Jim Smart
June 1, 2008
Photos By: Mark Houlahan

Step By Step

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One common denominator across the generations is the wraparound feel of the Mach 1 in 1969 and Mach 1 for 2004. It took the talents of Bobby Griffey to make it work successfully.
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Mach 1 power for 1969 was a variety of V-8 engines displacing 351, 390, and 428 ci. For 2004, it was but one V-8--this one--the 4.6L DOHC screamer, which has protected the Mach 1's image across time. Larry had to make big structural changes to fit it between the fenders.
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Do you see the similarities between 1969 and 2004? Twin pod instrumentation catches our attention today much as it did 39 years ago.
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Through the years, there have been those determined to divide the many Mustang generations and those just as determined to meld them together. Whether you love the classics or get lost in late-model, fast-steppin' steeds, one thing connects them all--the hot Mustang fun-car mindset. These cars were all about affordable, sporty fun in 1964, and they remain the same today. This is one car Ford didn't mess with, not wanting to get away from the Mustang's original market segment. It has always been a sporty, four-place, bucket seat, snappy, powerful, fun car. No matter what you do with a Mustang old or new, you'll always have fun with it.

Larry Payne sees 44 years and 9 million Mustangs as the same basic idea. They were all designed and built to accomplish the same thing, even in the toughest of times. In the lean '70s when a convertible top and powerful V-8 couldn't be found in Ford showrooms, the Mustang was still a fun car to drive. The '74-'78 Mustang II brought us better quality, quieter operation, and terrific handling. The redesigned '79 Mustang brought us even better quality and extraordinary handling for the period. In the years to follow, the Mustang only got better.

Larry owns an '04 Mustang Mach 1, the end of a generation of Fox/SN-95 chassis Mustangs that kept the breed alive--and hot. Mach 1 returned for just two years, 2003-2004. It was a punctuation mark and a flash in the pan--a Mustang powerhouse chock full of 4.6L DOHC power and a Shaker hoodscoop like its ancestors had 35 years earlier. Inside, Mach 1 had the knitted vinyl Sports Interior all over again with instrumentation borrowed from the '01 Bullitt Mustang--another retro Mustang winner. Larry liked the familiarity, a deja vu experience that left him feeling like he'd been there before.

Larry's cousin owns a '70 Mach 1. When Larry drove it, what struck him most was how familiar it was as well--like the '03-'04 Mach rockers. The more he drove each car, the more alike they seemed to him. Then, he got out his measuring tape and went to work. He was stunned at the dimensions on both. They were virtually identical in every respect. He wondered about putting an '03-'04 Mach 1 interior inside a '69 Mach 1. As he thought more about the idea, it took on a life of its own.

First, Larry had to find a '69 Mach 1. He spotted a '69 SportsRoof hidden under a tarp in Knoxville, Tennessee. It took a little negotiating, but Larry managed to talk the owner into selling. Larry was shocked when the car started and actually allowed him to drive it home. He drove it right into his shop and began disassembly. All he needed to do was find an '03-'04 Mach 1 parts car, and he could get started. His son, David, located a totaled '04 Mach 1 online in Rockingham, North Carolina.

It wasn't long before two generations of Paynes had two Mach 1s in various states of disassembly. And make no mistake, this was not an easy undertaking for Larry; his wife, Connie; David; and his grandson, Austin.

It's one thing to envision a car like this and quite another to build it. Because Larry is a mechanical contractor by trade, he has a solid grasp of what it takes to both conceive an idea and propel it into something with function and style.

Weaving '04 Mach 1 genetic tissue into a '69 Mach 1 took a lot of imagination and fabrication skills. First, the '69 had to be trimmed down to a shell. Floorpans came out, as did the firewall. Quarter-panels and other rusted sheetmetal had to be replaced. Larry set ride height using wooden blocks, then built a tube chassis using 3 x 2 x 3/16-inch steel tubing. The '04 Mach 1's firewall and floorpan had to be grafted into the '69 body, which was no small feat either. The '04 dashpanel had to be modified to accommodate the '69 windshield. Because the '04 windshield has a greater radius, it was easy to trim for a perfect fit, enabling Larry to keep the correct defroster outlets. "We were amazed at how close the '04 and '69 dimensions were," Larry says. "The dashpanel from the '04 was exactly the same width as the '69."

There were times when Larry was certain he was home free, only to discover a new set of challenges to work through. When you build an unusual car like this, it's like building a street rod--you do lots of mock-up work before body massaging and painting. You assemble a steel body clad in DP-{{{90}}} primer and find all of the flaws; then you make adjustments. Larry's last challenge was the hood, which wouldn't close properly. "We ended up with a tear-drop-shaped opening in the hood," he says. "I installed the Shaker hoodscoop and made a wire frame around the opening. David then welded metal panels to form the raised portion of our hood." Larry says they even had to fabricate a special 16-gallon fuel tank using '04 components. They hit pay dirt on steering issues, however, using the '04 power rack, which fit perfectly.

