The BOSS’s Mustang
When a professional car restorer – with a reputation for building some of NZ’s best Mustangs – restores a car for himself you can bet that it’ll be something special.
For most people, undertaking a restoration project is a long, slow and often daunting process. Malcolm Sankey was no different when he decided to tackle a full-blown restoration on his Mach 1 Mustang, even though he restores such cars for a living. Add in family life, with three children, and a passion for playing rugby as well as business commitments, and it’s not surprising that this Mustang took five years Ford Mustang Mach 1 badge to restore.
Malcolm’s passion for Mach 1 Mustangs is also not surprising, considering the model’s raging success since its release in late 1968 and the cult following it enjoys today. Indeed, according to many Mustang purists, there has never been a better-looking Mustang fastback in the marque’s history and I have to admit, I agree totally.
With the addition of striking graphics, colour-keyed side stripes, matte-black hood striping, hood pins, side scoops, chin and boot lid spoilers, sports slats to keep the sun out and the cool in, and twin-set headlamps, the 1969 Mustang Mach 1 was always going to be a recipe for success.
The standard powerplant for the Mach 1 was a 5.8-litre (351W-2V) V8 producing 186kW (250bhp) backed by a fully synchronised three-speed Top Loader gearbox and a 3.00:1 conventional nine-inch axle. Inside, the base Mach 1 was generously equipped with a standard knitted vinyl sports interior, high-back bucket seats, a console, pod-style instrumentation, an AM radio, and moulded door panels. Those wanting to increase their adrenaline levels could opt for the Ford Mustang Mach 1’s thundering 428 Super Cobra Jet sporting Ram Air and Drag Pack options.
The majority of ’69 Mach 1s rolled off assembly lines in San Jose, Dearborn, and Metuchen with 5.8-litre (351W) two-barrel and four-barrel V8s backed by FMX cast-iron automatic transmissions. The Sports roof-styled Mach 1 configuration proved to be a popular choice for the adventurous driver wanting to stand out in the crowd, and still have a sprinkling of muscle under the bonnet.
The key to the Mach 1’s success was that it could be ordered in hundreds of different configurations, including 16 exterior colours, three interior colours in knitted vinyl, five transmissions, ten axle types, six engines, and dozens of options – including cruise control. Since the 1969 Mach 1 Mustang there has Ford Mustang Mach 1 seatsnever been a more generously-optioned Ford.
Continuing with the sporty, muscle theme, chrome-styled steel wheels with spun centre caps or colour-keyed styled steel wheels were also available wrapped in Firestone Wide-Oval belted F70x14 tyres. Competition suspension with stiffer spring rates, shocks with revised valve settings, and a heavyduty front sway bar were also offered as standard equipment for improved handling performance.
Another new feature for 1969 was the optional shaker hood scoop mounted atop the air cleaner housing, with a vacuumactuated air door intended to open at full throttle.
It’s always been debatable whether or not the shaker gives a Cobra Jet any more power, however, it evokes plenty of emotional firepower just the same, and has become an icon of Ford muscle.
With its staunch, aggressive looks, deeply set twin headlamps and mouthy grille, the Mach 1 was evidence to an admiring public that the Mustang had matured to become a world-class touring car. It was head and shoulders above the original ’65 Mustang in terms of comfort, handling, and performance, and was capable of holding its own against the competition in any arena. It was racing veteran Mickey Thompson who thrashed a pair of specially prepared Mach 1s to the limits at Bonneville Ford Mustang Mach 1 headlight Salt Flats in arguably some of the heaviest endurance testing ever performed on a production car. The Mustang suddenly became a cultural icon.
Although many people preferred the small-block Mach 1, not surprisingly the mighty power of the 428ci (7014cc) Cobra Jet had its fair share of takers. The most common Mach 1 big-block option was the 428 Cobra Jet sporting 249kW (335bhp) horsepower. A 6391cc (390ci) High Performance V8 was offered, but it didn’t cost that much more to get into a Cobra Jet, so its lesser-powered sibling is a rare find today.
Unbelievably, the Mach 1 – including Cobra Jet models – came standard with manual four-wheel drum brakes, although luckily for some, front power-assisted disc brakes were available on the options list. For a few extra dollars, Cobra Jet buyers could tick the Drag Pack option which meant your Mach 1 was fitted with either a 3.91:1 or 4.30:1 Traction Lock differential, staggered rear shocks (four-speed only), an engine oil cooler, and the beefier 428 Super Cobra Jet engine which was simply better prepared for weekend racing, with heavier Le Mans cap-screw connecting rods and a heavy duty crankshaft, not recommended for the faint hearted.
For 1970, the Mach 1 Mustang was visually different although there were no real surprises. The list of changes to Mustang’s second generation Mach 1 was fairly extensive including some reshuffling under the bonnet. This was to be a year of firsts for Mustang, including the fabulous new 5752cc (351ci) Cleveland engine, which was a heavyweight small-block designed to perform like a big-block. What made the 351C (Cleveland) different to the 351W (Windsor) were its performance enhanced heads Ford Mustang Mach 1 interiorsporting huge ports and a big-block Chevy-style canted-valve arrangement made for superior breathing and truckloads of torque. The performance petrol-heads loved the new engine because it was capable of pumping out huge amounts of power with just a few performance tweaks.
The 428 Cobra Jet and Super Cobra Jet continued unchanged for 1970, with the same driveline options and axle ratios. This time the optional Shaker ram-air bonnet scoop was available with all the optional small block engines, as well as the fire-breathing big block Cobra Jets.
