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10 Most Collectible Fords from the ’60s

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by Huw Evans  More from Author

Highlighting a selection of classic and collectible Blue Oval machines.

Photography by Huw Evans, Mark Storm, and Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Editor’s Note: In the first of a three-part series,
Mustang & Ford highlights a selection of classic and collectible Blue Oval machines from three different decades. In this installment we’re focusing on the swinging ’60s.
 
When it comes to “desirable” classics, the term is often subjective, as part of what makes the hobby diverse is the appreciation for different metal, regardless of production numbers and option codes. However, among the Blue Oval faithful, one decade often stands above the rest when it comes to high profile collectible vehicles – the ’60s. Thanks to Ford’s “Total Performance” campaign, the era ushered in some of the most fearsome production cars ever built, but also, some milestone machines that have stood the test of time. That in itself, makes it hard to select 10 “collectible” Ford Motor Company vehicles from this decade, but Mustang & Ford has given it a shot. Not everybody will likely agree with our choices, but if you’re a classic car fan with blue blood resonating through your veins, chances are more than a couple of these machines will pique your interest.



1. 1961 – 1965 Lincoln Continental
Price new: $6,916 (1963)
Value now: $18,000 – $40,000
Plus: Ultimate ’60s American luxury style.
Minus: Thirst, body and interior parts availability.

Styled by Elwood Engel, the 1961 Lincoln Continental was a clean break from the gargantuan 1958-1960 cars and more in keeping with the ultra prestigious 1956-1957 Continental MkII. It was more than 10 inches shorter, riding a smaller wheelbase, yet still featured the massive 430 cubic inch V-8 (rated at 300 horsepower) for propulsion, coupled with a three-speed automatic transmission. It was a strikingly handsome car; in fact it would become recognized as one of the landmark American designs of the decade and today, a machine that for many, still defines the Lincoln brand. It came as a single, well-equipped model in a choice of four-door hardtop or convertible body styles, both of which featured trademark suicide doors. About the only options were special interior trim, a six-way power driver’s seat, tinted glass and air-conditioning, though the latter was installed in a whopping 65 percent of Continentals that year. Perhaps because buyers equated cocooning with luxury, the hardtop outsold its open-air counterpart by around 10 to 1 in most years, but it was the convertible that achieved everlasting fame. Coachbuilders Hess & Eisenhart of Cincinnati built a special 1961 X-100 open top limousine for President John F. Kennedy and it was in this very car that he was assassinated during his tour of Dallas in 1963. The X-100 was later fitted with armored plating and a steel roof and would go on to serve Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford, before being retired in 1977. Today it’s on display at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. As for the “regular” Continental, it received a mild update for 1962, with new, bolder front-end styling and a revised chassis with a three-inch longer wheelbase. Minor facelifts continued each season, the car growing slightly in length, while the V-8 gained 20 more horsepower. The final iteration of the “pure” 1961 Continentals appeared for 1965, with a substantially reworked nose, lending the car an almost completely different look. By that stage, it was selling close to 40,000 units annually and had cemented its reputation as a modern classic. Although the Continental would return for 1966, it was extensively restyled, with a four-inch longer body and a mammoth 462 cubic inch engine, enough for us to render this version as a separate car. It would become progressively heavier and busier looking, loosing the purity that came to define the 1961-1965 cars. And it is for precisely that reason that the earlier cars tend to draw the collectors today. It’s also why the 1961-1965 Conti makes our list.



2. 1962 Ford Galaxie 406
Price new: $2,880 (1962)
Value now: $25,000 – $45,000
Plus: First true full-size factory Ford hot rod.
Minus: Obscurity means appeal is still limited.

