Rare Three Speed! 1970 Ford Mustang Mach I

I was on the fence about covering this 1970 Mustang Mach I. It’s a pretty common pony car, 42K knocked together in ’70, and they get plenty of coverage as it is. The poor quality of the accompanying images didn’t help its cause either.  But something stood out, this one is a little different than most. So, OK, I twisted my own arm, and here it is for your review, a 1970 Ford Mustang Mach I, located in Clinton, South Carolina, and available here on Facebook Marketplace for $22,000.

While a Mustang Mach I looked the part of a performance car, it was only offered as a fastback (or SportsRoof) body style, they weren’t necessarily so. They came standard with a mild 351 CI V8 engine and a three-speed manual transmission but checking the right boxes on the order form upped the game and could take the Mach from mild to wild.

This example is listed as a twenty-four-year barn find having been parked in 1996. The Bright Gold Metallic finish appears as faded but it could be just obscured by dust. The leading edge of the hood appears to have some weirdness occurring but the image is not clear enough to discern exactly what it is. The same goes for the passenger-side quarter panel, it seems to be decorated with some surface rust, and possibly pushed in, but the image is too poor and distant to know with any certainty. Both bumpers are pretty deteriorated from a finish perspective with the front one showing indications of a lot of rainwater run-off. All-in-all, the exterior is intact and complete with a shaker scoop, spoiler, and rear window slats. This Mach I also has its original wheels which the ’70 Mustang sales brochure refers to as “die-cast center deep dish sport wheel covers”.

This Mach I is an “M” code powered car which means it has a new for ’70, 300 HP, 351 CI V8 “Cleveland” engine. The seller claims that “Running condition unknown, Have not tried to start.”  That’s something that is hard to understand. If I were the seller, I would really want to know about a car’s operational capability, but more importantly, so would a prospective buyer. While listed as only having 58K miles on its odometer, which is very little in the scheme of things, it’s the passage of time while sitting that will ultimately determine this Mach I’s engine’s fate.

Here’s where things get unique, this Mustang has a standard three-speed manual transmission! The original owner sprung for the more powerful engine but then went cheap on the gears. There is a Kevin Marti report included which backs up this car’s specifics. The report doesn’t state how many Mach I’s were equipped this way but I would imagine that three speed-manual transmission models are few and far between.

Continuing with my rant regarding poorly taken images, the interior continues the trend. It’s hard to tell much about it though the only obvious problem revealed is a split in the driver’s black vinyl knit seating surface and a lot of dust pretty well-covering everything; nothing terribly surprising for a car that has slumbered for so long. The left side of the steering wheel looks a bit like it has been strangled in a death grip.

So what do we have here? A desirable muscle car, in fair condition (the seller rates it as “very good”), with a rare feature that normally would not enhance its value and may actually detract a bit from it. But maybe it doesn’t, maybe the rarity helps in spite of its performance hindering quality. Speaking of value, $22 large seems a bit brazen for a muscle car of complete unknown running capability, arguably, the most important aspect of this Mach I. So, what do you think, three-speed manual transmission, helps or hurts the value?

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Comments

  1. jerry z

    I actually like these better than ’69’s. $22K may be a stretch unless no rot holes in the body or chassis.

    Like 8
    • MorganW Morgan Winter Member

      That does seem steep, but they’ll probably get it. As for the three-speed, I don’t care how rare it is, it would be gone real quick. I wouldn’t want a three speed in a Mustang, unless it was a six-banger…just my opinion.

      Like 17
  2. Terry

    speaking only for myself, a 3-speed is at the bottom of the totem pole.
    1. 4 speed
    2. automatic
    3. 3 speed

    Like 22
    • XMA0891

      Speaking only for myself; whereas we [almost] have to “settle” for an automatic in today’s world. For a classic I’ll take that three-speed all day long over any automatic.

      Like 28
      • Little_Cars

        Someone in my college dorm owned a Grabber Blue 1970 notchback with a 3spd and a 6cyl. At the time I thought it was pretty spritely, the few times I rode in it. It had absolutely NO options except full wheelcovers.

        Like 3
    • JEROME BRUGGER

      The 3-speed would be just fine, and swapping in a 4-speed would be a lot easier than if it started with an automatic. As far as I am concerned automatics and other power options just ruin the human to machine interface.

      Like 7
      • Steven E Reeves

        Automatic’s are for washing machines! 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

        Like 4
  3. Luke Fitzgerald

    I can’t see them not getting it

    Like 3
  4. Howard A Member

    I know it seems odd to some, but I remember many Mustangs with all syncro 3 speeds. I can’t recall seeing one in this configuration, behind a motor like that, but people must have had their reasons for ordering it this way. While it’s a great find, and a really cool car, it will need everything, but probably your best bet for an appreciating classic for the future. You better enjoy it, because, I doubt you’ll get your money back, if that’s an issue.

