Bring back some good or bad memories


April 2, 2024

Lawman Mustangs and the 1970 Military Performance Tour to the Pacific

The story of the “Lawman”, and the Lawman Mustang program, actually began in the early 1960s way before Ford ever got involved. The man who is certainly credited with being the main force behind this program was the successful drag racer Al Eckstrand. As the story goes, Al was an avid drag racer and at the same time a corporate lawyer at Chrysler... and because of his legal background this became the basis for his name as the “Lawman” on his cars and the drag strip he visited. But as much as he enjoyed his day job, his true passion was on the weekends as a drag racer where he did remarkably well in NHRA holding several records at the time in his class. At the 1963 NHRA Nationals his car was the first to get under a 12 second ¼ mile. His success and background led him to a partnership with Chrysler as he campaigned a Hemi Charger and big block Barracuda thru the later part of the 1960s. In 1966, with the help of Chrysler, Al formed the American Commando Drag Team and worked to bring the sport to Europe to the famous Santa Pod Raceway in England. This drag racing venue opened on Easter 1966 and was the first permanent 1/4 and 1/8 mile drag strip in Europe. The following year this expanded to Sweden and then continued drag racing in Europe in 1968 and 1969. Muscle cars and racing were in full demand at this time and a way to sell and promote the cars.

In 1970, Al headed up the formation of the Lawman Performance Team in full partnership with Ford. The idea behind this new team was to bring some of the latest Detroit muscle cars to the men and women of the Armed Forces who were serving overseas. This team of cars and drivers would help teach driving safety thru performance clinics that had demonstrations, films, and seminars, so when the service men returned home after a tour of duty they would not kill themselves on the roads. At that time in the late 1960s and early 1970s there was still a serious problem with an average of 50,000 fatalities a year on the highways so this would help bring a new awareness. It became Al’s mission to teach and showcase the new cars of Ford and teach people how to drive them and maintain them. It was a great partnership for everyone involved.

So on January 14, 1970 in Detroit Michigan the Ford Lawman program was officially announced at a press party. The names this program would go under would include, The United States Motorsports Association, Motor Pool Mustangs, United States Performance Team and the 1970 Military Performance Tour. No matter what the name, the goal was simply the same and unchanged. Teach active servicemen stationed overseas how to drive these cars in a safe and reasonable fashion. 

Ford teamed up with such major sponsors as Goodyear, Motor Wheels, Hurst, Hooker, and B&M to create six of these cars. Sponsor names were on the cars as well as their equipment. All of the cars were built in Dearborn and taken from the Ford assembly line and shipped to Roy Steffe Enterprises in Fairhaven Michigan where they were modified and converted to what we see here on these pages. All of the cars were CobraJet powered with the exception of one which was a Boss429 shipped from Kar Kraft to Roy Steffe. The Boss429 was built to show not what you could order from the dealer but what one of these cars could do in the right hands. What emerged was a blown Boss 429 with close to 1000HP mated with an automatic transmission. A true one of a kind, the car cost about $20,000 at the time to build. The cars were shipped to the Pacific bases where it is estimated close to 40,000 troops were able to see them in 21 seminars in South Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and Philippines. Of course during that rush to get from one venue to another, mistakes and accidents do happen, and it was at that point that the first Boss429 was crushed at a loading dock when another container fell on top of it. Al and his team were able to work with Ford and the US Air Force to have a second Boss429 built immediately and flown out to continue the tour.

Most of the cars never returned back from tour and were left behind and destroyed. At the time it was more of an expense than it was worth to bring back a used race car to the USA that Ford would have trouble selling. The exception to this was one CobraJet powered Lawman and the Boss429 Lawman which made it back to the USA. The Boss429 Lawman was eventually sold by Ford promotions in about 1971 for an undisclosed amount and purchased by Dave McCormick and raced in the Detroit area thru the 1970s. The car was left in tact for the most part and the only change made was to lettering on the side of the car as Ford had sold the car without the Lawman name on it and the blower was removed. The car was campaigned as the “Blue Devil” during this time.  

After Dave passed away the car was sold to one or two other owners and eventually back to Al Eckstrand who wanted the car back when he returned from living in Europe in the early 1990s. The car was brought back to its former glory and detailed and eventually sold after sitting for sale for almost one year thru Orlando Mustang. The new owner then sold the car at Barrett Jackson auction in 2003 to the one and only Bill Goldberg where it has remained for all these years and shown on occasion.


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