The Slooten name is a well known one in South African drag racing circles. The three Slooten brothers have a long association with big-block American V8 muscle cars, Mark racing a Chevy Camaro, Simon a Dodge Challenger, while Jeroen is a diehard Ford Mustang man.
Jeroen transferred this love for Mustangs down to his son Bradley, and not only do they both race their Fords, they’ve built them too.
The story of Jeroen’s 1972 Mach 1 Mustang starts at Tarlton International Raceway, South Africa’s only national drag strip. Tarlton’s owner, Mick Van Rensburg, has a massive fleet of drag machines, mostly American stuff, ranging from almost standard cars to doorslammers and top fuel dragsters.
Mick had the Mach 1 sitting in his storeroom, and Jeroen had his eyes set on it for a long time; it was a lot like the one his father owned. The fact that both of Jeroen’s brothers were racing at this time and he was stuck sitting on the sidelines without a drag car, only made the want stronger. Mick doesn’t like selling his cars, but after lots of back and forth negotiation over the space of 12 months, Jeroen was finally able to make the Mach 1 his own.
It wasn’t just a case of getting in and racing though; the Mustang had been parked up for many years and had definitely seen better days. Not helping things was a terrible fiberglass bodykit that had to go. While Jeroen could have just done spot repairs, he decided to take the car back to a bare shell and rebuild it to a high standard. This way there’d be no surprises down the track.
In its stripped state, a few small rust spots in the usual places a first generation facelift Mustang go showed themselves, but overall the body was solid and straight. It was trailered off to De Beer Panelbeaters in Tarlton, who perfected the panels and their fitment, and then resprayed the car Canary Yellow – the same color as Jeroen’s father’s car.
To finish things off, new Mach 1 stripes were added alongside a black chin spoiler, boot spoiler, and a brand new fiberglass hood with scoop.
Given the size of that scoop you’d expect a decent engine up front, and the 460ci (7.5-liter) big block Ford the Mach 1 came with doesn’t disappoint.
It too has been rebuilt, Jeroen upgrading the fuel system along the way with a 30-liter drag-spec cell, Holley pump and new lines. His brother Mark also rewired the engine, adding a new MSD ignition system too.
There’s nitrous as well, a simple 100hp shot for a little bit of extra punch. The goal with the engine was to keep it simple and therefore reliable, and that’s exactly what it is.
The power and torque is transferred through a C6 automatic transmission with B&M shifter, running out to a solid spool-equipped rear end with 4.55:1 gears.
Weld Draglite wheels feature at both ends of the car; the square 15×15-inch rears being wrapped up in 28.0/10.0-15 Hoosier slicks for plenty of traction off the line.
While the exterior had needed work, the interior was in surprisingly good condition, hence why Jeroen has mostly retained it the way it came. That said, you will find some drag-specific accessories, including a 5-inch tachometer with shift light, auxiliary gauges to monitor water temperature and oil pressure, and a drag seat with harness.
Jeroen never set out to build a super-fast car, but despite weighing in at over 1.8-ton, his Mach 1 Mustang still manages to run a mid-12-second quarter mile. Bradley likes to joke that his dad is trying to launch a building, but the way it comes off the line is still pretty impressive.
What Jeroen loves most about this car though, is the fact that he can beat on it all day at the strip, then put it on the trailer, tow it back home, and throw it under a cover until the next event. It never misses a beat.Bradley’s Fox body Mustang
Bradley’s 1979 Fox body Mustang build is a lot different to the Mach 1, and it’s quicker too. After crewing for his family for many years, he eventually convinced his dad to help build a race car of his own. This started with a Ford, but not a Mustang.
Initially, Bradley and his dad worked on a wicked-rusty Ford Capri, but when an unfinished Fox body Mustang project came along, they didn’t pass up the opportunity to buy it.
The Mustang was in good shape overall; the bodywork had already been completed and new blue paint recently applied. In fact, the low-level drag wing and decals are the only things Bradley has added to the exterior.
All that was then missing from the great chassis and body was some running gear and a drag-spec wheel and tire combination.
For the engine, a small-block 302ci Ford V8 was chosen and then stroked to 347 cubic inches with a full build. There’s nitrous too, and that 150hp shot has helped the Fox body run a 10.78-second quarter mile.
Shifts are made through a TCI C6 transmission, which is connected to a Hughes Performance torque converter. When Bradley picked up the car it was already running a M75 rear end, but this has since been upgraded with a solid spool and a new prop-shaft. Finally, 26/10.0-15 Mickey Thompson ET rear drag slicks get the power to the ground.
The Fox body was purchased without an interior, so only the basics have been put back in – a 6-point roll cage for safety and a single race seat with harness belts the main additions.
These two Mustangs have proved to be a great way for a father and son to bond and spend some quality time together, burning fuel and rubber.
Unfortunately, neither car or driver is seeing any action right now as the South African national drag racing series was cancelled, but I’m sure that whenever it picks up again, both Mustangs – and the extended Slooten family as a whole – will be back on the black stuff, ready to have some fun.