Ash, as we call him around these parts, is a key part of NZV8 magazine. Not only does he take care of the advertising side of things, he also works alongside the editor getting the magazine out each month. Kind of his right-hand man you could say. There is certainly no doubting his passion, as this man’s list of rides owned reads like most people’s dream list, from a well-known hot rod called Wild Honey, to a very staunch ’56 Chev packing 1000 ponies under the hood. Then there is the list of ’Vettes that have graced his garage at one point or another.
“This isn’t just an ordinary old ’69; it’s more a mobile tribute to sweat, blood and tears”
While going through the many vehicles in his past, we came to his latest ride, and it was at this point this article changed from a ‘who is Ashley’ article to a ‘check out his car’ story! This is one of those cars that must be seen to be believed. Our shutter-man Jared Clark became a victim of its stunning, almost mesmerising presence. The week leading up to rolling the beast into the studio, Ash was very concerned about the weather. It looked like the forecast precipitation was going to put a damper on the shoot. “But we are shooting it in the studio,” Jared said. “It doesn’t matter if it rains.”
Let It Rain
But Ash’s concern wasn’t for the actual shoot, but the journey to the studio. As it turned out, the sky in the morning was as blue as the Ford oval itself. Studio ready, complete with a waiting photographer, and then came a distinct rumble that can only be a Windsor. The walls of the studio reverberated as in rolls the ’69 Mach 1 piloted by the ever-grinning Ash. The mechanical symphony inducing matching grins to all those present. Jared, now speechless, directed the muscle car into position to commence the shoot. The beast is shut down, and the studio is eerily quiet. “I understand now,” says Jared. “I wouldn’t drive that in the rain either. This has got to be one the most perfect cars I have ever photographed.”
This isn’t just an ordinary old ’69; it’s more a mobile tribute to sweat, blood and tears. Built at Ford’s San Jose plant on Monday April 7, 1969, it spent the first 20 years cruising California. What took place during this time is unknown, but at some stage it was stripped down, presumably for a re-build. Then in ’89 its destiny took another path. It was plucked from its California home by Wayne Carter, and led down-under to the shores of New Zealand. This was the beginning of an eight-year journey that saw the ugly duckling transformed into the predacious beast before you.
One thing this ’69 had going for it was that lack of rust. This meant Wayne had a great base to start his restoration project with. At this point we should point out that Wayne is an aircraft engineer, so one can only imagine the quality of the build. No less than four trips were made back to the homeland of the ’Stang, in search of parts needed to breathe life back into the car. When, and only then, an original part could not be found was a new item fabricated. Originality was the name of the game.
Well at least when it came to everything except the engine room. It all looks like it has just rolled off the production line as it did back in ’69, but there is something sinister going on. The only clue that gives the game away is the sound of the 351 Windsor lurking between the shock towers. There’s a crispness that only comes from a non-standard cam and possibly
a much higher compression ratio than any factory Mach 1 saw. When questioned on this Ash produces another one of his trademark grins: “She goes alright,” he says. All right — that is the understatement of the century!
Come on Ash, spill the beans. What really is lurking under the hood?
Let’s go back to the time this beast was first built by Ford. They came standard with lovely poly-glass tyres that had as much traction as a bull on ice, but could still do a standing quarter in the 13s. By today’s standard you’d need a 300kW HSV to pull that off. So this Mach 1 was no slouch in the first place. On further prodding one finds out that mild mannered Ash has spun the now BFG-shod wheels in third gear. Standard this engine is not!
Come on Ash, spill the beans. What really is lurking under the hood? No amount of continued prodding could reveal the secrets behind the forward momentum, just another grin and, “She goes alright.” One thing he did let slip was that a number of circuit car drivers are very keen to get hold of this not-so-slow Windsor.
Out Of The Box
In its standard form, the 351 4V that found it’s way into Ash’s ’69 Mach 1 was putting out 290hp (216kW), a US$84.25 option over the standard engine. There were several different types of propulsion that was available back in the day. The choices started with the 250hp (186kW) 2V Windsor all the way to the thundering 428 Cobra Jet with a very healthy 335hp (250kW). If you opted for the 428 and the Ram-Air option your bill was up a mere US$420.96 over the standard Mach1’s list price of US$3139. Of course, if you really wanted to splash out you could spend another US$133.84 and option a stereo-sonic tape unit — but of course you had to buy the US$61.40 push button AM radio first. Makes the 428 look like a real bargain! Mind you, you’ll need a lot more than a 428 to take on Ash and his ’Stang.
So were does one go from here with a Mustang that has been restored by an aircraft engineer? A perfect place is in the hands of Ash. If anyone could improve on perfection this man can, as he has taken the good ol’ ’69 to a level all of its own. Since it has been in his ownership, every part of the car that could possibly be cleaned, polished or improved has had just that done to it — and more. Rock on over to see the Mussie in it’s carpeted garage, and Ash will proudly hand you a cotton-bud with the challenge to find any dirt, hence his nickname around these parts — the Cotton-Bud Kid.
So it came time to put all the hard work to the ultimate test. Some would say an almost impossible test — the New Zealand Classic Car magazine Intermarque Concours. This is a ‘who’s who’ in car shows. The top of the line Masters’ Class is usually the reserve of the best of British or some fancy-pants thing out of Europe. Never in it’s history had a good old Yankee muscle car taken out the title — until this year, that is. The old school with the stiff upper lip saw the light and crowned the Mach 1 a champion. Now that all the trophies are on display beside the Mustang, how about that long overdue blast down the motorway Ash?
’69 Ford Mustang Mach 1
Engine: Who knows — Ash wont tell us! Factory — 351 4V Windsor 90 degree V8, 10.7:1 compression ratio, 1.78-inch intake valves, 1.54-inch exhaust valves, 4-inch bore, 3.5-inch stroke.
Driveline: 4-speed close ratio manual Top Loader gear box, Ford 9-inch traction-lok diff.
Suspension: Front — factory coils and shocks Rear — factory leaf springs and shocks
Brakes: Front — factory disc brakes Rear — factory drum brakes
Wheels/Tyres: Front & Rear — 14×7, F70x14 Wide Oval tyres (factory)
Performance: Factory — 290bhp at 4800rpm, 385lb/ft at 3200rpm, 13.9 sec ¼, Ash’s Mustang — a lot more powerful and a heap faster!
Driver Profile: Ashley Webb
Occupation: Works for NZV8
Other cars: Tons of Yankee muscle, to long to list here
Dream car: Pro-street ’56 Chevy