After the 1970 model year, Ford Mustangs tend to drop off in appeal and collector car value. The reasons are many, including less-powerful engines, bigger, heavier bodies, and losing that classic Mustang look. But for anybody wanting an affordable-yet-awesome project car, the 1971-73 Mustangs represent some of the best bang for your buck. Done right, and you could have yourself a serious muscle car for less-than-serious cash.

Over on the Hemmings Auto Blog there is an original j-code 1971 Mustang Mach 1 equipped with the legendary Ford 429 Super Cobra Jet V8. This numbers-matching car requires a complete restoration, but for $17,000 it is one of the cheapest and most complete big-block Mustangs you can buy.

The engine was reportedly rebuilt 20 years ago before the Mustang went into storage. Everything is supposedly there, including the original power steering system that was removed and replaced by a manual setup. The numbers-matching 429 big-block V8 is backed by a close-ratio 4-speed manual transmission, and from the factory this Mach 1 came with tall 4:30 rear end gears.

That said, there is a lot of work to do on this Mustang, starting with the rusted-out floor pans. The interior is in decent condition otherwise, as is the engine and engine bay. However, the exterior sure could use some tender loving care, and a new paint job to boot. Yet all told, the asking price of $17,000 is high, but not nearly as high had this car been a 1969-or-earlier model.

Throw some new floor pans in, and you’ve got a nice rat rod of a Mustang to drive around whilst you restore it, for half the price that a new 2013 Mustang GT would cost you.