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BoP Bits and Pieces.

News and items of general interest submitted by club members.

1. 2 July 2008: Rex Mayor: My Mustang Story.. (so far!)

The first Mach 1.

Back in 1979 I bought a written-off 73 Mach 1 351 4V manual. It required a R/F mudguard, R/H door, windscreen, 2 wheels and the front suspension out of a Falcon to get it back on the road.

It was a nice car after I repaired it, and a close look at the photo shows that it was actually two-toned. It had a lighter green through the bonnet and along the tops of the doors, which hooked up around the rear 1/4 window and then across the roof. So the front of the roof was light green and the back 1/3 was dark green. All we did was chuck a bit of white into the dark green to finish up with the light shade. My painter mate said he didn't know what sort of a colour we had concocted and I reckoned it looked about the shade of a Punga tree, so that’s what it was called. I've still got a tin of paint in the shed with Punga written on it.

Around that same time I invented a tool for use in panel-beating and did many enjoyable miles travelling the length and breadth of the country in the Mustang selling these tools, and it was at Opio, heading for Nightcaps on 18/8/81 (not hard to remember that date) when the brakes failed and I put the virtues of the crash absorbent front bumper to test against a road sign and concrete power pole - at a reasonable rate of knots. The car was towed to an Invercargill panel beater where it was pulled back into line and I limped back to Taumarunui in a dejected state, and with sore ribs.

Having already repaired the car once, it was hard to get enthused at doing it all over again, so it was sold, needing a bonnet, grill, L/F guard and windscreen. . I had given the guard a 95% quality repair job, as it looked pretty crappy just hammered out. The bumper was perfect and the photos show how it stood up. A mark can be seen with the powerpole imprint, but other than that there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. I would have been clocking somewhere around the speed limit (yeh right) when I saw the sign showing a right angle corner, and the front brakes failed to work.
It's a great example of how effective the bumpers are. Most cars would have worn the pole into about the shock tower at the speed I went in.
 

I wonder who owns this mustang now.....???   “If only I knew what I know now.” Guess a lot have said that.

In 2005 I had canned my occupational direction and was at a loose end when an old workmate, friend and Mustang owner in Tauranga, Thomas Cook (alias Cook’e, coz he hates an ‘e’ on the end) suggested that there were some restoration jobs that needed to be done.

Why not! – 4 hours work, and 4 hours fishing sounded all good, so most of 2005 was spent fishing , truck driving, and doing resto work on a 56 Thunderbird, Jude Habib’s cute little 64 ½ Coupe, Bruce Warren’s 65 Fastback and Dale Mathers Boss race car. It was therefore inevitable that I would become all “Mustang’d out” once more, so I later asked Dale’s LA accomplice Rex Kelland (alias Kiwi) to find me a 73 Mach 1 in need of some work.

This in my view was the cheapest way to get hold of a fastback as anything from 70 back was beyond what I was prepared (or allowed) to pay, and if I was going for the next model, it might as well be the last, of which I already had a soft spot for. Kiwi could see my point and after looking at a few he told me that he knew of a mint Californian one family owned 73 Mach 1, but it would be worth 5K more than the original figure we had decided on. I weighed the options of: - 5K less, lots of work - against 5K more and next to no work. A sensible decision wasn’t too hard to make.

Kiwi phoned me extremely early one Sunday morning saying he was standing looking at a very tidy 71 convertible that would be a lot cheaper than the Mach 1. At this stage he still hadn’t viewed the Mach 1, but I had made the decision and even though the convertible sounded good, I really wanted a car that could have a tow-bar fitted to tow my boat, and I didn’t fancy putting a tow-bar on a ragtop. Kiwi couldn’t resist the convertible, so he nailed it for himself for a run around.

The 2nd Mach 1

 It was built in Dearborn, 14th Dec 72, seven days behind schedule, and sold by Robert H Loud Ford, Pasadena, CA, on 5th Jan 73. It changed hands from the original owner to his brother, and was then passed onto a son in 1999, when the colour was changed from Wimbledon White to the 35th anniversary colour Performance Red. It has just clocked over 82,000 miles.
 

VIN 3F05H156145:  Ordered with the following options.
351-2V Ram Air.
California Emission.
FMX Cruise-O-Matic.
2.75: 1 Traction-Lok Rear Axle.
Radial Whitewall Tyres.
Convenience Group.
Black Knitted Vinyl Trim.
Selectaire, Air Conditioning.
Power Steering.
Tilt Steering Column.
Rim-Blow Steering Wheel.
Console.
Power Front Disc Brakes.
Bumper Rub-Strips.
AM/FM Stereo Radio.
Interior Decor Group.
Tinted Glass.
Forged Aluminium Wheels.
Rear Window Defroster.
Sport Deck Rear Seat.
Space Saver Spare.

