Jim Smart
June 1, 2008
Photos By: Mark Houlahan

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."