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1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1: Muscle Cars In Detail No. 9

1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1: Muscle Cars In Detail No. 9

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1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1: Muscle Cars In Detail No. 9

226 pagine
1 ora
Jan 15, 2018


By the time the 1969 model year rolled around, it was well established that muscle cars were fast and plentiful. Every manufacturer had at least one corner of the showroom where the "go fast" guys could congregate and discuss the merits and time slips of the latest performance offerings. Competition being what it was, the manufacturers were looking for ways to entice potential buyers to choose their product over ever-increasing offerings from the competition. Some manufacturers tried to accomplish this with affordable prices, some tried fancy marketing schemes, and some created a look and a style that screamed "performance" even when standing still.

The 1969 Mach I was Ford's attempt to create a package and a style to match the performance of its recently released and very potent 428-ci Cobra Jet engine package. Displacing the still-available but more conservative GT trim, the Mach I included unique and innovative graphics and mechanical innovations including shaker hood scoops, dual racing mirrors, deluxe interiors, competition suspension, dual chrome exhaust tips, and blacked-out hoods. The result was a wildly popular model that sold more than 70,000 units, compared to slightly more than 5,000 GT models for the year.

Each volume in the In Detail Series provides an introduction and historical overview, an explanation of the design and concepts involved in creating the car, a look at marketing and promotion, an in-depth study of all hardware and available options, and an examination of where the car is on the market today. Also included are paint and option codes, VIN and build tag decoders, as well as production numbers.

Jan 15, 2018

Informazioni sull'autore

A 1983 journalism graduate from the University of Illinois, Mike Mueller kicked off his automotive publishing career in 1987 in Florida at Dobbs Publications, home to Mustang Monthly, Muscle Car Review and Super Ford magazines, among others. After a brief stint at Automobile Quarterly in Pennsylvania in 1991, he embarked on a freelance adventure that continues to keep him off the couch today. Along with bylines and photo credits in countless magazines, he’s also authored more than 40 automotive history books and contributed words/pics to at least half that many more. Mueller presently resides in Arlington, Texas.

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1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 - Mike Mueller



The year 1969 certainly was a busy time in Dearborn, Michigan, especially so in the Mustang corral. Fresh variations on Ford’s pony car theme abounded, beginning with the kinder, gentler, super-luxury Grande with its regal vinyl roof and uber-deluxe interior. Not kind in the least were two other new-for-1969 ’Stangs: Boss 302 and its bodacious big brother, Boss 429. Following in the smoky tire tracks of 1968’s midyear 428 Cobra Jet model, this rarin’-to-race pair helped demonstrate further that the Blue Oval bunch was no longer fooling around; they were finally putting Mustang at the head of the Motor City muscle car pack, just where many interested parties felt it belonged from the start.

Included in that group, albeit retroactively, was Semon Bunkie Knudsen, who became Ford Motor Company president in February 1968 after quitting his vice president post at General Motors in a fit following the promotion of his rival, veteran engineer Ed Cole, to the top office there in October 1967. Responsible for Pontiac’s reawakening a decade prior, Knudsen’s prime motto always was You can sell a young man’s car to an old man, but you’ll never sell an old man’s car to a young man, and this thinking faded nary a wit following his planet-rattling defection. When Mr. Knudsen came from GM he brought along a strong belief in the value of performance, wrote Eric Dahlquist while reporting the big bulletin in the Motor Trend August 1968 issue.

When fitted with the optional 428 Cobra Jet V-8, Ford’s first Mach 1 Mustang ranked as one of Detroit’s hottest muscle cars in 1969. Serving as a suitable backdrop for this CJ Mach is North American Aviation’s equally intimidating P-51 Mustang fighter plane. Compared to the Cobra Jet’s 335 hp, the P-51’s supercharged Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12 churned out about 1,400 horses.

New in the 1969 Mustang corral along with the Mach 1 was the luxury-conscious Grande, crowned by a regal vinyl roof. Also note the blacked-out hood and chromed styled-steel wheels. The former was a Grande option that year; the rims, however, are incorrect. Styled steelies were available to 1969 Grande buyers, but only argent-painted or color-keyed renditions. (Photo Courtesy Mecum Auctions)

[Ford] designers have gone to considerable trouble to make their intentions known, announced Car Life’s March 1969 cover story. The Mach 1 comes [with] everything, in short, except a decal proclaiming [a] readiness to coat the opposition with rubber dust. (Photo Courtesy Antique Auto Club of America Library & Research Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania)

Knudsen also wasted no time broadcasting his feelings about Lee Iacocca’s little baby. In his far-from-humble opinion, Mustang was a good-looking automobile, but there are a tremendous number of people out there who want good-looking automobiles with performance. If a car looks like it’s going fast and doesn’t go fast, people get turned off. If you have a performance car and it looks like a pretty sleek automobile, then you should give the sports-minded fellow the opportunity to buy a high-performance automobile.