Henry’s bean counters had obviously been busy poking their sharpened pencils over the ’70 Mach 1, deleting the standard steel wheels in favour of sport wheel covers. Gone were the decorative quarter-panel side scoops. Other changes made to the external imagery included re-designed Mach 1 graphics sporting large extruded aluminium mouldings with dark accents and diecast ‘Mach 1’ letters Ford Mustang Mach 1 shifteralong each rocker panel, protecting the paint and dressing up the body. Cosmetic revisions were also made to the paint and stripe accents, and the blackened bonnet treatment was reduced to a single low gloss black or white stripe fractionally wider than the non-functional standard bonnet scoop.
Other items to appear on the ’70 Mach 1 included dual colour-keyed racing-style mirrors and a competition-style pop open petrol cap A revised grille was added with unique adjustable driving lights, and a black honeycomb rear panel with restyled taillights. The original-style bonnet pins and lanyards used in ’69 were replaced with a simpler twist-type hood latch.
Inside, the ’70 Mach 1 was virtually the same as the ’69, one of its main attractions, with the exception of a locking steering column mandated by federal law.
Malcolm has always been a Ford man right from an early age. His two older brothers owned Fords so, naturally, his first car was a Ford, albeit a Laser.
Once Malcolm was mobile it became a lot easier for him to help out at nearby Bay Park Raceway, which Ford Mustang Mach 1 blowerhe had been doing since the age of 13, often pitching in with Reg Reid to lend a hand with his Valiant stock car. After leaving school Malcolm eventually ended up working for a local panel beating business, Barsley & Williams, where he spent four years learning his trade.
Rugby has also played a huge part in Malcolm’s life, and he represented Waikato in the Under 19s and trialled for the Northern Region NZ Under 19s, so it was no surprise when he decided to challenge his talent overseas, playing in Ireland for a year.
On his return, Malcolm went to work for Matamata Panelworks which is where the whole obsession with Mustangs began, as the owner just happened to own a 1970 Boss 302 and a 1969 Mach 1 Mustang, which Malcolm had access to whenever he liked as long as he returned the cars clean.
A year later Malcolm was back overseas playing rugby, now in France. During this time he was offered the role of manager at Matamata Panelworks and, on his return from France, he took up his new Ford Mustang Mach 1 position.
Three years later, in 2000, Malcolm and brother Steve bought the business, and ironically their first restoration project was the previous owner’s 1970 Boss 302, which had subsequently been sold. Malcolm knew this car well, it had been the catalyst for his passion of the ’70s shape and style of fastback Mustangs.
For the past eight years, Matamata Panelworks has gained a sound reputation throughout New Zealand for its quality craftsmanship, and it has restored countless Mustangs, some of which have been judged best in the land. Although it’s fair to say its expertise is Mustangs, it has restored many other cars – including Camaros and Mopars. Steve has since moved on and started his own business, while Ian Kenyon (1968 Dodge Coronet featured issue 203 NZCC)has teamed up with Malcolm at Matamata Panelworks.
In 2002 it was Malcolm’s turn to realise his dream, and he decided to restore a 1970 Mach 1 Mustang of his own. He eventually located a suitable project from long time Mustang guru, Wayne Lack, and it Ford Mustang Mach 1 door wasn’t long before Malcolm was hard at work.
A few alterations around the house and the addition of a new double garage had to happen first, but Malcolm eventually got onto the Mustang.
By this time he was married to Nicola and had three children, so spending precious time on the Mustang was always going to be challenging, especially as Malcolm was still playing rugby on a regular basis.
The Mustang was completely stripped down to a bare shell, with minor rust and previous repairs taken care of. He decided to completely replace the front of the car from the firewall forward to correct a previous, sub-standard frontal repair, so a donor car was located. At this point the Mustang sat in Malcolm’s garage for months at a time, even a year at one stage, without being touched because of lack of time caused by Malcolm’s other commitments.
Eventually the new front end was completed and the Mustang was treated to an original Calypso Coral paint job and fully detailed underside exactly to factory specifications, including coloured part identification and stencil markings. The front and rear suspension, including the original differential, was completely rebuilt and finished to exact factory specifications. Malcolm has mastered a coating finish that resembles the factory bare steel look, but he’s not letting on what’s in the mix. Many suspension parts are unpainted from the factory so, to avoid surface rust, Malcolm applies his special formula.
The Cleveland 5.8-litre engine and FMX automatic transmission were also completely rebuilt and the factory ‘shaker’ air intake scoop was added to the top of the carburettor. To finish off the restoration, a brand new white interior was installed, creating a stunning contrast with the exterior finish.
Finally, after five years of juggling family life and business (restoring other people’s Mustangs), Malcolm Ford Mustang Mach 1 owner completed his dream car.
His wife Nicky played a huge part over the past five years, helping out and allowing Malcolm the time to spend on his pride and joy.
Although a few lucrative offers to buy the prized Mustang have come Malcolm’s way, he is determined to keep it and enjoy it as much as possible.
This multiple prize-winning restoration–including best 1969/70 Mach I at the 2007 National Mustang Convention has now become the benchmark for all restoration work carried out at Matamata Panel Works, and Malcolm has admitted that with new processes and constant experimenting to improve quality, the business is getting better with every restoration. To be honest, after spending a few hours crawling around this car I doubt whether that’s at all possible.
Engine Cleveland V8
Capacity 5752cc (351ci)
Valves Two valves per cylinder/ohv
Max power 224kW (300bhp) at 5400rpm
Max torque 515Nm (380lb/ft) at 3400rpm
Fuel system Four barrel 600cfm Autolite carburettor
Transmission Select-Shift FMX Automatic
Suspension F/R Coil springs/solid axle with leaf springs
Steering Recirculating ball, optional power assist
Brakes Power assisted disc front/drum rear
O/all length 4805mm
Kerb weight 1545kg
Max speed 192kph
0-100kph 7.5 seconds
Standing 1/4 mile 15.6 seconds