Mach 1 stands tall in crowded pony car field
When Hollywood screen writers needed a suitable ride — and a four-wheeled love interest — for the supercool and thoroughly dangerous anti-hero “John Wick,” they chose a 1969 Mustang Mach 1.
And why not? It stands tall even in one of the coolest and most crowded classes of American automobile — the pony car.
And having Keanu Reeves smoking the tires off a late-60s Mustang probably also was a nod to another, earlier, and, perhaps cooler, anti-hero movie called “Bullitt,” which starred Steve McQueen, co-starred a 1968 Mustang GT and featured what may have been the prototypical car chase scene in which our stars careen around San Francisco in pursuit of bad guys in a ’68 Dodge Charger R/T. American filmmaking at its finest, but I digress.
The point is, all Mustangs are cool in ways that have endured down through the years, and some, including the Mach 1, take that transcendent characteristic to near perfection.
Tim Paulissen didn’t need Hollywood to tell him all that. Like a lot of other car nuts, he knew it when he saw it. And he did what a lot of those others wish they had done — he bought a nice one back in the day when that could still be done for less than $3,000.
“I bought it off a lot in Baytown for $2,600 in 1979,” said Paulissen, who lives in League City and is among its former mayors. “It was my second car after I got my license. The first was just a base model Mustang.”
The Mach 1 coupe was Paulissen’s daily transportation until about 1985, when it went into a garage and under a cover for about the next 13 years. He rolled it out in 1998 for a complete restoration, he said.
“I intended to give it to my son,” he said. “But by that time, I had so much invested in it … One accident and it would be lost. The car is irreplaceable.”
The younger Paulissen got a Chevy Citation instead. Such are the slings and arrows of youth.
This Mach 1 is outfitted with its original 351 cubic-inch “Windsor” V8, bolted to a FMX three-speed automatic transmission and one of Ford’s well-regarded 9-inch differentials.
Paulissen did all the restoration work himself, except for the paint, he said.
The paint is done in a color Paulissen calls medium metallic blue, but Ford called Acapulco Blue, with a wide gold stripe along the sides.
It also has the aggressive air dam up front and wing on the trunk, just like John Wick’s black, big-block model of movie fame. The best part of the car, as far as Paulissen is concerned, is the “shaker.” Unlike some cars that have scoops built into the hood, the scoop on this Mach 1 is mounted to the engine air filter housing and sticks up through a hole in the hood, so it shakes in rhythm with the engine.
Unlike Wick, Paulissen doesn’t spend a lot of time blasting around public thoroughfares or cutting doughnuts in parking lots, he said.
“The car’s really not all that fast or powerful,” he said. “It’s only about 290 horsepower.”
Not that the former mayor would be tempted anyway.
Paulissen drives the Mach 1 enough to keep it in good shape, but it spends a lot of time garaged and makes frequent appearances at car shows, at which it has won some awards.
Paulissen said he has no plans to part with the car.
“I couldn’t really sell it now,” he said. “It’s been part of the family for too long.”