Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsCar Reviews
Mach One And Only
Drag testing the world's first centrifugually-blown '03 Mach 1 Mustang.
Ford Motor Company has blessed Mustang lovers with factory hot rods of late that make the '60s super cars look weak. While this year's SVT Cobra has garnered a lot of attention, there is another limited-production Stang offered from the factory that boasts great horsepower in a classy package. It has been blessed with the moniker Mach 1. The modern Mach 1 has lived up to expectations and its performance is worthy of the legendary car title. The four-valve Modular engine has created a powerful combination in a sedate looking package. Just ask Wayne Rosen of Pennsylvania why he picked up a Mach 1 and you will see how excited Mustang enthusiasts are over this car.
"The car was purchased for several reasons. One, the reissue after nearly 30 years; two, limited production, the original estimate was 6,500 but only 5,000 were made; third, looks and appearance is more "down to business" than the GT or Cobra, and fourth the dual-overhead cam motor was what really sparked the project. It is an engine that has a lot of potential in a car that does not draw attention to itself," proclaimed the proud owner.
In its stock form the car is fun, but gearheads can never leave anything alone. Rosen had his eyes set on having his Mach 1 run faster than an '03 Cobra, but look and sound like an ordinary Mustang. The road to a supercharged Mach 1 began before Rosen took delivery of the vehicle from the Ford dealer. He and long time friend Lou Vasger hit the phone lines to see what choices were available. However, they quickly realized there were no blower kits sold for this application. No manufacturer would sell them a kit, since there was not one designed specifically for that car. The companies were also put off by the car's functional Shaker hood. The two friends refused to let this small dilemma prevent them from supercharging Rosen's new toy.
Rosen quickly realized the Mach 1 engine was virtually the same in layout as an '01 Cobra engine. The plan was to install a Vortech SQ-trim kit for an '01 Cobra and then deal with the other problems. The SQ-trim was perfect with its low-operating noise and, even with only 8 pounds of boost, the increase in horsepower would be significant. The main differences between an '01 Cobra and the Mach 1 are in the electronics and the mounting of some engine accessories. That fueled Rosen and Vasger's desire to figure out a way to adapt the '01 Cobra kit to the Mach 1.
They ordered the '01 Cobra SQ-trim kit from a Vortech dealer and did not reveal their intention to install it on a Mach 1. To ensure they had enough fuel, a set of 42-pound injectors and a 250-gph fuel pump were purchased. Exhausting the spent gases from the supercharged engine would be BBK's long-tube headers and high-flow cats along with Flowmaster mufflers.
Rosen dropped off his Mach 1 and all of the new parts at Vasger's shop, Hank and Sons Sunoco, for its transformation. It took only one day to install the blower and there were only a few hiccups. The alternator bracket was modified to clear the blower pulleys. Vasger managed to keep the Shaker hoodscoop in place by fabricating a new mounting bracket that looked like it came from the factory, however the Shaker is no longer hooked up to the intake tract. The wiring harness for the mass airflow sensor had to be lengthened since it had been relocated inside the fender.
While the blower was installed without any major drama, the computer still posed a problem. The factory EEC-V was sent to Vortech to be programmed, but they were not set up to burn Mach 1 chips. Once again Rosen hit the phone lines and came in contact with Dennis Reinhart of Reinhart Performance. This is one of the few companies in the country capable of doing Mach 1 computer chips. Reinhart was up front with Rosen and Vasger. He said the first chip would get them a baseline and the speedometer working with the new 4.10 gears. But they would have to get on a chassis dyno to get information so that he could burn some more chips to get the car tuned properly. He figured the tune-up would be right in about three or four tries.
The new module arrived in the mail and the Mach 1 was strapped down to a chassis dyno. The first run produced a super lean condition with the air-fuel meter reading 16:1 at 4,000 rpm. Reinhart would add some more fuel to the next chip. The chassis dyno run was better, but it was still a little lean. The third chip netted the best results thus far, and the wheels spun the chassis dyno to the tune of 434 rwhp with an impressive peak torque number of 408 lb-ft.
Instantly the Mach 1 hit the streets and it was everything Rosen had hoped it would be with the new blower and associated equipment. Now it came time to test the 434 rwhp on the dragstrip. Rosen and Vasger loaded up the car and headed to Englishtown for one of MM&FF's track days. Vasger handled the driving chores and initial runs were in the mid-to-low 12s on the stock radial tires. When they bolted on a set of Nitto 555 drag radial tires the car responded with an awesome 11.92 at 120.21 mph. There is more to be had in the tune-up and Reinhart wants to send Rosen another chip that should make a bit more power. But right now Rosen is satisfied with having the only Vortech supercharged Mach 1, a car that sounds and looks ordinary, and runs anything but.
We did get to spend some time behind the wheel of Rosen's toy and were completely blown away by the car's docile nature. With the silent-but-deadly SQ under the Shaker hood, you could sneak up on the unsuspecting all day long. Even the normally raucous Flowmasters didn't give away the gag. Rosen specifically ordered the car in black because he wanted the Mustang to blend in. Mission accomplished!
But mash the throttle and the car goes like the hammers of Hell. Throttle response was right now and it really got wild as the revs climbed. We can't wait to see what this thing will be like with the final tune-up. Good grief. Just goes to show what can happen when you refuse to take no for an answer.