Rare Ram Air: 1971 Ford Mustang SportsRoof

By 1971, the 1st Generation Mustang had grown in size. Even though it also increased in weight, it was still possible to order a Mustang that provided impressive performance levels. That is the case with this Mustang SportsRoof because while it might not be a highly desirable Mach 1, it still features a rare option that makes it something special. It presents superbly, and the owner has decided that the time is right to part with this classic pony car. The Mustang is located in Miami, Florida, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN of $36,900, but the option is available to make an offer. It is easy to gauge how desirable this vehicle is when you look at the listing. Finding a classic auction where 100 people are watching is not that uncommon, but this one currently has an incredible 391! It seems that plenty of people like what they see.

Many historians believe that the 1971 Mustang was one of the cars that led to the downfall of “Bunkie” Knudsen as the President of the Ford Motor Company. There is certainly a kernel of truth in this, although it seems that there was no deliberate intent on Knudsen’s part to cause the rift that led to his downfall. Knudsen faced a fierce political foe for his position in the form of Lee Iacocca, but it was Knudsen’s decision to “sign-off” on the larger 1971 model range that set him at odds with Henry Ford II. This had been a role that had been the exclusive domain of Ford, but he was overseas and unavailable when the approvals were due, so Bunkie acted as any Company President would. The relationship between Ford and Knudsen immediately soured after this, and Knudsen was shown the door a little more than a year later. That makes this Mustang an interesting one from a historical perspective, but a more interesting one for anyone seeking to own a classic car. It wears Light Pewter Metallic paint, a color that adds a touch of class to the vehicle. The car has spent most of its life in California and still wears its original blue plates. When you combine its history with the fact that it has undergone a restoration in the past, it’s no surprise to learn that the Mustang has managed to remain rust-free. The panels show no evidence of problems, while the floors and frame are spotlessly clean. The panels are laser straight, with no visible dings or dents. The striping looks crisp, while the tinted glass is flawless.

Lifting the hood reveals what makes this Mustang a special car. Buyers had a wide range of V8 engines to choose from in 1971, and this car features the M-Code 351ci motor. That alone doesn’t make it particularly rare, but it is 1-of-385 where the buyer chose to tick the box beside the Ram Air option on the order sheet. He also decided to order the car with power steering and power front disc brakes, which should combine to make for an effortless driving experience. The M-Code gave the driver 285hp to play with, which found its way to the 3.25 Traction-Lok rear end via a 4-speed manual transmission. Even though the car now tipped the scales at 3,448lbs, it could still cover the ¼-mile in 14.9 seconds. It isn’t clear whether the drivetrain came in for any attention during the restoration, but the engine bay looks remarkably clean. It doesn’t flatter to deceive because the car seems to be in sound mechanical health. I have included a video clip at the bottom of this article. It provides a brief walk-around and allows us to hear the Mustang running and driving. The 351 sounds crisp and clean, with no signs of odd noises or smoke.

The Marti Report that the owner includes in the sale indicates that the original owner ordered the Mustang with the Mach 1 interior trim, which remains intact. There are no signs of significant wear or tears, and while it might not be perfect, it is still in above-average condition for a car of this age. One of the few flaws that I can spot is some marks on the optional center console’s lid. It isn’t clear what these are or whether they could be addressed without replacing the lid. The rest of the trim, the dash, and the carpet, look extremely clean and tidy. As well as the Mach 1 trim, the original owner decided to equip the interior with air conditioning, a Sport Deck rear seat, the Instrument Group, and an AM radio. All of these items remain intact, and apart from a single gauge mounted under the dash beside the driver’s right knee, there have been no aftermarket additions.