Step By Step

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Because Larry wanted this car to be 1969 on the outside and 2004 on the inside, there was a lot to consider, including how to accommodate the 4.6L DOHC V-8, the Tremec T-45 five-speed, and the infrastructure necessary to make it all work together. When it was time to fire the engine, no combustion was heard. That's when Larry turned to a Ford service technician buddy of his, Michael Smith. Michael examined the electrical system and found the problem--a wire to the electric fan was improperly connected. Once that was fixed, the engine fired and ran just as expected.

Body and paint duties were handed over to Terry Cummins of Maryville, Tennessee. Terry had his work cut out for him. A lot of massaging was required for a most unusual Mustang body, including working '69 sidescoops into '70 quarter-panels Larry cut from another Mustang.

When you sit inside Larry's retro, high-tech Mach 1, it's a dizzying experience because it encompasses worlds that are generations apart. Inside, it's an '04 Mach 1 in every respect. Looking out over the hood, it's 1969 all over again with a teardrop twist and a shaky demeanor. Driving this car isn't like driving any '69 Mach 1 you've ever experienced. Gone is the familiar rumble of a 351W or 428 Cobra Jet pushrod V-8. Instead, there's the throaty burble of a double-overhead cam modular V-8 with its unprecedented smoothness. Grab the T-45 shifter, modulate the throttle and clutch, and let's get after it.

Because David is a former go-cart champion, he got first crack at the Mach 1. Performance and handling wound up better than Larry and David ever imagined, and that's the big payoff when you've worked hard on a project this extensive. Now that the car is clad in Dodge Viper Pearl Blue Metallic, careful execution and exceptional engineering work together to complete the dream Larry, Connie, David, and Austin are ready to realize.

Boyd Coddington polished aluminum Smoothie II wheels are sized for handling and good looks--17 x 7-1/2 inches in front and 18 x 10-1/2 in back. Through the spokes are Baer discs in all four corners. Stopping power complements a sophisticated suspension system devised by Larry and David. Power rack-and-pinion offers precision steering with minimal effort. Mustang II-design front suspension with some of Larry's own efforts keeps this ride on course. In back, we like his four-link, adjustable Aldan coilover system. It works hand in hand with a 9-inch Ford sporting 3.73s, wrapped around a Traction-Lok diff driving 28-spline axles.

Those who build gutsy rides like this one serve as incentive for those of us who wouldn't have the nerve to. When you're tempted to ask Larry why such a bizarre combination of '69 and '04, he'll tell you "because it was there to do."

Step By Step

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The Details
'69 Mustang Mach 1
Owner: Larry Payne, Knoxville, TN


  • '04 Mach 1 4.6L DOHC V-8
  • Aluminum block and heads
  • 3.550-inch bore
  • 3.540-inch stroke
  • Forged pistons
  • 5.830-inch powdered metal connecting rods
  • 9.30:1 compression ratio
  • Steel crankshaft
  • 0.509/0.534-inch lift camshafts (four of them!) with 186/184 degrees duration
  • 1.81:1 rocker arm ratio
  • 1.7520-inch intake valves
  • 1.417-inch exhaust valves
  • Transmission

  • Tremec 3650 five-speed
  • Rearend

  • 9-inch
  • 3.73 gears
  • Traction-Lok
  • 28-spline axles
  • Exhaust

  • Long-tube Kooks Headers, 1-3/4-inch primaries, 2-1/2-inch collectors
  • Stainless steel dual exhaust
  • Flowmaster mufflers
  • Suspension

  • Front: Custom fabricated Mustang II suspension with Aldan coilover shocks
  • Rear: Custom four-link with Aldan coilover shocks
  • Custom, owner-built, full-perimeter frame
  • Brakes

  • Front: Baer brakes, 13-inch cross-drilled slotted disc, two-piston calipers
  • Rear: Baer Brakes, 12-inch cross-drilled slotted disc, single-piston caliper
  • '04 Mustang hydroboost power assist
  • Wheels

  • Front: Boyd Coddington Smoothie II, 17 x 7-1/2 inches
  • Rear: Boyd Coddington Smoothie II, 18 x 10-1/2 inches
  • Tires

  • Front: Nitto NT555 Extreme ZR, P245/45ZR17
  • Rear: Nitto NT555 Extreme ZR, P295/45ZR18
  • Interior

  • '04 Mustang Mach 1 professionally installed by Bobby Griffey of Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Exterior

  • Viper Pearl Blue PPG Basecoat/Clearcoat applied by Terry Cummins of Maryville, Tennessee; body custom modified by Larry and David Payne--a '69 body modified with an '04 Mustang firewall and floorpan, special cowl modifications to allow the '69 windshield to work with the '04 dashpanel
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