The history of the 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 in the center of the engine | Taza Khabre

Key findings

  • Muscle Car mods push the boundaries of creativity and innovation despite the lack of creativity from OEMs.
  • Custom car builder Bobby Johnson turned a Mustang Mach 1 into a supercar with a modern Ford GT engine.
  • The Mach 1 underwent significant modifications, including a mid-engine layout, a special tube-frame chassis, and unique exterior touches.


The muscle car The restomod scene seems to be going strong these days. The sheer number of creative and unusual designs created from wood is encouraging custom car manufacturers to think outside the box and drive innovation in a world where OEMs seem to have abandoned creativity and soul in favor of efficiency and economy.

At first glance, it looks modern Ford an engine in a classic Ford chassis is hardly groundbreaking. However, as with many of the best custom builds, it’s the execution that makes the difference. Some cars are sacred ground in the eyes classic car purists, and fundamentally changing the basic design of the car is sacrilege.

That hasn’t stopped custom car builder Bobby Johnson from becoming one of the most beloved Ford Mustangs into something completely unique. Supercharged 5.4-liter V8 heart from a Ford GT now swapping out the rear seats, Johnson has turned this pony car into a certified one supercar keeping the essence of the original Mustang Mach 1. Automotive YouTuber Jalopy Jeff was checking out this awesome Ford restomod that was recently auctioned at Mecum Kissimmee 2024.

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Johnson built this mid-engine Mach 1 to get attention

Mid-engine Mustang Mach 1 Main details

  • Completed back in 2015, this 1970 Mach 1 was mid-engined with a 2006 Ford GT engine.
  • Builder Bobby Johnson built the tube-frame chassis from scratch, cut and welded the original Mach 1 body to
  • The car uses C6 Corvette bushings, front suspension arms and spindles, and the body is 2 inches longer than factory
  • The supercharged 5.4-liter V8 retains the standard 550 hp. and 500 lb-ft of torque
  • This car was recently auctioned at Mecum Florida but did not reach the reserve price

Whether we like to admit it or not, if we spend a lot of time (and money) on a project, we want the automotive community to appreciate our efforts. Bobby’s project car for the Mustang was a red 1969 Chevrolet Camaro with a C6 Corvette Z06 drivetrain, electronics, and interior underneath. Johnson says the build was much more time-consuming than the Mustang, and it took him nearly four months just to connect the wiring.

Unfortunately, while the work and engineering that went into the project was undoubtedly deeply adoring, the exterior looked like any other ’69 Camaro, and the enormity of the design went largely unnoticed. When Johnson came up with ideas for his next build, he wanted to make sure the scale of the engineering work was on full display.

This Mustang Mach 1 features a custom tube frame chassis

via Tim Burden (YT)

A complete engine relocation in any car is not exactly a simple process, and the more fragile nature of an older car can make the process even more difficult if there is rust or structural weakness in the mix. With that in mind, Johnson made sure he had a strong base machine to start with to avoid any unexpected pitfalls or lengthy structural repairs hindering his progress before it even begins.

That meant getting one of the best all-original 1970 Mustang Mach 1s he could get his hands on. Johnson actually bought this car from an elderly gentleman who had owned the car for many years and Johnson even helped him maintain the car when he was still a teenager.

To fit the engine, Johnson assembled the transmission and front suspension from a C6 Chevrolet Corvette, then began fabricating a custom chassis with a tubular steel frame around all the components. Other chassis parts include C6 Corvette rear bushings that mount to the Ford GT transmission, tapered slightly to allow the Mustang body to fit over the entire assembly. The Mustang also features a custom roll cage for added structural rigidity.

After that, Johnson proceeded to chop off the floor and hood of the Mach 1 body, as well as lengthen the wheelbase in the rear by about two inches to accommodate the 6’4″. After doing all that work, Johnson dropped the Mach 1 body onto a custom chassis, welded it in place before adding back in the floor and hood, and created a custom two-inch bulkhead to separate the engine from the cockpit.

Johnson found a Ford GT engine on eBay

1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 vs. 2006 Ford GT Specs

Model

1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 (4-valve)

2006 Ford GT

Engine

351 cubic meters in. (5.8 L) naturally aspirated V8

5.4-liter supercharged V8

Transmission

Front engine, rear drive

Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive

Method of transmission

4-speed mechanics

6-speed mechanics

power

300 hp

550 hp

A turning point

380 lb-ft

500 lb-ft

Average value

$66,091

437,821 USD

Highest selling price

330,000 USD

$797,500

(figures provided Edmunds/automobile catalog/classic.com)

Apart from the placement of the engine, the engine itself is perhaps the central part of the entire car. The 5.4-liter supercharged V8 engine was taken from a wrecked 2006 Ford GT that was sold by a specialty dealer in Illinois, selling the engine on eBay. Johnson says he’s always wanted a Ford GT but couldn’t afford one, so this project is the next best thing.

The engine is still completely standard, producing 550 hp. and 500 lb-ft of torque sent to the rear wheels via a Ricardo 6-speed manual transmission. To accommodate engine movement, the fuel tank, intercooler and fans are now located in the engine bay, and the transmission tunnel now houses some of the wiring, radiator hoses and intercooler pipes.

Johnson says that despite initial concerns, the car has no issues with temperature and a virtually 50/50 weight distribution. This Mach 1 also features the rear quarter panels of the ’69 Mustang, which have been repurposed as air ducts to allow air into the rear engine bay for additional cooling. Johnson also fabricated a custom one-piece hatch with gas shocks in another modern custom twist on the classic formula to gain access to the engine.

This Mach 1 has some special details

While all of the front suspension arms, spindles, and front and rear bushings are from the C6 Corvette, this mid-engined Mustang sits on a set of appropriately named Phat Racing coilovers. This low stance, combined with EVOD’s one-off 18-inch drop-back wheels, gives the car a hot-rod feel while also disguising the extended wheelbase. To help the Mustang stop, the car features Wilwood disc brakes with 6-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors on all four corners with a 2003 Mustang SVT Cobra electric power lift system.

Other interesting details include the car’s body striping, which now features custom “Ford GT” lettering instead of the factory Mach 1 badging. The Ford GT references continue at the rear of the car, with the factory Mach 1 decal now replaced by a machined metal Ford GT badging. The factory gas cap with the Mustang logo has also been replaced with GT badging, and the rear honeycomb panel has been completely redesigned to allow air to escape from the rear of the car.

Finishing off the exterior, the Mustang was painted in PPG 2008 Shelby Mustang Yellow with the addition of carbon fiber and carbon-effect water-coated aluminum panels. Interestingly, the Mustang shares the dash from the SN95 Mustang, along with some custom gauges and Sparco leather seats. Johnson has since sold the car and it was recently put up for auction in Mecum, Florida, but unfortunately it didn’t sell. Hopefully, the car will soon find its way into the hands of someone who will get it back on the road again.

Sources: YouTube @ Jalopy Jeff, @ Tim Bearden, MotorTrend, Mecum Auctionsauto catalog, Edmunds, classic.com

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