Complete Restoration of A 1969 Mustang Mach 1

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There’s few things on this earth we love more than a good comeback story. And what better comeback story is there than a beat up, rusty old 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 with little to no life left in its bones that is restored beyond its original beauty. Now that is a true comeback story. You’re about to read the story of that exact scenario. This Mustang was left to rust and rot. You’ve got to see how this plays out!

One of our favorite cars of all time is the Mustang Mach 1, so when we came across this story of a complete restoration/transformation of a 1969 Mustang Mach 1 – we just had to share it with you. You’re going to amazing at the final results, especially when you can see how it started out. I mean, that’s not even a full car right there! This beautiful muscle car, which many of us would have left to die, ended up being restored in such a dramatic fashion that we simply had to show it to you. Enjoy!


Reddit user FinallyGotMyMustang – real name, Michael – posted pictures of the restoration of his 1969 Mach 1. He bought this one in 2011, for $2000, which sounds like a great deal. The problem; the car was in terrible condition – as you can see. 

The Mustang had rusty body panels (and some panels that didn’t exist at all), a withered out trunk, and no motor along with many other issues. The electrical system was shot, the brakes were non-existent, and just about everything needed to be completed remade or refurbished. A complete re-do was in the works….but will the payoff be worth it?

Under the hood, several pieces were rusted or lost. So essentially, gutting the innards was really the only choice here.

Luckily the dash was complete and the previous owner replaced the floors and taillight panel. So that’s one small victory in a sea of uphill battles. But as you can see here – this is going to be a very steep uphill battle.

Michael had a lot of work ahead of him. But for a ’69 Mach 1…he was willing to put in the work. You’ve got to hang around to see the finished product, it’s amazing.

At the beginning of the project, he did not know a lot about car restoration, but picked up the skills as he went along. He knew he’d need to make a lot of difficult decisions, like whether to salvage things like the tail lights.

Michael also brought on his father-in-law, who had experience with bodywork and paint. Together, they made the tough calls. He ended up keeping and bringing new life into the tail lights, along with so many other pieces.

Michael says his father-in-law was a great teacher and had a lot of knowledge and tools that helped considerably. Without the knowledge and help, he never would have been able to salvage the Mustang Mach 1.

Before getting started, Michael spent years gathering parts. He found them on Craigslist, eBay, swap meets. If you are looking for Mustang car parts yourself, click here to view the list on eBay.

Michael also purchased newly reproduced parts but, when possible, Michael tried to restore the originals. Which, as many of you know firsthand, is difficult task.

He stored and worked on the parts in his basement for over a year. So many of his friends and family thought he was crazy, but he knew what he wanted and he went after it.

Michael refurbished the original engine, engine components, metal brackets, seat belts, plastic interior, taillights, steering wheel, and seat frames.

We should note, the engine was a Ford 351 Windsor motor, which produces nearly 290 horsepower. Michael obtained the motor later since it was not initially included in the car. This thing is coming together! Stick around the see the beautiful finish.

He added a few upgrades to the motor too, including the exhaust system and intake manifold. He completed all paint jobs himself.

Once ready for the bodywork portion of the restoration, Michael’s father-in-law began to weld body panels to corroded regions of the car with clean new metal. The quarter skins were reproduction panels.

Coming together! The door, fenders, hood trunk lid, on the other hand, were the original body panels with rust cut out and restored.

For Michael, it was essential to keep as many original parts as possible to retain the essence and nostalgic presence of the Mustang. He’s doing a great job so far. Will this thing actually drive though?

With painting, the two sanded off the old paint to see if there was any hidden rust; thankfully, there was none. They also added new floor pans under the body.

Once everything was stripped, and the final primer coat applied, Michael and his father-in-law painted the vehicle with a gorgeous Gulfstream Aqua color.

He says the paint was the biggest single expense on the project, costing around $2,000. That’s as much as he bought the car for to begin with!

The two did everything themselves except build the transmission. The Mustang now has a 351w with FMX transmission installed, which the original Mach 1 did not.

They managed to lower the transmission as well as the 1,000-pound motor using a hoist.

As for the interior, Michael added new carpeting, upholstery, headliners, plus seats. You could put in a couple of lawn chairs for all we care with how beautiful that paint job is!

Overall the project took about three years (1.5 for the restoration itself) and cost around $16,000.

A $16,000 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is not bad at all compared to the going rate for the car. A used (not nearly as newly updated as this one) Mach 1 can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000. That’s a pretty big margin! 

With the Mustang complete, Michael looks back on the experience as a fun memory, albeit with some frustrating moments.

During good weather months, in the Midwest, he likes to take the car out once or twice a week, although he wants to get a less-expensive Mustang for daily drives.

There it is! How beautiful is that. Well done sir. Michael tours his Mustang at a lot of car shows. In the 2016 River City Classics Car Show in Southeast Indiana, he won best-in-show. Congratulations!

With determination and persistence, Michael finally has the car he always wanted plus new skills he can use for the rest of his life.

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