Take a good hard look at this ’69 Mach 1 Mustang and try to guess when it was built. Its fastback, big-block goodness slaps you in the face in a naughty kind of way, and ooh baby, check out that stance. Trends are a fickle thing that come and go, and these days hacking up factory sheetmetal and molesting the good work of yesteryear’s best Detroit stylists is the Pro Touring flavor of the week. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but if Rick Flores has anything to say about it, that’s not the point. “Like lots of hot rodders, I’ve always loved the factory body lines of mid-’60s and early ’70s muscle cars. The bodies on these cars have such a classic shape to them that they don’t need any alterations,” he opines.
Not what you’d expect from a guy in a hobby that typically loves to tinker with classic design, but take another hard look at Rick’s creation, and it all makes sense. Although this Mach 1 made its public debut at the 2005 SEMA show, it could easily pass for a car that was finished two days ago, or 10 years ago for that matter. It’s as if his cars have been injected with antibodies that make them immune to the latest trends and the passage of time. Stay tuned, because if Rick has his way, then this miracle injection just might make its way into a muscle car near you.
For a guy working out of his home garage with a handful of buddies, Rick’s Pro Touring projects have garnered an astounding level of national spotlight. Aside from multiple magazine features and some magazine-sponsored project car builds, the industry’s top aftermarket manufacturers have made a habit of pimping Rick’s g-Machines in their booths at trade shows. That’s a pretty darn impressive list of accomplishments for someone who had never turned a wrench before high school. “The first time I saw a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1, I was totally enamored with it. I made up my mind that I was going to get one someday,” he recalls. “A buddy of mine in high school had a ’69 big-block Mustang, but had to sell it when he went to the Air Force. I talked my dad into buying it for $1,200, and I got a job flipping burgers to pay him back. I swapped out the automatic for a four-speed, installed some 4.57:1 gears, put Centerline wheels on it, and the car ran 12.70s at the track. That was in 1978, and I still have that car today.”
Ford Acapulco Blue is a fine...
Ford Acapulco Blue is a fine color, but Rick has managed to make his custom mix of Glasurit basecoat/clearcoat pop that much more. He’s not revealing any secrets, but his custom mix lends a deeper, darker appearance.
As the years passed, Rick indulged in one hot Mustang after another. His past rides include a ’67 GT500, a ’69 Boss 302, a ’70 Mach 1, and a ’71 Mach. These are all the real deal, mind you, not clones. How a regular working stiff could afford to build such an impressive collection of Mustangs is quite simple: “I never had the money to pay other people to do bodywork, so I had to learn to do it myself. While going to college, I met a guy named Jack Holbrook who agreed to show me how to do paint and bodywork on my own car,” Rick explains. “I watched how he sprayed cars in the booth, trying to learn what I could, and he let me practice hands-on. He’d yell at me if I did something wrong, and looking back, it was a great way to learn. I actually paid my way through college painting other people’s cars. They’d see what I did to my Mustang, and asked me to work on their cars.”
As with the outside, the interior...
As with the outside, the interior is all business. There’s no GPS, TV screens, or any other nonessential electronic nonsense. Occupants sit in Recaro race buckets and are anchored by Simpson four-point harnesses. A rollbar is tucked tightly into the headliner, and the gauges, dash, and door panels are all original or NOS replacements. The only major luxury is a Vintage Air A/C system, which is more like a necessity in Texas.
That trend would continue throughout the decades, as Rick developed his own unique style that attracted a loyal following. Even with a regular day job, he built cars for other people on weekends. As it turned, he was building Pro Touring cars without even knowing it. “The first car I ever built was slammed to the ground, and my goal was to emulate the look of the ’69 and ’70 Trans-Am race cars. I wanted to build a street version of the cars Parnelli Jones raced, and I’ve always drawn inspiration from the big wheels, big brakes, and aggressive stance of those Trans-Am cars in my own projects,” Rick says. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a Camaro, Mustang, ’Cuda, or Javelin, every single one of those Trans-Am cars looks badass. I had been building cars like that since the early ’80s, so when the whole Pro Touring scene came around, I was already knee-deep in it. Now that there are so many parts available for these cars, it makes building them even more fun.”
Like most hot rodders, Rick can’t turn his back on a great deal when he finds one. In 1985, he came across a ’69 Mach 1—an original 428ci big-block, four-speed car—with a paltry $1,000 asking price. “It was a super deal that I just couldn’t pass up, and I immediately stored it at my parents’ garage because I was working on both my ’69 Boss 302 and ’70 Mach 1 at the time. It sure wasn’t the prettiest car around, but it was all original with no rust whatsoever, the perfect foundation to build an awesome car,” he recollects. “I told myself that I’d start working on it soon, but one car after another, year after year, the car sat undisturbed in that garage. Many, many years later in 2003, my brother-in-law, Gary Whorton, asked if he could buy the Mach 1. By this time, he had already seen several of my finished projects and wanted to get a muscle car of his own. After thinking about it for a few days, I gave in and sold him the car, promising to help him restore it.”
