Rob Reaser
September 1, 2002

Big surprises may come in small packages, but sometimes they can weigh nearly 3,000 pounds. When Judy and Steve Amoss purchased this '70 Mach 1 in 1993, they got a huge surprise of the not-so-good nature. Fortunately, persistence set things right.

This Mt. Airy, Maryland, couple has long had an appreciation for vintage musclecars, and in the early '90s felt the time was ripe to put one in their garage. Judy liked Mustangs of the Mach 1 flavor, while Steve tended towards Challengers, Barracudas, and Chargers. They decided that whichever model first crossed their paths and fell within their price range would be "the one." The issue was decided when they spotted a '70 Mach 1 advertised in their regional Old Car Trader magazine. The Mustang was being offered by a used car dealer located about an hour from their house.

"Upon our inspection of the car's condition," says Judy, "it appeared to be sound, except for a slight pull to the right when we test drove it."

The Mach 1 boasted a 351 Cleveland 2V engine backed by an FMX tranny and highway-friendly 2.79 rear gears. Inside, the Amoss' found the uncommon Medium Blue Comfortweave Mach 1 upholstery which, although worn, was intact and matched the factory-original Medium Blue Metallic topcoat.

"We reached an agreement with the dealership owner on a selling price," Judy continues, "and my husband drove it home. A week later we drove it to our local mechanic to get a front-end alignment to fix that 'little' pull problem. We were shocked when the mechanic called us at work to say that he couldn't do the alignment because the driver's side front framerail was full of body putty. It had apparently been patched inside and out to appear sound, then covered with undercoating to hide the 'repair.'"

What made this all the more puzzling to Judy and Steve was that the car was advertised as just having passed the Maryland state inspection. On the advice of their mechanic, the couple contacted the dealer to request retribution.

"The dealership owner merely laughed at us when we called and told him the problem. That just made us determined to pursue our case," says Judy.

Wrong move on that fellow's part!

Judy and Steve quickly got in touch with the Maryland Department of Dealer Licensing, the State Police Vehicle Inspection Division, the mechanic who had originally inspected the car, and a local restoration shop owner. Suffice to say that with the law and expert opinions on their side, plus a threat of suit, the dirty dealer agreed to pay for the cost of the repair.

In February 1994, family friend Dave Fenzel, a restoration hobbyist, agreed to help with the Mach 1's rebirth. Most of Dave's work involved repairing or replacing a whole lot of sheetmetal, including the framerails, torque boxes, floorpans, outer fenders, door skins, quarterpanels, trunk floor, and the taillight panel.

When work turned to the 351 engine, Dave discovered that the original V-8 had a cracked cylinder wall, so a replacement 351C was located, refurbished, and rebuilt using the 2V heads and crank from the old engine, plus a few performance goodies such as a 650-cfm 4V Holley, Edelbrock intake, and a mild Competition cam. Further upgrades included Hooker headers and Flowmaster mufflers with a 2.5-inch exhaust. The FMX tranny was sent to friend Ken Anderson for a rebuild and enhancement via a new torque converter and fresh internals.

Because the blue interior was so uncommon on '70 Mach 1s, Judy and Steve had a tough time locating new upholstery. The thought of installing black did not appeal to them, but eventually they uncovered the correct material from Classic Upholstery & Glass in Frederick, Maryland. All they had to do was transfer the dark blue color-keyed stripe from the old upholstery to the new.

A similar problem was encountered with the interior trim. Lacking correct replacements, a paint supply house mixed new interior paint and dye using the new upholstery as a guide, and a local bodyshop took it from there.

And yet another problem surfaced when the time came to give the shell its new topcoat. Dave Fenzel was experienced in using PPG's basecoat/clearcoat products, but the correct Medium Blue Metallic was not to be found in the PPG line. Next to their workplace, Judy and Steve saw a '95 Mustang with a Medium Blue Metallic that, although darker than the '70 version, looked smashing. The couple settled on the late-model hue for their Mach 1.

When all was said and done, and the Mach 1 rolled onto the street in 1998, Judy and Steve were justifiably pleased with their restoration results. Now the only "whoa!" they hear comes from admiring passersby.