Tom Mangert has a perfectly logical explanation for how he has managed to keep his gorgeous 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 since he ordered it new in the summer of ’69.
“I kept this one strictly by Jupiter lining up with Mars, you know what I mean?” laughs Mangert, a resident of Waupaca, Wis. “It’s pretty amazing stuff.
“I never would have believed it. No way. But I’ve always been taught if you have earn things and pay for them yourself, you take care of them! You don’t pound ’em up when you pay for them. I footed the bill for the whole thing — insurance and everything else — and when you buy stuff and earn the money, you take care of it. I never pounded the car, and that was really the key to the whole thing.”
The muscular Mustang, with its rumbling 428 Cobra Jet engine hidden under a menacing hood scoop, didn’t have a particularly easy early life. It survived daily driver duties for a quite a while and even a few harsh Wisconsin winters as everyday transportation. Somehow, it is none the worse for wear and still looks like a nearly new car.
“After 50 years of driving, last summer in 2019 it did turn 100,000 miles, but they were good miles. This car did not jump into a bridge abutment or wrap around an oak tree,” Mangert says proudly. “I stopped driving it in winter in 1975. For the first few years, it was my regular car and I actually had a trailer hitch on it and towed the boat. I took the trailer hitch off when we re-did the car in 1986.
“It’s all I had. With that Traction-Lok rear end, I was pulling a double snowmobile trailer for a while. On chrome reverse rims, I put on H40-17 studded tires! With the Traction-Lok, I could pull the trailer through deep snow, no sweat. If you were on a snow-covered parking lot… you could actually spin around the length of the car, if you were careful, and do a complete 180 and go the other way. But if you stood on it, you’re gonna have a problem,” he laughs.
“In 1975 it had 70,000 miles on it, and since then it’s been basically a sunny day, summer drive situation ever since.”
Mangert can laugh about it now, but, ironically, his worst moment with the car probably came about four years ago courtesy of a deer when he was driving cautiously to a gathering with other old car lovers. “I was going over to our Wednesday night car meet at Burger King, and by the [local] Catholic church a deer came out of nowhere and hit the right front fender! I got that fixed up. But I was heartbroken. I was in disbelief that this deer had the nerve to hit my car! The guy that painted the car for me back in 1986, he’s now retired, Beckman’s Collision Service — Ralph Beckman — he’s an excellent painter and body man … He fixed it up for me. The hood and front fender had to be fixed and repainted. But she’s standing tall and looking good now!”
1969 MUSTANG: LIVING LARGER
For model year 1969, the Mustang received its third major restyling. Its new body wasn’t drastically changed, but it grew 3.8 inches. There was no change in wheelbase, which was still the same 108 inches as in 1965. The windshield was more sharply raked and quad headlamps were used. The outer lenses were deeply recessed into the fenders and the inboard lenses were set into the grille.
Missing for the first time was a side scoop or cove on the body. This styling gimmick was replaced with a feature line that ran from the tip of the front fender to just behind the rear-most door seam, at a level just above the front wheel opening. On convertibles and hardtops there was a rear-facing, simulated air vent in front of the rear wheel opening on both sides. On fastbacks, this feature line lead to a backwards C-shaped air scoop above the main feature line.The fastback was now referred to as the SportsRoof. It had a 0.9-inch lower roofline than earlier fastbacks. Also, Mustang fastbacks were now true hardtops. The rear quarter louvers were gone. Instead, a small window abutted the door glass.
The fastback was now referred to as the SportsRoof. It had a 0.9-inch lower roofline than earlier fastbacks. Also, Mustang fastbacks were now true hardtops. The rear quarter louvers were gone. Instead, a small window abutted the door glass.
Though the styling theme remained Ford-like, the Mustang adopted GM-like ideas to suit the tastes of different buyers. Mustangs now came in basic, luxury, sporty and high-performance formats like a Camaro or Firebird. Mach 1’s had the Mustang’s fanciest interior with high-back bucket seats, black carpets, a rim-blow steering wheel, a center console, a clock, sound-deadening insulation and teakwood-grained trim on the doors, dash and console.
One nice performance option available to enthusiast buyers in 1969 was a Mustang GT or Mach 1 with the Cobra Jet 428 engine. This motor was Ford’s big-block performance leader. It came in Cobra Jet (CJ 428) or Super Cobra Jet 428 (SCJ 428) versions. The former was called the “standard Cobra engine” in the 1969 Performance Buyer’s Guide. It generated 335 hp at 5200 rpm and 440 lbs.-ft. of torque at 3400 rpm. The latter was the same engine with Ram Air induction, a hardened steel cast crankshaft, special “LeMans” connecting rods and improved balancing for drag racing. It had the same advertised horsepower.
A 1969 Mach 1 two-door hardtop with the 428-cid/335-hp engine carried just 9.6 lbs. per hp. It could do 0-to-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and cover the quarter-mile in 13.9 seconds according to one road test. Car and Driver tested a Mach 1 fastback with the regular Cobra Jet V-8, automatic transmission and a 3.91:1 limited slip axle. This combination produced 5.7-second 0-to-60-mph performance and a 14.3-second quarter-mile at 100 mph. The car had an estimated top speed of 115 mph.
