Jeff Ford
April 1, 2001

What would you do if the perfect Mach 1 showed up on a car lot and called your name? What would you do if the color of said Mach was just the other side of wrong for you? You know what we mean, the color that makes your toes curl up inside your Top-Siders. We all have those colors in our aversion pallet-for some it's Lime Gold, for others it's Meadowlark Yellow. Obviously, the list could go on and on.

Somewhere in the foggy past of the '71 Mach 1 owned by Nathaniel Key of Lithonia, Georgia, this car was changed from Pewter Silver Metallic to Bright Red. "At first, I didn't even know the car had been repainted," Nathaniel admitted to us. "When I bought it off a Chevy dealer lot back in 1982, it was just an old red Mustang in need of some work. The grille was shot, and the taillight panel was in need of replacement." At that point, Nathaniel repainted the car the "original" color. Several years later, when he decided to freshen up the car, he discovered pewter paint in the doorjamb; just one "holiday" in the color-changed Mach tipped Nathaniel off that something was amiss. "I then started to check deeper and found the original color under the weatherstrip," said Nathaniel. At that point, our intrepid owner did the only thing a man in his position should do: he painted the car the color he liked-Bright Red. Since he was already left of center, and the car wasn't quite there in the pizzazz department, he also added side stripes and Magnums.

Whatever the car originally lacked in outer visual power, Ford more than made up for in option content. The car is packed to the roof line with creature comforts, such as air conditioning, power steering, power disc brakes, a full console, a tilt column, a Rim-Blow steering wheel, and the Instrumentation Group that originally featured a clock instead of the tach we're all so comfortable with. We say "originally" because Nathaniel ditched the clock in favor of the zoomier tach. Underhood, the Mach is in possession of the 351 4V and the all-important ram-air system. Behind the Cleveland 4V is a sharp, precise C6 automatic, and in back of the transmission is a 3.25:1 Traction-Lok diff.

Nathaniel, as do so many of us, bought the car to drive and enjoy-but the story that seems to be pretty much universal applies here. The original intent gave way to what you see here: a Mach 1 that garners awards, even in the Mustang Club of America Concours-Trailered class. "I will usually drive the car if the show is as close as 200 miles-any further than that, I trailer it. At the shows where I trailer the car to, I take some hits for the undercarriage, but I still come away with Silver or Gold awards a lot," confessed Nathaniel. So although the Mach started out with a different color and-for Nathaniel-a different intent, you can definitely see that the whole thing is better for everybody-other than the competition.