Junkyard Find: 1974 Ford Mustang Mach 1

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

All right, Mustang II experts, I’m going to start right off by saying that this Pinto Mustang might not be a numbers-matching real Mach 1. Maybe it’s a FrankenMustang with what appears to be the correct collection of Mach 1 options. Either way, this fine Malaise Era machine— which I found at a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard a few weeks back— is a fascinating museum of the diminished automotive expectations faced by car shoppers in a grim period in American history.

The Mach 1 for ’74 came with a mighty 105 horsepower. No, really.

Thanks to Ford’s European operations, a very compact 2.8 liter pushrod V6 was available for the Mustang II. If a Ford dealership also sold Mercury cars, Cologne-powered Capris could be found in the same showroom.

This car received a thick coat of what appears to be gray latex house paint, probably just before it took that final tow-truck ride to the Parking Lot of Automotive Doom.

Automatic transmission with factory tachometer! Yes, that’s a 5,000 RPM redline on an allegedly sporty V6.

Remote passenger-side mirror!

Truly amazing vinyl-on-vinyl-on-pleather PetroPolstery™ seats!

Either the original buyer of this car cheaped out and got the $61 AM radio instead of the $346 8-track player (that’s $1,634 in today’s dollars, for those of you who scream that your Bluetooth-enabled head unit cost too much), or this is an aftermarket Philco that replaced a stereo ripped off by Seconal-crazed junkie thieves in 1976.

You’d never see a pre-1974 Mach 1 in one of these low-buck self-serve wrecking yards, because such a car would be snapped up at the auction for much more than the junkyard chain’s buyer would ever pay. Poor unloved Mustang II!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Andy D Andy D on Feb 10, 2014

    Heh heh, I was into '66 bugs. and was too busy wrenching to sneer very hard. Then I got into faux wood wagons when the goons came.

  • Dannew02 Dannew02 on Feb 13, 2014

    THe one car my Dad's mother ever drove was a notchback like this. (Possibly a 75 though) She got her license, in her late 50's, just to be able to drive her Mustang. IT was a silver GHia, 4-cyl auto (with no power steering or brakes, but it did have power windows and a sunroof.) She LOVED that car and drove it proudly. SHe had seen it in the dealer's showroom when my Grandpa was there getting one of his work trucks for his business and she just had to have it. SHe had never driven, or had interest in driving before that, but once she saw that Mustang she did what she had to do to get it. ONce it got about 10 years old, both she and the Stang started getting to old. She never drove any other car, that I ever heard about. Grandpa had a string of Oldses, LIncolns and Caddies but Gran only ever rode in those. THe Mustang was still in the back of his business garage when he sold out in the late 80's/early 90's. Even when she was in a care home, one of the grandkids got her a plastic model of the Mustang and she'd get all smiles and recall some of the trips she made in it. SO rag on all you want, P/M-II haters, I'll never have anything bad to say about this genration of Mustangs because I'll remember how happy it made my Gran.

  • The Oracle This thing got porky quick.
  • Kwi65728132 I'll grant that it's nicely kept but I'm not a fan of the bangle butt designs, and I know better than to buy a used BMW while living anywhere in the world other than in the fatherland where these are as common as any Honda or Toyota is anywhere else.
  • ChristianWimmer When these came out I thought they were hideous: now they’ve grown on me. This one looks pretty nice. Well-maintained, low mileage and some good-looking wheels that aren’t super fancy but not cheap-looking or boring either, they are just right.
  • Aja8888 Someday in the far away future, all cars will look the same, people will be the same color, dogs will be all mixed beyond recognition, and governments will own everything. That car looks like my son's Hyundai Tucson without badges.
  • Tassos Of course, what the hell did you expect? A SERIOUS, BEAUTIFUL car you can ACTUALLY USE AS YOUR DAILY DRIVER???............. NOOOOO, THIS IS TIM WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. SO HE FINDS SOME OBSOLETE POS WHICH IS 22 years old, .............AND HE PURPOSELY MISSES THE BEAUTIFUL MODEL, THE Classical Beauty E39 that ended in 2003. ...........So he uses his column as a WASTEBASKET once again, to throw the first year of BMWs BANGLED 5 series (as in the INFAMOUS CHRIS BANGLE WHO SCREWED UP THE DESIGN ROYALLY). ................................................ As Dr. Evil, Fake Doctor Jill Biden would scream at the top of her voice, so her senile idiot husband could hear her, "Good Job, (Tim)! You answered all the questions and ticked all the boxes!" ..... KEEP UP THE S---Y work, Tim!