This magnificent and extremely rare 1972 Mustang 5.8-litre 351 HO has been in the Telford family since 1983 and has been a faithful and reliable companion ever since.
This Mustang has virtually done everything, from towing horse floats and travelling to remote hunting trips to being a daily driver. It’s even been used around the family farm — and has never missed a beat.
Following the untimely death of Len Telford in 2008, his wife Jan and daughter Nicky decided the Mustang should definitely stay on as a family member, due to many years worth of fond memories.
In May 2009, Jan and Nicky commissioned Mustang gurus and restoration specialists Malcolm Sankey and Ian Kenyon, at Matamata Panelworks, to carry out a full nut-and-bolt restoration on the car. The restoration was complete almost a year later, in April 2010, and the result is absolutely stunning, as these pictures testify.
Jan and Nicky have their own special memories, not only of the car, but for Jan, fond memories of her late husband and the enjoyment the bright red Mustang brought to them. Nicky, of course, also retains memories of her late father and her special experiences with the car.
But before we read their special individual stories in their own words, let’s have a look back in time and see where this unique car sits in Mustang’s illustrious history.
The HO Mustangs
With only 398 cars built, the 1972 5.8-litre 351 HO (R-code) Mustang is one of the rarest, least understood classic Mustangs, yet for some reason the 1971-’73 Mustang has always been regarded as a poor cousin to the earlier 1969-’70 era cars that represent the epitome of the muscle car for many Ford fans. In fact, 1969 was a benchmark year for the Ford Mustang through production of performance names and engines. That year saw no less than six factory performance Mustang models — including the Boss 302, Boss 429, Shelby GT350, GT500 and the Mach 1. Additionally, nine variations of V8s were available in the 1969-’70 cars.
When Ford officially withdrew from the TransAm racing series after the 1970 season, the Boss 302 and Boss 429 Mustangs were discontinued and replaced by the bulkier, street-savvy Boss 351.
Ford’s new Mustang for 1971 was a much larger beast than previous models in almost every dimension and inherited the unfortunate nickname the ‘Clydesdale.’
The 1971 Mach 1 was offered with a base 4.9-litre (302ci) Windsor V8 engine complete with tame two-barrel carburettor. However, all was not lost, and when a buyer decided to up-spec the engine department a whole raft of options were available by just ticking the right boxes.
The line-up of engines was fairly impressive and included four 5.8-litre 351 Cleveland engines: the 2-V, 4-V, the CJ (Cobra Jet) and HO (Boss 351). Ford cancelled the HO midway through 1971 and replaced it with a low-compression 351 Cobra Jet. For those wanting even more power two 7.0-litre (429ci) options, the CJ (Cobra Jet) and SCJ (Super Cobra Jet), were on offer.
Just to confuse the punters even further, Ford decided that not only the Mach 1, but all other Mustang models (except the Boss 351) would be optionally available with the CJ and SCJ motors. The SCJ was undoubtedly the cream of the crop and came standard with a drag pack, offering ‘V’ or ‘W’ code rear gears, an oil cooler and a different rotating assembly. The 429 Super Cobra Jet engines used a Holley four-barrel carburettor, while the Cobra Jet engines sufficed with a GM-sourced Rochester Quadra-Jet four-barrel carburettor.
Externally, there wasn’t a lot of difference between the 1971 and 1972 Mustangs, although seasoned spotters could tell the difference just by looking at the boot lid, which had ‘MUSTANG’ lettering running the full width on 1971 models.
Unfortunately, the 1972 Mustang represented everything that you couldn’t get anymore, namely power. The 429 engines were given the heave-ho, as was the Boss 351, and the remaining units were all detuned to reduce emissions — which, of course, meant less power.
Ford did, however, have one final gasp at’ 60s tyre-shredding performance — albeit rather tame by comparison — by offering the rare 351 HO (R-code) engine option. This engine was quite literally a detuned, low compression version of the 1971 Boss 351 V8 unit, rated at 205kW (275bhp). In addition, just like the Boss 351, the 1972 351 HO was packaged up with extra performance goodies, such as four-speed transmission, nine-inch rear with 3.91 gears, competition suspension with staggered rear shocks, and 15-inch chrome Magnum wheels.
Oddly enough, the term ‘HO’ isn’t identified anywhere on the car’s exterior. In fact, the only place you’ll find this identification is on the air cleaner decal.
Ford also offered the 351 HO in any ’72 Mustang body style (unlike the Boss 351, which was available only in the Boss 351 Sports Roof package) although the majority were ordered as Mach 1s and Sports Roofs.
In total, 398 1972 351 HO Mustangs were built, of which 13 were convertibles, 19 hardtops, and 366 Sports Roofs. Of the Sports Roofs, 336 were optioned as Mach 1s, making our featured Mustang one hell of a rare car indeed.
Jan Telford’s Story
How did you get this car?
“Well back in 1982 to 1983 my late husband, Len, decided he would love to have a Mustang. We already had a lovely car, a 1972 Ford Fairmont hardtop, but no, we were going to get a Mustang.
“Those days we were winter-milking for Town Supply in New Plymouth. Our farm was at Oakura and we arranged staff to milk the cows so we could get away to Auckland — must be a Mustang for sale. Funny thing — I had received my mother’s inheritance, so my guess was that’s what we would pay for a car, anyway we were in this together.
“We saw a 1979 Cobra 302, very eye-catching. We both liked this car but it wasn’t what Len had expected to get, however, he drove the car home, it was ours.
“Some time later we joined the Taranaki Mustang Club and that was how we had the chance to buy the 1972 HO Mustang you see in these pages. It was the car Len had always wanted.