    Like 6
    • Howard A Member

      Oh, one more thing, I read, the 3 speed was standard on the Mach 1, which retailed for $3271 in 1970. The 4 speed was an extra $205 bucks, about the same extra as the automatic( $201). Doesn’t sound like much, but is almost $1,400 today. I’m sure the 3 speed gave the owner plenty of fun.

      Like 18
      • Patrick Farmer

        The three speed didn’t but the Cleveland sure did.

        Like 1
  5. dyno dan

    25K and needs everything.
    what am I missing?

    Like 8
    • CraigR

      I don’t think you missed a thing.

      Like 4
    • Paolo

      The desire to part with the $25K

      Like 15
  6. CraigR

    Would it have been too much trouble to put a breaker bar on the crank and see if it turns? Or maybe even install a used battery and turn the key?

    Like 13
  7. Todd M. Shutt

    If it had a 4:30 locker ,you could run eight mile or quarter. To the limit on the quarter.

    Like 1
    • Chris M.

      Ahhh, ok.

      Like 1
  8. grant

    That’s amazing. I didn’t think they even made film for 110 cameras anymore.

    Like 12
    • Paolo

      Hahaha, yes! To be fair, it’s the 110 camera and “lens” that produce this oh so special quality. The Kodak110 film was fine.

      Like 7
  9. John

    Don’t see power steering or AC. That 3 speed and low equipment should be reflected in price. Color isn’t the most popular.

    Like 4
    • Steve R

      The original buyer cut corners with the drivetrain, but not with appearance. This car came with the trifecta of popular options when they ordered the shaker, window louvers and rear wing. Those will add considerably to the cars value.

      Steve R

      Like 9
  10. JoeNYWF64

    Which stang models of ’70 got a blacked out grill? I didn’t expect a grey one on a Mach 1 with a shaker.
    & which stangs got the 2 EXTRA (turn signal?) lites in the grille? Funny i never noticed them before.
    Wheel cover type “phony mag wheel/trim ring combo”.

    Like 2
    • Oddimotive Cason Oddimotive Cason Member

      All Mach 1s – and only Mach 1s – had the “extra” grill lights. I’m not sure about the grey grill, as I actually thought they were all the same.

      Those “mag” wheel covers were likely the original equipment on the vast majority of 1970 Mach 1s. Most people would be surprised, but zero 1970 Machs came with Magnum 500 wheels from the factory. It’s widely accepted that dealers did often install them, though. They were standard on Boss 429s and available on Boss 302s.

      IIRC, 1970 Machs were available with only three factory wheel choices: 1) basic steel wheels with dog dish hubcabs and trim rings, 2) the wheels covers shown here and 3) “Argent” styled steel wheels with trim rings (these look like dark versions of the ubiquitous GM rally wheels).

      Like 4
      • Oddimotive Cason Oddimotive Cason Member

        Hmm…I may be wrong on dog dish – Mach might have only come with #2 and #3. I know the Boss 302 could be had with the basic steel/dog dish setup (15-inch, in that case).

    • JBD

      Fog lights are in the grill, turn signal lights are in the lower valence.
      The base 3 speed final drive is 1:1 similar to the automatic and close ratio 4 speed. The final drive is the same, less gear shifts to get there. Most restorations would get a toploader 4 speed or newer 5 speed swap. almost 77k mach 1s were made in 1969, so 1970s are rarer. The mach 1 was an appearance package, (like the XR-7 on the cougar) so a lot of boxes were checked with the shaker, rear spoiler, & rear lovers (slats).

  11. junkman Member

    One of my pals back in the day swore by a 3 spd for racing, something about a tall 1st gear and grabbing 2nd before the other guy shifted to 3rd. And of course he never lost!

    Like 10
    • Howard A Member

      We never thought much of the Powerglide either, but turns out, is the trans of choice for drag racing today.

      Like 8
      • Steve R

        An aftermarket derivative of the powerglide is used with new cases and higher ratio gear sets. I’d be surprised if any GM parts are used.

        Steve R

        Like 5
    • Burger

      My 60 DeSoto sported a crossram 383, 3-onda-floor, and 3.23 gears. With one less shift to make, it was just a matter of adjusting one’s timing to make the 3-speed get you to top gear faster than the guy with 4 gears to work through. These were T-85’s, and could take the torque. Many 3-speeds are light duty, for operation behind a six banger.

      Like 2
  12. Dairyman

    Typical flipper; wants 1st class price but too lazy to get it off the trailer. Probably talked an old lady out of it for $2k.

    Like 5
  13. dyno dan

    the car is free. the 110 camera is 22k!

    Like 4
  14. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Man, my favorite Mustang, and one exactly like this got away.

