Resurrecting A Mach 1 Mustang
Fastback From Japan

Old cars are like books, they all come with a story – some more interesting than others. But every once in a while you stumble across something that really makes you utter a simple, yet very honest, ‘wow!’ This Mustang Mach 1 was such a car, but it took me a while to actually get to the point of realising just how special it was.

I first came across the immaculately presented Ford while wondering through Supermachine’s new shop in Yokohama. It was sitting in a corner all by itself looking like it had just rolled out of the Ford factory in 1971. Based on its beauty and spotless condition – not to mention its rarity on the streets of Japan – I had to ask Watanabe-san if we could take it out for a drive and line it up for a shoot.


The car was pretty much ready to go, so we set a date, a time and a meeting place, and I began getting excited to shoot my first Mach 1.


I can’t really explain why I like this particular Mustang over those that came before and after it, but I think it might have something to do with watching reruns of Diamonds Are Forever over the Christmas holidays as a kid.


But it goes further than that. The sleek fastback design and the sheer size of the car is enough to make anyone stand in awe, admiring its proportions and unequivocal ’70s American styling.


It wasn’t until after I had come home from photographing the Mustang at one of my favourite shooting locations that I had a chance to fully comprehend the story behind the car. Watanabe told me to have a look at his blog entries, as the entire restoration had been chronicled – which I did. Seeing what the car originally looked like left my mouth agape, and then and there it became even more impressive than it already was.

At first glance, the red car that had rolled into Supermachine in 2008 didn’t look too bad given its age, but once Watanabe started taking a closer look and poking around, things quickly turned bad. He found lots of rust – steel so badly eroded in places that he was able to push right through it. It was decided that the only way to fix the Mach 1 properly was to gut the car completely and start over.


It’s so easy to underestimate just how much time, effort and money is required to take a car from close to junkyard condition and bring it back to its previous glory – or beyond that, as is the case here. It took six years from beginning to end, but I think the result speaks for itself. The was tons of metal work and welding involved before the chassis was painted black and the body refinished in a fitting shade of metallic beige; the idea being to retain the car’s original ’70s look, but then add to it with some modern touches.


That’s why the car sits on a set of custom painted HRE 891Rs. In proper muscle car style they’re a staggered setup too – 18×8.5-inch in the front and a staunch 19×10-inch at the rear.


Sitting on upgraded suspension components the Mach 1 is quite a lot lower than it originally was. It rides better as well thanks to RRS adjustable coilovers, and Koni shocks and Global West leaf springs. Global West front control arms boost steering feel and overall front end bite, while the Del-A-Lum bushing and shackle kit keeps the solid rear axle in check, transforming the feel of the car through the corners.


One of the biggest drawbacks of this particular generation of Mustang was its size and resulting weight, hence the owner asking Watanabe to upgrade the brakes. Easily visible through the HRE’s spokes thanks to their contrasting red colouring, AP Racing calipers – 6 pots in the front and 4 pots in the rear – bite down on large 2-piece slotted rotors to provide vastly improved braking power and a resistance to fade.


And so the car began to take shape.


As is normally the case with machines of this vintage, the interesting things are the details. In an era before cars became overrun with plastic, things like the metal door handles, and in the case of the Mach 1 – twistable bonnet latches that add extra safety to the way the long hood is held in place, are so beautifully integrated and constructed. If you know this particular model of Mustang you might notice that there’s something different going on with the grille-mounted yellow parking lights too…


As we will soon see in a factory tour of Supermachine, Watanabe has a small shop where he is able to fabricate one-off parts for his builds. For the Mustang it was the custom parking lights’ bezels which were crafted from a billet of aluminium before being machined to a beautiful semi-polished finish.

The Best Of The ’70s

It was decided that the car’s original black side racing stripes – if you could call them that – were uncalled for in this modern reinterpretation. Simple, as we know, is always best.


There’s no doubt that the old school/new school theme really works for this build, and even if you don’t particularly like ’70s muscle car design, it’s hard not to appreciate what’s been achieved here.


The warm light that hit the Mustang that late afternoon on the Tokyo Bay really emphasised all of the lines, creases and highlights that make this generation so unique. The quarter panel design and shape of its glass in particular reminds me of another favourite car of mine – the KPGC110 Kenmeri Skyline GT-R. It’s not hard to see where Nissan got the inspiration for that car from…


The taillights have been given a more contemporary feel through the use of hundreds of LEDs. The effect is neat, and they light output they provide is so much brighter than what the original filament bulbs could ever muster.


It’s when you soak up a car like this in its entirety that you realise what the deal is with the guys restoring, building and collecting these old automotive icons.


It’s not so much the cars’ performance or overall capabilities, but the statement they make and the experience they provide through their feel, sound and smell. Much like the wide body FastLane Camaro we recently took a look at, half a car’s attraction is in its personality.


