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It Ain’t Easy Being Green: 1969 Mach 1
Sublime 69: Dark Horse Customs Builds a Wicked 1969 Mach 1 That Cannot Go Unnoticed
If you were to look up the word “sublime” in Mr. Webster’s book, you would find that it means “beautiful, excellent, complete, and morally worthy.” A secondary definition says “convert then reconvert” and to “make something pure.”
All of those fairly accurately describe the latest piece of jewelry to roll out of Dark Horse Customs’ (DHC) shop in Northern California, a 1969 Mach 1 that they call Sublime 69. The obvious reference to the name is the blinding, in-your-face color choice—Hot Rod Flatz Sublime 69 Green with high-gloss Sublime Green and Black Onyx striping. The car is not only beautiful and worthy, but is a great example of making something pure. They took a nice, but stone-stock, 1969 Mach 1 and sublimated it to the machinations of DHC’s craftsmen to convert it into the awesome-driving and retina-burning ride you see here.
Sublime 69 is the latest in Mustang SportsRoofs to be customized by DHC. The shop specializes in Mustangs, specifically SportsRoofs, and always has three or four in the shop in various stages of completion. They scour the country in search of 1969 Mustang SportsRoofs that are rust-free, and hopefully, real Mach1s with a clean history. They then build the SportsRoofs based on their 351 or 545 Series cars. Consider these a turnkey restomod Mustang. Specify a few options, write a check, and drive it home to enjoy. Sublime 69 is an example of DHC’s 351 Series, and if you go to their website (darkhorsecustoms.net), you can see Madd Maxx, the prototype for the 545 Series, except it used a 545ci 460-based engine and had a few other differences.
Sublime 69 began life as a numbers-matching, rust-free and complete 1969 Mach 1 that DHC tore down to the bones. They upgraded with everything they could throw at it to make it drive like a wicked-fast new car. “Sublime 69 drives like a brand-new car,” DHC’s main man Warren Croyle says. “The improved aftermarket parts, latest innovations, and technical advancements enable us to overcome many of the operating and performance problems that these cars had in 1969. Every bushing, clip, belt, and hose is brand new and installed by our certified mechanical team. This vehicle has been coddled from start to finish. From the paint to the engine, to the suspension and interior, this ride is a one-of-a-kind, muscle-car dream come true.”
Starting with the body, DHC did their custom tricks throughout. This includes reshaping and tucking the front and rear bumpers, molding in the side scoops, making custom molded front headlight and rear taillight brows, and molding in the extension panels so that they’re seamless. “We wanted to give it a full Alien-Darth Vader DHC look,” Croyle says. There is also a one-of-a-kind steel underhood grille cover, custom-vented hood with stainless-steel hood pins, and “Evil Red” running and reverse lamp lenses.
Getting the stance just right was easy with Summit Racing 2-inch lowering leaf springs with 3-inch lowering block and old-school air shocks, and Eibach 5-inch drop springs and Ride Tech shocks in front. A Global West heavy-duty sway bar kit keeps it flat in the corners. The front disc and rear drum brakes were left in place but rebuilt with all-new components. The wheels are vintage-looking Trans Am-style from ET Team-III, 17×7 in front (4 1/4-inch backspacing) and 17×8 rear (4 3/4 inch), and the tires are Nitto 555 drag radials, P245/45ZR17 and P275/40ZR17.
Because it’s an example of DHC’s 351 Series cars, to power Sublime 69 they eschewed the Coyote route that’s all too common these days and stayed with the tried-and-true pushrod small-block, the original numbers-matching 351W that they rebuilt with speed parts from Edelbrock, Holley, MSD, Ford Performance, and more. And because automatics can be boring, they stuck a World Class T-5 five-speed manual behind it with a 3.90:1-geared Ford 9-inch in the rear.
There are many different forks to take on the custom restomod Mustang path. You can spend the time and money to build it yourself. Buy a finished car that someone else built (and possibly end up with whatever cost-cutting or inept things they had done in the build. Or buy a turnkey car built to order. That’s what Dark Horse Customs is all about, and Sublime 69 is a prime example of that. According to Croyle, the price for this 351 Series car is roughly $80,000 (depending on several options and factors). Add another 50 percent or so for the more radical 545 Series with the big-block. For that money, you get a professionally built car with all the best parts and a look that you most certainly won’t pull up next to at a stoplight.