Jerry Heasley
December 1, 2004

When you restore a '71 Mach 1, there's no need to gild the lily. With its NASA hoodscoops for ram air and a 375hp 429 Cobra Jet, the last of the first-generation restyles is a hot musclecar that turns heads in traffic. This one has the in-dash, 8,000-rpm tach and the Instrumentation Group.

The ticket to ride hot and heavy with these muscle Mustangs is to work under cover. Make the modifications stealthy so nobody can tell. This picture-perfect, Grabber Green Metallic SportsRoof looks totally stock and wins trophies, but it has a lot more beef under the hood.

Craig Clark isn't your average Mustang enthusiast. Now in his early forties, he grew up in a family that bought, sold, and showed Mustangs. One was a Mustang Club of America regional champion, a Springtime Yellow '68 convertible. Craig even had a '71 Mach 1 in high school. In college, he drove a '68 convertible, sold it, joined the Army, moved to Germany for three years, came back home, then bought back the '68 to use as his daily driver for the next 10 years.

"I had been without a Mustang and couldn't take it, so I bought my father's show car (the '68 convertible) from him. I enjoyed it, but it had a little 289 and I needed my musclecar fix."

The Mach from high school had been a 351 four-barrel car. This time, Craig wanted the 429. He found this one in California and did a ground-up restoration. "My goal was to be as close to a perfect MCA-judged car as possible but still be able to drive it." He proceeded to focus on the intensity of the restoration, down to the excruciating lengths to redo every "nut and bolt."

Perhaps if we hadn't heard about his Boss 351 and quizzed him about which car was faster, we wouldn't have learned the 429 isn't stock inside. Craig knows his Mustang history. The Boss 351 is at the top of the list for the fastest Mustang e.t. through the quarter-mile, according to Mustang Monthly's research from vintage magazine tests. "So, your 429 Cobra Jet Mach 1 is slower?" we asked. "Mine's not. My Boss 351 is bone-stock. But I did a little bit of tuning on the 429, going with a mild Competition Cams cam for more power under the hood. From the outside, it's all stock," he said.

Craig sent the 429 Cobra Jet engine to Triple A Automotive in Howe, Texas, for the internal modifications. He's maintained the stock look, so the heads and everything external are 100 percent OEM. The points are gone, but who can tell? From the factory, the gross horsepower rating at the flywheel was 375. Craig's re-cammed, retuned but factory-looking 429 delivers 418 hp to the rear wheels.

Externally, the Mach 1 is musclecar stock, but internally it has a whole lot more.