Then of course there is the mechanical side to it. This Mach 1 was specced up from the Ford factory with a 351 Cleveland fed by a 4-barrel Automate 4300A carb and Ram Air system. As you can see above however, not much remains of that original setup.


The 5.8L block is the exception, but it’s been joined by a forged and stroked crankshaft, H-section rods and oversized high compression forged pistons to bump capacity to 383ci (6.2L). To get the most out of it a pair of Edelbrock Performer RPM heads have been thrown on, along with those nice Ford Racing covers and a Comp Cams camshaft. An Edelbrock air gap intake sits between the heads and a Holley Street Avenger 770cfm carburettor, while Edelbrock headers dump gasses into a one-off Supermachine exhaust system.


I thought the factory Ram Air setup was pretty cool, and aside from the bonnet bulges and ‘nostril’ intakes there are vacuum-operated flaps that open up to direct air towards the filter (via an air guide under the hood) when you floor the throttle.


Here’s a little look at the custom stainless steel system that Watanabe fabricated for the Mach 1. With all these parts in place the Mustang has over 400hp to play with, and the sound coming from those two pipes at the back is nothing short of intoxicating.

The Perfect Restoration

LED taillights and billet parking light bezels couldn’t possibly be fitted without an upgrade to the most important lighting units of them all – the headlights. These now run I-Magic HID conversions, which bumps brightness tenfold compared to the candlelight-like beams of the stock bulbs.


But the restoration didn’t end there.


No car of this caliber would be complete without an interior made to match, and once again the Mach 1 doesn’t disappoint.


Seeing that everything was removed from the car during the chassis and body restoration, while that was going on the dash and interior trim was sent away to be rejuvenated. Pretty much every panel has been clad in tight-fitting stitched leather, matched by the same hide used on the front and rear seats.


All of the upgrades are housed in the wood-trimmed center console, from the 2DIN LCD screen for the AV/navigation system under the factory dials, to the Vintage Air knobs for the added climate control system.


It’s a nice and comfortable place to spend time in, and matches the car’s grand tourer feel perfectly.


All interior carpeting – including that in the boot – was custom made from complementing dark brown pile, a few thin strips also used on the lower section of the door cards.


After seeing all of this you might understand why the whole restoration process took six years to complete. There was no rush in reinventing the Mach 1, so everyone involved took their time. Consequently, every single detail is just right.


I’m continually impressed by just many awesome machines I’m able to find in Japan. You name the car, the style and the scene and there’s a good chance the Japanese have it, or have done it – and damn well! It seems the deeper I dig the more I find, so you can expect to be seeing a lot more of these sort of projects coming from the land of the rising sun. Or the setting sun rather, if this final image is anything to go by. Burnout to the horizon!

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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Damn what a clean build! I have never really been a fan of the Mach 1 body style but these guys have made it much more likeable and the execution is well on point! Dino you never disappoint with your craft of photography! Keep it up!


Lachys114 Just wanted to say hi and I fully agree with your comment.


still a ford....


I'm so feeling the resto-mod vibe! Not a big Ford fan but my dad had a Torino from the same era and the interior reminded me of "when-I-get my-dad's-car" fantasies! The photography is gorgeous! One of the top posts of the year!


Very nice car indeed. I would make a test however - I would take the car in US and I would wait to see if somebody would recognize the Japanese way of doing thins. Even though US has many shops that are achieving great stuff, this car has that obsession for perfection that only Japanese people can put into a car. Love it.


greenroadster Ring brothers are Japanese, right? 

I feel like this car would look perfect with Vaughn Gittin Jr standing next to it. hahahahaha trollolololololol


The light in these photos has got a real magical quality to them.

Bravo Dino.


Such a properly built Mach 1!  The period correct interior with the subtle upgrades, works perfectly well with the exterior of this gorgeous car! 
My only suggestion: wider rear tires.  I'm thinking a 305/35...


I had a '71 Mach 1 351C with a 4 speed -- Loved that car!!!!!! Drove and street raced the hell out of the car, and it held it's own against all the Chevy cars my friends drove --- With the gear driven, large roller cam shaft making the exhaust bark, the noise was absolute heaven -- -- but being poor, I could only afford one toy at a time, so it was sold to build a V8 Ford Courier .... I'd post pictures of it, but it had a 80's paint job that would only get me flamed on here now LOL


I have a theory that the sheer exclusivity of Japanese car culture lends to a very high caliber of craftsmanship on them. Just one car is a luxury in Japan. A  "toy" car and a car modification hobby is several steps beyond that. You have a lot of very, very dedicated, passionate people that make it to that level of ability, interest, and resources that are able to contribute, and so what you see is absolutely incredible.
This is based on tidbits of info that I know, so I may well be way off base, but it's just a theory.


greenroadster What a load of pure automotive weabooism


good looking car, except the wheels..


