No Modifications Needed
Vintage Mach 1 Looks Like New
Story Al Rogers
Hidden among the thousands of cars at the Mustang 45th anniversary celebration in Birmingham, Alabama, was an unrestored Candy Apple Red 1969 Mach 1.
Onlookers who happened by the car were amazed by the appearance of the flawless original paint finish and like-new condition of the white Clarion Knit vinyl seats. The big surprise was still to come. Looking into the woodgrain trim instrument cluster, the odometer revealed a staggering 15,600. Could it be?
This is a well cared for and preserved original thoroughbred. It has survived the test of time and maintained its factory given stature. There’s a special feeling for a Mustang enthusiast upon discovering an original, unrestored pony car for the first time.
The owners provided a few facts about their special car. Yes, it was an original with supporting documentation including a Marti report, build sheet and maintenance records. They had traveled south from Michigan to celebrate the anniversary of the Mustang. The owners had chosen this special event to make a debut.
The ’69 Mach 1 was purchased in 2003 on eBay by Tom and Roz Kerkstra from Grandville, Michigan. To their dismay, it never received a bid during its entire multiple day sales run. Perhaps an indication of the way the economy was headed or overlooked by perspective buyers as they thought this one will bring in “big bucks”.
After watching the entire auction, Tom could not help wonder why it had not been grabbed up. He contacted the seller and traveled from western Michigan to a suburb near Detroit to look the car over. At first glance, he could only mutter the words “Wow”. Tucked away under a car cover was an original, unrestored 1969 Mustang Mach 1, looking factory new like the day it rolled down the final line at the Ford Metuchen, New Jersey, assembly plant. Seeing it for the first time took Tom Kerkstra back to 1969.
The Mustang Mach 1 brought back fond memories of the one Tom had purchased new in 1969 and owned for six years. That daily driver had rusted out floor pans and doors skins. Harsh Michigan winters with snow and road salt had taken its toll on the Mustang. It was gone in the mid-’70s.
His dream remained to own a ’69 Mach 1 again. Many hours were spent searching the Internet and classifieds in search of “the one”. In this case, there was no way he would make the trip home empty handed.
Setting this Mustang apart from others was the originality, including unrestored factory inspector stampings on the fenders, cowl and undercarriage. Tom’s prior knowledge of factory markings, assembly plant inspector quality control stamps in the correct location and documentation played an important role in his decision to purchase the Mach 1.
Under the hood is the numbers matching 351-4V engine with FMX Cruise-O-Matic transmission and 3.25 standard rear axles. A pair of white Clarion Knit vinyl Mach 1 hi-back bucket seats with optional visibility group, AM/8-track stereo radio and tachometer finishes off the interior. The drivetrain includes optional E70X14 belted white sidewall tires, power front disc brakes and power steering.
The Marti report indicates this Mustang sports roof was produced at the Metuchen, New Jersey, assembly plant on April 17, 1969, one day ahead of schedule. It was completed on the fifth anniversary of the birth of the Mustang.
According to documented records, the 1969 Mach 1 was purchased new by an elderly man in New York City. It was rarely driven and reportedly never left the single car garage during inclement weather. The garage walls were lined to protect the Mustang’s paint finish when its door was opened.
Over the next 16 years, the pony accumulated fewer than 12,000 pampered miles on the clock. In 1985, it was purchased by the second owner, a car collector from Arizona. The car was immediately stored in a climate-controlled garage where it would remain unmolested for the next 10 years.
Nearly 10 years later, a retired military man purchased the Mustang. The 1969 Mach 1 had just been introduced when he returned home from a tour in Vietnam, in September 1968. Affording one on a military salary was out of the question. His dream was fulfilled when he purchased the pony on Easter Sunday, 1995.
Tom and Roz Kerkstra became the fourth owners. With 14,500 miles on the odometer at the time of purchase, it has accumulated 1,100 miles of summertime driving. That led us to the discovery in Alabama in 2009.
Many Mustang fanatics spent time on their hands and knees looking the Mach 1 over. For most seeing an original, unmolested low miles example was the highlight of the event. For the proud owners, it was their first Mustang event and they said, “it won’t be our last.”
We’ll be looking for them at the 50th anniversary of the Mustangin 2014.