Dale Amy
May 20, 2006

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Duke had already decided on a show-quality restoration. This grand resolution flew in the face of two significant obstacles: First, he had never tackled anything quite so complex, and second, he could not afford to pay someone else to do it. Neither issue was enough to deter him. "To tell you the truth," says Clancy in retrospect, "I don't think I would have farmed the work out even if I could afford it. In two years, I got to know every inch, weld, nut, and bolt of my car!"

The daunting project started with a complete disassembly, followed by mounting the unibody on a rotisserie smack in the middle of Duke's Sarasota, Florida, furniture restoration shop, so the undercoating that had been applied sometime during its 30-year history could be laboriously removed with scraper and blowtorch. That must have been a sight: Duke wielding a smoke wrench, surrounded by valuable wood, with a stripped metal skeleton towering over all that antique furniture, with a dripping, melted undercoating, no less. More enthusiastic than experienced, Duke learned skills as he went but admits to hiring a friend to weld in new floorpans and relying on other knowledgeable friends' assistance during reassembly.

After carefully documenting any and all markings found, the Sports-Roof shell was sandblasted, primed, block sanded, and painted right there in the furniture shop. "Every inch," claims Duke, "was detailed even if it would never be seen after it was reassembled." A local Sarasota cable TV show called Collector Cars even followed his restoration for six episodes.

Duke and friends got the good-as-new Mach pieced back together in time for the November '03 Antique Automobile Club of America show in Jacksonville, Florida. He called the original owner, Bill Foster, whom he had tracked down and talked to many times during the course of the restoration, and told him about the show promising to call and tell him of its results. This idea was apparently not quite good enough for the former oilman. Bill hopped on a plane from Texas to see his cherished old Mach 1 and meet the man who had brought it to a condition "better than the day he had won it." All of which helps explain the '69-vintage FISKE Texas front license plate the car still proudly wears to all of its show appearances, proving that Duke Clancy can restore more than just furniture.