There is an old notion that warns about trying to economize on your wedding. The proverb assures you that in the end, you will spend whatever it takes to do it right. That same guidance probably translates fairly well to restoring an old car. It might start out as just a cosmetically reconditioned daily driver, but somewhere along the way, the car will take on a life of its own. Johnny Oldaker, vice president of Sunbelt Metals in Apopka, Florida, and the owner of this '70 Mach 1 is intimately acquainted with that phenomenon.
The '70 Mach was one of his all time favorites, and when his friends at work began getting back into the old car hobby, Johnny decided he would as well. He's owned five previous Mustangs and the search for this one began on eBay, thanks to his wife, Kimberly, who set up an account. It all happened innocently enough one night when Johnny was searching for a suitable car. This '70 Mustang appeared and without giving it much thought, Johnny made his first-ever bid on eBay.
The connection was obviously meant to be, as a short time later, the car was his! Johnny contacted the owner in northern (chilly) Ohio, a long way from his home in (sunny and warm) Florida. He and his good friend, Kevin Harbin, hooked up a trailer, purchased a couple of parkas, and bundled up for the trip to the North country. Driving in snow while pulling a trailer was an experience, but when they arrived, the car was a pleasant surprise as it was in fairly good condition. The white-knuckle trip home was even more exciting, but the tensions eased considerably once the pair crossed the border into the Sunshine State. After thawing from his arctic adventure, Johnny began the Mustang rejuvenation process.
When the car was purchased, the motor was out and that was first priority. It didn't take long to get the car running and driving, and it was a fun car for quite a while. The tired 351 Windsor was only adequate however, and Johnny knew it would eventually have to be replaced. His driving buddy, Kevin Harbin, helped solve the problem, putting him in touch with an engine builder who wound up making Johnny an offer he couldn't refuse. Before long, the new engine from Wheeler Power Products in Jacksonville, Florida, was installed in the Mach 1.
Aftermarket upgrades to the crate engine included an Eagle stroker crank, Eagle rods, and SRP pistons, changing the displacement from 351ci to 408 and establishing the compression at 10.75:1. A Comp roller cam activates 1.6 ratio rockers and the free-breathing Canfield heads internalize the air/fuel mix coming from the 750 Race Demon carb. Hooker 1-3/4-inch headers deal with spent gases, routing them through a 3-inch stainless steel exhaust system with crossover pipe and a pair of Flowmaster mufflers. The exhaust creates a sound you can be proud of. Engine dress-up items like the Vintage Air Front Runner serpentine pulley system add a touch of sparkle to the engine while at the same time, energize the power steering, power brakes, and A/C compressor. A beefed-up, four-speed Top Loader transmission multiplies the power delivered to the 3.89-geared rearend. The combination was dyno'd at a solid 600 hp and 615 lb-ft of torque.