I LOVE this. That interior is so glorious. Nice work Dino!


Speedhunters crew and Dino, you've been on point with some great features sporting lovely interiors lately!


Wonderful article Dino.  I'm seeing the '71 Mach 1 in a whole new light now!


ChrisMcNamee Thank you!


@zz I've been really trying to go for the more complete feature car lately, some more than others but this one was pure perfection!


Taryn Croucher Arigatou!


EMyrdal I thought it was a nice match?


KylePearson Makes sense, and you are sort of right. But there are also some clueless shops churning out some proper garbage.  Important thing is to concentrate on the good stuff and help steer the scene in the right direction I guess


Fiatdude I'd love to see a pic!  Post it and B&W and nobody will ever know hehe


SRT FTW Maybe if the engine was more powerful but they were going for total balance and it handles and feels great apparently


kayjaypug205 Grazie! :)


@TROLLS ROYCE greenroadster The Ring brothers are not Japanese no, but they lived in Japan during their time in the navy so I'm sure they picked up something when it comes to attention to detail from Japan. They definitely picked up the "R" in their logo from the GT-R badge ;)


MrJoneStyle Thank you! I was blessed with perfect light that day


LavarBowers I really don't get these comments lol, must be a US thing haha


Lachys114 Thanks dude!


Is that a question? They look out of place on a car like this. Should have something that looks a little more retro. Imo


speedhunters_dino LavarBowers We have a strange "Fanboy Syndrome" here Dino.  It's a mixture of self-loathing and uneducated denial.  You learn to tune it out after a while ;)


Man this is so sweet! Love the Mach 1 and this one gives me ideas if I were to find one. 
Looks like it can take on some of the current muscle cars easily. Awesome post guys.


The Mach I is still not one of my favorite styles, but I concede this resto-mod treatment was well-done and well-photographed too!


My favorite model Mustang personally. American Kenmeri for sure. Am I horrible for wondering what this would look in a kyusha/shakotan style? Works style would be cool. Somebody hit up kato-san Haha Cars are supposed to be fun right? Having said all that this is a beautiful example for sure. The rear profile is what makes this car seem so aggressive. Thanks for the share!


speedhunters_dino SRT FTW I was thinking purely from an aesthetic standpoint to complete the resto-mod look.  On a side note: I'm pretty sure that 383 is pushing 400+ horses - enough to chirp some 305s!


Stunning photos here Dino, the first one made me say Wow out loud haha


wow very well done. these are not my favorite mustangs but the wheels and colors and the whole theme of the car works very well and makes the car look so much better. I really like how much restraint was shown but the mods really make the car much more beautiful and interesting.


Fiatdude speedhunters_dino It's cool in it's own 1980's way. I think Metrolink copied you. 
Out of curiosity, what color did that '71 Mach start out as?


Kurt -- It was originally that mustard yellow color -- Don't remember what the correct name for it was

AND if you want a real mustang -- look what popped up on ebay


Fiatdude - That would be Medium Goldenrod Yellow. Ginger interior? If so, my '72 parts car is a close double of your car, though it is a side-stripe car with no side mouldings.

The price tag of '69/70 Sportsroofs is enough to prevent me from becoming a fan; that, and I'm not a fan of the deep, split-horseshoe dash. The earlier dashboards are much nicer. 
As the owner of both that '72 and a '71 M-code, I should like the stock dash on the final first-gen Mustangs a bit more than I do (not a fan of all-black interiors - I'd buy a modern car if I wanted that), but the knee room makes up for the overall blandness of the standard interiors. Granted, the factory Ginger interior looks nice when it's paired with the Mach 1 Sports Interior Package, as does Avocado (in its own '70s way).



those bonnet latches are beautiful.

oh and so is the rest of the car.  never knew it'd look better without the mach 1 stripes :)


QD Thanks!


kphillips9936 Thanks for the positive feedback!


I have one just like it For Sale. 1972 Mach1 pewter (silver) with 351 Cleveland. I've dropped the price to 22k. It's in excellent condition if anyone is looking. Need it sold asap.


Raise your hand if you would love to see this model resurrected as-is by Ford today? It would give the Dodge Challenger a run for its money in the marketplace. Kim Shugart - CEO @


just beautiful!


This is one of the most beautifult Mustangs that I ever saw...


Any chance of the back space info on the rims ? The stance is perfect on your car.


My sister will be 60 in 1/17. As a surprise I would like to find either a 1971 or 1972 Yellow Mustang that she had when she was 16 which would have been in 1973. We live in Pa & I have no vin # or picture of this car. The only thing I know is that the owners would have been my parents Bernard or Evelyn Litten. Do you know of anyway I could possibly track down this car with the little info I have. Any suggestions would be appreciated



The guy who wrote this article doesn't bother to read the comments. Try the site above. Nice folks.