1969 Mach 1 - Mighty Mach
The first Ram-Air, Cobra Jet-powered Mach was one of the most muscular-looking Mustangs ever
We can certainly relate when Dennis Squire says that he has always liked the looks of the R-code '69 Mach 1. From the factory, the first Ram-Air, Cobra Jet-powered Mach was one of the most muscular-looking Mustangs ever with quad headlights, side scoops, fastback styling, and a Shaker scoop protruding through the black-out hood. So we can also understand why Dennis maintained the original appearance when he built this '69 Mach 1. However, if you look beneath the stock-looking skin, you'll discover a unique blend of old muscle and new technology.
"I had the vision for this car for many years," Dennis told us. We couldn't miss his red SportsRoof at the MCA's Showdown at the Red Rock Corral national show in St. George, Utah. "I wanted it to look like a nice R-code Mach 1. But the closer you look, the more detail you see--tucked bumpers, deep-dish rear wheels, 5-speed transmission, lower ride height, and the color is a little brighter."
Starting with a "sad" M-code (351 Windsor) body, Dennis spent 2-1/2 years reviving the SportsRoof as a modified Mach 1 in his three-car garage in Highland, Utah, performing the disassembly and assembly himself while farming out the bodywork, paint, upholstery, wiring, and engine. Triple R Restoration handled the sheetmetal repairs and PPG Signal Red paint, which was sprayed by Dennis' nephew, Paul Hiatt.
As the owner of several Big O Tire stores in the Provo area, Dennis says he chose a rear wheel and tire size, then built the rest of the car around the big 18x12-inch Budniks and P335/30R18 Pirellis. Art Morrison Enterprises custom-built the rear 2x4-inch rear clip to accommodate the fat tires in combination with the lowered ride height that gives the car its muscular stance. At the front, Dennis used Heidts Superide II IFS system with coil-over shocks and rack-and-pinion steering. With subframe connectors and beefier torque boxes, the Mach rides on what is essentially a full frame.
Under the hood, Dennis wanted to stick with the Mach 1's FE big-block heritage, so nestled between the body-color inner fenders is a 490 cubic-inch 427 based on the aluminum FE block from the Carroll Shelby Engine Company. You can get the details in the spec box, but suffice it to say that Tom Lucas at FE Specialties built the engine with the good stuff, like a Scat crankshaft and H-beam rods with Ross pistons for a hefty 10.4:1 compression ratio. Needing an intake manifold that would provide the right height for the Shaker scoop, Lucas found a vintage '60s Edelbrock Streetmaster, which was ported and polished to match the Edelbrock aluminum FE heads. On the dyno, the lightweight FE generated 607 hp at 5,600 rpm and 624 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. That makes an original 428 SCJ seem more like a six-cylinder.
Dennis also paid close attention to the underhood details. A Billet Specialties serpentine belt system cleans up the front of the engine, while Fred Baptista gets credit for hiding the wiring and plumbing.
The interior follows the same theme as the rest of the car--it looks factory, but closer inspection reveals plenty of tasty details like leather upholstery, a Budnik steering wheel on a tilt column, AutoMeter Cobalt gauges, and a custom console with emergency brake handle. Less noticeable are the electric power windows that are controlled by the factory window cranks.
Nine years ago, Dennis lost his 19 year-old son, Brandon, to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. "He always wanted us to build a Mustang together," Dennis told us. "After he passed away, I got the go-ahead from my wife to build this Mach 1. Brandon would often say, 'Whazzup?' So Janie suggested we use 'Whazzup' on the license plate in tribute to Brandon."
Although he completed the project three years ago, Dennis says the car is never completely done. We can relate to that too.
"I've liked R-code Mach 1s since high school," Dennis says. "It took me 30 years to build the one I wanted."