Steve Mags’ Corner- Color Me Changed
At the 2014 Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach collector car auction I encountered this beautifully restored 1970 Mustang Mach 1. The experience demonstrated the integrity of its consignor – and the importance of arming yourself with research material before buying a collector car of your own. Upon first sight, the sleek Mustang looked to be a perfect restoration. The metal VIN tag on the dash board was original (not a reproduction) and the letter R in the fifth position verified it rolled off the Dearborn assembly line packing the potent 428 Ram Air. But then I looked at the consignor’s vehicle description and noticed the words: ‘The car was repainted to Grabber Orange in October of 2013”. This got me to wondering if the car had been color-changed. To find out, I opened the driver door and took a look at the vehicle certification label.
The second year 1970 Mach 1 Mustang performance package accounted for 40,970 of the 190,727 Mustangs built that year. That’s nearly one-in-five. The Grabber Orange hue seen on this stunner was new for 1970. But – as the seller hints – was it added, or factory applied?
Here’s the consignor’s vehicle description. The sixth line down contains the inference it has been color changed to Grabber Orange. So what color was it born as?
To learn, we open the driver door and observe the vehicle certification label. My finger points to paint code C, which indicates Dark Ivy Green Metallic. Ah-Ha! But get this, to the restorer and consignor’s credit, the color code was not changed to U (for Grabber Orange) when the reproduction vehicle certification label was made. First used in 1970, these adhesive-backed vinyl/paper stickers which are easily damaged – and replaced. Prior to the 1970 model year, Mustangs (and all other Fords) were fitted with much more durable stamped metal vehicle certification tags which are riveted to the vehicle.
Here’s the paint code guide for 1970 models found in Peter Sessler’s Mustang Red Book (MBI Publishing). Without it, the color change might not have been so easily noticed. Collectors and enthusiasts generally agree that originality is preferred over modification. But again, there are probably more buyers for Grabber Orange Mach 1’s than there are for Ivy Green Mach 1’s. We like to say’ “Always fill your library before you fill your garage”. Knowledge is power! -Steve Magnante