First post- looking to purchase a Mach 1 - tips? please!
#1
I have been wanting to buy a Muscle Car for many years. I like to work in my cars, boats, tractor, etc. I have been doing it for many years, but none of my cars have been older than 10-15 years. I think I have it down to a Mustang Mach 1 from 1970 to 73. Anything else that I like is beyond my budget. My budget is no more than $15k to start and then about $10k+ within a year to fix and modernize. I think the 70's will be out of my range, but the 71-73s are within that range. I actually prefer one for $10k or less with good body and weak mechanicals and then fix it with $15k. Must the ones I find have engines "recently" done, but I don't like that idea. I feel comfortable fixing any of the mechanical/electrical stuff, but bodywork is my weakness and I would rely on outsourcing it. I would like a Q code if possible and don't care much for a "show" car so numbers matching is not my main focus. I one a hot looking car with a great sounding engine and reliable.
My main question is since I am starting anew, what should I look for and what should I stay away from? I understand that rust is an issue in areas such as cowl. How do I spot "hidden" rust when looking at one for sale? Any tips on how to protect myself from a bad body?
Location: Madison, WI

Thank you.
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#2
Basically, if you find one that looks like mine did when I bought it - run away. ;) Big Grin

Seriously, if you're really wanting a '71-'73, you'll need to look out for several rust-prone areas:
  • cowl rust
  • floor pans
  • seat platforms
  • shock towers
  • engine compartment "aprons"
  • battery tray
  • front frame rails
  • quarter panels (rear and around wheelhouse openings)
  • trunk pan & drop-offs
  • taillight panel
  • trunk surround
  • rear frame rails
  • rocker panels

Other things to look for:
  • front fender bondo ahead of the indicators (front end damage - almost all '71-'73s have it because of such long noses)
  • quarter panel bondo (look in through the trunk - if you see a repair, be careful)
  • VIN change - check the door tag, dash panel, and also under the front fenders in the middle of the shock towers to know for sure
  • Mach 1 clones - check the VIN for the "05" code
  • verify (if possible) that the brake booster is working - they do not reproduce these for '71-'73 models, and they're VERY hard to get rebuilts these days, or you'll need to go custom (like me... )

Check the vendors, like Ohio Mustang, CJ Pony Parts, National Parts Depot, etc., to make sure they have the things your potential new car will need, otherwise, you'll be searching forever to find replacement parts that are not currently produced. It's especially important for '71-'73s because the market's not quite there, as it is for the earlier model years.

Hope that helps!
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#3
Welcome Tony.

Well Eric KNOWS what he is talking about. He just built his car from scratch quite literally.

My recommendation is to buy a southern Arizona rust free car and spend the extra on whatever it takes to find it and transport it back to Wisconsin. You will be dollars and years ahead of any schedule of rust replacement issues.

You will be able to enjoy the car sooner and never have any reoccurring rust issues.

You have made a good choice in the Mach 1!
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#4
Welcome to the site Tony! Eric and Steve both have provided you excellent advice. If I had to do it all over I would purchase a car from Arizona all day like Steve noted above. I am wrapping up a 66 fastback and quite frankly the only panel that wasn't replaced was basically the roof. So lots of time and lots of money is definitely saved with an Arizona Car even though it may cost o few bucks to transport.

It sounds like a have a very reasonable budget so I am sure you will have no problem locating a decent base for a starting point. As you can already see there are great people here always looking to help out so please keep us posted on any potential purchases.



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#5
Thanks guys. I was already contemplating the idea of looking at cars in Southern California where I go often for work. I am so impressed on how clean the underbodies are out there. I am one of the few people that goes out of state and look at under the cars..... I guess is the engineer on me.

So this brings a question. Which states or regions are a good source of used cars? Dry climates I think are the key, so Arizona and SoCal are good options. I assume that in SoCal you will automatically pay a slight premium due to all the money out there. Are there any other regions? What is your opinion in regards to SoCal compared to Arizona or other states?
(08-11-2014, 01:35 PM)Mister 4x4 Wrote: [*]VIN change - check the door tag, dash panel, and also under the front fenders in the middle of the shock towers to know for sure

Couple questions in regards to VIN locations. Is the VIN located on the front fender apron on driver and/or passenger sides? Is there a way to look at this VIN w/o removing the fender? The reason I ask is that I don't think a seller would let me remove the front fender to look at the VIN. Is the fender removed by simply unscrewing the bolts in the engine compartment? I have only seen pictures so I want to be prepared when I try doing it with the seller.
(08-11-2014, 01:35 PM)Mister 4x4 Wrote: Basically, if you find one that looks like mine did when I bought it - run away.