By the early ’60s, the performance wars were heating up. Despite the Automobile Manufacturer’s Association motorsport ban in 1957, NASCAR was thriving. Win on Sunday, sell on Monday, was becoming increasingly important for dealers and what better way to showcase their wares than a factory hot rod parked in the center of the showroom floor. Ford felt it needed to come up with goods, especially since the likes of 409 Chevys, 413 Dodges and Plymouths and 421 Pontiacs were not only showing their taillights on the oval circuit but also the dragstrip. The Blue Oval’s solution was to introduce an enlarged version of the FE and drop it into the full-size Galaxie for 1962. Sized at 406 cubic inches, it was labeled as the “Thunderbird 406 High Performance V-8” even though it was only available in the Galaxie. The 406 featured a high 11.4:1 compression ratio, cast-iron headers and low restriction dual exhausts, plus a single Holley four-barrel carburetor. Ordering this engine required a heavy-duty Borg Warner four-speed manual gearbox, heavy-duty suspension, fade resistant four-wheel drum brakes, larger capacity cooling system with a bigger radiator and a standard 3.50:1 rear gearing, though shorter axle ratios were offered, all the way up to a strip storming 4.11:1. Power output was advertised as 385 hp at 5,800 rpm and 440 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 revs – an optional Tri-carb intake setup, boosted hp to 410. Most of these engines were dropped into Galaxie 500 hardtops and pillared coupes, with a few installed in the new (at mid-year) 500XL coupe and Sunliner convertible. However, even in a pillared 500 two-door, the 406 was hampered by a curb weight of some 3,700 pounds, thus even with a really good driver, a 406 could only reach 60 mph from rest in about 6.7 seconds and run the quarter-mile in the low 15s. On the street it gave the big Fords newfound respect in the burgeoning horsepower race, but on the dragstrip, the big Fords, hobbled by their greater poundage were still outmatched by the competition, particularly the new for 1962 “mid-size” Dodge and Plymouth 413s. Nonetheless, Ford had embarked down the road toward drag strip and oval supremacy and although subsequent machines were faster and meaner, the Ford 406 gets credit for starting the whole Total Performance campaign, which is why you’re reading about it here.



3. 1962 Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster
Price new: $5,439 (1962)
Value now: $20,000 – $65,000
Plus: Sportiest T-bird of the ’60s.
Minus: Thirst, rust prone, not as racy as it looks
.

From its very inception, the Thunderbird was never conceived to be a true sports car. The first generation 1955-1957 model might have sported two-seats and a V-8 engine, but it was aimed purely at the Boulevardier set – people who wanted the image of speed, without ruffling their feathers too much. When Ford Division Chief Robert McNamara sought higher volumes and greater profitability for the Thunderbird – resulting in the 1958 four-seater, all pretence of sportiness seemed to vanish out the window. The 1958-1960 Square birds proved hugely popular and high performance engines were available, but nobody was going to mistake them for any real Gran Turismo. That began to change with introduction of Elwood Engel’s “cigar Bird” for the 1961 model year. Longer, wider and heavier, the new car somehow managed to look svelte, lending a more elegant, European inspired appearance. Powertrain choices were also simplified with a single, 300 horsepower, 390 cubic inch V-8 engine and Ford’s three-speed Cruise-O-Matic transmission as standard equipment. However sales were down some 20,000 units from 1960, so the following year, Ford added a new model, perhaps in an effort to build interest in the Thunderbird line – the Sports Roadster. Although mechanically it was identical to the standard T-Bird convertible, it featured a larger, fiberglass tonneau cover – designed by Bud Kauffman – that covered the rear seats, lending it a sportier look. In addition, the rear fender skirts were removed and Kelsey-Hayes true wire wheels (chrome plated of course), were also fitted. Although changes were few, the overall look was quite different and noticeably sportier than the standard Bird. The availability of a new, 340 horsepower “M-code” 390 cubic inch V-8 further sweetened the pot. But from a commercial standpoint it didn’t matter. Although overall Thunderbird production for 1962 was healthy – some 78,011 cars, just 1,427 were Sports Roadsters. The fiberglass tonneau may have looked the part, but it was bulky and heavy, making it difficult to remove and install, thus limiting market appeal of this special T-bird. The Sports Roadster would return for the cigar Bird’s final season (1963), but even fewer copies were sold – just 455. However, its lack of popularity when new, plus unique styling has proved advantageous in later years, for today the Sports Roadster ranks as the most collectible of all the ’60s Thunderbirds, only surpassed by the original 1955-1957 “true” two-seaters. That’s why it made our list.



4. 1963 – 1966 Lotus Cortina
Price new: $2,548 (1964)
Value now: $18,000 – $55,000
Plus: A ’60s Formula racer in sedan clothes.
Minus: Somewhat finicky, rust prone, limited availability in the United States.

