Three Is Enough - Tim McTevia's 1969 Mach 1
When was the last time you saw a ’69 Mach 1 with a factory three-speed manual transmission? That’s the question we asked ourselves when looking over Tim and Mary McTevia’s Raven Black SportsRoof, and the answer we came up with was—a very long time ago. That may be a surprise if you look at the numbers, for Kevin Marti explained to us that of the 69,837 Mach 1s assembled for 1969, 7,364 were delivered with the base three-speed stick. While it’s not a lot—call it roughly one in ten, it’s enough for one to think they’d turn up more often than they do. We’d guess the truth of the matter is that a majority of the surviving base transmission Mach 1s have long since seen a four-speed swap—an easy bolt-in—if not a gearbox with five or six forward speeds. Oddly enough, that’s a temptation that the McTevias never succumbed to.
You can’t say Tim hasn’t had his chances to pop for an extra gear or two, as he’s owned this very car since May of 1970. Tim says he’s been a fan of the Mustang breed ever since the model’s debut in 1964, and when he graduated high school in June 1969, he soon found himself examining a Boss 302 at the local Ford dealer. Unfortunately the Boss was too much dough, but it’s no surprise that Tim was interested when he spied a ’69 Mach 1 for sale in the parking lot of a nearby branch of the Bank of California. Turns out the payments were a bit much for the banker/owner and his fledgling family, but the asking price was also a bit steep for Tim. He continued to admire the Mach 1 as work took him past the bank on a daily basis, and after going unsold for six weeks, the banker offered Tim a deal to simply take over the payments. It turned out to be $89.61/month, and the rest is history.
The McTevias were wed shortly after Tim purchased the ‘69, and the car eventually became Mary’s daily driver. She recalls laying the sport deck rear seat flat and letting kids Tom and Laura sprawl out with pillows and toys as the miles flew by. That folding seat was one of a handful of options, and most would consider it an unusual combination, all things considered. For one, the McTevia’s Mach 1 is fitted with the 290-horse four-barrel 351 Windsor, which of course would’ve seemed a natural for pairing with a four-speed. The remaining extra-cost items are limited to power front disc brakes, AM/8-track stereo, tinted glass, and the extra cooling package. Originally delivered to Barstow, California’s Dee Motor Company, the latter two options reveal that air conditioning wasn’t always deemed a hot climate necessity at the time.
The McTevia’s ‘69 provided reliable duty through the late 1970s, even pulling their ski boat during a move from California to Orofino, Idaho in 1978. Over the years, Tim installed the slotted mags that were so popular in the day, repainted the car himself, and mulled over a four-speed swap to the point that he even had one on his garage floor at one time. By 1985, the Mach 1 had pretty well become a permanent garage fixture, and the idea of a future restoration took hold. Tim began collecting NOS parts even though it would take years for the project to really get off the ground, but in 2008 the time had come. The body and paint represented Tim’s biggest challenges, so he turned to Maxx Childs at Maxx Auto Refinishing in Kamiak, Idaho. Childs was fastidious in getting everything just right, correcting years of dents and dings, and leaving in place a quarter panel which Mary’s father had welded in after an accident in 1981.
That quarter repair is indicative of the history and memories that accumulate when owning the same car for decades. Yet another example for the McTevias is when a rock punched a hole in the Mach 1’s oil pan in 1971 as Tim turned the car around in his Uncle Marvin’s field. Marvin’s skilled hands welded up the hole, and Tim says the oil pan stayed on after the restoration because of the memories.
Throughout the restoration, Tim was hands-on with disassembly, cataloging, refinishing, and reassembly. Understandably, he knows the car like the back of his hand, and therefore got a chuckle when, at his first Mustang Club of America show, a judge called him out on the extra wide radiator that is most commonly seen on air conditioned cars. “The judge said it was wrong,” laughs Tim. “He got it when I showed him the Marti Report that specified the extra cooling package.”
At the outset of this story, we mentioned that the unusual transmission was part of the reason we found the McTevia’s Mach 1 appealing. Turns out, it was just the carrot that drew us to a bigger find. We’re frankly enamored by long ownership stories such as this one. And for the car’s appearance to be as striking as anything to come out of Ford during the peak of the musclecar era, well, that’s the proverbial icing on the cake!
We’re grateful to Kevin Marti (martiauto.com) for running some numbers that us Mustang minutia geeks find interesting. Turns out that the three-speed stick was the base transmission only on 351-powered Mach 1s, as 390 and 428 cars were mandatory four-speed or automatic in 1969. For four-barrel 351 (M-code) Mach 1s such as the McTevias, the transmission production numbers break down as follows:
Four-speed manual, wide ratio—6,935
Four-speed manual, close ratio—1,723