No one does old and cool like Hugh Hefner, but 75-year-old Bruce Wasserburger isn't far behind. Unlike the Hef, it has nothing to do with Bruce's ability to pick up big-busted blondes one-third his age, although we certainly don't think that there's anything wrong with that. While his peers are content piddling around in fiberglass street rods powered by lame 350 crate motors, Bruce is busy manhandling the 269/276-at-0.050 solid roller cam in his stroked 351C-powered '73 Mustang. He concedes that it drives terribly on the street, but to him it's better than throwing a limp-wristed bumpstick in it, and bragging about fuel mileage and streetabilty to his buddies while sipping on a can of Ensure. He's not just a talker, either. The 625hp Cleveland is tied to a Tremec five-speed, and he doesn't let off the gas until it's time to shift at 7,500 rpm. At Los Angeles County Raceway--a track infamous for its thin air and poor prep--Bruce ripped off an 11.16 at 123 mph before the place shut down. Like we said, he's the Hugh Hefner of hot rodding.
Ever since he was kid in his early twenties, Bruce has been competing in some form of organized racing. He drag raced a 12-second '50 Olds fastback for several years before getting hooked on power boats. After 20 years on the water, Bruce started getting back into cars when his son picked up a '69 Mustang with a 428 Cobra Jet. "I used to be a GM man, but from that point forward I was in love with Mustangs," he says. "I needed to get a Mustang of my own, so I picked up a '72 coupe that had a 351 Cobra Jet motor. I really liked the exterior styling of the '69, but I became a big fan of the spaciousness and overall interior design of the '71-'73 cars. Eventually, I used the '72 as a driver and picked up a '73 Mach 1 that I planned on restoring some day."
Ultimately, it took a long time for that day to arrive, as the Mach 1 sat in a garage for 24 years. Once Bruce starting working on it five years ago, however, he made sure to make up for lost time. What started out as a plan to merely get the car in running condition turned into a full-blown restoration. "The car only had 51,000 original miles on it, so overall it was in very good shape. The interior was immaculate, and when we stripped it down to bare metal it only had one small patch of rust on the passenger fender," he explains. "I've always felt that the '71 Boss 351 Mustang--which was only built for one year--was underappreciated by enthusiasts, so I built my '73 Mach 1 as a tribute to the Boss. The Boss 351 had a solid-lifter cam and more compression than a standard Mustang, along with a Top Loader four-speed. To that end, I built a solid-roller 351 for my car, and ripped out the C6 trans for a Tremec five-speed."
Since Bruce's Mach 1 was built as a tribute and not a clone, the 411ci stroker Cleveland he dropped in it has the oats to utterly destroy any stock Boss 351 of the day. In addition to the nasty cam that peaks at 7,200 rpm, he matched it up with set of epoxied and ported stock iron heads. A testament to the enormous potential of the Cleveland castings, they flowed an impressive 325 cfm after the wizards at Pettis Perfomance (Hesperia, California) got done with them. "I think it's a product of my power boat racing days, but I just can't bear to build a weak motor no matter how roughly it runs."
To complete the tribute, Bruce ripped off the ugly vinyl stock bumpers and fitted steel units off of a '71. Likewise, he applied the appropriate "Boss 351" graphics to the front fenders. Nonetheless, not everyone's a fan. "These cars are not popular at all, and since they're so big, people call them Clydesdales. People come up to me all the time at shows and tell me it's the ugliest f'n Mustang they've ever seen," he quips. "And that's why I like it. The car's different, and definitely not something you see every day. What I like about it the most is that it runs 11s, draws lots of lookers, and the fact that something this ugly can win trophies at car shows." Sure, its aesthetics aren't for everyone, but we think Bruce's Mustang looks pretty sweet. Given the keys for a day, we'd have to try our luck at picking up some big-busted blondes with it just to see what happens. If we were half as cool as Bruce, we'd surely succeed.
The interior remains mostly...
The interior remains mostly stock. The only tweaks are a set of Procar seats, and Auto Meter water and oil temp gauges mounted on the steering column. In order to avoid cutting the floor, the motor was angled upward so that the TKO trans would clear the trans tunnel.
To stiffen up the chassis,...
To stiffen up the chassis, Advanced Performance (Hesperia, CA) built custom shock tower braces and subframe connectors. The two-tone paint scheme carries over into the engine bay where the silver paint really makes the motor pop.
In lieu of vinyl, the graphics...
In lieu of vinyl, the graphics and silver stripe were painted on. The suspension has been beefed up with Global West front control arms. At the corners, it utilizes Mustang Plus drop springs and KYB shocks.
By pulling molds off of the...
By pulling molds off of the stock steel hood, 1st Class Auto Body (Hesperia, CA) was able to make a fiberglass replica. Between it, the heater and A/C delete, and removing the heavy plastic bumpers, Bruce took 300 pounds out of the car. It now weighs 3,420 pounds.
|BY THE NUMBERS |
|'73 FORD MUSTANG |
Bruce Wasserburger, 75 * Hesperia, CA
|Type: ||Ford 411ci Cleveland small-block |
|Block: ||factory Ford bored to 4.040 inches |
|Rotating assembly: ||Eagle 4.000-inch forged |
crank and 6.00-inch steel rods;
CP 10.7:1 pistons
|Cylinder heads: ||factory Cleveland castings |
with 2.08/1.65-inch Manley valves,
heads ported to flow 325 cfm
|Camshaft: ||Comp 269/276-at-0.050 solid roller, |
0.670/0.670-inch lift, 108-degree LSA
|Induction: ||Edelbrock Torker single-plane intake manifold, |
Holley 750-cfm carb
|Exhaust: ||Thorley 1¾-inch long-tube headers, |
dual 3-inch Flowmaster mufflers
|Transmission: ||Tremec TKO |
McLeod billet steel
flywheel and clutch
|Rear axle: ||Ford 9-inch rearend, |
28-spline axles, 4.11:1 gears,
Auburn limited-slip differential
|WHEELS & TIRES |
|Wheels: ||American Racing Hopster |
15x8, front; 16x10, rear
|Tires: ||Hoosier 26x7.50x15, front; |
Mickey Thompson 27x11x16 slicks, rear