A bit of an oddball perhaps, but then again, Ford’s “Total Performance” campaign was a worldwide effort, with much of the action taking place in Europe. The Cortina, Ford of Great Britain’s entry in the family car class, was first introduced in 1962 and became a huge sales success, putting Ford on its way to becoming Britain’s most popular brand of car. However, even from the get-go it had performance potential. The car’s overhead valve 1.5-liter “Kent” four-cylinder engine had been chosen by Colin Chapman of Lotus fame, to power his new single seat racers (the old Coventry Climax units were becoming increasingly expensive), so Chapman commissioned Harry Mundy to design a dual overhead cam version of the Kent. Later enlarged to 1.6-liters it was also selected as the powerplant for Lotus’ next street sports car – the Elan. At about the same time, former auto journalist, Walter Hayes, now at Ford, was spearheading the company’s push into motorsport – part of which included production class sedan racing. Hayes approached Chapman and asked if he could build 1,000 cars – necessary to meet Group 2 sedan (saloon) racing rules. Chapman agreed and the Lotus Cortina was born. These cars were all two-door sedans, with Ford shipping the bodies to Lotus where the cars were assembled. The Lotus Cortina employed the Elan’s 1.6 twin cam Kent engine and close-ratio four-speed gearbox, but in order to make the car competitive, the rear suspension was redesigned – using coil instead of leaf springs and specific links to improve handling (shorter struts and stronger control arms were fitted up front). Other changes included a stiffened chassis with extra bracing and the use of an alloy hood, door skins and rear decklid. All of the cars were delivered from Lotus in white with green racing stripes and quarter front bumpers – while Ford handled the marketing and promotion. The Lotus Cortina drew instant rave reviews from the press and enthusiasts took to it like ducks to water. In racing the Lotus Cortina’s first outing was in the Gold Cup Trophy in Oulton Park (UK), where one finished in third place. By 1964, with changes to the suspension, Lotus Cortinas were frequently in the winner’s circle, not only in the UK and Europe, but also the U.S. – Jackie Stewart and Mike Beckwith won the Marlboro 12-hour at Marlboro Park Speedway, Maryland, driving a Lotus Cortina. On the street, although a serious performer, in many respects the original Lotus Cortina was harsh and uncompromising – the thrashy engine, close ratio gearbox and stiff suspension not ideally suited to everyday driving conditions. To make matters worse, some dealers didn’t understand the car from a sales and service standpoint, and quality control was spotty. As a result, the Lotus Cortina was gradually refined – including the adoption of a wider ratio gearbox, one-piece driveshaft, and steel instead of alloy body panels to save on tooling costs. For 1964 all Cortinas were facelifted with a more integrated front grille assembly and in 1965, the Lotus version adopted the standard Cortina’s leaf sprung rear suspension – which proved more durable on real world roads. Production lasted until well into 1966 and Lotus Cortinas were built in both left and right hand drive form (with the car being exported to the U.S. in limited quantities). By that stage the car had become a true legend in its own time and right until the end, dominated touring car racing, racking up no fewer than eight wins in Britain and four in Continental Europe during the 1966 season. In addition, Lotus Cortinas had made inroads in rallying, and in 1966 Bengt Solderstrom piloted one to victory in the RAC. A second generation Cortina was introduced that same year and although a Lotus version was offered, it was built entirely in-house by Ford at Dagenham and in many respects, much less “special.” As a result, the original 1963-1966 Mk I Lotus Cortina, continues to rank as one of the most desirable of all ’60s production based Fords and many examples are still campaigned in historic racing classes. Add to the fact that it has truly international enthusiast appeal and it’s easy to see why it made the list.



5. 1963 – 1964 Ford Galaxie 427
Price new: $3,268 (1963)
Value now: $35,000 - $75,000
Plus: Big car style, big car performance.
Minus: Heavy, thirsty, somewhat brutish to drive.

