The Gang of the Ohio Six
Best of the best? These guys sure think so!
Ah, the warm fuzzy feelings one gets when thinking about “the glory days” of the Mustang, from 1964 to 1970. Gas and insurance were cheap and like the Beach Boys said, the average guy or girl could “save their pennies and save their dimes” and go down to the dealership and drive away with a hot musclecar. We’re told that it was a glorious time to be alive—you know, just as long as you don’t remember Vietnam, the Civil Rights struggle, LBJ and Nixon…
Today’s Mustang is light years ahead of the best from the ‘60s in terms of ability, performance, technology, comfort, and pretty much any other matrix you care to judge a car by, but park a 2015 Mustang next to a 1970 Boss 302 and you know which one is going to get the most attention—and it ain’t the new car! Our heroes from the ‘60s came with names like Boss, Mach, GT, and Cobra Jet, and under their long hoods were legendary engines like the Boss 302, Boss 429, and Super Cobra Jet 428, and as many of the owners of these cars will tell you, “They made their horsepower the honest way, with carburetors and cubic inches.” You could also watch your favorite Mustangs tear it up on racetracks in the hands of professionals. On the dragstrip you had Dyno Don Nicholson, Hubert Platte, and Ohio George Montgomery hookin’ and bookin’ while out at Riverside or Road America you could watch Parnelli and Follmer bash fenders in their Boss 302 Trans Am cars.
The guys in this story are among that group that will gladly take a classic Mustang from ’65 to ’70 over any other car, including a shiny brand new GT. That’s because they know how precious their Mustangs are, so we gathered Terry Bach, Roger Hoffman, Gary Smith, Charlie Smith, and Ed Henry together near a scenic lake in Western Ohio to get the low-down on them and their rides.
1969 Shelby GT500
Owner: Terry Bach
Terry Bach will tell you that he’s lost in the ’60s, both from the GT500 he drives and that period of music he loves. But on that music, he was more that just loving it, he helped produce it being a member of ‘The Real McCoys’ rock group and their famous “Hang on Sloopy” classic among others. During that period he was also a lover of big-time muscle and had long had his eyes on the Shelby Mustangs. “Years later, I found this ‘69 GT500 with a 428 SCJ engine and had to have it. It was very original which I liked. I really groove on the performance and looks of the machine,” Terry said. Through the years, the car has been competed in numerous car shows with a number of Best of Show awards.
Bach, though, keeps coming back to those earlier times when the songs were super and the cars were great and says, ”Every time I look at my Shelby, those great times come flooding back!”
1969 Mach 1 SCJ
Owner: Roger Hoffman
Roger Hoffman has owned his black ‘69 Mach 1 Super Cobra Jet for more than four decades—it’s almost a part of his being. Roger told us that during the early part of his ownership, “I drag raced the hell out of it on city streets. I remember wheeling through drive-ins looking for a challenge from cars parked there. Some times I would have five or six drag races a night. I won most of my races, beating Hemi cars and Corvettes. That R Code engine with the Ram Air hood could really get it done. As I think back, I was pretty brave and very stupid, but the memories of those victories are still sweet today.”
The black-on-black with the red striping look of this SCJ gives it a sinister look and it really backed up that look in its younger years!
1970 Boss 302
Owner: Gary Smith
This guy has an amazing Mustang history. Gary’s had a lot of muscle Mustangs through the years, including a ‘69 428CJ. “I was looking for another CJ, but was having no luck. Then a friend told me about a ‘70 Boss 302 that had been sitting outside for five years. The body was rough and there were places where the Bondo was an inch thick. I knew it had been raced because of the traction bars, Mallory ignition, and headers. Also, the engine was rusted solid. Not pretty and very expensive to restore.”
The ‘Bright Yellow’ factory color is now in place and its look is spectacular, as is its performance. “It won’t ever be on the drag strip, but I like to punch it once in a while on the street. It shifts into second at about 6,000 rpm and stays there through the gears. Ford said that the engine was capable of 290 horsepower, but I think it's worth considerably more. After all, it was designed from the beginning to be a racecar powerplant. I figure that it’s probably an easy 13-second car on the strip.”
1968 1/2 CJ GT coupe
Owner: Gary Smith
There’s an interesting story on how Gary acquired his second Mustang. “I knew about it since 1975 and tried to buy it at the time. Then I lost track of it for a number of years until a friend of mine purchased it in 2005. I learned that prior to his buying it, the coupe had just sat for about 20 years. After he bought it, he would call me and brag about it until he finally offered to let me buy it in 2011. Then, I completely rebuilt the driveline, The body is completely original and carries about 95 percent of the original paint.
”The reason I wanted this Mustang was because of that killer 428CJ engine. There were only 221 Coupes built that year that carried that great engine. They also came with the optional 3.91 drag-style rearend, which my car has.”
1968 1/2 CJ Fastback
Owner: Charlie Smith
Charlie Smith, Gary’s brother, also owns a 68 1/2 Cobra Jet, only his is the killer-looking fastback model. Charlie says that he loves the performance of the R-code 428 engine with its functional hood scoop and 735 cfm double-pumper Holley Carb. He explained, “Ford rated it at 335 horsepower, but NHRA specified it was 360 for the drag strip.”
The ’68 has a C6 automatic (that Charlie thinks is better than the also-available four-speed) along with a posi rearend. “I have street raced my brother Gary’s Boss 302 on a number of occasions and beaten him most of the time. I think I just have too much torque for him at the end.”
1967 GT (with a 427 Side-Oiler) fastback
Owner: Ed Henry
While the other Mustangs in this article are stock or almost stock, this car varies a bit, but not in the spirit of the model. Ed’s had the Mustang for about 18 years with much of the work on the car done by the same Gary Smith mentioned before. The big difference with this car is under the hood, where there is a 427 powerplant. Smith based the engine around one of the final E427 blocks. The engine was built using many of the period-ccrrect Ford parts then balanced and blueprinted by famous Mustang drag racer, “Ohio George” Montgomery.
There were a couple of changes made to build up the horses, with TRW 12.5:1 pistons and 427 medium-riser heads. Owner Henry also installed an 850 Dominator carb, all of which pushed the horsepower to the 525 level, about a hundred higher than the original model. The remainder of the powertrain is pretty much factory with a Toploader four-speed and a 3.72 posi rearend. The exterior and interior are stock but definitely of high quality.