Joe Greeves
July 25, 2012

There is an old notion that warns about trying to economize on your wedding. The proverb assures you that in the end, you will spend whatever it takes to do it right. That same guidance probably translates fairly well to restoring an old car. It might start out as just a cosmetically reconditioned daily driver, but somewhere along the way, the car will take on a life of its own. Johnny Oldaker, vice president of Sunbelt Metals in Apopka, Florida, and the owner of this '70 Mach 1 is intimately acquainted with that phenomenon.

The '70 Mach was one of his all time favorites, and when his friends at work began getting back into the old car hobby, Johnny decided he would as well. He's owned five previous Mustangs and the search for this one began on eBay, thanks to his wife, Kimberly, who set up an account. It all happened innocently enough one night when Johnny was searching for a suitable car. This '70 Mustang appeared and without giving it much thought, Johnny made his first-ever bid on eBay.

The connection was obviously meant to be, as a short time later, the car was his! Johnny contacted the owner in northern (chilly) Ohio, a long way from his home in (sunny and warm) Florida. He and his good friend, Kevin Harbin, hooked up a trailer, purchased a couple of parkas, and bundled up for the trip to the North country. Driving in snow while pulling a trailer was an experience, but when they arrived, the car was a pleasant surprise as it was in fairly good condition. The white-knuckle trip home was even more exciting, but the tensions eased considerably once the pair crossed the border into the Sunshine State. After thawing from his arctic adventure, Johnny began the Mustang rejuvenation process.

When the car was purchased, the motor was out and that was first priority. It didn't take long to get the car running and driving, and it was a fun car for quite a while. The tired 351 Windsor was only adequate however, and Johnny knew it would eventually have to be replaced. His driving buddy, Kevin Harbin, helped solve the problem, putting him in touch with an engine builder who wound up making Johnny an offer he couldn't refuse. Before long, the new engine from Wheeler Power Products in Jacksonville, Florida, was installed in the Mach 1.

Aftermarket upgrades to the crate engine included an Eagle stroker crank, Eagle rods, and SRP pistons, changing the displacement from 351ci to 408 and establishing the compression at 10.75:1. A Comp roller cam activates 1.6 ratio rockers and the free-breathing Canfield heads internalize the air/fuel mix coming from the 750 Race Demon carb. Hooker 1-3/4-inch headers deal with spent gases, routing them through a 3-inch stainless steel exhaust system with crossover pipe and a pair of Flowmaster mufflers. The exhaust creates a sound you can be proud of. Engine dress-up items like the Vintage Air Front Runner serpentine pulley system add a touch of sparkle to the engine while at the same time, energize the power steering, power brakes, and A/C compressor. A beefed-up, four-speed Top Loader transmission multiplies the power delivered to the 3.89-geared rearend. The combination was dyno'd at a solid 600 hp and 615 lb-ft of torque.

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Like that one beautiful vase that prompts your spouse to redecorate your home, the new engine prompted a critical look at the rest of the car. Johnny recalls, "The motor was so nice, I wanted to make the rest of the car match!" It was at that point that the old wedding proverb kicked in and, with cost taking a back seat to creating great art, a serious restoration began. Johnny stripped the car down to individual pieces and began redoing everything. Subframe connectors were added to stiffen the unibody and thanks to his metal bending skills, Johnny created a five-point rollbar for additional rigidity. Because family trips with his wife and daughter were important, he made the door and center bars of the cage removable for comfort. He chose Caltracs traction bars to augment the factory leaf springs and KYB shocks to stabilize the narrowed Ford 9-inch. The set of 2-1/2-inch-drop spindles from Fatman Fabrications brought the front end down, but the 1-inch Eaton lowering springs proved just a little too much. Returning to stock height versions gave him the perfect stance.

"This one has become the best in a long line, thanks to the combination of experience and a little extra disposable income that comes with maturity!" What are the future plans? His latest ride will soon receive a set of rear discs to match the 11-inch Wilwood four-piston calipers up front, front suspension upgrades are also on the list, and an elaborate stereo system will provide a second sound source whenever the engine is quiet. In the meantime, the car has become a regular on the show circuit, bringing home trophies on the weekend and acting as an occasional driver during the week. Sounds like this wedding turned out just fine! Special thanks goes to Stan Miller, Kevin Harbin, Chuck, and Cory for their help in creating Johnny's dream car.

