Driving Project: 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1

The seller of this 1971 Mustang Mach 1 is the car’s third owner. It has been in storage for a while, but it has been dragged into the light of day and returned to a roadworthy state. It isn’t perfect, but its lack of significant rust issues makes it a prime candidate for restoration. Located in Trumbull, Connecticut, you will find the Mach 1 listed for sale here on eBay. The bidding has now reached $9,850, and with the reserve now met, a new home is beckoning for this classic.

The Bright Red Mustang isn’t perfect, but it is a car that is loaded with positive points. Let’s start by talking about what we can’t see. This is a 1st Generation Mustang that appears to be rock solid. The owner supplies some photos of the floors and frame, and while there is some surface corrosion present, there is no penetrating rust. Everything looks structurally sound, including the torque boxes. The panels wear some dings and dents, but these would appear to be repairable. The same is true when it comes to exterior rust issues. There are a few spots around the rear wheel housings and in the hood, but these should be addressed with simple patches rather than wholesale panel replacement. Sure, there will be some cutting and welding involved, but it all looks pretty straightforward. The rear bumper could stand a trip to the platers, but the rest of the trim and the glass looks presentable. One of the great attractions of this car is that none of its issues appear to be urgent. That means that the buyer could conceivably drive the Mustang during the upcoming Summer and save the restoration work as a Winter project.

Before I considered spending one red cent on this Mustang’s interior, I would be inclined to treat the whole thing to a deep clean. You can be sure that there will be pieces that require replacement, but I think that a few days of hard work could save a lot of money down the track. Besides, there’s something quite therapeutic about detailing the interior of a classic car. The dash pad is cracked, and the owner could choose to repair it with a product like Polyvance, or they could hand over $280 for a high-quality reproduction pad. The wheel is also cracked, and it will be the owner’s choice as to whether they tackle a restoration or replace it. A reproduction standard wheel will cost around $300, so it might be worth hunting eBay for a good secondhand one. The door trims have been cut for speakers, and how this is tackled will depend on how fixated the buyer is on originality. A set of speakers would hide this sin, but replacement trims will set you back about $590 a pair. The rear trims are badly discolored, as is the console lid. This might be a case of trying your hand with a plastic dye because the results might be pretty surprising. The rest of the trim, the dash, and the carpet all look quite acceptable for a driver-quality car. The Mustang was ordered with air conditioning, but this currently doesn’t function.

Even though emission laws were starting to make themselves felt, a ’71 Mach 1 could still be a good thing if the original owner ticked the right boxes on the order sheet. This one seems to have gotten it pretty right because what we find hiding under the hood is a 351-4V V8 that should be producing 285hp. This power finds its way to the road via a 3-speed automatic transmission, while this classic also comes outfitted with power steering and power front disc brakes. This Mach 1 isn’t a hairy-chested, fire-breathing beast, but there’s not a lot wrong with a 15.3-second ¼-mile ET. That’s what this combination should be capable of producing. After sitting for an extended period, the Mach 1 has been treated to plenty of TLC to return it to a roadworthy state. It has received a new fuel tank and fuel lines. There’s a shiny new carburetor sitting atop the intake, and the Mustang was also treated to a tune-up. The result is that this is a classic that is ready to hit the road. I tend to be quite conservative on these things, so I would have the vehicle inspected for my own peace of mind before attempting any extended journeys.

By 1971, the 1st Generation Mustang had grown under the “bigger is better” policy that was rife at the time. This was one of the legacies of “Bunkie” Knudsen, who served as the President of Ford when the final design was approved. Many industry insiders have said that this approval drove a wedge between Knudsen and Henry Ford II. Usually, Henry hit the “go” button, and Knudsen’s actions were seen as usurping Ford’s power. It seems more than a coincidence that Knudsen signed-off on the new Mustang and found himself unemployed shortly afterward. That makes the 1971 Mustang Mach 1 an interesting car from a historical perspective because it was born out of a time of internal chaos within the company. This one looks like a pretty decent find, and it would suit someone who wants to tackle a straightforward restoration with their own bare hands. If you are that person, maybe you should consider dropping a bid. The bidding at present looks quite promising, and it could be the chance to own a 1st Generation Mustang for a relative song.


