5.0 Mustang & Super FordsFeatured Vehicles
2003 Ford Mustang Mach 1 - Mach Speed
The Way It Runs, Maybe It Should Be Called The Mach 2
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.
The air was good, with density altitude running between about 100 and 250 feet, but the track was a bit greasy due to unseasonably cold fall temperatures and recent rainfall. Paul had precious little time to learn what launch and shift technique the car would respond to, since darkness was approaching. As it turned out, we would have even less time than we thought. Paul made a couple experimental passes in the mid 13s before clicking off what would turn out to be our last run of the day-a 13.29-second rip at 105.13 mph.
Whether or not this was all our tester had in it in pure stock form we'll never know, because before he could come around again, some poor kid lost control of his late-model Camaro, resoundingly punted an import in the next lane, and then punched down a 30-foot section of guardrail before unceremoniously plopping the Z28 on its lid in the grass. The driver was fine, but our test evening was finished. Still, a dead-stock 13.29! We told you you'd like the Mach 1. And we can't help but assume the simple addition of drag radials would have dropped it into the 12s.
Back at PHP's Jackson headquarters, Paul rolled the Mach 1 onto his Dynojet where it spun 274 hp to the wheels along with an impressive 301 lb-ft of torque. Assuming a 17-percent loss through the drivetrain, this means around 330 ponies and nearly 365 lb-ft of torque are available at the modu-lar's flywheel. Not bad for 281 inches breathing without assistance!
Since we knew the Mach 1 was basically a missile right out of the box, the next job was to find out how it might respond to simple bolt-on modifications and a bit of typical dragstrip lightening. So, during the next couple days, parts began flying around the PHP shop. Out went the back seat, the spare tire, the front and rear sway bars, and the stereo amplifiers from the rear parcel shelf. On went a K&N conical filter in a prototype PHP airbox, new March SFI-approved underdrive pulleys, a PHP-ported intake and spacer, a PHP A/C bypass kit, and the company's torque link to stop the modular from flopping around on its mounts. On the exhaust side, Paul's guys fitted a pair of new midlength headers; a 2.5-inch, no-cat X-pipe; mufflers; and turndowns-all from Bassani.
Since it was Mr. Svinicki's full intention to launch just as hard as he possibly could on 26x10 slicks, a different 8.8-inch housing was also bolted up, containing Moser 31-spline axles, an Eaton Posi differential, and 4.30:1 gears. The axles and diff certainly wouldn't make the car any faster, but they were good insurance when dropping the clutch at six grand. Paul then burned a DiabloSport chip to try and sharpen the fuel and spark curves, but with only limited success-especially on the timing side-before we again had to hit the track. (It seems Ford's been moving some stuff around inside the '03 EEC V, and finding things would have taken more time than we had.) It's worth noting that we left the factory mass air meter and throttle body in place.
After a couple more hurried dyno pulls at various stages of modification, the Mach 1 went into the PHP trailer for its final assault on Milan's quarter-mile. We had to rush because the track was about to close its gates for the season, and no amount of begging or bribery could get them to remain open for us. Neither was the weather helpful, so our window of opportunity ultimately narrowed down to Milan's last open day for 2002. As it turned out, Paul would make the best of the limited opportunity.
We've kept you in suspense long enough. The first pass off the trailer netted a jaw-dropping 12.06-second pass at 112.23 mph. Paul then bumped the launch rpm up from 5,000 to 6,000, and, in the process, he triggered off the first-but no doubt not the last-11-second pass ever recorded by an '03 Mach 1: 11.98 at 112.52. These are simply wicked numbers for a naturally aspirated modular with basic bolt-ons. Just to prove the validity of these runs, he then backed them up with a 12.02 at 112.59 mph. Imagine what a power adder would do.
By now it should be fairly obvious the '03 Mach 1 more than lives up to its musclecar heritage. But if you want one, you'd better hurry. It sounds as though only around 6,000 will be built this year, and most, if not all, are already spoken for. And that was before the world heard how quick it is.
Power To The People
It was obvious from the moment the Mach 1 first belted us in the backside that its new Four-Valve modular is a strong, torquey beast, and this visceral impression was confirmed as soon as it spun up the Dynojet rollers. Mach 1 head and cam packages have been greatly revised from those found in naturally aspirated DOHC Cobras, and the changes favor torque production, as can be seen in the accompanying charts comparing the stock Mach 1 with an '01 Cobra.
The balance of the charts detail output at different stages of our bolt-on frenzy. Note that the PHP airbox/K&N air filter, along with the complete Bassani exhaust, added a whopping 31 hp and 22 lb-ft. But also note the final pull, with the ported intake and underdrive pulleys, came after swapping from the 3.55 to 4.30 axle, which artificially lowered the power figures. A better comparison would have been made had we had time to run these final additions with the stock 3.55 gearset. But, by any standard, these are impressive numbers. It will be interesting to see how the Mach 1 responds to a good supercharger.
|RPM||'01 Cobra||'03 Mach 1||'03 Mach 1 w/||'03 Mach 1 w/|
|Stock||Stock||Exhaust & Filter||Intake, Pulleys, 4.30s|