    I was 17 and just bought my first car – a Barracuda (plain jane 318 with column automatic) when a friend of mine told me his cousin was selling his Mach 1 (twin of this one) for $1,200.

    Of course, there was nothing I could do about it at the time, since it took every dime, plus a nice Dad who lent me the rest, to buy the Barracuda.

    Like 7
  15. Poncho

    (the seller rates it as “very good”).
    If “Fair Condition” is classified as a daily driver with some paint chips, etc…, this car is a far cry from “very good.” Just sayin! Perhaps the price “should” reflect asking price. A good example of the overpriced market.

    Like 3
  16. Stephen Miklos

    Yes it’s odd but normal back in the day. As for the price.. if it was me selling it. I would of detail the Stang the best I could to show some paint color that’s good and the inside clean it up and better pictures. And to get the motor running. 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 3
  17. Jeffrey

    I kind of like this one because of it’s unusual color…but it does need everything…the asking price of $22K is out of this world…I’m surprised he (or she) didn’t at least wash the dust and dirt off and take better pics with their phone? If anybody needs a fresh roll of 110 film I found one in a workbench drawer in my garage…let me know? Ha At least the seller/flipper didn’t do a “Resale Red” paint job with a broom! I hate that! :)

    Like 2
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I’ve got one better (actually, worse) than the 110 Camera. Remember Disk Cameras? The film size was so small that every normal size picture it produce was grainy. The 110 actually produced an acceptable standard size picture, for a camera that could be slipped into a pocket. The flash cubes and flash extender had to go in a different pocket when you had a cheap model like I had.

      Like 2
      • Paolo

        I remember those disc cameras. Image quality was poor. I also remember the flash cubes. They usually worked almost every time practically!

        Like 1
      • Little_Cars

        I have photo albums full of 110 filmed shots of old cars. Even earlier the family’s Brownie camera produced many out of focus shots at Hershey and Carlisle when I was just a lad. In high school, the marching band used flash cubes for special effects during performances on the football field. It was all the rage to pop one with a paper clip at the conclusion of “On Wisconsin” or the 1812 Overture. LOL

        Like 2
  18. Paolo

    I’m interested in the film. I also have a broom that I’ve never used to paint a car, just the roofs of French railway cars.

    Like 1
  19. Howard

    My first car was a Mach 1 with the Cleveland and a manual 3 speed. Haven’t seen one since. Of course I sold it in 1977.

    Like 3
  20. TimM

    The three speed isn’t the end of the world and definitely better than an automatic!! At least the pedals are there!!! I’ve added wilwood pedals in 65,66,and 68 mustangs which have a bracket that connects to the steering column!!! What a pain it is to fit them in!! But the stock pedals make it much easier to do a 4,5 or even six speed!!!

    Like 1
  21. Paolo

    “haven’t tried to start it” This is what you get when people solely interested in monetizing every last thing get old of a classic car. They aren’t car people, all they see is a dollars. These are bloodless, dispassionate drones with heat seeking antenna looking for any opportunity to insert themselves into any transaction, adding a layer of cost and carve it from anyone who actually wants the thing for what it is. In this case it’s a car hobbyist/collector who wants a cool Mustang. This is your classic middle man who produces nothing but will try to justify his existence by claiming to provide a useful service. Agents, brokers, consultants and the like. It’s symptomatic of the time. Blame it on Wall Street and the hell-broth of new investment tools such as derivatives and armies of aggressive sales people all wanting a piece of the action, none of them actually producing anything but wealth.
    Here it isn’t so high level but shows how insidious and pervasive this attitude is. “Haven’t tried to start it” blatantly says, “I have this thing that I know nothing about so don’t ask me any stupid questions about it. I don’t want to talk to you, I just want, oh let’s say $22,000 for the thing. Does it run? Are you stupid? $22, 000 and it’s yours.”
    Seller has adroitly escaped responsibility or liability regarding the sale. He knows nothing. He has shifted all responsibility to you, the buyer. He has alleviated himself of any need to lie or equivocate. All he is there to do is take your $22,000 for something that he paid $2000 for or very likely less. He gets to feel good about his particular brand of “honesty” while overlooking the fact that he is merely a burden and imposition who produces nothing. Even a burden has to eat though, right?
    The very best and most useful service he could provide is to extract himself from the transaction chain. That’s right, all flippers need to reassess their existence and get out of everyone else’s business. Leave cars to those who know and love them best.

    And people in hell want ice water. Hahaha,

    Like 5
    • Burger

      You say this like it’s a bad thing ! 🤣

      I think the word you are looking for is “parasite”.

      Like 5
      • Paolo

        That’s the word I was grinding for, thank you.

        Like 2
  22. Paolo

    To, too, and two. Don’t worry, I’ll figure it out.

    Like 1

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