“In May 1983, for $15,000, we purchased the lovely red Mustang that we enjoy today. I say to Nicky, my daughter, ‘Let’s take Ol’ Len for a drive,’ We love it.
“The 15th Mustang Convention, held at Taranaki in 1994, was our first taste of seeing so many great cars on show, including our HO. This was a great programme and Len ventured out to the street drags at Bell Block. Len’s first time at the lights, he missed the gears; it was an experience — as a spectator it was scary.
“South Taranaki Car Club on Turuturu Road, Hawera — we carried the toolbox, compressor, jack and all this gear in the boot of the old Fairmont. I remember this day as the best. Standing quarter plus flying quarter — this was on a very narrow road. I wonder what makes all those guys tick. Car rev-ups, smoke from tyres, some had slicks to put on. This was a great day being second Standing and winning the Flying quarter in the Mustang.”
“When dad first bought the big Mustang I was 13. Dad would take my friends and I for a cruise up town into New Plymouth and even back then people would stare and think ‘what a cool car’. We thought it was funny so we would giggle and wave back to them.
“As teenagers we used to go to pony club events and in the winter went hunting. Dad would tow the horse-float with two big horses in it with the Mustang! The Mustang purred along quite nicely, I don’t know how he did it. There’s no tow-bar on Mustang now!
“I offered to take dad for a cruise in the Mustang one time. He ended up taking me for a cruise, saying, ‘Nicola, this is a man’s car, there’s too much power under the bonnet for you to handle!’ I agree with the power under the bonnet but I now know I can handle it. I love it. I turn into my dad when I drive the Mustang — a real petrol-head.
“Two days after we got the fully restored Mustang back from Matamata Panelworks we headed off to the Beach Hop. Waihi was the first stop and I remember reversing out of our car park with heaps of people watching, my foot started shaking something shocking on the clutch. I thought I was going to stall the car! Hadn’t driven the Mustang for months so it surprised me that I didn’t. Cruising in all the parades was awesome! The best comments we heard were ‘Sh*t, there’s a chick driving that¦’ But the one that took first prize was ‘Sh*t, there’s a blonde driving that Muzzy.’ It was a fantastic week.
“Malcolm Sankey asked us if we wanted to display the Mustang at a V8 Supercar Drivers’ Night — we said ‘hell yes!’ We all went in convoy — what a feeling having your car admired by so many hot V8 Supercar drivers — ha-ha, it was a great night. On the way home it was first time I had used headlights, we have put brighter ones in now as the old ones didn’t shine too brightly.
“Mum and I went to the Festival of Speed at Whitianga in the Mustang. It was another great weekend, quite different to the Beach Hop though. Lots more modern cars. Porsches, Lamborghinis, even huge boats were in the parade. We still didn’t look out of place, I think people enjoy the sound of the mighty classic Mustang. Well I do!
“Our last big outing was the 31st Mustang Convention in Manukau, Auckland. What a fantastic weekend. After seeing all the beautiful-looking Mustangs there we didn’t think we would be in the running for a prize (we thought maybe a third if we were lucky). Being our first convention we didn’t really know too much about what we had to do. Malcolm, Jo and the Waikato Mustang Club were really helpful and told us a few secret places we should clean on the car. So we did and we won first prize for best Mach 1 from 1971 to 1973. It was such a buzz hearing our names read out!
Everyone from Waikato Mustang Club were standing, clapping and cheering!
“Mum and I like to take the Mustang out and about. We go for lunch on a Sunday, we always decide while we warm our baby up where we will go.
“Restoring dad’s Mustang has been one of the best things mum and I have done as a team. Matamata Panelworks has been awesome! If ever there was a hiccup, Malcolm would ring and ask to see us. He would either explain or show us the problem.
“Mum and I have become good friends with Malcolm, his neat wife, Nicky, and Jo, the office manager, and all the guys who work there.
“I always thought the Mustang’s original number plate was funny — GM2544 — that was the first thing that had to go!”
A Ride with Len Telford
This article was written by Caron Stewart (Scene community newspaper) and Len Telford and appeared in the Scene Community News.
Quietly we rumbled up the drive and Len explained that he’d let his girl warm up a bit before we gave it some noise. “She goes like snot” he said, “power poles whiz by like battens on a fence.” He’s not wrong! Once she was warmed up Len touched the accelerator and immediately I felt the seat lurch back. After I had restored the position of my eyelids from the back of my head, I looked in the back to check out the passengers. One was (although kind of white) beaming, and the other? Well, let’s just say there is a lot of little boy in every man’s body! Backed up too by the twinkle in Len’s eye as he gave it a bit more! “Pull the choke out and she just wants to fly,” says Len, and even I, as a girlie-girl, had to admit that it was as though ‘the Boss’ was itching to show us just what ‘full snot’ was!
1972 Mustang Mach 1 351 H – Specifications
Engine Cleveland V8
Capacity Cleveland 5.9-litre (351ci)
Bore/stroke 101.6 x 88.9mm
Valves Two valves per cylinder/ohv
Max power 205kW (275bhp) at 6000rpm
Max torque 388Nm (286 ft/lb) at 3600rpm
Fuel system Autolite carburettor
Transmission Four-speed manual
Suspension F/R Coil springs/ solid axle with leaf springs — staggered rear shocks
Steering Recirculating ball, optional power assist Brakes Power assisted disc front/ drum rear
O/all length 4859mm
Kerb weight 1614kg
0-100kph 6.6 seconds
Standing ¼ mile 15.1 seconds at 95.6mph (154kph)
Max speed 193kph
Words: Ashley Webb Photos: Adam Croy
This article is from NZ Classic Car issue 242. Click here to check it out.