An Award Winning 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1:
From Boyhood Dreams to Retirement Reality
We recently had a chance to speak with Dennis McGrath after noticing his beautiful pearl white 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1. This particular car holds a special place in Dennis’ heart, and while he only acquired it in the last few years since retiring, his history with this Mach 1 goes back much further; as does Dennis’ love affair with the Ford Mustang.
When asked when he first found himself drawn to the car that jump started the “pony car” craze, Dennis stated, “I’ve loved Mustangs since elementary school. Back then, all my friends and I wore Mustang jackets.” However, it wasn’t until years later that Dennis acquired his first Mustang, and it wasn’t the 1970 Mach1 in this article.
“I’ve loved Mustangs since elementary school. Back then, all my friends and I wore Mustang jackets.”
To complement the aftermarket cam, Dennis swapped the original 2-barrel intake manifold and carburetor, to a 4-barrel aluminum manifold and Edelbrock 600 CFM carb. Dennis stated, “this really woke the car up, and even though the 4-barrel Cleveland heads make more horsepower up high, the 2-barrel heads jump off the line quicker.”
Outside of that, the car is mechanically very original. Wear & tear steering and suspension parts were replaced with units from Moog, and the 50-year-old springs were replaced with aftermarket lowering springs from Hotchkis sport suspension. “It was supposed to lower the car 2 inches out front and one in the back,” said Dennis. He continued, “but it was more like 3 inches up front and 2 in the rear.” Dennis said he checked, and everything still cleared, so he was happy with it.
Behind that 351 Cleveland is Ford’s FMX automatic transmission which connects to the stock 3.0:1 final drive in a Ford 9” open rear end. Getting that power to the ground are some classic-looking Milestar Streetsteel radial tires complete with raised white lettering. In the front, Dennis runs a 235/60R15 with a slightly wider 245/60R15 outback. These are wrapped around a set of 15” American Racing VN500 wheels which give the factory look of a Magnum 500 wheel, but with aluminum construction.
“It only has 94 thousand original miles on it. I didn’t need to do anything to it.”
The paint is about the biggest area where Dennis strayed from the original. While the Ford Mustang Mach 1 was originally white, the color he chose was a Lexus Ultra White Pearl. When asked why he chose this color, Dennis replied, “I was going to repaint it the original white. But the body shop I use does a lot of work for a Lexus dealership. I saw all these white cars coming and going, and decided I wanted the brightest white out there.” He also mixed it up a little with all the badging and stripes. Instead of using decals, all the stripes and badges are painted on. For that Dennis chose a black pearl with a touch of blue pearl mixed in giving it a color-changing effect in certain lighting.
If you don’t believe that life begins after retirement, Dennis McGrath is here to prove you wrong. While his first build took 18 years while working, Dennis has completed 2 cars and started a pickup truck build in the 5-1/2 years since he retired. Although the ’66 Mustang A-Code convertible project already sold, we’re looking forward to seeing how his ’55 Chevy big window turns out and hopefully doing another feature here. If his past builds are any indication of the future, it’s sure to be another show winner.