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1971 Mustang Mach 1: Too Rusty to Rescue?


Yesterday, I completed the purchase of a new project. I’m not ready to divulge the details just yet, but I will soon! It’s always a bit nerve-wracking, especially when you tend to buy cars like I do from sunny and dry California with nothing more than photos, a video or two, and the seller’s good word. But you can keep some anxiety at bay by buying a rust-free example with a clean title, as it can help preserve value even if the car is worse than advertised. That’s why this recent barn find ’71 Mustang Mach 1 is a bit of an experiment to see how many gamblers are currently out there, as the rust is impressive and there’s much work to be done. Find it here on eBay out of Colorado Springs, Colorado for $2,500 or best offer. Thanks goes to Jim S. for this find!


The Mach 1 is such an iconic car that its shape, no matter how beaten and battered, is instantly recognizable. For some buyers, that alone is worth the price of admission, regardless of the condition of the floors. Just knowing that they own one of the most loved sports cars in America’s history could be all the encouragement they need to take the plunge on a massive project like this one. Of course, the buy-it-now price of $2,500 seems like a pretty nominal roll of the dice for someone good with metalwork and a torch. However, if you’re not a body specialist or at least related to one, this undertaking could quickly swallow any bank account whole.


Personally, I’ve tried to rationalize rust in the past on cars that caught my eye. “Ahh, you can buy replacement panels”, or “My bodyshop owes me a favor, maybe they’ll cut me a deal.” Of course, one of the key lessons we should all learn about rust is that there’s often more of it that you can’t see beyond what’s plainly obvious on the outside. I looked at a car a few weeks ago that appeared to have some modest fender rust and a trunk floor that needed a patch. When we got the car in the air, however, the rust was everywhere – floors, rear valence, throughout the trunk, encroaching on the footwells – needless to say, the car’s days were likely numbered due to not being valuable enough to justify the amount of rust remedying it needed.


When looking at this Mustang, I wonder how many people are considering buying some floor pans to weld in and put this Mach 1 back on the path to cruiser status. If you’re looking for a quick flip, I don’t see how it would be possible given the fact that this project will require expert metal work to set right. But perhaps for the patient project car owner, a person with a vision and a knack for bodywork (and an optimistic attitude!), there’s a way to get this car back on the road without taking out a second mortgage. We’d love to hear your thoughts below on whether this Mach 1 deserves a second chance or if it’s destined for donor status.


  1. Rich

    Growing up in the midwest, I learned early on that if there is visible rust, there is likely more hiding. At least the seller posted decent, honest pics of the rot though. I don’t think the car is a loss, but it’s not far from being so.

    Like 1
  2. J.W.

    We bought our 70 Mach1 from Colorado Springs for 14K but it was in much better shape and drove it home to Missouri. Now the trunk area in ours looked identical to this one, that is a costly repair, the whole trunk area will have to be replaced along with the rear framerails and most likely the wheelhouses and quarters. The cars cheap so if your handy with a welder it can be saved but if you have to hire the body work it’s going to cost you plenty.

    Like 1
  3. Scott Allison

    This pony was beat to death!

    Like 0
  4. Brian

    Like said above it has to be done with patience and enthusiasm. Wether done buy the owner or farmed out, it will take time, money, and enough patience to keep going. That’s what I did with my 71 AMX. I’ve had it 9 years and finally had it painted. I had the inner and outer quarters and rockers replaced two years ago. The fiberglass hood even had to have the frame replaced, but its a labor or love.

    Like 0
  5. tom999p

    “A quick flip?” That’s what this seller does for a living. I looked at a charger locally about a month ago (I live in Colorado) that the same seller was selling for $2500; this guy bought it, washed it, and sold it on ebay three weeks later for almost $10k. Two weeks ago he found this car, bought it for next to nothing, washed it, and now is selling it for $2500. (Look at the pictures of his old ebay listing, both cars are in the same place in the driveway at two different times). I know business is all about money, but IT’S ILLEGAL in the state of Colorado to buy and sell cars this way. It’s just a matter of time before he gets caught. I emailed him about this three days ago, but he denies what he’s doing is wrong…

    Like 0
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Can you explain why it’s illegal for this guy to buy and sell cars in Colorado? Most states have a limit you can move before you are expected to get a dealer’s license.

      Like 0
      • Jeff Lavery Staff

        Interesting. I posted about a car I was looking at in Boulder on a message board and a few folks said the same thing – the guy was flipping it and something about a rule on the books in CO made it illegal. Not sure if I understand it correctly, but I find it interesting that two cars in Colorado that are supposedly being “flipped” have caused some ire among those who live there.

        Like 0
      • Jason

        That tom999p dude seems a bit of a troll. Wouldn’t put too much in what he spouts on this site.

        Like 0
      • Neil

        Well, as much as I have been irked by Tom’s comments in the past as well, a quick Google proves he’s not far off in this case. Basically, once you sell your third car in a year you’re classed as a dealer and, unless you’re licensed, it’s curbstoning. Assuming that there is no evidence that the seller has sold more than two cars so far he hasn’t broken the law, but a third sale would.


        The sale or lease of three or more new or new and used motor vehicles or
        the offering for sale or lease of more than three new or new and used
        motor vehicles at the same address or telephone number in any one
        calendar year shall be prima facie evidence that a person is engaged
        in the business of selling or leasing new or new and used motor
        vehicles.____ “Motor vehicle dealer” includes an owner of real
        property who allows more than three new or new and used motor vehicles
        to be offered for sale or lease on such property during one calendar
        year unless said property is leased to a licensed motor vehicle
        dealer.____ …”

        Like 2
      • tom999p

        Jason, this site is for car guys; because you may not have pertinent information to contribute to a thread, doesn’t give you the power to call knowledgeable people names.

