Dale Amy
November 1, 2003

Horse Sense: If you love the look of the '03 Mach 1 but didn't step up quickly enough to get a real one, Classic Design Concepts now offers a full Mach 1 Appearance Package so you can turn your GT (or V-6, for that matter) into a Mach look-alike. Better yet, be the first on your block to build a Mach 1 convertible.

Even the most jaded of Mustang junkies would surely be satis-fied to have one of the initial so-called "executive order" run of '03 Mach 1s tucked away in his or her garage. Any one of this first-production batch of 25 cars to roll off the assembly line is likely to have extra collector status and value somewhere down the road-giving additional incentive for those lucky enough to own one to leave it utterly unmolested and stock, right? Maybe just store it and not even drive it? Wrong on both counts-at least if you're George Huisman, who, shortly after taking delivery of this '03 (number five of initial Mach 1 production) set about figuring how he could personalize it in his own inimitable fashion. As CEO (that's chief entertainment officer, in George's case) of Classic Design Concepts, he just can't seem to leave any Mustang in his stable well enough alone.

The result is what's come to be known around here as the Machinator-a near-science-fiction blend of Mach 1 and '03 Terminator Cobra, with a bit of Classic Design Concepts thrown in for good measure. The idea began with a spare, spanking-new '03 Cobra powertrain that was taking up space in the back shop, and which George reasoned shouldn't take too many man-hours to swap into his Torch Red Mach. After all, they were both '03 Mustangs, weren't they? He was so confident of the concept, he never even drove the Mach 1 in stock form before commencing the transplant.

As it happens, it really was a fairly straightforward operation, but only because George had all the necessary supporting hardware in stock, owing to CDC Racing's Mach 1 Racer program. Pulling it off, however, required gutting the car down to its unibody Skivvies to exchange the Mach's three main body electrical harnesses for their Cobra counterparts. A Cobra EEC V processor also came on board, as did the snake's dual-pump fuel tank. In what some might consider to be the best of both worlds, George's crew hooked up the blown cammer and T56 six-speed to the Mach 1's stock, 3.55-geared stick axle-all the better to withstand George's frequent John Force-emulating burnouts.

The world-class tire frying is part of George's extroverted side, but he's also a guy who revels in the small details, such as the custom induction setup that is a combination of factory Mach pieces and some of CDC's own Shaker hardware. This is a Mach 1, after all, so the proper Mach 1 cam covers have replaced the Cobra versions on the transplanted engine. Even if you missed that fine point, you're sure to have observed the powdercoated "Mach 1" shield over the blower belt. What you can't see is that the shield hides a Lightning pulley for an extra few pounds of boost and 525 hp!

George's legendary attention to detail has resulted in a drivetrain that looks as if the line workers in Dearborn had put it there, but the pseudo-factory touches don't stop with the engine. Take the wheels, for instance, which at a quick glance could pass for the Mach 1's factory footwear but are actually custom-offset replacements from Wheel Vintiques, measuring 17x8 inches in front and a whopping 18x9.5 in back. The resulting menacing stance is helped out by a lowering spring/ damper package from Mustang Racing Technologies, as well as by 245/45x17 and 275/40x18 front and rear Goodyear Eagle F1 skins (they sure do smoke nice, don't they?). Other exterior embellishments come from Classic Design Concept's own catalog and include side exhausts, side scoops, sequential taillights, body-color signal mirrors, driving/ foglamps, an electric billet-aluminum fuel door, Mach 1 honeycomb-pattern rear trim panels, and the patriotic grille pony. George also substituted a V-6 rear fascia to eliminate the exhaust cutouts, and had the hood repainted to more closely resemble the factory's '69 Mach 1 blackout scheme.