Then sometime in 2004, Rick got a call from the late Todd Gartshore at Baer Brakes, who had taken a liking to the ’69 Boss 302 Mustang that Rick brought to SEMA the year prior. Todd was looking for a cool car to put in the Baer booth in 2005, and when Rick divulged his plans for the Mach 1, it was game on. “I stripped the car down to metal and completely rebuilt it from the ground up, pulling out all the stops to make this car as awesome as I could. I used nothing but NOS parts, and only the highest quality aftermarket hardware,” he says. “I think it’s really hard to improve upon the ’69 Mustang body style, so I made very few body mods. I had to cut the shifter hole a tad to fit the Richmond six-speed manual, but otherwise the metal is stock. The body ended up being diamond straight, and I painted it in a custom color that resembles the factory Acapulco Blue but with more pop.”
When restoring a ’69 Mach 1 that still has its original 428 Cobra Jet big-block, swapping it out for a late-model EFI mill is simply out of the question. As such, the FE short-block was freshened up with new rings and bearings, and fitted with a Crane 248/248-at-.050 mechanical flat-tappet cam. Matched with a set of ported Dove aluminum cylinder heads and a Ford Police Interceptor intake manifold, the combo is good for an estimated 600 hp. The exhaust barks out a set of 1.75-inch JBA long-tube headers and dual 3-inch Borla mufflers. An original 9-inch rearend—fitted with 31-spline Moser axles, 4.11:1 gears, and a Detroit Locker—channel the power to the ground.
In order to swap the stock...
In order to swap the stock four-speed out for a Richmond six-speed, the shifter hole had to be cut out. Even so, Rick points out that the cuts were minor, and he saves all the scraps just in case someone wants to convert the car back to its stock specs.
Although the engine bay isn’t...
Although the engine bay isn’t covered with elaborate custom shrouding, it houses several practical modern touches. A C&R racing radiator, Shelby water pump, and dual electric fans keep the 428ci big-block cool, while an MSD alternator and Optima battery keep the electric system in tip-top shape. The shock tower brace is actually a factory piece that Ford installed in all big-block Mustangs.
Rick doesn’t believe in cutting...
Rick doesn’t believe in cutting up rare original sheetmetal, but still manages to achieve a mean stance. The trick is getting the wheel backspacing right, and rolling the inner fender lips to buy some extra clearance. Even without mini-tubbing, the Mach 1 can accommodate 295mm-wide rear meats.
Of course, the soul of any Pro Touring machine is its chassis, and Rick put his vast suspension know-how to good use. Up front, the stock control arms got swapped out for tubular Total Control Products units. In the rear, the antiquated leaf springs got chucked in favor of a RideTech four-link. The air springs, shocks, and sway bars are all courtesy of RideTech as well. Harnessing all the lateral g’s are 18-inch BFGoodrich meats that wrap around Budnik M5 wheels. As a car built to showcase the Baer product line, the Mach 1 got strapped with massive 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers and each corner. “This car was built to make big horsepower, and lay it down in a straight line or around corners while looking awesome at the same time,” Rick gushes.
Once complete, the Mach 1 proved to be a smashing success at SEMA. “I love all muscle cars, not just Mustangs, so it’s very rewarding when people come up to me and say ‘I don’t even like Mustangs, but I love the cars you build,’ ” Rick says. That seems to be a popular sentiment, as the requests for his services keep rolling in. Consequently, Rick is planning on making the transition to building cars full time, and if you like what you see, look him up at www.RickFloresMotorsports.com
. As it turns out, despite all the sheetmetal-tweaking and body-line-altering tomfoolery that seems to be in vogue these days, stock-bodied machines built in the Trans-Am tradition still resonate with many hot rodders. “Trends and fads come and go, but ultimately you can’t beat the body lines of a stock muscle car.”
Rick Flores, San Antonio, TX
Type: Ford 428ci big-block
Block: factory 4.132-inch standard bore
Oiling: Melling pump, Canton 8-quart pan
Rotating assembly: stock 3.984-inch nodular iron crank and rods; JE 11.0:1 forged pistons
Cylinder heads: ported Dove aluminum castings
Camshaft: Crane 248/248-at-.050 mechanical flat-tappet; .587-inch lift; 110-degree lobe-separation angle
Valvetrain: Crane lifters, timing set, valvesprings, and rocker arms
Induction: Ford Police Interceptor aluminum intake manifold, Barry Grant 850-cfm carb
Ignition: MSD billet distributor and Digital-6 box; Taylor plug wires
Exhaust: JBA 1.75-inch long-tube headers, custom 3-inch X-pipe, dual Borla mufflers
Cooling system: Shelby water pump, C&R Racing radiator, dual electric fans
Output: 600 hp (estimated)
Transmission: Richmond six-speed manual; McLeod flywheel and clutch
Rear axle: Ford 9-inch rearend with Moser aluminum centersection, 31-spline axles, 4.11:1 gears, and Detroit Locker differential
Front suspension: Total Control Products upper and lower control arms; RideTech air springs and shocks
Rear suspension: RideTech four-link, air springs, and shocks
Brakes: Baer 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers, front and rear
Wheels: Budnik M5 18x8, front; 18x10, rear
Tires: BFGoodrich 245/40R18, front; 295/35R18, rear