        Like 0
  6. Jeff Lavery Staff

    For the record, he can’t be making much off of this car at a selling price of $2500. Esp after eBay / PayPal take their cut.

    Like 0
  7. junkman Member

    What people do not realize is you need a license to sell cars so the state can make money off your sale. By not having a dealer’s license this guy is taking business away from people who pay for licenses and also pay taxes on their income. Try running a legit used car place and you will find it’s not that easy!

    Like 0
  8. tom999p

    Whomever buys a car in Colorado needs to pay the purchase/transfer/ titling fees & taxes, no matter what condition the car is in. And if there is no title, you have to get one before you can sell it again. Then when they sell it, the new buyer needs to pay the same fees all over. Also, in most geographic jurisdictions, ALL cars on a property need to insured. Do you think the state of Colorado lets people have freebies on any income people make these days??

    Like 0
  9. J.W.

    When I lived in Illinois I lived out in the country on a highway on 3 acres, I would buy cars in need of mechanical repair fix them then put a for sale sign in the window out by the highway. I was told that I could only sell 4 cars a year that way because if you sold 5 you had to have a dealer license BUT I also found that if you never put the car title in your name it was impossible for them to trace it to you ( Loophole ) so that’s what I did. Illinois taxes you to death anyway so they got their money other ways.

    Like 0
    • MikeTheBike

      That practice is called “jumping title”, and the DMV has a big problem with it. Vehicle is sold with previous owner’s (or two or three back) name, seller never transfers title to his name. But in this case, the Mach 1 is being sold without a title, which means a parts car.

      Like 0
    • tom999p

      Haha, that’s not a loophole, that’s illegal… By doing that. you’re evading paying taxes on your income. The buyer is also unaware that you are doing that too, unless you tell him that your name is whatever is on the title, then he’ll never find out.

      Like 0
      • J.W.

        Every car I sold the buyer was told that the title was not in my name as I bought the car to repair the mechanical issues then sell it which not one buyer had a problem with that. Now most used car dealers would have screwed the sellers of these cars because of the work involved to get them dependable and road worthy then they would have screwed the buyers by over pricing the car while Uncle Sam screws everyone with raking in more and more taxes. My conscience is clear.

        Like 0
  10. Brian

    Personally, I never cared for this style of Mustang, it always just looked bulky to me. Its ironic that this Mustang’s styling was meant to compete with the contemporary Barracuda (‘Cuda) and Challenger styling, but the MoPar models wouldn’t live past the ’74 oil shock while the new compact ‘stang was car of the year!. Mopar guys would cringe at the notion, but maybe if Chrysler had spent some money (did they have any) turning these cars into compacts, the models might have survived. While nearly nobody claims to like the Mustang II, few will argue that they were worth having as a placecard until the Fox bodies arrived in ’79. Maybe something simular could have happened at Chrysler around 1980 and saved us from all those K-car, Omnirizon, and Aspen bodied models?

    Like 0
  11. junkman Member

    They tried with the Challenger/mitsubishi late 70s and that died a horrible death on the sales floor

    Like 0
    • Brian

      True, but that was just a rebadged Mitsubishi, rather half-hearted effort even by the MoPar marketing department, that arrived on the market -too little, too late. However, had Chrysler dug deep and built a small car that attracted buyers, things might have been different. It would probably have been money better spent than replacing the Dart with the Aspen!

      Like 0
  12. The Chucker

    Back to the car, this looks like a fantastic opportunity to spend $20K, and wind up with a $10K car.

    Like 0
  13. William Henshaw

    Once again my favorite body style Mustang, and once again a real junker. At first I thought this was that Mach 1 from a couple weeks ago, then noticed it had more metal still connected. I’ll never understand why people let cars deteriorate like this. I guess there could be a couple of grand in usable parts here, maybe. But it’s certainly not worth the price of transporting it anywhere very far.

    Like 0
  14. Dolphin Member

    Number of 1971 Mustang Mach 1 s made = 36,449
    Current value = $9,500 to $17,500 (SCM guide)

    You can’t get there with this car and make the project work.

    Too rusty to rescue?

    Like 0
    • St. Ramone de V8

      Yep. I agree. All the talk of legalities regarding this seller/sale aside, it just can’t make sense for anyone to consider this thing. It’s a parts car, and at $2500, taxes, transport,etc, it’s not worth it.

      Like 0
  15. Robert J

    I drove a 1971 Mustang Mach 1 back in high school. Green with black stripes. 351 Cleveland with an automatic transmission. I rebuilt; bored, stroked and balanced the engine. It was absurdly powerful. In fact it was so powerful that it ripped the trunk floor in half right down the middle. Back then I wasn’t so handy with a welder so I put the car up for sale cheap and that was that. It was a wicked beast.

    Like 0
  16. Cameron Bater UK

    I may be a Brit but I LOVE the early mustangs and I aspire to own a GT390 and a Mach 1 in the future, It’s nice to know that a viable option is importing although I’d want to spend some cash on a plane ticket and fly over the pond to see it before buying.

    Like 0
  17. Mark W

    Not my favorite year body wise, and this one seems to be not worth the potential investment, unless a 71 Mach 1 is truly your thing and you cant find one anywheres else locally.

    Theres a guy in my area who has one of these in red, and a 4 speed. Like I said, not my fav year of this, but the engine on this one sounds absolutely marvelous. He has it out cruising most weekends and I can be in my garage and hear it coming, and know its that specific car before I even see it, sounds like a race engine.

    Like 0
  18. Shane Davis

    You can restore this 71, I have a 71 I am working on now. If you have a welder and basic tools the most you will invest in this beaty is your time. All of the parts are readily available. Good luck and enjoy!

    Like 0

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