The following text and photographs were created by Jerry Heasley, Mustang chronologist, and was originally published as an article in the Hot Rod Car Profiles section of MotorTrends magazine.  It has been edited to fit in this space.

Finley tracks down and rescues a rare ’71 Mach 1 with a Super Cobra Jet 429 engine

Finley Ledbetter stood in the center of his “Blue Oval Car Barn” in Mineral Wells, Texas, surrounded by a showroom of 1971 Mustangs, all high-performance models. “These are just my cars. I don’t sell them. I don’t trade them. I’ve sold three cars in 40 years,” he states matter-of-factly. With such a singular focus on one year model, it’s no wonder he was the guy to track down an incredible barn find, a 1971 Super Cobra Jet Mach 1, hidden in a salvage yard in Missouri.  When asked why he has a fascination with ’71 Mustangs, he replies, “Had one. Had one in high school.”

There’s more of the MotorTrend article, more photos, a link to the full article, and a link to view Jerry Heasly’s video below.

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Barn Find 1971 Mustang CSJ engine1971 Mustang SCJ Barn Find enterior1971 Mustang CSJ Barn Find wheels1971 Mustang CSJ Barn Find loading onto trailer“We have eight cars in process right now. We assemble the cars here. All my restoration is done at a shop I have in Arkansas with Mike Farrell”. Recently, Finley had tracked the premier combination of originality and low miles in one of these big-block beasts to a shed in a salvage yard in Missouri.  Thrilled to go along, we flew into Kansas City and drove 75 miles south to Adrian, Missouri. Down a long gravel road rolling past hundreds of cars and cows, we parked at Howard’s Auto Salvage and went inside to meet Howard Stephens, seated beside his “best friend,” a cat.

Soon, we were walking to a shed on the grounds to see the 1971 Mach 1. “My sister bought that car brand-new,” Howard says. “This was back in 1971. She came down here one day and asked me, “You want to take a ride in my new car?”  Howard was caught off-guard when Elaine purchased “the top of the top,” a Mach 1 with the 429 Super Cobra Jet and optional ram air, which added scoops in the hood. In 2005, she “got tired of walking around the car,” which had been parked and covered in her garage at home since the early 1990s. Howard stored it in a metal building at his salvage yard. He thought “it would be a real shame” if the wrong person bought the car and tore it up.

“She very seldom drove this car, unless it was a nice day. Otherwise, she wouldn’t get it out. It’s never been in the rain or snow,” Howard recalls. The black acrylic enamel paint is original. Farrell found one tiny chip on top of the driver-side rear quarter. The interior glistened like new. As they pulled the Mach 1 out of the metal shed, Farrell said, “We’re going to clean it up as best we can, leaving it as original as we can, but it will be running, driving, and safe.”

Although Elaine was not there as Farrell loaded the Mustang into his enclosed trailer for the ride to Hot Springs, she was pleased her Mach 1 went to a place where, in Howard’s words, “nobody will tear it up.” This Mustang will join an elite group of 1971 muscle Mustangs in Finley’s “Blue Oval Car Barn,” a virtual Valhalla of 1971 muscle Mustangs. Finley puts a special emphasis on the 613 factory 429 Super Cobra Jets that Ford built, the last of the big-block V-8 Mustangs. He considers these big-blocks the pinnacle of Ford performance.

Here’s a link to the full MotorTrend magazine article.

And below is the video by Jerry Heasley that was the basis for the MotorTrend article.

Click on the video image below to watch here.