When I saw this red Mustang parked in front of a neighbor’s house the other day, I was pretty surprised. Was this an actual Mustang Mach 1 casually parked on the street? My surprise turned to skepticism pretty quickly; after all, it’s relatively easy to turn an ordinary Sportsroof Mustang into a Mach 1 or a Boss 351 “Tribute” car.
The hood scoops on this particular car are just for show, but that doesn’t prove anything. Not every 1972 Mach 1 came from the factory with functional Ram Induction hood scoops; that was an extra-cost option. If you paid for the Ram Induction option, you also got twist-to-lock hood pins.
Nice interior, but that’s obviously not the original steering wheel. And those three small gauges in the center of the dash would normally be a bit farther down; they’re occupying a spot where an air vent should be. The yellow thing on the steering column is a screwdriver. The placement of it makes it look like a left-over from a botched theft attempt. A more likely explanation is that the owner has a sense of humor. While I was taking these pictures, a neighbor who was walking his dog asked me if it was my car. All I could say was “I wish!”
The seats look good and have obviously been reupholstered. But are those the correct door panels?
This shot taken from oldcarbrochures.org shows what you got when you checked the box for the “Mach 1 Sports Interior Option.” (The console was a separate option.) Note the little chrome bands linking the two stripes on the seats; they’re missing from the featured Mustang. Although most Clydesdale-era Mach Ones that I’ve seen have this fancy interior, some don’t, and in spite of the name, the Mach 1 Sports Interior Option was available for any Sporstroof Mustang, not just an actual Mach 1. I suppose it was possible to order a car with the Mach 1 Sports Interior Option and a straight six. Maybe somebody somewhere did just that!
Another shot from oldcarbrochures.org shows the woodgrain missing from today’s car.
That’s a heck of a profile! The steep angle of the back glass on this Mustang makes rear visibility problematic and renders the passenger-side rearview mirror a necessity. When I was in high school, I had a classmate who had a Mustang Sportsroof of 1971 to 1973 vintage. As was fashionable at the time, he had the rear of the car jacked up in order to achieve a “California Rake.” On some cars, a California Rake looks okay, but on this particular Mustang, it looked ridiculous. The back glass on that jacked-up Mustang was perfectly horizontal; a sunroof for the presumably legless rear passengers. I like the stock look of this red Mustang a lot better! Note the Magnum 500 Chrome Wheels.
Adding insult to injury, my old classmate’s car had the standard Mustang grille as seen on this notchback model, and it was even painted the same disagreeable shade of brownish-green.
I can’t see the point of having a Sportsroof Mustang with the standard grille, when the mesh grille from the Mach 1 was available as part of the Decor Group.
Back here, we see why I decided that this car was a 1972 and not a 1971. A 1971 Mach 1 would have a special pop-open gas cap, which this car lacks. And we can also see why I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a tribute car, and not a “real” Mach 1. That “Mustang” script on the right side of the trunk shouldn’t be there; for whatever reason, Ford put that script on base model ’72 Mustangs and Grandes, but not on Mach Ones. And while I’m putting everyone to sleep with Mustang Trivia, I might as well let you know that a similar rule applied to 1971 Mustangs: Base models and Grandes had “MUSTANG” spelled out in block letters across the back of the trunk, but ’71 Mach Ones and Boss 351 models did not.
This car is also missing the honeycomb-pattern filler panel that echoed the Mach 1 grille. It looks a bit naked without it.
Of course this car could simply be an example of a less-than-perfect restoration, or a perhaps it’s a genuine Mach 1 that came from the factory with different door panels and the wrong trunk lid However, odds are it’s a tribute car. There’s no way to know for sure without taking a peek at the VIN (“05” for Mach 1 and “02” for not), but the evidence so far is pretty conclusive.
Many of us put a high premium on originality, myself included, but I think I can make an exception for this particular car. The owner of a genuine numbers-matching Mach 1 might be afraid to drive his car, but the owner of this clone showed no such fear. As I am fond of saying, “Cars are made to be driven.”