You don't have to go very far to find folks who love Ford's Mustang Boss 429. Even the Chevy and Mopar loving crew have to admit, it's one rare muscle car that stirs the hearts of leadfoots everywhere.
Dave Otto is one such aficionado who has always had his heart set on owning one. Given their red-hot collectability, he settled on what he deemed next best for him, and his wallet -- a 1970 Mach 1.
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The Bartlett resident found his Calypso Coral fastback in a rural country barn just south of the Illinois/Wisconsin border in 2011. Upon closer examination, it was readily apparent this four-wheeled pony had been ridden hard before it was stabled.
"It had been sitting there stored, unused and abused since 1992," he said. "The front end was smashed and the engine was blown. Rust had taken hold and its overall condition was deteriorating quite rapidly."
Despite its less-than-ideal first impression, the worn-out muscle car was the perfect substitute for that Boss daydream, which can carry a six-figure price tag.
"The Boss Mustangs were way more than I was willing to pay or could afford. After coming across this Mach 1, I realized it was close enough," Otto said.
Not that a Mach 1 isn't a desirable cruiser. Ford made sure it would stand out from the crowd by equipping it with a competition suspension, various exterior visual adornments and several upgraded engine packages, each packing more horsepower.
When Otto found his vehicle, a major draw was the completeness of its components. "Everything was mostly there providing me with a good road map for putting it all back together," he said.
Unfortunately, trouble wasn't limited to its non-running engine or banged up body. "The car was abandoned all that time in the barn, making for months of straightening out the title paperwork."
Quickly after moving past that headache, Otto launched into the project, which commenced in November 2011. "Over the winter, every free minute was spent in the garage. Each part was thoroughly gone over and cleaned, repaired or replaced," he said.
The prevalence of moisture in the barn had taken a mighty toll, especially on the Ford's underside. "There were numerous issues of rot and previous patching that had to be taken out," Otto said. "Many areas needed intense welding."
Since his ride isn't one of those ultra-rare Bosses, Otto took liberties during the seven-month restoration. "I built it to be a real driver and incorporated lots of upgrades to make it extremely livable."
The antiquated drum brakes mounted at each corner from the factory were swapped out for a power disc setup. Otto grew tired of "fighting the leaky, loose steering" and installed rack and pinion steering. Not everything was tweaked: the 351-cubic-inch V-8 was left alone, its 300 horsepower output being more than enough for normal asphalt.
One major difference between Otto's Mach 1 and his once-preferred Boss is the frequency of which Otto is parked at the gas pump. He installed a Tremec five-speed transmission with overdrive. When cruising down the highway at 70 mph, the engine only turns at 2,000 rpm, making it surprisingly good at fuel consumption.
"It's no hybrid," he said, "but doesn't break the bank to drive."