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Horse Force 1972 Mustang at Detroit Autorama

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This 1972 Mustang is one heck of a build to make it look like an old movie car.

This built-for-battle 1972 Mustang Mach 1, known as Horse Force, was on display at the 2023 Autorama—in the front row, not far from the cars competing for the prestigious Ridler Award.

Comparing the car sitting in front of us to the illustration on the Horse Force movie poster next to it, we could see that the muscled-up Mustang hadn't changed a bit from when it roared across the big screen 50 years ago. But it seemed weird that we couldn't remember it. As it turns out, of all the great car movies of the '70s, Horse Force has the distinction of being one that never actually existed.

Michael Hunt and Lee Clayton, co-owners of TredWear in Columbiana, Alabama, and the guys behind the Horse Force Mach 1, have been participating at the Detroit Autorama since 2018. The Mustang is not really an old movie car, but a recent build. Michael said that they like to create an identity for their project cars by developing an imaginative backstory. Their Scraptona 1969 Dodge Daytona was built with the idea that it could have been a 24 Hours of Daytona competitor in the early '70s. For Translammed, their recent 1977 Pontiac Trans Am project, they invented a 1981 movie with Burt Reynolds road racing the car at the 24 Hours of Daytona.

The fictional storyline for Horse Force spins out a little farther. "It's a three-way marriage of Mad Max, Death Race 2000, and Herbie the Love Bug," Michael said. The story is set in the dystopian future of 2035, when a months-long race called "Twisted Metal," which runs to distract people from oppressive government control, is disrupted by a new competitor.

Continue through the photo gallery for the true story of the Horse Force 1972 Mustang Mach 1.
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