Eric English
January 14, 2014

Just when it seems that every iteration/interpretation of a custom-built vintage Mustang has been done, along comes a car that seems to say, "You ain't seen nothin' yet." That sentiment is surely true here, for we can't recall a Mustang build that has ever been this radical, extreme, or taken the liberties that you see in this hand-hewn creation from Eckert's Rod and Custom in Molalla, Oregon. For reasons that will become clear if it isn't already, the car is known simply as the Mach Forty.

It all started several years ago when owner, Terry Lipscomb, began formulating a Mustang project in his mind's eye. Lipscomb recalls bantering many ideas back and forth—including aluminum bodies, front engine/rear transaxles, and mid engine configurations.

"The plan certainly didn't materialize overnight." Whatever that plan would end up being, Lipscomb quickly realized his ideas were more than he could carry out on his own—he needed serious professional help. When Lipscomb learned of Dave Eckert's hugely capable shop from a friend, he discussed the different concepts with Eckert before dialing in on what you see here. In April 2009, the project started in earnest.

"I wanted to do a mid-engine Mustang with a feel for what it might have been like if Ford had done it in the '60s" says Lipscomb. Those guiding principles are the reason why the windshield and backlight are real '69 pieces; the roof, headlight buckets, sections of the front fenders, taillights, door skins, door handles, and seat frames as well. Understandably, not much else is sourced from the '69 SportsRoof that Lipscomb started with, which was a Craigslist purchase from central Oregon.

No matter the engine location, a killer powerplant is central to any over the top build, and Lipscomb got it from nothing less than an '06 Ford GT. With the GT being an evolutionary descendant of the original GT40 endurance racer, it's pretty easy to understand the inspiration for the "Forty" name. The result is 5.4 liters of all-aluminum supercharged four-cam mod-motor, backed by the GTs Ricardo six-speed transaxle. This bulletproof combination has been enhanced with a 4-liter Whipplecharger and Motec engine management, resulting in 720 rear-wheel horsepower when tuned by the technicians at Portland Speed Industries. Lipscomb calls the driveability "absolutely outstanding, and something Eckert's-built cars are known for." That's certainly something he would've struggled to get with a premier '60s engine, such as a built Boss 429.

The idea for Mach Forty was Lipscomb's, but making it come to life involved a host of über-talented craftsmen and designers. Lipscomb turned to Mike Miernik to get his ideas on paper, with Miernik creating 30 or so detailed renderings that identified dozens of critical dimensions ranging from driving position to engine/transaxle location. Miernik also designed the custom billet wheels that were manufactured by Schott—inspiration, for which, comes from the original 14-inch styled steels that were standard '69 Mach 1 fare.

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Within the skilled build team, it was Colton Hardison who was tasked with the extensive sheetmetal and body mods, while Eckert's fabricated the custom perimeter frame, floor pans, and suspension, the latter of which makes liberal use of aluminum C6 Corvette componentry. Needless to say, there is simply no way to adequately credit everyone who had a hand in the whole affair. To those who aren't mentioned by name, your valuable contributions are well recognized.

Inside the Mach Forty you'll find an environment as comfortable as anything you'd find in a European exotic, yet it clearly owes its genesis to a '69 Mustang. Still present are the classic twin hump/four-pod gauge configuration of the dash, the door panels look as if they could've been done during the period, and the seat frames are the modified originals from the '69 donor car. Credit Griffin Interiors for the lions share of the work, which included suede and leather wrappings for nearly every interior surface, and so much more. With considerable movement of critical factory dimensions (greenhouse moved forward, roof lowered, and more), the fact that Lipscomb finds the car comfortable is a tribute to the builder's attention to critical details. After all, what good would a car like this be if it didn't function as if it was OEM.

The above attitude was on full display as we photographed Lipscomb in action on the roads near his home outside of Seattle, Washington. He didn't hesitate to drive the 25 miles we needed to get to a nice stretch of open road, because he'd already driven some 300 miles since the Mach Forty was completed a couple months earlier. Lipscomb plans to drive the car anywhere he pleases, and there's a decent chance the car will hit the road for Hot Rod's Power Tour in the future. Understandably, Lipscomb did offer that his biggest reservations revolve around the crazies on the road around him.

"People are always taking pictures with their cell phones, which translates to eyes not being where they ought to be." In these instances, it's likely most people haven't much of a clue as to what they're looking at, yet accurately realize it's something very special. In our case, Modified Mustangs & Fords readers are clearly more astute than the average Joe on the street, and we know appreciation for the Mach Forty will run deep.

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The Details
Terry Lipscomb's Mach Forty
Engine
Ford GT 5.4-liter DOHC V-8
Aluminum cylinder block
Stock forged steel crankshaft
Stock Manley connecting rods
Stock Mahle pistons
Stock camshafts
Stock aluminum cylinder heads, four valves per cylinder
Stock intake manifold with integrated water-to-air charge cooler
Whipple 4-liter supercharger
Return-style fuel system, dual Aeromotive pumps, billet Fischer Motorsports rails, 1,000 cc/min fuel injectors, custom aluminum fuel cell
Motec engine management system, tuned by PSI
Exhaust
Stainless steel shorty headers
Custom stainless steel exhaust tubing
Transmission
Ford/Ricardo six-speed transaxle
Custom axle shafts that combine Ford GT (trans side) and C6 Corvette (hub side) specifications
Stillen clutch
Suspension
Front: Eckert's Rod and Custom C6-Corvette-based suspension with QA1 coilovers, C6 aluminum front cradle, upper and lower control arms, and rack-and-pinion steering
Rear: Eckert's custom billet aluminum cradle, billet aluminum upper and lower control arms based on C6 Corvette architecture, QA1 coilovers, custom 1.25-inch hollow tube/splined rear antisway bar
Brakes
Front: Baer disc, 14-inch rotors, six-piston calipers
Rear: Baer disc, 14-inch rotors, six-piston calipers
Wheels
Front: Schott custom billet aluminum, 18x10
Rear: Schott custom billet aluminum 19x11
Tires
Front: Michelin Pilot Sport, P275/35ZR18
Rear: Michelin Pilot Sport, P325/30ZR19
Interior
Custom work by Eckert's and Griffin Interiors of Bend, Oregon; suede and leather covered fiberglass dash and console; leather and carbon-fiber-backed buckets based on modified original Mach 1 seat frames; New Vintage gauges and Pioneer entertainment/nav system
Exterior
Extensive metalwork by Colton Hardison of Hardison Metal Shaping, DeBeer basecoat/clearcoat Silver paint, functional and retractable rear spoiler, functional rear brake scoops with open/close shutters, stock '69 SportsRoof front and rear glass