Ford had dipped its toes in the full-size performance market with the 1962 406, but the following year, it got serious. The big Ford’s formal roofline proved to be a handicap in NASCAR, particularly on the longer tracks, so to improve aerodynamics, a new semi-fastback roof was introduced on the Galaxie 500 and XL hardtops halfway through 1963, at the blessing of Ford’s new Division President, Lee Iacocca. In conjunction with it, Ford decided to stuff an even larger, more potent FE based big-block V-8 between the fenders and the legendary Galaxie 427 was born. The engine actually displaced 425 cubic inches, but Ford labeled it “427” to play off NASCAR’s displacement limit. From the outset, the 427 was conceived as a serious high performer – the engine had a sturdy internals, including a forged steel crankshaft and forged pistons, plus a solid lifter camshaft to allow it to spin all the way to 7,000 rpm. A single 780 cfm four-barrel Holley carburetor was standard resulting in 410 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque, but dual four-barrels were optional, boosting power to 425 horses and torque to a monstrous 480 lb-ft. Like the 406, a heavy-duty four-speed manual gearbox was mandatory with this engine, as was heavy-duty suspension and 15-inch wheels. As an image builder, the mid-year ’63½ Galaxie 427 fastbacks were a hit – over 660,000 full-size Fords were sold that year and on the NASCAR circuit, they proved their metal – highly competitive in the hands of Fred Lorenzen, Tiny Lund and Ned Jarrett, they allowed Ford to clinch the championship that year giving relatively unknown driver Joe Weatherly the driver’s cup. NHRA drag strip competition, on the other hand, proved a tougher nut to crack. Even in the hands of drivers like Dick Brannan and with a lightened front end, the Galaxie was still a heavy car and Ford failed to win a single championship event during 1963. However the big Fords found a surprising calling in road racing overseas and proved to be quite competitive, particularly in British Touring Car racing until replaced by the homegrown Lotus Cortina. Ford’s big cars were substantially restyled for 1964, resulting in what some have labeled as the best-looking full-size machine of the period. The fearsome 427 returned as a street option, but Ford also built 50 lightweight drag cars for another shot at NHRA glory. The results still weren’t satisfactory and Ford turned its attention to the next car on our list. The 427 Galaxie was always a rare sight on the street, but with Detroit beginning to focus on intermediate cars as the performance standard bearers, the days of full-size muscle were numbered. Nevertheless, the 427 could be a serious threat in the right hands and today, still represents perhaps the most shining example of full-size FoMoCo muscle.



6. 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt
Price new: $3,280 (1964)
Value now: $80,000 - $170,000
Plus: Purpose built factory drag car.
Minus: Rarity keeps prices through the stratosphere.

With the Galaxies simply too large and heavy to be a serious threat to the likes of the Mopar 426s and Chevy 409s in NHRA drag racing, Ford decided that the best option was to install its 427 in the smaller, intermediate sized Fairlane. However, the Fairlane’s engine bay had been designed for the 221/260 ci small-block V-8 so stuffing in the monstrous, 425 horsepower 427 required considerable reworking of the front end. Outside contractor Dearborn Steel Tubing was given the task of doing the work and ended up creating a monster. The front suspension was extensively modified and special exhaust headers fitted to the 427 in order to clear the framerails. Transmission choices were a heavy-duty four-speed manual or three-speed automatic, with ultra steep rear end axle ratios (4.44:1 for the manual and a staggering 4.58:1 for the slushbox). Weight saving was a major priority, thus the hood was a fiberglass piece with a distinctive teardrop to clear the high-rise dual-quad intake manifold and the front fenders, bumper and rear decklid were also fiberglass pieces. The front grille assembly was modified, with the inside headlights being converted to intake scoops to feed air into the monster engine.

As for the interior, spartan perhaps best describes the Thunderbolt. Everything that could be removed to save weight was – the stock Fairlane front seats were ditched for lightweight van units and the front side windows substituted for plexiglass. Thunderbolts came with no sunvisors, rear-view mirrors, nor even a spare tire or jack – everything was done purely to cover 1,320 feet of tarmac in the shortest amount of time possible. Ford built a single 1963 pre-production car and then followed up with 100 “production” examples for 1964. Although you could walk into your Ford dealer and plunk down $3,280 for a Thunderbolt, there was no question this was one car built purely for drag racing. Hot Rod magazine stated that one of these cars “was not suitable for driving to and from the strip,” let alone in everyday traffic. But if it was maximum quarter-mile performance you craved, the T-bolt was the hot ticket. In fact, those drag teams that did field them in the NHRA in 1964, including renowned high performance dealers Tasca and Russ Davis Ford, found just how potent they were. With some 700 pounds less weight and over 500 horsepower in race tune, they were capable of mid-11 second ETs at trap speeds of around 120 plus miles per hour. Driving the Russ Davis sponsored, car, Gas Ronda, finally cracked the NHRA manufacturer’s cup for Ford. Although Thunderbolts were rarely seen cars, then or now, their impact on drag racing far outweighed their actual numbers and because of that, the survivors, without question, rank as some of the most desirable and collectible Fords of all time.



7. 1964½ – 1966 Ford Mustang K-code
Price new: $2,917 (1965)
Value now: $18,000 - $45,000
Plus: The ultimate early Mustang.
Minus: Not as potent as what came later.