Wow.... I just looked at your pictures in Facebook. I think they are an eye opener and now I am even more scared about bodywork. Congrats to you. Your care looks a beauty, but it seems that you did a lot of work and bodywork to get there.

As you can see from my concerns, how can I inspect for rust under the cowl w/o removing the fender?
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#6
Phoenix, Tucson and other southern Arizona locations are your safest location. Southern California offers some nice cars (and probably a bigger market) but the factors to consider are two-fold: #1 sea air settles in hard to reach unseen areas, #2 back in the day when these cars were new there were a lot of people moving from back east to California and they brought their cars with them. El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico areas are also options.

The VIN is located under the driver's side fender. Yes, you can actually read the number without removing the fender but you will need to loosen the bolts in the middle and using a mirror, a pry bar and a flashlight you should be able to read the VIN.

The best way to inspect the cowl other than having some type of video scope is to lay on your back and look up under the dash with a strong flashlight. Look for tell-tale rust signs around the heater and vent assembly. Another (easier) way is to run water through the cowl area. If it is a solid cowl there will not be any water on the floorboards - if it is rotted there will be a puddle. Of course if someone has "fixed" it with tar etc, it may not puddle but still be shot.

As to buying a "Q-code" over an "H-code" unless you plan to stay stock and are worried about resale or just want the bragging rights I would not pass on a more common "H-code" and build it to Boss or "R-code" specifications. With today's technology you can build a common 351C to surpass the old Boss standards of the day!

Keep us posted on your progress.
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#7
(08-12-2014, 08:42 AM)Steven Harris Wrote: Phoenix, Tucson and other southern Arizona locations are your safest location. Southern California offers some nice cars (and probably a bigger market) but the factors to consider are two-fold: #1 sea air settles in hard to reach unseen areas, #2 back in the day when these cars were new there were a lot of people moving from back east to California and they brought their cars with them. El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico areas are also options.

Steve, I also heard the same about sea air. Here in New England we know where the typical rust areas are on Mustangs (basically all over) but heard that cars in Florida typically rust in the less obvious areas due to the salt in the air from the ocean. Another point for Arizona!

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#8
Thanks for the priceless tips. The issue with sea salt is interesting. I also grew up near the ocean and cars there tend to corrode faster (Venezuela). However, in SoCal I have not seen that effect under the cars, at least newer ones, but it could be that because that area is sort of exposed it may be "cleaner". Just speculating at this time. But I can imagine that if the sea air accumulates in hard to reach areas over time, then a more salty environment is created leading to corrosion. Also, I am not counting if cars are driven through the beach or places that commonly get wet due to wave action.
(08-12-2014, 08:42 AM)Steven Harris Wrote: The VIN is located under the driver's side fender. Yes, you can actually read the number without removing the fender but you will need to loosen the bolts in the middle and using a mirror, a pry bar and a flashlight you should be able to read the VIN.
I am afraid that the buyer won't be too happy to see me with a pry bar. Is the bar used to separate the fender from the apron. How much force do you need to apply? Since I have never done it I want to make sure I understand the process. I don't have one to practice with.
(08-12-2014, 08:42 AM)Steven Harris Wrote: The best way to inspect the cowl other than having some type of video scope is to lay on your back and look up under the dash with a strong flashlight.
Great ideas. I do have a borescope camera at work that I can use. Never thought about it. Are there holes in the apron that I can insert the camera through? or through holes in the firewall?
Thanks a lot for all your help!
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#9
Hey Tony,

The "pry bar" can be something like a soft piece of wood. Anything to pry the fender up from the fender apron enough to be able to get some light on the numbers. With the mirror from underneath the numbers should be readable.

The camera can be inserted through the plastic screen area on the top of the cowl. From there you will have a great view point of all the areas of concern.
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#10
(08-12-2014, 08:42 AM)Steven Harris Wrote:
As to buying a "Q-code" over an "H-code" unless you plan to stay stock and are worried about resale or just want the bragging rights I would not pass on a more common "H-code" and build it to Boss or "R-code" specifications. With today's technology you can build a common 351C to surpass the old Boss standards of the day!

What about a 302 F-code? Would a 351 replacement fit without major mods or is the 302 good enough?

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