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  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Good, thorough write-up Adam. This Mach 1 is more of a cruiser, and nothing wrong with that. Some more work to do but it doesn’t look to be extensive.

    The second thing I would do is undertake the interior cleaning. So, what’s the first thing? The first thing I would do is get rid of the aftermarket air cleaner, yellow wires, and chrome valve covers…and the previous-years wheels…. to me, stock or stock-looking pieces fit this car better.

    Like 13
  2. Skorzeny

    wow, you could hide two small children in between the grille and the radiator. Ford was really into that ‘bigger is better’ thing then…

    Like 5
    • Jeffrey Simmons


      Like 1
    • JoeNYWF64

      Today it’s the direct opposite, with very short overhangs & useless bumpers – some “cars” just have grills as the “bumper”! & vital mechanicals way too close to the front.
      All to mazimize damage/profit on repairs/insurance premium increases after the smallest of collisions – or should i say hard bumps.

      Like 1
      • PatrickM

        I really hate the way the car insurance industry has gone. If your thing is being an adjuster, then you are going to cry all the way to the bank. And so what about the other poor shmoes?? Now, the car itself… I really like the looks of this one. I agree with the earlier comments from Bob_ in_Tn. That 351 doesn’t need any more hp. It’s fine just as it is. Not a monster but, cool ride.

  3. EPO3

    I have always hated that color of red there’s no amount of polishing to bring it up to a deep shine even when it was brand new. For how cheap it’s going to go for hopefully. Maybe Rosso corsa for the paint I know it’s sacrilegious to put a Ferrari color on a Ford hey that’s just me maybe a set of magnum 500’s and some red lines

    Like 5
    • Desert Rat

      You say you always hated that color red, what color red is it? Adam reference it as bright red, isn’t that just red? I can’t tell by the pics it looks like tomato soup red to me. Red is one of my favorite colors and if it’s the red that came on the 71 Mach1 in the James Bond movie “Diamonds are for Ever”, well what’s not to love.

      Like 3
  4. rex m

    Don’t comprehend how these ’71-’73 ‘s can be classified as 1st generation.
    They’re miles away from a ’65-’66.

    Like 5
    • DMcG

      I totally agree. For me the “first generation” ended in 1970. The 71-73 cars are their own thing, larger and wider by a significant amount, much more different from their predecessors than, say, the SN95 is different from the Fox. To call them the same generation is to really miss the mark.

      Like 3
      • Adrian Sandell

        My understanding of the Mustang generations is:
        1964 1/2 – 1966 = 1st generation
        1967 – 1968 = 2nd generation
        1969 – 1970 = 3rd generation
        1971 – 1973 = 4th generation

  5. Mike

    I know red fades and dulls but this one has a lot of orange in it to me. Could be a cheap repaint in the past. We had a yellow ’72 Mach 1 that my father bought new. He loved it but visibility I thought was really bad. I still prefer the ’65-67’s. This needs alot of work….

    Like 1
  6. Steve Clinton

    Considering a new Mustang Mach 1 starts at $51,720, I’d be happy as a clam to buy this ’71 for under $10,000 to drive as-is.

    Like 3
  7. Mike McFarland

    I believe the dimensions are about the same as the brand new Mustang

  8. Mac

    Owner states “All lights work”. The left rear parking light is missing. What else is not described correctly????????????????

    Like 1
  9. Michael K Johnson

    What year ? Five mph bumper 1973

  10. JCA

    Ok, whose idea was it to put whitewalls on a Mach 1?

    Like 2
  11. Cadmandan

    Check out the deck lid. Serious damage at the “Mach 1” decal. Lots of rust under the black stripping and the lock is missing. And this is just one area, one body part. As previously stated, she will require a good bit of attention!

  12. Steve Clinton

    sold! $9,850.00.

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