Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
April 8, 2011
Photos By: 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords Staff

Matthew Wadel
2003 Mustang Mach I

Actually hoping to get into the last year's KOTS, Matthew Wadel didn't even remember sending us an email application for the competition. We had to nudge his memory a bit until he remembered sending it. Although he was a tad late getting his 2009 submission to us, we held on to it until this go-'round. Fortunately, he still had the Mach 1 and was ready to compete.

Matthew has owned the Mach 1 since he returned from the sandbox, which is military slang for Iraq/Afghanistan. In the seven years since he's owned it, the Mach 1 has turned into a 600hp daily driver, capable of handling Matthew's 90-mile round-trip commute in Washington, D.C.

Part of a recent Mach 1 trend, Matthew outfitted his with an '04 Cobra engine, transmission, and wiring harness, but we knew coming into the KOTS that Matthew's Mach would have a tough go on the dyno. Many of our KOTS cars represent a small segment of the Mustang hobby; Matthew's Mach is a more real-world example. Matthew's combination can be easily sourced and sorted with repeatable results. Furthermore, this combination is somewhat affordable for a more broad range of Mustang enthusiasts, unlike other KOTS combinations.

Like other KOTS cars, though, Matthew's Mach featured swing-out door bars for the rollcage to make for easy entry and exit, and stock seatbelts to make buckling in as easy as stock. Matthew's Mach also featured a nice gauge layout and cold A/C. The stock stereo provided the tunes to try and cover up a mysterious noise emanating from the 8.8 rear.

Another byproduct of Matthew's daily use of the car is the brake wobble. It seemed the front brake setup could've used a do-over before the KOTS, but the Baer-Eradispeed-rotor/Hawk-pad combination was responsive, so it was a wash. The car's steering response was also spot-on. While other cars, with their big 'n' little combinations, suffered ill-handling characteristics, Matthew's Mach could handle the corners with ease.

The '04 Cobra Four-Valve's corresponding T56 transmission made shifting a breeze, but an area that had us up in arms with Matthew's Mach was the exhaust. It wasn't super ridiculous, but there's no way Matthew is able to sneak through any town with his Mach. We could just imagine driving Matthew's Mach through a downtown district with the exhaust echoing off tall buildings. Anyone within 10 blocks would hear it--and that would be under normal acceleration. Hammer the throttle, and not only are you met with instant power from the Whipple-fed Four-Valve, but the exhaust will let you--and everyone else in town--know that triple-digit velocity is approaching. The exhaust had a distinct, angry sound; to some, it was too loud and obnoxious. We'll let it slide this time, Matthew.

Overall, our assumptions were correct with Matthew's Mach. We thought it would be on the lower side in the dyno rollers, and it made 598 hp to finish with a 4 in that category. With an 11.674 at 124.96 mph, he also scored a 4 in the Drag Race category. The Engineering and Fit and Finish categories were kind to Matthew with 7s in both. Even with the loud exhaust, Matthew's Mach did quite well otherwise in the Ride and Drive portion, scoring an 8 in that category. And, of course, with girlfriend, Leslie Madigan, in tow, Matthew excelled in the Popular Vote category with a 9.

Final Score: 44.4

Tech Specs
Engine and Drivetrain
Block '04 Cobra
Rotating Assembly Stock '04 Cobra
Heads Livernois Motorsports Stage 3 ported
Camshafts Houston Performance custom
Intake '04 Cobra
Throttle Body Whipple
Power Adder Whipple 2.3-liter supercharger w/Gords Ford dual-fan heat exchanger
Transmission '04 Cobra T56 w/SPEC Stage 3 clutch, and Steeda Autosports Tri-Ax shifter
Rear 8.8 w/Auburn Pro differential, Moser 31-spline axles, and FRPP 4.10 gears
Exhaust BBK Performance long-tube headers and X-Shape crossover w/Magnaflow Magnapack after-cat exhaust
Fuel System '04 Cobra fuel tank w/dual Ford GT fuel pumps, Bosch 60-lb/hr injectors, and a Kenne Bell Boost-a-Pump

Electronics
Computer Stock Mach 1, SCT chip
Ignition Stock '04 Cobra, NGK spark plugs
Gauges Stock, Auto Meter Lunar series tachometer with Shift-Lite