Very few changes were made to the body because the beautiful original lines of the Mustang were what attracted Johnny to the car in the first place. He even dispensed with the rear wing and louvers. The entire unibody was carefully seam-sealed to eliminate fumes and minimize noise. Then he followed up with Dynamat sound insulation covering every inch of the interior. The trunk floor was dropped in order to recess the 15-gallon fuel cell and hold the Red Top Optima battery. Externally, the one departure from stock was the cowl induction hood from Hoods.com, which added an appropriately aggressive look. The Mustang now moves on a set of Rocket Racing five-spoke chrome wheels that have a vintage flair, similar to the classic five-spoke Cragar wheels. Using 17x7 versions up front and 18x10s in the rear, the Mach 1 benefits from sticky, Nitto NT555 high performance street tires, 45-series up front and 40-series rubber in the rear.

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The final exterior touch was the paint, and Johnny wanted a specific shade that was somewhere between Candy Apple Red and Candy Brandywine. Although Deep City Customs provided several samples, it wasn't until Johnny was shopping with his daughter, Shelby, that he found the perfect shade. The local sporting goods store had a skateboard helmet with exactly the right color. Johnny bought the helmet, brought it to the painter and Deep City owner, Chuck Grieff, got it right the first time. The Mustang was sprayed with four coats of gold basecoat, seven coats of candy, and four coats of clear, creating the distinctive custom-mixed shade of Candy Brandywine you see here. A black stripe was added down the middle for a personal touch.

The interior was already in good shape, with Johnny deciding to reupholster the original seats with a black vinyl Mach 1 package. He outfitted the woodgrain dash with an aftermarket set of Auto Meter Ultra Lite gauges to monitor underhood activity. Although the rollbar adds lots of structural rigidity, it does not intrude and the interior is quite comfortable. An elaborate stereo system is already underway, with the JVC head unit acting as the source that will soon power a multiple speaker set up.

Although the six-year, part-time project may be complete, it might never be finished. Johnny smiles when he says he has never owned a vehicle that was "done," always looking upon them as works in progress.

"This one has become the best in a long line, thanks to the combination of experience and a little extra disposable income that comes with maturity!" What are the future plans? His latest ride will soon receive a set of rear discs to match the 11-inch Wilwood 4-piston calipers up front, front suspension upgrades are also on the list, and an elaborate stereo system will provide a second sound source whenever the engine is quiet. In the meantime, the car has become a regular on the show circuit, bringing home trophies on the weekend and acting as an occasional driver during the week. Sounds like this wedding turned out just fine! Special thanks goes to Stan Miller, Kevin Harbin, Chuck, and Cory for their help in creating Johnny's dream car.

The Details

Johnny Oldaker's '70 Mustang Mach 1

Engine

  • 351 Windsor V-8 stroked to 408ci
  • 4.030-inch bore
  • 4.00-inch stroke
  • Eagle 4340 forged steel crank
  • Eagle 6.2-inch forged steel H-beam connecting rods
  • SRP forged aluminum pistons
  • Comp Cams solid roller cam
  • Canfield aluminum cylinder head, ported, 1.94-inch intake and 1.60-inch exhaust valves
  • Scorpion 1.6:1 roller rockers
  • 750 Race Demon carburetor
  • Edelbrock Victor Jr Air Gap intake manifold
  • MSD ignition
  • Vintage Air Front Runner serpentine pulley system

Transmission

  • Ford four-speed Top Loader transmission
  • Centerforce clutch disc and pressure plate
  • McLeod scatter shield
  • Hurst shifter

Rearend

  • Ford 9-inch, Detroit Locker differential, narrowed 1.5 inches
  • Moser axles
  • 3.89 gears

Exhaust

  • Hooker 1-3/4-inch Super Comp long-tube headers, ceramic-coated
  • H-style crossover pipe
  • 3-inch stainless steel exhaust
  • Flowmaster mufflers

Suspension

  • Front: Fatman 2-1/2-inch-drop spindles, Contour Springs, KYB shocks
  • Rear: Eaton leaf springs, Calvert Racing Suspension Caltracs traction bars, KYB shocks

Brakes

  • Front: Wilwood disc, 11-inch rotors, four-piston calipers
  • Rear: Factory drum

Wheels

  • Front: Rocket Racing Wheels Booster, chrome-plated, 17x7
  • Rear: Rocket Racing Wheels Booster, chrome-plated, 18x10

Tires

  • Front: Nitto NT555, P245/45ZR17
  • Rear: Nitto NT555, P285/40ZR18

Interior

  • Black Mach 1 interior with black carpet and headliner, five-point rollbar, Auto Meter gauges, JVC stereo, Vintage Air heating and cooling

Exterior

  • Three-stage Candy Brandywine paint with black stripe by Deep City Customs (Apopka, FL), cowl induction hood