The only drawback was being a 2V instead of 4V. If my wish list could have been fulfilled, it would have been a 4V and had power windows as well. But this car was too good to miss out on, so the deal was done. It decoded as a Ram Air but doesn’t have Ram Air fitted… Yet. Air con was a plus.

After settling the dollars at a bonus rate up around 80 cents! The car was delivered to Kiwi’s place in Modesto to wait for a full container to be made up, and arrived at Tauranga on Jan 25th 2008 in a 40’ container with 3 other cars for Dale’s clients, plus a shopping list of parts inside comprising of carpets, front seat covers, front spoiler, bonnet lock-downs and brake hoses. But my excitement had to go on hold until Feb 7th as Dale was in the S.I. racing the Boss. “Suppose that’s fair.”

Its arrived!

I travelled to Tauranga on Waitangi Day and called into Dale’s workshop where he and a friend were going over some of the S.I. racing photos on a laptop.
After viewing the photos Dale said to the friend – “Now the first cars we want tomorrow are the red Mach 1 and the blue Falcon Coupe.”
No worries said Mike – There were heaps of cars sitting on the wharf needing to be steam cleaned and we just went to the top of the list. First thing next day Cook’e and I fronted up at an office with a great view, to pay all the costs, but nothing had been finalised and nor would it be until the next day. But we walked out of there with all the papers to extract the cars from the wharf, and the bill would be sent to Dale if I didn’t front up to pay. This really reinforced the fact that it’s better to be working with someone in the loop when importing cars, instead of bumbling around like a chook with its head cut off.

 

It was then just a matter of waiting for a phone call to say it was done and we scorched over to the wharf with Dale’s Ute and trailer, fired the Mach 1 up and drove it onto the trailer, then took it back to the Coastline workshop where I washed it and checked over all the essentials.

Getting it home

I had borrowed a set of ‘D’ plates so it was then a very “cheesy” trip out to Cook’es place at Te Puna where a lot more grooming took place. Kiwi had told me that it was running rough, probably due to the fact that it hadn’t been used for a while and the fuel in it would no doubt be stale, so I had taken a 20lt container of Av-gas with me to tweak up the octane a bit and by the time I got to Te Puna it was running sweet-as.

The next day we dropped Dale off at the airport as he was heading back down south for more racing, then I paid the customs bill to save Dale from getting it, and then collected the other two cars from the wharf. The least that could be done in Dale’s absence. We had arranged for the local Dents man to call in so he could hook out the few parking dents around the car. He couldn’t do much with a small scrape through the R/H door and ¼ panel, as it was right on the edge of the extrusion bar. (That’s the technical name for the crash bar inside the door) But he was able to pluck it out enough to look a little better than it does here. It can’t be seen in most of the photos due to computer trickery.

The following day was Saturday, so we got up for a daylight start and headed home to Taumarunui with Cook’e following in my car. With a full tank of fresh fuel at Tokoroa the trip through the forest and Western Bays was a good time to enjoy a little tonk along – mainly a lot. The 2.75 diff is a bit on the tall side for NZ driving, although it could be a big help with escalating fuel prices. The car is definitely not a bundle of fire off the line, but a 4-barrel and extractors with twin pipes might sort things out at some stage. While the trip home was a definite buzz, I was oblivious to the fact that the fumigation gasses were still extremely strong inside, so I finished up with a bit more of a buzz than bargained for. A slight leak in the carburettor probably didn’t help much either.

And the work begins...

The largest amount of rust in the car was in the left rear quarter panel and this didn’t amount to much either, and was easily patched. Even though the right hand side had a spot no bigger than a beer bottle top, a similar operation was undertaken in order to get at the inner panels and properly repair them.

Another small patch was required in the front of the left rear quarter - all done in three Saturdays, which included cleaning and painting some of the floor underneath, fitting the new front spoiler, welding up the leaks in the exhaust, polishing the wheels and taking time out to talk to those that called into the workshop coz they new it had arrived.

One positive bonus that I immediately noticed was that it had white-wall tyres fitted inside out, so flipping them was one of the first things done during that first week.

