FROM THE BEGINNING
Ever since he was eight years old, Darren Gilford has had an infatuation with the ’69 Mach 1 Mustang Fastback. “Not ’67-’68, not ’70, not anything after that,” for it was the ’69 that had captured his heart. At first it was the side scoops, quad headlights and hood pins that got his attention. Later he would also come to greatly admire features such as the rear wing spoiler, fastback window louvers, shaker hood and matte black hood graphic.
Darren never wavered from his devotion to the space age ‘Stang. Whenever he was asked what his favorite car was, he knew exactly what to say. Not only that, but he was certain that someday he would try to purchase one, and it would have to be black. About eight years ago he began to seriously search for the beloved pony car. While he was looking for a ’69 Mach 1 428 Cobra Jet replica, or even a tribute car, what he found was beyond what he could have hoped for.
On a fateful day at the 2016 Mecum auction in Kissimmee, Florida, he finally met her, the car of his dreams: a 1969 R-Code 428 Cobra Jet Mach 1. The vehicle had already been slightly modified and restored about ten years prior, but she still definitely needed some care and attention. Most importantly though, “the bones were all there.” Darren was looking for a replica or tribute car, but what he had found was the real deal.
SPRUCING UP A LEGEND
The classic lines of the Mach 1 Mustang bear the hallmarks of the space age from whence it came. This rocket ship for the road was designed to evoke the power and daring required to reach for the heavens, as both the United States and Soviet Union were trying to do at the time. As far as these highway-bound Saturn Vs go, Darren had stumbled across a real gem.
As a first-generation 1969 model, Darren’s auction find was already among the more highly sought-after examples available across the generations of Mach 1 Mustangs. Not only that, as an R-Code car his is the best of that bunch. With its 428 cubic in. (7.0L!) V8 producing an awesome 335 bhp and 440 lb. ft. of torque, this car represents some of the best performance that Ford offered at the time. Nonetheless, there was still much room for improving Darren’s sporty specimen. To realize the potential of his dream ride, he enlisted the help of his lifelong friend: legendary builder and designer Chip Foose.
One of the first aspects of the Mustang that Chip identified for improvement was the exhaust. That’s where we here at MagnaFlow came into the picture. Chip used MagnaFlow builder parts to create a completely custom stainless-steel 2.5” exhaust system for Darren’s Mach 1. With the 428 cubic in. Cobra Jet behemoth now able to breathe more easily and sound as it should, it was time to upgrade the rest of the car with the performance to match it.
New Transmission & Clutch Components
Darren’s R-Code Mach 1 came with a BorgWarner 4-speed transmission that was really starting to show its age. In its place, Chip installed a reliable Tremec TKO 600 5-speed capable of handling the brute Cobra Jet force of the Mustang’s motor.
He also replaced the faded clutch with an extremely durable Kevlar option from Modern Driveline. In addition to the clutch itself, Chip swapped out the existing pedal linkage components with a new roller bearing pedal linkage kit and Z-bar package, also from Modern Driveline.
One upgrade that Chip installed to make Darren’s ride a bit more comfortable was a Vintage Air under-dash air conditioning with control unit. Just because this Ford was going to leave stoplight challengers sweating didn’t mean that the Mach 1’s driver also had to be. If Vintage Air’s reliable systems had existed back in ’69, Ford may have considered installing it directly at the factory.
Keeping Up Appearances
While the Ford was in fairly decent shape, there were still areas of the paint and body that Chip made sure to give some extra attention to. Specifically, the hood and cowl needed to be repainted. He also adjusted the window glass track and replaced the window seals to ensure that they operated smoothly and kept the interior warm and dry in inclement weather conditions.
Tune Up, Maintenance & Alignment
In the process of going through all the components and carrying out a major tune up of the vehicle, Chip also saw the need to replace the fuel sending unit. With the Mustang mechanically sorted out, the last thing to do was ensure that all that classic power could be brought to bear. In the case of Darren’s dream Mach 1, this meant a wheel alignment.
Darren Gilford is extremely happy with how his baby turned out. The car of his dreams is now the car in his garage, and the team here at MagnaFlow is elated that we were able to play a part in helping make Darren’s vision a reality. With friends like Chip Foose, Darren was certainly in an excellent position to see his fantasy become fact. We wish Darren and his gorgeous Mach 1 many happy miles!