Mustang MonthlyFeatured Vehicles
1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1
Bruce Wilcox's '71 Mach 1 Has Been Paying Big Dividends For His Farming Family Since High School
Tio Vista, California, is located in the heart of the world's breadbasket-California's Central Valley. Surrounded by neighboring Fairfield, Lodi, Stockton, Hayward, and Sacramento, Rio Vista is the beating ventricle of home-grown commercial agriculture, which has been feeding the globe for more than a century. Bruce Wilcox's family has been farming citrus around the Sacramento River Delta region for generations. He has seen it all over his lifetime-infestations, freezing temperatures, drought, hard economic times, and rolling cycles of gains and losses.
Bruce's Grabber Lime '71 Mach 1 is "High Yield" because it has been paying big dividends since he graduated from high school in 1974. His Mach 1 was a reward for hard work both in school and on the family's farm. Bruce could have purchased a Camaro or Cuda because the market was thick with hot pony cars in those days. But his father wasn't hearing any of it because he had a fierce loyalty to Ford.
That loyalty ultimately saved this car when Bruce bought a Corvette against his father's wishes. Despite the Corvette's arrival, the Mustang remained in the Wilcox family where four brothers drove the wheels off it in the years to follow. In 1988, the Mach 1 went into storage until 2001, when Bruce blew the dust off in a quest to relive his youth.
Of course, Bruce had to ingest some humble pie to get the car back from his father. The grandfather angle helped because Bruce wanted to restore the car for his son, which made it easier for his father to give the car up. Sadly, Bruce's father passed away before the Mustang was completed.
Bruce elected to restore the car as a period restomod from the 1970s, like Bruce remembered. However, it would also be better thanks to today's technology. Bruce wanted handling and safety, which inspired him to fit this family heirloom with Wilwood disc brakes in all four corners. He opted for a Total Control coilover suspension front and rear with Alston Varishocks and five-leaf springs in back. The 15-inch American Torq-Thrust II wheels are wrapped in BFGoodrich Radial T/As. Underneath are subframe connectors to improve chassis stiffness. Shelby underride traction bars sure beat the bolt-on traction enhancers of the period.
Inside, Bruce went the 1970s one better with a Grant steering wheel along with AutoMeter Phantom instruments. Also on board is a Classic Audio sound system with 10-disc CD changer, two 10-inch subwoofers, and a quartet of 51/4- and 4x6-inch speakers.
Under the hood, Bruce had Reddick Brothers rebuild his 351 Cleveland, boring the block to 4.030-inches but staying with the original 3.500-inch stroke. For power and durability, he went with steel I-beam rods, KB forged pistons, Crower cam, 1.73:1 rockers, Edelbrock induction, and aluminum heads. On top is a 750-cfm Holley carburetor protected by K&N filtration. Going with 1970s tradition, Bruce chose long-tube Hedman headers, with newer-style Flowmaster mufflers. In the tunnel is a Tremec five-speed, which offers the efficiency of overdrive. When you spline Bruce's Tremec into a 9-inch Ford axle with 3.89:1 gears, you have a part-time rocket ship and a full-time cruiser.
Bruce's father would be proud. In the end, Bruce returned to the Ford camp with the same hot Mustang he started with, resurrecting a family treasure and winding up with something better and more special than he had 36 years ago.