It was the car that turned an entire industry on its ear, but aside from offering sporty car pizzazz at an economy car price, the Mustang’s tremendous appeal lay in its mile-long options list, which allowed it to be turned into just about any kind of machine imaginable, from a utility runabout, to a full-on performance car or something in between. One of the most potent options was the high performance K-code 289 cubic inch “Challenger” V-8. With a stronger bottom end than the regular 289, solid lifter valve train and unique cylinder heads and exhaust system, it was a high-winding screamer that made 271 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. As the serious performance engine in early Mustangs, this $328 option was not available with air conditioning, or power steering, and (initially at least), only a four-speed, close-ratio manual gearbox and specific clutch. It was however, available in both the hardtop coupe and convertible body styles, though it also required heavy-duty suspension and specific rear end with 3.89 gears. Given its performance bent, not surprisingly the K-code was a fairly rare option. Although no breakdown is available for very early Mustangs (1964½ models built from April through September 1964), out of 680,989 built for the extra long ’65 model year, just 7,723 were ordered with the hi-po 289 package, or approximately one percent. In September 1964, Ford added a few changes, which have since come to determine the different between early and “true” 1965 model year Mustangs. Among them were the adoption of a standard alternator (instead of a generator), and the arrival of a swoopy 2+2 fastback, along with the availability of the GT equipment group, which include a special Rally-Pac instrument cluster, grille mounted driving lights, rocker panel stripes and rear valance panel with dual exhaust trumpets. Combined with the pretty style-steel wheels, the combination of the K-code, GT equipment group and fastback body-style represents a high watermark for ’60s Ford enthusiasts. Today early Mustangs rank as some of the most popular classic cars in existence and K-code examples rank as the pinnacle of the breed. The high winding small block would continue to be available in the redesigned 1967 Mustang (until smog requirements and limited demand did it in), but today it’s systematically linked with the 1964½-1966 cars, which is why we’ve chosen to focus on those here.



8. 1965 Shelby G.T.350
Price new: $4,574 (1965)
Value now: $60,000 - $150,000
Plus: A true ’60s street/road racer.
Minus: Demanding to drive, outrageous asking prices.

Sticking with early Mustangs and K-codes for that matter, Ford saw potential in its new steed as a platform for sports car racing. Some early Mustangs were sent to Europe, where they were campaigned in rallying with mixed results, but back home, Lee Iacocca decided to contact Carroll Shelby, to see if he could make the little pony into a world-beater, in the same manner he’d done with his Cobra roadsters in the Sports Car Club of America’s B-production class. Shelby could see, even from a stock track test of a 1964½ hardtop, that indeed; Ford’s little foal had the ability to achieve greatness. Shelby procured a shipment of 1965 2+2 fastbacks sans hoods and rear seats from Ford’s San Jose assembly plant, each outfitted with a K-code 289 V-8 and had them shipped to his facility in Los Angeles. Along with input from Shelby’s team “mechanic” Phil Remington and driver Ken Miles, the cars were transformed into Shelby G.T.350s. The engines were worked over, delivering 306 hp thanks to a bigger 715 cfm Holley carburetor; more aggressive solid lifter camshaft and special low restriction exhaust system that exited ahead of the rear wheels. Suspension changes included new front lower control arms, specific Koni shocks, stiffer rear springs and traction bars, plus bigger brakes. A specific steering wheel was installed in each, along with three-point harnesses and 15x6-inch Mag wheels shod in Goodyear 7.75-inch tires. Shelby ended up building 515 G.T.350s for 1965, all painted in Wimbledon White with blue racing stripes on the rocker panels (over the car stripes were optional) and retailed them for $4,574 a piece which was expensive for the time. On the street, the G.T.350 was rough and ready in every sense, but on the track, it soon proved its mettle. In fact; Shelby built 35 G.T.350 R variants specifically for SCCA B-production and one of the cars, driven by Miles won on its very first outing, at Green Valley, Texas, in February 1965. However although the cars proved an unqualified success in competition over the next two years, the street Shelby Mustang gradually morphed from out and out dual-purpose machine into a boutique/luxury muscle car, becoming less competition oriented and more refined. As a result, it’s the “pure” first year models that attract the most collector interest today.



9. 1968 Shelby G.T.500 KR
Price new: $4,287 (1968)
Value now: $80,000 - $200,000
Plus: Great style, great performance.
Minus: High demand, high prices, overrated perhaps?

