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Lonny Childress 1970 Mustang Mach 1 - Monster Match
Lonny Childress Restores Mustangs For A Living, But Drives Monster Trucks On The Side
"It's kind of a love/hate thing with the '69s and '70s. There's no in-between-people either like the '69 or they like the '70. Lonny Childress was pointing out an interesting fact of life with '69 and '70 Mach 1s. Basically, the two models are built on the same body style. Yet, there are two opposing camps of interest from one model year to the next.
Lonny owns this Grabber Orange '70 Mach 1 and his brother owns a '69 Mach 1, which is a Competition Orange 428 Cobra Jet. "The things Jason likes about the '69 are what he doesn't like about the '70," Lonny points out. "I'm the opposite. I don't like the fake scoops on the '69 quarters. And I prefer the two headlights on the '70 versus the four headlights on the '69."
Likewise, '70 Mach 1 enthusiasts favor the wide rocker panels over the thin chrome molding on the '69. It's vice versa for '69 Mach 1 owners. Hood graphics are another issue. Lonny said his brother "likes the whole hood blacked out instead of just the stripes down the center."
Lonny favors the '70, of course, and hit on another issue, "In 1969, the decklid spoiler was plastic and the chin spoiler was fiberglass. The rear spoiler started to warp and sag in the middle from exposure to the sun, and the fiberglass chin spoiler broke because it didn't flex when it hit a curb. So, in 1970, Ford switched that around and made the chin spoiler plastic and the rear spoiler fiberglass."
Lonny says he's been into Mustangs about 15 years. His first two restorations were '68 coupes, but he always liked the '70 fastbacks. Lately, he picked up this '70 Mach 1. The complete restoration was the springboard to fulfill a dream. "The Mach 1 led me to doing something I've always wanted to do, which is open a Mustang restoration shop, Gateway Classic Mustang in St. Louis. We take our cars to the local shows, and Tulsa is the first time we've been out of state with them."
We met Lonny and Jason at the Mid-America Ford Performance and Shelby Meet in Tulsa in June 2004. Only after visiting with Lonny on the phone a few weeks later did we learn he once drove "Big Foot," the legendary Ford monster truck.
Was there a Mustang connection here? The answer is yes. As a kid growing up, Lonny liked Mustangs, but finances forced him to drive Pintos. When he was 20, he started fixing up those first Mustangs, but ended up trading his first restoration for a monster truck. He and his brother crushed cars with their own truck, "Wild Thing," for about two years. From this exposure, they got the chance to drive Big Foot.
Lonny said, "I drove the Big Foot monster truck for about six years, and worked there about seven years." Now, he's into Mustangs full-time, and driving monster trucks is a side activity. "Life keeps coming full circle," Lonny said. "The last couple of years we've kind of gotten back into it part-time for Clear Channel Motorsports. I drive a truck called 'High Roller,' while my brother Jason drives 'Grave Digger.' "