By the time the 1971 Mustang rolled off the production line, Ford knew that the days were numbered for the successful 1st Generation cars. Sales had plummeted dramatically, with a mere 149,678 cars rolling out of Ford showrooms in that model year. Plans were well advanced to replace these cars with the much smaller Mustang II, a vehicle that would carry the Mustang badge into the late 1970s. It is interesting that the 1971 Mustang became the tipping point in the relationship between Henry Ford II and Bunkie Knudsen because its significant size increase appealed to their shared passion for larger and softer cars. While Bunkie might have been shown the door, his legacy lived on in the final years of the 1st Generation Mustang. This one is a beauty, and I believe that it will find a new home pretty quickly. After all, with so many people watching the listing, you would have to think that someone will hit the BIN button reasonably soon. If they did, I could hardly blame them.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Steve R

    Nice car that was well optioned.

    Those plates are from the mid-70’s, the car was originally sold in New Jersey according to the Marti report. A thorough inspection would be advisable.

    Steve R

    Like 11
  2. Sam Shive

    Hell My Left Nut Isn’t Doing Anything Lately. I’ve always loved this body style. Had one in 76 and totaled it while drag racing, Won the race, Lost the car. Someday when life settles down, It might be time for another one.

    Like 8
    • JCA

      Pardon?

      Like 4
    • JCA

      Neither of mine have been either. #singleLifeduringaPandemic

      Like 3
  3. 370zpp

    Now cough please.

    Like 6
  4. Jackie Hollingsworth

    Love the 1971-73 Mach 1 Mustangs.Beautiful cars.

    Like 5
  5. Moparman Member

    I like everything about tis one EXCEPT those pie pan wheel covers. I always thought them as too plain; I’d replace them with a set of Magnums! The tail light panel always looked unfinished on the non Mach cars. GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 5
    • Steve R

      The problem with the reproduction Magnums, the chrome is garbage. I had a set on a car that I parked outside. Even in sunny and dry California they started to rust within a year, to the point that the were permanently pitted with 18 months. I eventually replaced them with a set of old torque thrusts. The magnums look good, but aren’t worth the bother.

      Steve R

      Like 2
  6. Jost

    Magnums look perfect on that car…Older Mustang’s tourque thrusts but these 71-73, total agreement with Moparman.

    Like 2
  7. Tom71mustangs

    Really odd that this is now 2 1971 Mustangs in a row featured on the site that are missing their taillight trim panel. The Coupe-featured last should have had the “textured” trim panel, and this Mach should have the “Honeycomb “ panel. Since the taillight panel is a frequent rust spot (right around the taillights), perhaps they were rust repairs and they didn’t replace the panel. Odd. The Boss 351 was the only model NOT to have a panel when leaving FoMoCo. Nice feature and write-up.

    Like 2
  8. Tom71mustangs

    My bad- this Sportsroof (not a Mach) should have had the textured panel as well.

  9. Mario Ariemma

    send me purchase info

  10. Ricardo Ventura

    The car is beautiful.
    But I didn’t like to see paint on some screws and on the door locks.
    The alignment of the engine cover, next to the headlight on the right side, is not good.
    To summarize a little more attention would be good.
    The body color is very beautiful.

  11. Troy s

    Nice machine and yeah, would look better with magnum 500 wheels, any period correct mag would be better than Fords better idea here. Really clean car.
    Bunkie Knudsen was a bold, boisterous, man with a huge ego, rarely knocked on closed doors before barging in, and was use to GM, a much larger corporation than Ford Motor Company. What I heard was he was fired for not knocking on Mr. Fords door, office door mind you. Would just barge right in and start yammering whether Henry was in a meeting, on the phone or busy. Thats how I understand it, and he was long gone by the time the ’71 Mustang was on the dealer lots.
    Lee Iacocca meant a similar fate with Ford some years later. BORING, I know.

