The Story Behind The Mid-Engine 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1

Housing a supercharged 5.4-liter Ford GT motor, this Mach 1 completely flips the muscle car restomod script on its head.

The muscle car restomod scene is seemingly going from strength to strength these days. The sheer amount of imaginative and unusual builds coming out of the woodwork are pushing custom car builders to think further outside the box and drive innovation forward in a world where OEMs have seemingly abandoned creativity and soul in favor of efficiency and economy.

On the face of it, sticking a modern Ford motor into a classic Ford chassis is hardly groundbreaking. However, as is the way with many of the best custom builds, it’s the execution that makes the difference. Some cars are hallowed ground in the eyes of classic car purists, and fundamentally changing the car’s core design is sacrilege.

That hasn’t stopped custom car builder Bobby Johnson from turning one of the most beloved Ford Mustangs into something completely unique. With the supercharged 5.4-liter V8 heart from a Ford GT now replacing the rear seats, Johnson has turned this pony car into a certified supercar while still retaining the essence of the original Mustang Mach 1. Automotive YouTuber Jalopy Jeff has been checking out this beautiful Ford restomod that’s recently been up for auction at Mecum Kissimmee 2024.

Johnson Built This Mid-Engine Mach 1 To Draw Attention

Mid-Engine Mustang Mach 1 Key Details

  • Completed back in 2015, this 1970 Mach 1 has had a mid-engine conversion complete with a 2006 Ford GT motor
  • Builder Bobby Johnson built a tube frame chassis from scratch and cut and welded the original Mach 1 body to fit
  • The car uses C6 Corvette hubs, front suspension arms and spindles, and the body is 2 inches longer than factory
  • The 5.4-liter supercharged V8 retains the stock 550 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque output
  • This car was recently put up for auction at Mecum Florida but did not reach the reserve price

Whether we like to admit it or not, if we spend a lot of time (and money) on a project build, we want the car community to appreciate our efforts. Bobby’s project car before the Mustang was a red 1969 Chevrolet Camaro with the driveline, electronics, and interior of a C6 Corvette Z06 underneath. Johnson says that the build was far more labor-intensive than the Mustang, with the wiring alone taking him nearly four months to complete.

Sadly, while the work and engineering that went into the project were undoubtedly worth profound adoration, the exterior looked like any other ’69 Camaro, and the extensive nature of the build went largely unnoticed. When Johnson was coming up with ideas for his next build, he wanted to ensure that the extent of the engineering was on full display.

This Mustang Mach 1 Has A Custom Tube-Frame Chassis

Now, completely relocating an engine in any car isn’t exactly a simple process, and the more fragile nature of an older car can make the process even more tricky if there’s rust or structural weakness in the mix. With this in mind, Johnson ensured he had a strong base car to start to avoid any unexpected pitfalls or lengthy structural repairs hampering his progress before it even began.

This meant acquiring one of the best all-original 1970 Mustang Mach 1s he could get his hands on. In fact, Johnson bought this car from an elderly gentleman who had owned the car for many years, with Johnson even helping him service the car while he was still in his teens.

To get the engine to fit, Johnson mocked up the drivetrain and the C6 Chevrolet Corvette front suspension and then began fabricating a custom steel tube-frame chassis around all the components. The other chassis pieces include C6 Corvette rear hubs that fit on the Ford GT transaxle, narrowed slightly to allow the Mustang body to fit over the whole assembly. The Mustang also has a custom roll cage for greater structural rigidity.

From there, Johnson began cutting away the floors and cowl of the Mach 1 body while also elongating the wheelbase at the rear by about two inches to accommodate his 6 ft 4” frame. With all that work done, Johnson dropped the Mach 1 body over the custom chassis, welded it in place before adding it back into the floor and cowl, and created a custom two-inch bulkhead to separate the engine from the cabin.

Johnson Found The Ford GT Engine On eBay

1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 VS 2006 Ford GT Specifications

Model1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 (4-valve)2006 Ford GT
Engine351 cu-in (5.8-liter) naturally aspirated V85.4-liter supercharged V8
DrivetrainFront-engine, rear-wheel driveMid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Transmission4-speed manual6-speed manual
Power300 hp550 hp
Torque380 lb-ft500 lb-ft
Average Value$66,091$437,821
Top Sale Price$330,000$797,500

Aside from the engine placement, the motor itself is arguably the centerpiece of the entire car. The 5.4-liter supercharged V8 is from a crashed 2006 Ford GT, which had been parted out by a specialist dealer in Illinois, selling the engine via eBay. Johnson says he always wanted a Ford GT but couldn’t afford one, so this project is the next best thing.

The motor is still completely stock power-wise, producing 550 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque going to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission by Ricardo. To accommodate the engine relocation, the fuel tank, intercooler, and fans now sit where the engine used to be, with the transmission tunnel now housing some of the wiring, radiator hoses, and intercooler piping.

Johnson says that, despite initial concerns, the car has no temperature issues and has a virtually 50/50 weight distribution. This Mach 1 also has ’69 Mustang rear quarter panels, which have been repurposed as air ducts to allow airflow into the rear engine bay to further aid cooling. Johnson has also fabricated a custom single-piece hatch with gas shock struts in another modern custom twist on the classic formula to gain access to the engine.

This Mach 1 Has Some Special Custom Details

While all the front suspension arms, spindles, and front and rear hubs are from a C6 Corvette, this mid-engine Mustang sits slammed on a set of appropriately named Phat Racing coilovers all around. This lowered stance, in conjunction with the one-off 18-inch EVOD knock-off wheels, gives the car a hot rod feel while also masking the elongated wheelbase. To help the Mustang stop, the car has Wilwood disc brakes with 6-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors on all four corners with a 2003 Mustang SVT Cobra electric hydro-boost system.

Other interesting details include the car’s straked rocker trim, which now has custom ‘Ford GT’ lettering in place of the factory Mach 1 insignia. The Ford GT references continue on the rear of the car, with the factory Mach 1 decal now replaced with a machined metal Ford GT badge. The factory gas cap with the Mustang logo has also been replaced with a GT badge, and the rear honeycomb fascia has been completely reworked to allow air to flow out of the rear of the car.

Completing the exterior, the Mustang has been resprayed in PPG 2008 Shelby Mustang yellow paint, offset with a slew of carbon fiber and aluminum panels hydro-dipped with a carbon effect. Interestingly, the Mustang has the dash from an SN95 Mustang, along with some custom gauges and leather-trimmed Sparco seats. Johnson has since sold the car, and it was recently put up for auction at Mecum in Florida, where it sadly didn’t sell. Hopefully, the car finds its way into the hands of someone who takes it back onto the road again soon.

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