Dale Amy
April 1, 2003

Horse Sense:
Tests such as the ones featured here couldn't happen without a lot of help. Thanks to Paul and Ronda Svinicki, Pat Svinicki, Karl "Bird Blaster" Roekle, Mike "Don't Call Me Michael" Sears, Scott Baumgartner, and Jeff Stearns at Paul's High Performance for taking time away from their paying jobs for an intense few days of wrenchin', racin', and rollin' on the dyno.

Listen up-Team Mustang has another winner on its hands. Trust us when we say that if you liked the Bullitt (and who didn't?), you're gonna love the Mach 1. Sure, some of us old-timers might have questioned the sanctity of bringing back the revered Mach 1 name because, after all, can something packing a mere 281 ci do justice to the memory of the omnipotent original with its available, hulking 428 and 429 Cobra Jet big-blocks? You bet your middle-age hippie butts it can.

For those of you just emerging from a long winter hibernation, or maybe coming over from the Brand-X camp, we'll recap the '03 Mach 1 basics. Take a Mustang GT, treat it to some suspension tweaks, and clothe it in retro Magnum 500-style wheels, graphics, and a Shaker hood. Then, most importantly, tuck an aluminum DOHC version of the 4.6 modular beneath said Shaker, bolted to your choice of five-speed manual or AODE automatic. Garnish with some tastefully retro interior touches and a 3.55-geared Traction-Lok, and you have a Mach 1. And don't be thinking this is nothing more than an '01-spec Cobra motor working through a solid axle. A look at our dyno sidebar and drag results should clear up that misconception in hurry.

After months of rumor and hype about the Mach, we were chewing our collective nails to get our hands on one for some performance-numbers crunching. For the truest picture, however, we and the folks at Ford agreed it best not to use a prototype-only a production-spec example would do. So we waited (no, not patiently) for the first batch of press cars to roll off the Dearborn assembly line. Meanwhile, we again lined up Paul Svinicki and his talented crew at Paul's High Performance to do the actual testing and wrenching.

The plan was to dyno and quarter-mile the Mach 1 in stock form, then add a few bolt-ons and test it again, much as we did with the '03 Cobra ("Snake Attack," Sep. '02, p. 54). We knew that with Paul's extensive experience drag racing modulars, he could adapt quickly to the peculiarities of the new model and get us representative numbers in short order. Once again, he came through with flying colors.

We're Coming to the Point
Our five-speed tester arrived in the most stealthy of all the Mach 1's available color schemes: black with black stripes. Unless you look closely, only the Shaker and maybe the chin spoiler give it away. Weird as this sounds, we soon grew to appreciate the subtlety of the combination-especially as we wanted to attract as little attention as possible at Milan Dragway, southwest of Detroit, where the testing would take place during the last week of October 2002, mostly during regular test-and-tune time slots. Now, trying to do drag testing at the end of October in Michigan is no less a crapshoot than basing your retirement funding on future Vegas winnings. We were entirely at the mercy of the wacky Midwest weather, which seemed determined not to cooperate (about the only thing we didn't get was snow). But in the end, we got lucky.

Paul Svinicki met us late Wednesday afternoon at the track with the freshly delivered Mach 1, having less than 300 miles on the odometer, for the stock portion of our drag testing. And we do mean stock. Our baseline numbers were achieved on the factory Goodyear Eagle ZR45 rubber, front and rear, while still carrying the spare in the trunk and with about a quarter tank of fuel. Paul did, however, swap one of his PHP shifters onto the stock Tremec 3650, just so he knew he could hit Third gear on every try. Nothing-and we mean nothing-else was touched.