Photos by Joseph Dowling
We’ve all seen the T-shirt that reads “Still plays with cars.” Most who own this shirt want you to know that they’re still into the stuff that they enjoyed when they were kids. Since the late-‘60s most little boys grew up playing with die-cast toy cars. The best toys looked custom built or like race cars.
Some of those little boys grew into adults who never lost the desire to “play with cars.” The cars just got bigger and the parts got pricier. One of the best things about toy cars is that it’s easy to trade with your friends for different makes or models. There’s no paperwork or transfer fees, the cars always run as fast as you can push them, and depending on the trade, sometimes you can even trade-up when you throw in a second (lesser) car to sweeten the deal.
Ron Huskins still plays with cars, in particular with this beautiful ’70 Mustang Mach 1. Ron, a systems administrator by day, has traded and paid his way to the ultimate car. Finding this car was hard work because he had already owned a few muscle cars, including a ’78 Trans Am and another ’70 Mach 1, but it took a ’68 GT trade and some cash to get his hands on the one you see in this magazine.
After the trade back in 1988, Ron used the Mustang as his daily driver for about 14 years, spending extra money here and there to keep the car in top running condition. He joined the North Texas Mustang Club and entered his ride in a few shows, where the car placed well and received a lot compliments. When he decided it was time for new paint, Ron retired the car from daily use and began a full restoration.
With the help of a few of his friends, Ron removed the drive train and sent the car to 4M Bodyworks in Lewisville, Texas. The 4M crew jumped right in, restoring the sheet metal back to shape and prepping it for Calypso Coral paint.
While the car was at the body shop, Ron and his friend Jimmy Stewart picked up the 351 Windsor block after a full machine treatment from Richard’s Machining in Ewless, Texas. They began to assemble the 351 Windsor engine with upgrades including an Eagle crank and H-beam rods, plus JE forged pistons, which were all balanced before assembly. An Isky roller cam and lifters, Crane roller rockers, and a double roller timing chain make up the valve train that sits atop a pair of AFR 185 aluminum cylinder heads. A Holley double pumper 750 and an Edelbrock air-gap intake manifold deliver the fuel that’s ignited by an MSD ignition system with Ford racing wires.
Spent gases are expelled from the 1.60 exhaust valves into a set Hooker super comp headers and out of a pair of Flowmaster 40s featuring 2 ½-inch-diameter tubing with an X-pipe.
To dress up the engine a March billet bracket and pulley system was installed using a Powermaster 100-amp alternator and chrome valve covers with K&N breathers. Keeping things cool-looking and cool-running are a Griffin radiator and Wysco Flex Cool stainless hoses.
Staying true to form, Ron asked David Painter to build a 1969 top-loader gearbox that uses a Centerforce clutch and pressure plate and a Lakewood scatter shield, and is shifted by a Hurst Competition Plus shifter.
The package has proved to be a great one for this car as the engine puts out 335 hp at 6200 rpm with 342 ft-lbs of torque.
With the car’s return from the body shop, Ron called on his crew to assist in upgrading the chassis. The 9-inch Ford rearend got a new pair of Mosier axles, a Detroit locker and a 3.25 ring and pinion set. Larger anti-sway bars were added front and rear, plus KYB gas shocks were installed at all four corners. Wilwood brakes and a Wilwood master cylinder help stop the car when needed.
The addition of subframe connectors, Global West adjustable strut rods and a coil cut from both springs, sets the stance of the car, which rides on a set of Edelbrock wheels and Kumho tires. The Optima battery was moved to the trunk to help with weight transfer.
The interior treatment merges classic style and modern performance. A pair of Corbeau buckets in the front fit together just fine with the original vinyl headliner, loop carpet and factory door panels installed by Andy at Extreme Upholstery in Denton, Texas. Auto Meter gauges, powered by a Painless harness, give Ron the vital signs of the engine while driving. Guidance Control comes from a Grant steering wheel to a manual Ford steering box.
When the car was ready to hit the street, Ron entered it in a few shows where he’s gone home with a few first place awards. However, the more impressive feat of a 12.10 second time slip at 102 mph has been more rewarding. He continues to be an active member of the North Texas Mustang Club, where he drives and shows this awesome Mach 1, but I don’t think that this one up for trade.