Jim Smart
November 5, 2012

The '70 Twister Special Mach 1 story might have been lost to history had it not been for the tenacity of our good friend and historian, the late Terry Fritts, who spent decades researching these limited production Mustangs. From Terry's efforts with his Twister Special Registry, we know that Ford produced just 96 Twister Special Mach 1s, along with 90 Torino Cobras and four Rancheros, as special editions for the Kansas City sales district.

The Twister Special got its start when Ford's Special Promotions Division was approached by American Raceways International to build five Mustang Mach 1s and five convertibles to use as pace cars at its five planned race tracks around the country. All ten, each equipped with a 428 SCJ and a C6 automatic transmission, were specially prepared by Ford. Ultimately, plans called for 100 special-edition cars with unique side striping and ARI graphics. Unfortunately, ARI completed only two of its NASCAR-level tracks before filing for bankruptcy, leaving Ford with ten undelivered ARI Mustang pace cars.

Not wanting to lose its investment in the project, Ford reached out to find a sales district willing to accept delivery of at least 100 Mustang units. The Kansas City sales district (DSO 53) elected to take on the project and call it "Twister Special." (Although it has been believed that the five ARI Mach 1s became Twister Specials, this never happened according to the Twister Special Registry. The ARI Mach 1s and convertibles were sold and have surfaced here and there throughout the years).

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Ford's original game plan called for 100 Twister Special Mach 1s with the Drag Pak 428 Cobra Jet. However, the Dearborn Engine Plant, which produced all FE engines, didn't have the capacity to produce that many Super Cobra Jet engines. Ford compromised, splitting the 96 Twister Special Mustangs into 48 with the 428 Super Cobra Jet and 48 with the 4-barrel 351 Cleveland. All were clad in Grabber Orange paint with side stripes (similar to the ARI), special rear quarter decals, and the Shaker hood scoop. On November 7, 1969, Kansas City district Ford dealers rallied for a Total Performance Day at the Kansas City International Raceway, which was a great opportunity to roll out the Twister Special Mustangs, Torinos, and Rancheros.

This leads us to Wes and Jo Young. In March 2006, the Youngs bought a Winter Blue '69 Mach 1 with the R-code 428 Cobra Jet. A fresh restoration from American Stang in Brighton, Colorado, it was everything the couple ever dreamed of in a classic Mustang. They were just beginning to enjoy the Mustang when, during a trip to an Arizona Mustang show, their entire rig--truck, trailer, and Mach 1--were stolen during an overnight stop in Albuquerque. "After the initial shock and passage of time, we started searching for another '69 Mach 1," Wes tells us. "We got a call from Rod Holland at American Stang informing us that one of the big-block '70 Mach 1 Twister Specials was for sale on eBay. At the time, we didn't even know about Twister Specials."

That's when Wes and Jo went to work learning all they could about Twister Specials via the Twister Special Registry. When they learned they were the winning bid, they headed to Michigan to pick up the car, then delivered it to American Stang for a concours restoration. The incredible detail is testament to American Stang's professionalism. The Mach 1 was meticulously disassembled, documented, and photographed to ensure authenticity during reassembly. "We've participated in many local and regional shows as well as Mustang Club of America events over the past five years and intend to do more in the future," Wes adds. "Our Mach is always an eye catcher with its Grabber Orange paint and special decals exclusive to the Twister Special, which allows us to share our story with many people."

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