ground.

Pete sent off for a Marti Report, which revealed that this car is a very special W-code heritage and rarity, one of 64 Mustangs made for 1970. The Cobra Jet was more than a Cobra Jet. It was a Super Cobra Jet, too, backed by a four-speed. Finally, the Petaluma area got nine days of clear weather, and the rancher was able to drive a tractor without sinking into the field.

“They went in and pulled it out,” Pete says. “It had no engine or transmission, but it did come with a Boss 302 close-ratio four-speed. It looks like they had been taking the car apart and gave up on it. An uncle died who owned the car. I found 428 CJ valves and a couple of burned exhaust valves, so it looks like the motor blew up. A lot of parts were still there—sway bar, crossmembers, front headlight extensions, door panels in the car. There was a 1980 license plate under the car. They told me when the car was brought in, it was pretty cherry. The driver and passenger side windows had been shot out with what looks like a BB gun, but the front and windshield were fine. The carpet held water and the floors were rusted. The front suspension was all there.

This Mach 1 is one of 64 Mustangs built with the 4.30:1 Detroit-Locker rear end for the 1970 model year. The body was surprisingly good. Of course, the floor was rusty and had to be replaced. The interior was complete except for front seats.

Pete was in the right place at the right time for a good deal. “They had been cleaning junk off the farm for a long time, and then moving stuff out and scrapping old machinery. They had a blacksmithing shop at this place. There was a quarry on their ranch and cattle, and they also had grapes. So, they told me the car was an uncle’s who had died, and they wanted it gone. “

According to Pete, getting a period-correct drive train won’t be all that hard. He has a 428 CJ sitting under a bench. All I need is a 428 SCJ crank, an oil cooler, and LeMans rods to upgrade to a Super Cobra Jet.

The 428 SCJ and drivetrain were gone.
Pete pulled out enough parts to fill a medium-sized wheel barrel and cover a dining room table large enough to feed a family of six.
The VIN had an “R” in its fifth digit, which made it an exciting 428 ram air Cobra Jet. It took a Marti Report to uncover the Super Cobra Jet heritage, and the biggest news of all, a 4.30:1 Detroit-Locker rear end.