Interior of 1969 Mustang Mach I, that will be raffled on July 19, 2020. The car was restored by the Auto Technology class at East Syracuse Minoa Central High School.
The transmission is a four-speed Muncie built by Syracuse Auto Gear. Even though the Muncie is a General Motors product, Beckley was able to mate it to the Ford 408-HP 465-LB-FT engine.
For the past two decades the auto technology class at East Syracuse Minoa Central High School, has annually built a car to be raffled off at the end of the school year. The money from the raffle always goes toward the purchase of a car and parts for the next year, plus the numerous expenses associated with making an old car like new.
This year’s car is a high performance 1969 Mustang Mach I, a highly sought after car among Mustang and muscle car fans.
The Mach I made its debut in late 1968 as a 1969 model. While Mustang production cooled after red-hot sales of the mid-60s, Ford still sold 299,824 Mustangs during that model year, and of that number 71,958 carried Mach I badges.
The Mach I could be purchased in various configurations but the so-called ‘sports roof’ was the only body design. Exterior styling of the car included a matte black hood with hood pins, a hood scoop, a chrome pop-open gas cap, a ‘deluxe’ interior, a rear deck spoiler and rear window louvers, although many buyers didn’t order the louvered window.
Several engines were available all the way from two 351 cubic-inch V-8s, up to a 428 cubic-inch 7-liter V-8.
The ESM raffle car is powered by a Ford 408-horsepower V-8 built by Bloss Machine, in Kirkville, NY, and it’s backed up by a four-speed manual transmission. The interesting thing about the engine and transmission combination is the transmission, which is a Muncie, a General Motors product built by Syracuse Auto Gear, which also produces parts for the transmissions.
Ryan Beckley, the auto tech teacher and chair of the department at ESM until recently, said it was tricky getting the GM transmission mated to Ford power, but with a little engineering know-how the task was successfully completed. Beckley, by the way, resigned his position at ESM to become director of the Auto Technology Department at Onondaga Community College.
Beckley said the car has an interesting history; the car was sold new in California and remained there for several years. According to Beckley, and he doesn’t vouch for the worthiness of this tidbit, apparently the wife of the man who owned the car wasn’t pleased with either him, or the car, or both, but anyway she “took a baseball bat to the car” and inflicted a good deal of body damage.
Ryan Beckley, until recently, chairman of the Auto Technology Department at ESM and director of the annual car building project. Beckley has resigned to become director of the Auto Technology Department at Onondaga Community College.
Authentic Ford wheels are correct for the car.
“There were some dents but we took the car to East Syracuse Chevy where the body work was done and the paint was applied,” he said.
As he has always done, Beckley got the entire student body involved by allowing it to decide the color of the car. The kids overwhelmingly asked for a muted gray, so Beckley drove to Ford dealers in the area looking for a gray color. Sure enough, a new gray by Ford is Magnetic Metallic, so that’s the color, close to what the car was.
East Syracuse Chevy returned the car to ESM in October 2019, leaving plenty of time to get the car into showroom shape. “We were way ahead of schedule,” Beckley said. “The senior class was very ambitious. I was thinking we would have the car done by the end of March or by mid-April.”
But then came the coronavirus pandemic and schools closed on March 16, kids weren’t coming to school and the Mach I wasn’t finished. Beckley had no choice but to take the car out of the school building and move it to his property where the work was completed.
“On March 16 the back seat was in, there were no door panels, no dash. When school closed we thought it would be for a week or two,” he said. But very quickly it became evident schools weren’t likely to open for the remainder of the school year. “I didn’t bring the car here until the beginning of June, the car was maybe 85 percent done,” he added.
Beckley invited a few students to join him to complete the car. He said two members of the junior class worked on the car “for four or five days.” Their work helped a lot, the car was buttoned up pretty well with the exception of some minor things that were changed as time went on.
Over the years ESM car has been advertised in Hemmings Motor News, which has worldwide distribution, and the car is put on display during the three-day Syracuse Nationals. The Nationals annual event is cancelled this year because of the pandemic, which was a blow to the ESM program, because as Beckley said, “the number one thing we do to generate ticket sales is display the car at the Syracuse Nationals, and second is Hemmings.”
Thankfully ticket sales have gone well, Beckley said, in part because the car is desirable and in part because it was advertised the right way and the data base of people eager to buy a raffle ticket grows each year. While a ’69 Mach I appears on the market every now-and-then, it’s not often a Mach I fresh out of restoration with parts and equipment correct to the car, is offered for sale.
The students and Beckley decided to add a modern safety touch to the Mustang, LED sequential taillights.
The Mach I from the factory had a wooden steering wheel, as shown here.