Jim Smart
June 1, 2008

Dan Barbee vividly recalls the anticipation of returning home from Vietnam. While serving in the late '60s, his thoughts and dreams were that of home-and the new '69 Mustang Mach 1. It teased him from magazine and newspaper ads. Armed Forces Radio spoke of its slippery lines and powerful lineup of V-8 engines.

When Dan returned home before Christmas 1968, he headed to his nearest Ford showroom to buy a new '69 Mach 1-this Mach 1. It has been in his possession for the past 40 years.

"I drove the wheels off of it," Dan says about getting a year's worth of pent-up anticipation out of his system. It had the 351 Windsor engine, four-speed, 3.50 gears, dual exhaust, knitted vinyl sports interior with highback bucket seats, and console. It represented home, freedom, and utter euphoria.

After driving the Mach 1 for 17 years, Dan put it away for safekeeping, where it sat in storage for another 14 years. When it was time to haul the car out in 2000, Dan turned it over to Bruce Reckard of M-Detail, The Mustang Market in Riverside, California. Bruce has produced some of the finest Mustang restorations in Southern California. He and Dan hit it off, working collectively toward a first-class restoration effort with a restomod twist.

Dan makes no apologies for the restomod treatment of his original Mach 1. The Ruby Red Pearl Metallic basecoat/clearcoat paint completely changed the car's personality. Note the Mach 1 graphics in Champagne to match interior nuances. Dan also ditched the egg-crate grille for a custom grille from M-Detail, The Mustang Market.

Once in Ruby Red, the Mach 1 entered a new chapter in Dan's life. The car was again new and exciting, a launch pad for a mid-life crisis.

While the revamped Mach 1 looked sharper than ever, it needed to make a performance statement. The 351W from the factory was snappy, but it didn't bark with the authority of a 428 Cobra Jet, something that always bugged Dan. To make CJ power, he looked to displacement and Paxton supercharging, stepping up to a stroker crank for 393 ci. Based on piston selection, deck and compression height, and '69 vintage 351W iron head castings with 61cc chambers, Dan wound up at 9.0:1 compression-perfect for the huff of a Paxton supercharger.

Down under, a Top Loader fourspeed connects to a Currie 9-inch rearend with 3.50:1 limited-slip and 31-spline axles. For braking, Dan remained true to the car's roots with power-assisted Kelsey-Hayes singlepiston front disc brakes and rear drums. Wheels are American Racing Torq-Thrust IIs in polished aluminum with BFGoodrich T/A Radials.

Inside, Dan left 1969 behind, ditching the knitted vinyl to customize with black vinyl and saddle suede. The Moto-Lita steering wheel feels great in your hands, while white-face instruments highlight the gauges after dark. A Kenwood sound system takes Dan back to the '60s-and anywhere else he'd like to go.

Dan demonstrates how anticipation can change over the years. Forty years ago, it was coming home from Vietnam to a new Mach 1. Forty years later, it's the anticipation of great fun in that same Mach 1.