In 1967 Elie Kheder left his native Egypt in search of the American dream. He settled in California and began enjoying the good life.
Kheder bought a small foreign car, but when it was damaged in an accident he did not have it repaired. Instead, he traded it in on a new 1970 Mustang Mach 1. This was back in the day when a customer could actually order a new car with individualized specifications.
In the autumn of 1969 the Ford dealership in Redwood City, Calif., was happy to accept Kheder’s order for a 1970 Mustang. Kheder ordered a car equipped with power brakes, power steering, AM/FM radio, extra wide tires and air conditioning. When choosing a color he opted for black — inside and out.
“I thought I would be very sharp in a black car,” he says.
The 3,240-pound car had a base price of $3,271, however, Kheder recollects that he paid close to $4,200 when all the extra cost optional equipment was added to the total. By the first part of November 1969 the personalized Mustang had arrived at the dealership.
“When I went to pick up the car the salesman tried to pull an extra $200 for the upgraded tires. I refused and was determined to walk out of the agency. I demanded my deposit back,” Kheder says.
The salesman went to talk to his manager and Kheder, waiting in the showroom, heard the manager scream at the salesman, “What am I going to do with a black car with a black interior and an air conditioner?”
Kheder reports that the chastised salesman returned, accepted the original offer, and after paying the balance, the new owner drove out in his new black Mustang, riding on a 108-inch wheelbase. Records indicate that Kheder’s Mach 1 is one of 40,970 such Mustang models produced during that model year.
On the long engine hood is a cosmetic air scoop. From the leading edge of the hood all the way back to the windshield is a 2-foot-wide strip of matte-finish black to enhance the racer image of the car. Near each front corner of the hood are hood pins to keep the hood securely closed at high speeds. The 300-horsepower, 351-cubic-inch Cleveland V-8 engine is capable of providing more than adequate torque to turn the rear drive wheels.
From a dead stop in his car, Kheder explains that the driver’s timing has to be perfect — or the powerful Mustang can get out of hand because the clutch is so strong.
Three years after buying the Mustang Kheder was wed. “I got married and went on a honeymoon driving that car from northern California all the way to San Diego in southern California and back.” He says his bride, Mona, enjoys riding in the high-back bucket seats.
In 1997, with a throaty growl tumbling out of the dual exhausts of the Mustang, Kheder took his wife to the hospital where a son, Michael, was born. A few days later, the infant got his first ride in a Mustang on the way home.
As the years rolled by the Ford would occasionally receive minor dings, which Kheder quickly had repaired. Both bumpers were replaced in the early 1990s when Kheder had his car resprayed in the original black hue.
The Mustang needs a large fuel tank because Kheder says the four-barrel carburetor that feeds the engine is thirsty. He says that since it was new the Mach 1 has delivered about 8 to 10 miles per gallon.
As the still strong engine approached the 100,000-mile mark in 1994 Kheder had the engine overhauled with the goal of improving gas mileage. The rebuild was complete, but the engine remains as thirsty as it ever was. Kheder has put about 20,000 miles on the rebuilt engine.
“Every time I think of selling it,” he says, “I don’t have the heart for it.”
Since then the Mustang spends most days tucked away in Kheder’s garage beneath a protective car cover. He regularly exercises his car in order to keep all the juices flowing — both his and the Mustang’s. — Vern Parker, Motor Matters
Copyright, AutoWriters Associates Inc., 2011