As the ’60s drew to a close, the American performance wars were reaching their peak. With the introduction of the G.T.500 for 1967, Shelby’s Mustang was moving further and further away from its original mission. After a dramatic restyling the previous year, the fastback appeared to change only in detail for 1968, with a revised front protubence housing new Marchal driving lights (in place of the previous round units), detail alterations to the rear valance and the now required side marker lights. However, Carroll himself was having less and less to do with the cars and in the fall of 1967, production was shifted from his facility near LA-X to in-house at Ford, with the Blue Oval taking control of everything from assembly to sales, distribution and marketing. Nevertheless, performance was still on the table and the fearsome 428 Police Interceptor V-8 was standard equipment in the G.T.500, rated at 360 horsepower and fitted with a 715 cfm four-barrel Holley carburetor (however a shortage of engines resulted in some G.T.500s being installed with less potent 390s). Teamed with it was a standard four-speed manual gearbox and 9-inch axle with 3.25:1 gearing, though Ford’s C6 three-speed Cruise-O-Matic was available as an option. At mid-year, the G.T.500 was displaced by the G.T.500 KR, (King of the Road). Visually similar, it was powered by Ford’s new 428 Cobra Jet engine, rated at 335 horsepower but a stump pulling 445 lb-ft of torque. This engine had been designed from the outset for serious dragstrip performance and boasted a stronger block than the regular 428, with high flow cylinder heads and specific valvetrain pieces. It was offered in the KR fastback and convertible (new to Shelby that year) with a fixed rollbar, that even incorporated D-ring pins to hold a surfboard. And if there were any doubts whether the KR would live up to its name, they were quickly erased. Car Life magazine (one of the few publications to test one when new) recorded a 0-60 mph time of 6.9 seconds and a quarter-mile ET of 14.57 seconds. Steeper rear axle ratios were available to make the car even quicker, but despite the performance, the press and the public were becoming increasingly confused. To make matters worse, the KR was very expensive – a base price of $4,287 was steep to begin with, start adding options such as the automatic transmission and air conditioning, and you were well north of five grand. Ford built just 1,251 KRs for 1968, of which 318 were convertibles, versus 4,450 Shelby Mustangs in total that year. The G.T.500 would return for 1969 and more styled than ever, but the fearsome KR was consigned to the history books after just one season. Yet the car’s mystique would endure and today, it has become arguably the most coveted of all muscle era Mustangs, with prime examples trading hands well into five figure territory.



10. 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 428 Cobra Jet
Price new: $3,129 (1969)
Value now: $38,000 - $70,000
Plus: Mustang never looked meaner.
Minus: Drag Pack cars not well suited for street driving.

For all its racing success during the ’60s, including trouncing Corvettes in SCCA, spanking Ferrari at Le Mans and becoming the dominant force in NHRA Super Stock Eliminator, Ford still struggled with an also-ran performance reputation on the street. Cars like the 427 Fairlane and Shelby G.T.500 were serious machines, but they were rare and expensive. What Ford needed was a snazzy, mainstream street racer, a car that could pummel those pesky Chevelle SS396s, Mopar 440s and GTOs, while still stopping off for a bite to eat on the way home. With the new, racy looking 1969 Mustang SportsRoof, the Blue Oval boys had just the ticket. Ford dished up a tasty option package on the Mustang and appropriately dubbed it Mach 1. With a matte black hood and scoop, side stripes and high back bucket seats, plus a standard 351 cubic inch two-barrel V-8 with 250 horsepower, it looked fast when sitting still and priced at $3,129, sold like hot cakes.
Ford ended up building more than 72,000 for the model year, but another part of the Mach 1’s appeal lay on the options list. It could be equipped with the big-block 390 and 428 Cobra Jet V-8s. Equipped with the latter and 3.9:1 rear gearing with Traction-Lok limited slip differential, a Mach 1 could blast down the quarter-mile in 13.9 seconds in street trim. An even hotter option, the Super Cobra Jet added a standard oil cooler, four-bolt mains for the 428 engine and an available Drag Pack with 4.30 gears. So equipped the Mach 1 was a mid-13 second ET performer and could accelerate to 60 mph in well under six seconds. It might have taken a while, but Ford had answered the call for serious street performance and a stop light Grand Prix across North America, things would never be the same again. The Mach 1 would remain Mustang’s performance standard-bearer through the early ’70s, though most enthusiasts will tell you that the original ’69 edition was by far the most memorable, which is why it made our Top 10 list.
M&F

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