The paintwork is exactly as seen, straight off the boat. I haven’t even polished it! Although it’s a little orange-peely it will be lived with for a while and I can enjoy using the car until it will finally get the better of me. Some have suggested that a rub down with 1200 grit paper and a polish might get rid of the peel but I’m not that convinced there is enough clear coat on there to do that, and I don’t want to risk backing myself into the point of no return just yet. I also won’t mind the chance of ripping the decals off and applying new ones to my satisfaction. It even arrived with a litre tin of touch-up paint, with the paint code attached, and a bag containing 4 Shop Manuals, and various Maintenance and Parts books. The paint will be handy to touch up the repairs.

The original rear bumper was fitted with rubber bump strips and had been damaged and replaced with a new plain chromium one, but the old bumper and rubber strips were also in the car.

There were a few funny clonks going on in the front suspension and the shocks were obviously dozy, so when I saw the local recycling truck heading past with a dead XF Ute on the back, I was quick off the mark to offer a box of brown bottles for the opportunity to pilfer the front suspension for parts before it got turned into a pancake. The Coon had a fairly new set of gas shocks and replacement bottom ball joints, and the radius rod rubbers are a lot firmer than the Mustang ones. Even though the original ball joints on the Mustang were still tight, the rubbers were perished and they had been lovingly over indulged with grease by the previous owners, hence it was just as well to replace them. Getting the gas shocks was also fortuitous as the left shock in the Mustang feel apart on removal – so no wonder it was a bit spongy and making funny noises.

The new brake hoses were fitted and the whole system flushed out. The rear adjusters were seized and needed to be removed, cleaned up and oiled, and new brake pads had only just been fitted to the front. A few fuses were replaced to get the interior lights and front seat releases going, plus the instrument lights. The horn fuse kept blowing and I traced that to a problem in the horns. Fortunately a set of un-needed air horns were chucked away where I could actually remember, so they were ferreted out and fitted. Those Shop Manuals were handy.

While working on the electrics under the dash, I decided to remove the driver’s seat to allow for easier access. (Getting old) In doing so I noticed that there were extensions added to the seat mounts that lifted the back of the seats up by about an inch. Either this was done to fit the seats over the added thick underlay, or the previous owners weren’t over endeared with height. I had wondered why the seating position felt weird when I first got in the car, but put it down to years of memory loss. The seats need to come out again to have the new covers fitted and if possible, more likely probable, these extensions will disappear.

Electrics Upgrades..

As wiring was needed for a high-stop light, I thought it was a good idea to run a recycled wiring loom from an obsolete car phone, through to the back. It provides wires for the brake light and an electric boot release at the moment, and will enable a trailer plug to tap into the front indicators and avoid the complications of the standard brake/indicator system. There are also 4 light gauge wires suitable for speakers if required. Don’t know why that would be necessary, those original push button Radios are magnificent – just can’t play a CD.

On returning Cook’e after bringing the car home, we stopped off at the local Wreckers looking for a set of 7” headlights, and he didn’t have any left! We then called in to see Stu Brown at his workshop in Putaruru. He had taken the lights out of Jude’s convertible and fitted some semi-seals that he scored from a Wrecker, so he gave me the old units. I recently called at the local Auto Sparkie and he has new semi-seals with Halogen bulbs included for $30 each. I’ve got a set of them.

The leaking carburettor became worse, in fact real bad, and a closer inspection under the aircleaner (it does help to take it off and have a good look) revealed that a new filter had been fitted without a copper washer, the rubber fuel line was perished and the clips were snookered, and the accelerator pump diaphragm was perished and leaking. With all this rectified there are no more leaks, and it even seems to run better.

After driving vehicles with decent sized steering rims it was quite uncomfortable driving with the skinny horn rimmed standard wheel. The horn rim contacts needed replacing along with the plastic insert and two of the plastic inserts in the spoke pads were missing, but I was able to procure an after market leather spoked wheel that needed a horn boss and as I had a Momo horn button, the engineer next door turned a boss up on the lathe out of black plastic - at the cost of another box.

A Dilemma

After seeing the photos that Kiwi sent, the first thoughts were that it needed a front spoiler and bonnet lockdowns. It could also do with a set of 17-inch wheels to allow a decent set of tyres to be fitted, and the bonnet needed to be blacked out. It’s got the front spoiler and the locks are about to be fitted, but the painted bonnet is starting to grow on me. They do look meaner with it blacked out though, but this car was never done from the factory. Black would take care of the peel though.

The wheels are a problem. It would be simple if they had been curbed and had scratches all over them, but they are perfect and have polished up like new pins. Being that they are the genuine 73 optional mags and that they were ordered with the car I wouldn’t feel good about taking them off at the moment. Perhaps once the near new Michelin tyres are worn out it won’t be so hard to bear Although with the 2.75 gearing the final wheel profile will become an important issue.

And now... VINNing!

(To come)