    Like 2
  12. Kevin Kennedy MD

    I have restored and collected the 71-73 Mustangs for 40 years. I now own about thirty (I’ve lost count), mostly in Convertible form. These “big body” cars have their devoted following, and the 1971 Boss 351 was the fastest production Mustang (prior to the 80’s), running the 1/4 mile in a mere 13.9 seconds. These are actually my favorite year Mustangs, probably because my first “real” car was a 1972 Medium Yellow Gold Mach I, just like “Eleanor” from the 1974 movie “Gone in 60 Seconds (one of the best car chase movies ever made).” The car above has “02” as the third and forth digits in the VIN. That designates the car as a “Sportsroof,” and not a Mach I (which would have been body code “05).” The Boss 351s were based off of the same “02” body style and shared the “02” in the third and forth digits of the VIN. None of the “02” cars had any of the trim on the back taillight panels and they all came with the standard gas cap. The Boss 351s had the taillight panels painted black or argent silver. The Mach I’s got the pop open gas cap and honeycomb trim panels with anodized upper and lower trim. Furthermore, all the “02” cars got the chrome front fender/hood trim and bumper, whereas the Mach I’s got the painted trim and the rubber “Endura” style front bumper. The 1971 Convertibles (body style “03”) DID get “simulated vinyl” metal panels with anodized trim on the rear taillight panels. There is a lot to like about the 71-73 Mustangs. They could be loaded with options like power windows, intermittent windshield wipers (for a cool story on the guy who invented them and the movie made about it, check this out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_of_Genius_(film)), the “convenience group,” and all the options available on the earlier Mustangs. They are comfortable to drive and handle very well. They performed very well, and if you really want to be informed, go read about the 351 HO (High Output) cars that Ford unleashed on the public (as a special promotion) in 1972 that were more radical and probably faster than any other American car produced in 1972. We’re talking about a car with a Boss 351 style Cleveland motor with 4 bolt main caps, high nodular iron block, a crank shaft hand selected for hardness, a high lift solid lifter cam, forged pistons, an extra wide racing harmonic balancer, special one off cylinder heads with huge intake ports, canted valves, and a fully adjustable valve train with screw in studs and guide-plates, aluminum valve covers, a high rise aluminum intake, and a special one year only 750 cfm Motorcraft carburetor, dual exhaust, a rev limiter, a speedo gear reducer for the transmission, a heavy duty toploader 4 speed transmission, a heavy duty 3.91 positraction rear end with 31 spline axles and a nodular case, competition suspension with staggered rear shocks to prevent wheel hop during hard acceleration, heavy duty front and rear shocks and springs as well as larger front and rear sway bars. And the “HO” could only be ordered one way. An automatic transmission or air conditioning was NOT available on these cars, and they ONLY came with the 3.91 posi rear end. Consider the fact that every other American muscle car, from the Vette to the Cuda, were having their performance options snuffed due to unleaded gas and high insurance rates, and you’ll realize just how rare and special these HO cars were. As a matter of fact, the 1971 Boss 351 was only available in the fastback body style, whereas the 1972 “R code/HO” cars were available as coupes (“notchbacks”), convertibles, and fastbacks. Only 336 “351 HO” cars were made in 1972, far fewer than the 1806 Boss 351s made in 1971. Of the 336, only 13 were made in convertible form and I own two of those. In fact, you could say that a 1972 351HO R code convertible is as close as you can get to a Boss 351 convertible! Here is a video of my Bright Blue Metallic R code 351HO convertible. This car, along with two of my other cars (both Q code, 4-speed convertibles), are currently on display at “The Mustang Museum of America,” in Odenville AL. My other 1972 R code 351HO convertible is Grabber Blue and nearly identical to the Bright Blue Metallic one in the video. I tried to post some pics of the car at the museum but can’t figure out how. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRjmzgzSKIs

    Like 3
  13. Mac

    Come on, “sport wheels” the cheapest hub caps they put on the Mustang. The owner states “light pewter metallic which is personally the best color for the Mach1”. It’s not a Mach 1 so why make that statement? The owner also states “AM/FM radio, both the marti report and the pictures indicate on AM radio. Real nice undercoating job, wonder how much rust it covers up? It should be illegal to false advertise these cars

    Like 1
  14. Doug

    A good buddy of mine bought a similar one new in ’71…..302 automatic as I recall. It wasn’t six months old when he backed it into a tree going about 70….. it was repaired but never the same. Darn shame. It was a nice car.

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