Eric English
September 17, 2006

Unbridled Fun
Gordon initially planned to use his second purchase as a frame of reference for assembling the gold car, yet as the parts accumulation for the latter took time, Gordon found he couldn't wait for his hot rod. The modified rehash was finished in two years, almost light speed compared to the factory-correct project. Brad Elliott got the call for the paint this time around, and when stripping the body in preparation for the new coat of Dark Ivy Green Metallic, Gordon realized this one would have been the preferable body for a perfectionist effort. It was that good. No use crying over spilled milk, however. The course was set, and the projects proceeded as planned.

In short, the green Mach was built purely for fun, not only as a regular Saturday night cruiser, but also as an occasional and enthusiastic strip performer. Under the Shaker hoodscoop is an engine that propelled Gordon to a best e.t. of 12.66 on drag radials and laid down 366 hp and 452 lb-ft of torque on a Dynojet chassis dyno. The short-block is mostly stock save for aftermarket forged pistons, but the top end is considerably changed via Edelbrock heads, an aluminum Police Interceptor intake, and a Holley 750 double-pumper. Other aids to strong performance include a Comp Cams hydraulic bumpstick, an Accel distributor, a Crane spark box, and metallic-ceramic Hooker headers feeding 3-inch exhausts. Wes Everson and Mike Roy were instrumental in the machining and assembly of the healthy FE, which is now hooked to a Tremec five-speed and 3.70 gears in a nodular 9-inch case.

On the outside, the look is classic early-'70s muscle with 15x7-inch Cragar S/S mags. Gordon also added sports slats and a rear-deck spoiler. Hidden from view are some thoroughly modern mods such as Total Control upper and lower control arms, strut rods, a Flaming River steering box, and 800-pound front coils. The rear is much more traditional with just a pair of Lakewood slapper bars helping plant the 275/60-15 tires to the tarmac.

At the track, Gordon had loads of fun competing in car-club drags, where his local strip pitted Mustang clubs against like organizations for Mopar, Camaro, and others, with the Mach 1 waving the Blue Oval banner proudly until an unfortunate mishap in 2004. While making a 2-3 upshift at mid-track, something inside the stock bellhousing let go (believed to have originated with the pressure plate), wreaking havoc and broken parts all over the track. Fortunately, Gordon was unscathed and brought the car to a safe stop, but the carnage included a destroyed clutch and pressure plate, bellhousing, headers, steering column, and a broken starter ear on the block. The steering shaft was so damaged that Gordon says he could barely steer the car, so it's fortuitous that the chosen venue was limited to a straight line.

Repairs were made in short order, and the green Mach was as good as ever during our photo shoot, though Gordon reports he no longer runs the car on the 1,320. While a blow-proof bellhousing would have resolved most nagging fears, Gordon has opted to step it up considerably with a purpose-built '68 fastback that currently runs 10.50s-with an automatic.

In the end, diverse interests within the Mustang genre have led Gordon to build his cars with different natures, spelling trouble for the competition whatever the venue. The gold Mach 1 transports us back to Ford showrooms circa 1970, while its stablemate simply begs to be driven with gusto. With Gordon getting the choice any time he wishes, it seems like nothing less than Cobra Jet bliss to us.