January 1, 2004

Bill Basher's Grabber Blue '70 Mach 1 has been coming for a long time. In July 1997, we shot it at Bellevue Community College, just outside of Seattle, Washington. A year later, Bill and his Mach 1 appeared on the August '98 cover of Mustang & Fords. He's a patient man, and his Mach 1 is proof that good things come to those who wait. While these photos have been sitting in our files, fermentation has been aging the duo like a fine wine. Now, we're going to share Bill and his Mach with you.

At first glance, Bill's car looks like a Twister Special, born of Kansas City's strong interest in a special, limited-edition Mustang and Torino for area Ford dealers in 1970. But, Bill's Mach has never been anywhere near Kansas City. What's more, Ford never built a Twister Special in Grabber Blue. All 96 of them were clad in Grabber Orange.

So what exactly is Bill's Mach 1? Call it a special, limited-edition '70 Mach 1-the only one like it anywhere. You could call this one a "Bill Basher Special," built during the '90s for a committed enthusiast who appreciates those who march to the beat of a different drummer. Bill conceived his Mach 1 dream and went his own way. That's the '70 Twister Special Mach 1 stripe down each side of the Grabber Blue epidermis. Those are Magnum 500 wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich Radial T/As. In back are the highly desirable sports slats to keep the sun out and give the slippery SportsRoof ample charisma.

Because Bill wanted the Mach 1 to perform even better than it looked, he opted for the Mach 1's original power-the 300-horse 351 Cleveland V-8 splined into Ford's stocky FMX slushbox. The FMX was actually an old design Ford pressed back into use from 1969 to 1973 in 351-powered Mustangs. Made entirely of cast iron and steel, the FMX is a rugged automatic transmission designed for long life. Complementing the 351C/FMX combo is Ford's ever-reliable 9-inch rear axle with 3.25:1 gears. Power front disc brakes provide adequate stopping power for any kind of street driving.

Studying Bill's Twisted Sister Mach 1 closely, its persona is unmatched, exciting the senses. That cool combination of Grabber Blue and satin black graphics really make the ride. When Bill spins the starter and the sleeping 351C comes to life, there's the throaty burble sound that only a 351C can make. There are no solid mechanical tappets, only hydraulics, which leaves the air void of that sound. But when Bill gooses the throttle and the Cleveland middle-block comes to life, there's no equal in a world of small-block V-8s. It makes a sweet sound most of us old-timers associate only with the 351 Cleveland. It's surely those big ports-actually useless for effective street use-that make the mellow burble.

After spending time with Bill so many years ago, shooting a car feature, then consuming more of his time to shoot a cover, we learned some things. Our mutual interest in, and passion for, vintage Fords is something we've never been alone on. As we burned our film and chatted with Bill, we found the world of restomod is as individual as the many kinds of projects we spend time shooting each year. In the years since Bill rolled out his Mach 1 for the first time, we've learned not much is different under the sun, and that each of us is decidedly twisted in our own way.

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