Michael Johnson Associate Editor
July 1, 2005
Photos By: Steve Turner
With a Mach 1 Mustang, not much is needed to spruce up the exterior. For Athena's Mach 1, she merely needed a set of Weld Racing Rodlite XP 18x9 wheels wrapped in Falken treads to give the desired look. OK, Athena, we know you now live in North Carolina, but the 4x4 look is not good on a Mach 1. How 'bout some lowering springs?

Horse Sense: Bassani Xhaust got its start back in the day-1969-in the motorcycle industry. Today, Bassani Xhaust components can be found on a variety of performance vehicles, and the company is the original equipment manufacturer for the '00 Cobra R's X-pipe. If Bassani doesn't make an exhaust component for your Mustang, you probably don't need it.

Why are we surprised when we see a woman at the wheel of a performance car? It must be something in us from birth since this author's own 4-year-old son recently saw a woman at the wheel of a Roush 440A and subsequently responded with, "A girl is driving that car." He's never heard that from his daddy (OK, maybe once or twice) so there was no reason for him to give such an opinion. In our travels we've seen enough fast cars with women at the wheel that we no longer think like cavemen when it comes to this particular scenario.

Granted, the number of women actually into performance vehicles is substantially smaller than that of their male counterparts, but another female looking to change this gender-specific performance car trait is Athena Barber. She's always owned Mustangs, and she's been modeling for a few years as well, so when Bassani Xhaust decided to hold a Bassani Babe contest, Athena was the perfect fit. Naturally, she became one of the three Bassani Babes for '03 touring with the exhaust gurus to help create excitement for the Bassani brand.

In November 2003, Athena decided she needed a new project Mustang. Specifically, she purchased an '03 Mach 1 in black, and then learned what all Mustang owners know, it's hard to keep them stock for long. To guide her in the right direction, Bassani Xhaust owner Darryl Bassani aided in getting the right parts the first time.

The first parts to arrive in Athena's former Kansas City hometown were Bassani's Mid-Length headers, a high-flow X-pipe with catalytic converters, and an After-Cat. In one fell swoop, the exhaust was improved well beyond stock, and perfect for more power upgrades.

Second on the docket was ATI-ProCharger, which is located in Kansas City as well. "This is where I spent many long days and late hours doing all the modifications to my car," Athena says. ATI-ProCharger Senior Performance Technician Jeremy Jensen helped with the fitment and installation of the P-1SC supercharger kit with supplied three-core intercooler and 4-inch pulley, which we covered in our October '04 issue ("Path of Athena," p. 106 ). The 10 pounds of boost from the P-1SC were a welcome addition.

Much like the Mach's exterior, the interior is sparse in its modifications. However, also like the exterior, the Mach's interior is really nice from the factory. Even so, Athena needed a couple more gauges from Auto Meter to keep track of boost and fuel pressure.

To help Athena get down the track with as little drama as possible, Auto Meter gauges were added to keep her in tune with the mechanical happenings. HP Motorsports upper and lower control arms bite for traction off the line, while a Clutch Masters clutch traverses the power from the engine to the transmission, and on back to the stock 8.8 featuring an Eaton differential, and Strange 31-spline axles and 4.10 gears. Right before Editor Turner photographed the car, a set of Weld Racing Rodlite XP 18x9 wheels were added to spice up the exterior.

After the Mach 1 was tuned in, the ProCharger-motivated, Bassani-exhausted Four-Valve made 454 hp to the rear wheels, which is respectable. Even more respectable, Athena took the Mach to the dragstrip and ripped off a best of 11.66 at 120 mph. That is moving for anyone, no matter the gender. Sounding like a racing veteran, Athena thinks the car should run in the 11.20s with some fine-tuning.

Yes, she races the car herself, and before you think she just sat around doing her nails while the guys worked on her car, Athena says, "You might see pretty nails in the photos, but they're not afraid to get dirty."