The Mach 1’s base engine was a 351-cid two-venturi Windsor V-8. This was essentially a stroked 302-cid Ford V-8 with raised deck height, which created a great street performance engine. The basic version cranked up 250 horses. Options included the 351-cid/290-hp four-venturi V-8 and a 390-cid/320-hp V-8.
Manual 10-in. four-wheel drums were standard on the Mach 1 with 11.3-in. power front disc brakes on the options list. Five transmissions were on the menu: a three-speed manual (on 351 Mach 1s); close- or wide-ratio transmissions on 390- and 428 Mach 1s; and two different SelectShift automatics. All Mach 1 Mustangs had Ford’s limited-slip differential (aka Traction-Lok). E70-14 wide-oval belted white sidewall tires were standard with 14 x 6-inch chrome styled steel wheels. White-letter F70-14 white-letter tires were optional.
The bigger, redesigned Mustang saw plenty of press for 1969. Many purists lamented the car getting bigger and bulkier. Car and Driver found plenty to like about the 428-powered Mach 1, but wasn’t crazy about the extra 3.8 inches in length, or the fact that 59.3 percent of the car’s weight was on the front wheels. “Any rear-wheel-drive car would be hamstrung with that kind of weight distribution and the Mustang is no exception,” the magazine commented. “It can’t begin to put its power to the ground for acceleration.” Still the magazine praised the car as “a blend of dragster and Trans-Am sedan. In a year when every manufacturer offers hood scoops, Ford outdoes them all with an AA/Fuel dragster-style bug-catcher sticking right out through a hole in the hood… Torque is its most important product and torque is available on instant notice without having to climb high into the rpm scale. The standard dual exhaust system, which ends in two pairs of chrome tipped pipes under the rear bumper, allows the Cobra Jet to rumble in a fashion that puts its competition to shame.”
In all, a whopping 72,458 Mach 1s were built for the 1969 model year.
One of those ponies was a hot Indian Fire Red CJ-428 ordered by Mangert that he claims was the last ’69 Mach 1 his local Ford dealership could get its hands on. Mangert had bought a nice car a few years earlier — a 1966 Ford Fairlane 500 XL two-door hardtop for $2700 — but he wound up selling it while he was in the Army. As soon as he got home in May of 1969, he started looking for another nice car and roped a Mach 1.
“They said you had the choice of a ’69 Mach 1, or you could order a ’70,” he recalled. “But I wanted the ’69 because they had the super lines and scooped grille and rear brake scoops, which were removed in ’70. This car was loaded with four-speed; close-ratio; Traction-Lok rear end; factory in-dash tach; front disc brakes, which was a new thing then. It also has the electronic intermittent wipers, which is $16.95 extra. The car listed out fully loaded at $4067, and my payments were $104.53, for 36 months, paid for in 1971!
“I personally ordered the car. It was never on a lot. None of these were ever on a lot. A friend of mine bought a similar car at a dealership, an Indian Fire Mach 1, but it was not the Ram Air and it had the 351 four-barrel in it.”
Mangert opted for the white interior and the folding rear seat, which was a $97 extra at the time. “Most of the cars had black interiors. I particularly wanted the white interior and I ordered the white bucket seats. Many of these do not have white bucket seats. Almost all are black. You could get a red interior if you had, like, a black car or a white car… but they were all high-back buckets if it was a Mach 1.”
Mangert insists that the Mach 1 isn’t as loaded with goodies as people might think at first glance. It’s certainly got the look — and the go-power under the hood — but it is a more Spartan muscle car than some of its Ford family cousins.
“By today’s standards, for an upscale car, it wasn’t much for what you actually got,” he chuckles. “You got the luxury interior, which was vinyl with the high-back buckets … It was kind of a plain interior .. It looked kind of sporty compared to the old bench seat look, and people then were really excited about buckets. Bench seats were kind of fading off, and now everything is bucket seats.
“It’s got power steering and power front disc bakes. One thing I wished it had was cruise control. That was not available in ’69, and [neither were] leather seats, power seats, or even power windows. [They were] not available on the Mach 1.”
It’s been about 44 years since the Mach 1 was restored, but it remains in stunning condition. Beckman took the car down the bare metal and repainted it back in ’86. At the same time Mangert replaced all the belts and hoses and swapped in new water and oil pumps, timing chain, starter and alternator. The seats were recovered during the same time period and the door panels were reconditioned.
“He painted it right with the proper undercoat and so forth,” Mangert notes. “At the time, clearcoat was a new thing and we did clearcoat it, and that’s what really saved the paint! That, and being able to store it indoors.”
Mangert pulled off the original rims back in the ’80s and has been running 14x7 American Racing mags ever since “that I got locally at NAPA right here in Waupaca. And those steel-belted radials make all the difference in the world in handling.” Like all the other original parts he has removed from the car, even maintenance items, Mangert still has the original wheels.
Mangert has two other beautiful Mustangs, but it’s pretty clear which one has the most sentimental value to him. He shutters thinking back to the only time he ever considered parting with the ’69 Mach 1. “Back in like ’71 when gas was starting to get high — like 41 cents or something for premium — I looked at trading it in for something else, like an LTD, which would have been a major mistake!”
“No, I’ve got no plans to never get rid of it. As long as I’ve got a garage to keep ’em in, I’m in Mustang heaven!”
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