The Ford Design Center mocked up a two-seater body for the Mach III that featured a chopped-and-rounded windshield, neon taillights, LED third brake light, state-of-the-art headlights and a dual-cockpit interior. Masco-Tech Industries actually built the twin bodies from Ford's approved clay models. Just as the '69 Mach 1 had been before, the Mach IIIs (one red, the other green) were hugely successful on the auto show circuit, where they regularly stole attention from the new Firebird/Camaro twins and captured many national magazine covers.
Dave Haymond knew all about the legendary Mach 1 street cars and prototypes, and he liked the Mach III so much when it was featured in Automobile magazine that he decided to build one for himself. Unlike the average Joe - who would be doomed to fail at such an ambitious enterprise - Dave had two things working in his favor: an obsession for mechanical innovation that borders on insanity and a healthy amount of disposable income.
Like you and me, Dave spent his childhood years building tons of Revell plastic car models, and his father made the mistake of taking 10-year-old Dave to the vast Harrah's automobile museum, which is where he claims his love of cars took hold.
"After that," he remembers, "I went looking for old cars to restore and modify. At 13 I had a '29 Model A roadster; at 19 a '57 Thunderbird. I was really into Mustangs, so I built four '65s. I even bought a wrecked Lamborghini Countach and fixed it up, but Fords were still my passion.
"I taught myself to make anything I needed to do a job, whether it was a part or a machine. I was always tinkering with something mechanical."
Unfortunately, playing with cars was not paying the bills, and in the early '90s Dave's vending machine business was not doing too well. Confident he could fix anything he put his mind to, Dave built a prototype of a gumball machine with a clear, spiral delivery system. The "Gumball Wizard," which provides children all the entertainment of watching a hamster scoot through his tunnel (but without the feeding and clean-up), was patented and the checks began to roll in just as Dave caught sight of Ford's Mach III red and green show cars.
"It never occurred to me to contact Ford and try to buy one of the cars from them after they were retired from the show circuit," he recalls. "I just assumed I would have to build one myself, so in 1995 I happened to see a new Mustang convertible that had caught fire and bought it from the wrecking yard.
"I stripped that '95 and began using it as a styling buck for the body molds."
With no formal education in full-scale prototype modeling, Dave used two-pound roofing foam to form the approximate shape, then applied a variety of tools and sanding implements to fine-tune the design of each panel. His goal was to build a Mach III as if Ford had developed its show car into a production vehicle.
"Ford did a beautiful job of producing the Mach III so quickly," Dave says, "but there were many shortcuts and some impractical styling ideas that would not have worked on a street car. I wanted to build the car that would have been the company's next step in the evolutionary process.
"For instance, the back of the show car is one solid piece, which would never fly in production. It would be too cumbersome to produce, and way too expensive to fix if damaged, so I designed my version with a traditional bumper cover that attaches to the rear quarter panels. The frame of the show car's windshield was rounded off in a way that would never mate to a convertible top; the A-pillar also cuts in on the driver's forward vision. I chopped two-and-a-half inches out of the windshield, but kept a conventional frame design."