Wayne Cook
December 7, 2009
Photos By: Jim Smart

Tony Paulek's '73 Mustang Mach I
Tony and Teresa Paulek of Springfield, Illinois, are the original owners of this mildly modified '73 Mustang Mach I-lucky enough to actually have ordered the car new in 1972 with just the options they wanted. When delivery day came on February 27, 1973, the Mach I odometer read a scant 0.3 miles. As the Mustang was unloaded off the car hauler and had its first wash job, Tony remembers writing out the check for $2,970.25-the balance due after subtracting the value of his trade in. He still has the cancelled check sitting in an envelope with all of the Mustang's other paperwork. Tony can also remember being told by the dealership to stop by the gas station and put in five dollars worth of gas "on the house." It nearly filled the tank. Gasoline cost about 36 cents per gallon; we can remember those days very well.

Fast-forward 36 years and we find the Paulek's car in basically original condition. The OE slotted dish mags look factory fresh and the white interior is still spotless. The car saw service as a daily driver, and as the years went by, Tony became more interested in attending car shows. He recalls having a great time in his car at the Car Craft magazine Summer Cruise events back in the 80s.

Although he had a lot of fun at these shows, his car was never quite nice enough to win. The decision was made to get the Pony perfectly squared away after so many years of service. Tony became committed to the restoration of this Mach I and has developed a take-no-prisoners philosophy. He tells us that when he arrives at a car show, he wants everyone to think, "Oh no, here comes the competition."

To get the Mach I to show its best, Tony took the car to Bill's Mustang Restoration of Buckhart, Illinois, for a complete exterior refurbishment. This included all of the bodywork needed to bring the car back up to snuff, followed by a fresh coat of DuPont Chroma Premier in the original Medium Copper Metallic.

Functional Ram Air was added, along with air conditioning. Tony liked the Cleveland engine and 9-inch axle just fine. However, the time finally came when he could no longer withstand the 1:1 final drive ratio. Even though the car has an axle ratio of 2.79, Tony says he was still buzzing down Illinois freeways at 3,300 rpm. The solution was found in the form of an AOD four-speed automatic overdrive transmission. The Cleveland has the same bell housing pattern as a Windsor, and the transmission was a bolt-in swap. With a final drive ratio of 0.67:1, the engine rpm is down to 1,800 for freeway cruising.

The Mustang is now able to travel great distances much more economically, and with reduced wear and tear. After over 100,000 miles, the 351 Cleveland engine has never been touched-not even a valve cover gasket-uses very little oil, and still runs perfectly.

Tony is no stranger to great Ford automobiles. In addition to various late-model Mustang GT convertibles, he has owned a '60 Thunderbird convertible, two '66 Mustangs, and a '69 Mach 1. After so many years, we know that to Tony and Teresa this car feels like a member of the family. We suspect that if we were to question them about which Ford has been the all-time favorite, this milestone Mach would be the choice.

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