Introduced in April 1968, Ford’s 428 Cobra Jet FE-series big-block V-8 was available with or without Ram-Air in 1969. In the latter’s case, this non-functional scoop was traded for the legendary Shaker. Advertised CJ output remained 335 hp in either case. (Photo Courtesy Tom Shaw)

Both Boss Mustangs, each released after the turn of the calendar year in 1969, represented rapid-fire results of Knudsen’s heavy-footed influence. And this wasn’t all Dearborn had in store for racehorse lovers that year. Introduced earlier, along with Ford’s latest lineup in the summer of 1968, was another sleek, speed-seeking pony; this one was bred more for the mainstream, not necessarily the track.

Are you ready for the first great Mustang? asked a March 1969 Car Life review of this news-making newborn. One with performance to match its looks, handling to send imported-car fans home mumbling to themselves, and an interior as elegant, and livable, as a gentleman’s club? Wait, don’t answer. Because along with all that, interested buyers also were treated to a super-cool name known well among real, card-carrying jet setters: Mach 1.

Indeed, when fitted with the 335-hp 428 CJ (the non-Boss Mustang’s top power option in 1969), this groundbreaker seemed capable of doing the same to the sound barrier. Well, not quite. But down on Earth (where noise travels really fast, roughly 750 mph), it ranked right up with Detroit’s hottest rods of the day. Calling the Cobra Jet rendition the quickest standard passenger car through the quarter-mile we’ve ever tested, the Car Life crew further felt it was a superb road car, stable at speed, tenacious on corners, with surplus power and brakes for any road situation.

Talk about two vessels gliding by each other in the wee hours. Ford’s original flagship pony car, the GT, was forgotten almost overnight in the wake of the new Mach 1, which featured all Gran Turismo attractions (except for appropriate identification), plus a heavy load of form/function goodies that cost extra on other Mustangs. Early factory paperwork even used a Super GT reference when announcing the original Mach’s standard equipment menu.

Along with nicely subtle striping, the Mach 1 deal included a blacked-out hood, dual racing mirrors, and gleaming wheels on the outside. Meanwhile, starring on the inside was the prestigious Grande interior, upgraded with high-back bucket seats and a console. The Grande’s special sound package further added extra silencing insulation inside the Mach’s fastback shell, now formally known as a SportsRoof.

First great Mustang? Damn straight. Ford might’ve also accepted milestone as a fair description, as least as far as its equine legacy was concerned.

Former Musclecar Enthusiast editor and Super Ford managing editor Steve Statham agrees whole-heartedly. What set the 1969 Mach 1 apart was that it was the first factory-built Mustang that got all the muscle car elements right, in one package, he said in September 2016. It had the scoops, the stripes, the right engine options, and the right price. [The] Mustang GT was a fine car but never had the dramatic looks and image to go against flashier rivals, and its engines weren’t competitive until the Cobra Jet came along. Boss Mustangs were niche vehicles, and Shelbys were expensive and limited in production. But [the] Mach 1 was accessible, readily available, perfectly styled for 1969, and genuinely competitive on the street, thanks to the 428 CJ.

Base Mach 1 power came from a 351-ci small-block topped by a 2-barrel carburetor. All other optional engines were 4-barrels (4V V-8s).

Another available big-block, the 390-ci FE V-8, injected 320 horses into the Mach 1 mix. And, like its Cobra Jet big brother, the 390 could be crowned with the optional Shaker scoop, which mounted atop the air cleaner and protruded straight up through a Mustang hood. (Photo Courtesy Mecum Auctions)

The Mach 1 finally added an image model to the Mustang, similar to what Plymouth was doing with the Road Runner and Chevy with the Camaro Super Sport, added Donald Farr, editor of the Mustang Club of America’s (MCA) official magazine, Mustang Times. The restyled 1969 SportsRoof had a more muscular look in the first place; the Mach 1 then took it into muscle car territory with its black-out hood and chrome wheels. Most potential buyers could afford the base model, which looked just like the well-optioned version with the 428 Cobra Jet.

Basic Mach 1 power came from a 351-ci small-block V-8 topped by a 2-barrel carburetor, making it, in Ford’s terms, a 351-2V. That hyphenated suffix referred to the venturii (or carb throat) count. The idea, of course, was to keep a wide focus, to not paint the Mach into a corner. Although CJ renditions thrilled drivers with a real need for speed, base models did the same for those who didn’t mind simply looking as if they were soaring to great heights while negotiating everyday traffic with no fuss or muss. Unlike its temperamental Boss cousins, a driver-friendly 351-powered Mach 1 could stand by patiently in the pickup line at JFK Elementary without blowing its top, and still appear awfully damn hot.

So much sporty feel plus proven pony car practicality equaled sky-blazing sales success. While Dearborn’s last GT was quietly rolling into the sunset, 1969’s Mach 1 was reinventing Mustang popularity, with production surpassing 72,400. Just so you know, that first-year figure fell about 15,000 short of the GT’s total 1965–1969 tally.


It was the car’s first birthday, but it was buyers who received the presents. On April 17, 1965, Ford announced two new Mustang options: the snazzy Interior Decor Group, with its galloping-horse seat inserts and simulated walnut paneling, and the GT Equipment

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