NCS Garage December Spotlight: Thad Cook’s 1970 Mach 1 Mustang “Ms. Suzie”
Meet “Ms. Suzie,” a 1970 Mach 1 Mustang that I acquired for $500. I rescued her from the weeds, as she had been transformed into a race car. Over time, I’ve tirelessly worked on upgrades, primarily focusing on paint work to gather the necessary parts for the restoration. The car, named after my business-minded grandmother, has become a racing champion, winning numerous races and a track championship. The sentimental connection with my grandmother is what inspired me to name the car Ms. Suzie.
Interestingly, I also own a second Mustang identical to Ms. Suzie, which I got at the age of sixteen. People from my school days often assume I dismantled it to create this race car, but to their surprise, I still have it and am currently undertaking a full restoration.
My journey into auto work began at fourteen when I initially aspired to be a mechanic. However, a persuasive uncle led me to pursue autobody repair at the local vo-tech school. With almost 40 years of experience, I’ve spent 26 years working in a paint store, adding to my credibility as the go-to person for car painting advice in town. I’ve also been teaching painting and refinishing at the same college where I received my training for 22 years.
Ms. Suzie, a back half car modified by “The Weld Shop,” features a nine-inch Ford rear end with a 5.45 gear, Moser axles, and a Strange spool and carrier. The engine, a 395-inch Windsor from M&E Engine Service in Shelby, NC, boasts aluminum heads and a roller cam. Loyd Trivette Automotive in Lenoir, NC, built the Powerglide transmission with a Greg Slack Torque Converter designed for a pro-tree start. The car’s distinctive paint job, bodywork, and art were all personally executed at my home. The two shades of blue (Ford Denim blue pearl and SVT blue pearl) with House of Kolor blue ice pearl and custom-made Axalta paints create a captivating effect.
The true fire flames on the car, painted with my own blend of colors in the Axalta paint line, required four hours of meticulous work. The cartoon on the hood, now a trademark, was created over two days in my living room before being cleared in the shop. Despite the time-consuming efforts, the car stands out at the track, earning me the nickname “The Paint Man” for those seeking advice and supplies on their own paint projects.