Wayne Cook
January 1, 2008
Photos By: Tracy Stocker

Michael Czap of Mary Esther, Florida, is the owner of this '73 Mustang Mach I. He's also a helicopter flight engineer for the U.S. Air Force. While home on leave in 1995, he began his search for a high-performance car, and he had always loved Mustangs.

He ran across this classic example at a used-car lot while looking for a newer-model Mustang of the 5.0 variety. Although this car was "98 percent rust-free," there were many things about it he didn't like at first glance, such as the original Saddle Bronze metallic color, the three-quarter vinyl roof, and the automatic transmission. Despite these negatives, he knew the big-bodied Mustang had a lot of potential. After some bargaining, the car was purchased for $2,400.

Once Michael got the Mach I home, it became clear that almost every aspect of the vehicle needed help. The engine was tired, the interior needed refurbishment, and the suspension required a complete rebuild. Compounding the challenges facing him on the project was the fact that he would soon be heading overseas to serve at the Royal Air Force base in Alconbury, England. Before he left, though, he made arrangements near his home, which was then in Pennsylvania, to have the car painted. When he returned on leave over a year later, he discovered that the new paint job was a disaster. In addition to poor body-work, the paint was thin and not the correct shade of bright yellow he'd ordered. In addition, the new Mach I stripes were full of bubbles and waves, and they'd been applied crooked and even backward in some places.

Despite this major setback, Michael was not discouraged. Soon he was back in England, and while serving his country there he was eventually able to have the car shipped to the United Kingdom to continue with the project. While stationed in Great Britain, he discovered a quality body shop and had his Mustang repainted correctly. Greatly pleased with the results, he was finally able to drive the car.

The next thing to happen was a broken crankshaft. There he was, trying to build a replacement 351 Cleveland engine in a foreign country where four-cylinder engines were predominant. Finding a machine shop equipped to handle the American V-8 engine was another challenge he successfully surmounted. Eventually, he was able to complete the new engine, replace the C6 automatic with a Top Loader four-speed, and rebuild the rear axle.

Michael serves as an example to all of our readers that triumph awaits those with persistence and determination.

The Details
'73 Mustang Mach I
Owner: Michael Czap, Mary Esther, FL

Engine
351 Cleveland block, deburred
4.030-inch oversize bore
3.500-inch stroke
Stock Ford crankshaft
TRW forged pistons
Total Seal rings
9.8:1 compression ratio
Ford connecting rods with Moroso bolts
Australian Ford Cleveland cylinder heads, machined for screw-in studs
Heads owner-ported, hardened exhaust valve seats installed
Manley 2.19 intake/1.65 exhaust valves
Crane 529541 hydraulic-roller retrofit camshaft
0.562-inch intake lift/0.586-inch exhaust lift, 278/286 duration
Harland Sharp 1.73:1 rocker arms
Weiand aluminum-intake manifold
Holley 750-cfm four-barrel carburetor
K&N filter with factory Ram Air
MSD 6AL ignition
Taylor plug wires
Autolite 25 spark plugs

Transmission
Ford Top Loader four-speed
Hurst Competition Plus shifter

Rearend
9-inch
Auburn Pro limited-slip differential
Precision Gear 3.50 gears
28-spline axles

Exhaust
Hooker Super Comp headers
1 3/4-inch primary diameter
3-inch collectors
Flowmaster three-chamber mufflers
Aluminized 2 1/4-inch dual exhaust

Suspension
Front: 620 replacement coil springs for a 1-inch drop, stock antisway bar, Gabriel gas shocks
Rear: 4 1/2 leaf springs, Gabriel gas shocks, Lakewood traction bars

Brakes
Front: Stock disc
Rear: Stock drums
Wilwood adjustable proportioning valve

Wheels
Front: Magnum 500, 15x8, 4 1/2-inch offset
Rear: Magnum 500, 15x10, 6 1/2-inch offset

Tires
Front: BFGoodrich Radial T/A, P245/60R15
Rear: BFGoodrich Radial T/A, P295/50R15

Interior
Original ginger color, Recaro bucket seats from an Opel Manta GTE upholstered to match, Auto Custom Carpets replacement carpet kit, OE steering wheel, Auto Meter 5-inch tachometer, Auto Meter Pro Comp oil-pressure and water-temperature gauges, Pioneer stereo with CD changer, Pioneer speakers front dash and rear package tray

Exterior
Original color replaced with single-stage PPG Grabber Yellow by Wayne Greene Body Repairs of Bury St., Edmunds, England, '72 style Mach I stripes

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