Tom Wilson
September 1, 2005

You have to love project cars. Made up like a cheap date, and dripping with expensive doodads of questionable utility, project cars are the fishnet stockings of the car culture. But here's one that looks great, goes fast, and hasn't suffered from bolt-on death.

Owned by Bud Bulmer, the Sales and Marketing Manager at Tokico, this striped '04 Mach 1 features a muted retro Shelby look, boosted power, and numerous other upgrades, but its main purpose is to showcase Tokico's D-Spec adjustable shocks. And that is why we had the car for several days, the better to sample these premium shocks on the street. We had previously tried D-Specs on a variety of street cars during Tokico's press event at The Streets of Willow Springs, and had been impressed by their super wide range of adjustment, so we looked forward to trying them out of captivity.

Of course, just fitting shocks to a Mustang headed into the hands of the jaded Mustang press corps would be underwhelming, so Bud fitted a good cross section of performance parts. Chief of these is the Vortech supercharger whining underhood, plus K&N air and oil filters. A MagnaFlow Tru-X high-flow cat and after-cat system got the nod for discharging the increased airflow, and because the free-breathing Mach 1 engine needs nothing else to make a ripping-good time, that's it in the engine room.

Helping the D-Spec shocks strut their handling stuff are Steeda caster/camber plates and Snow Performance braces at the firewall/strut-towers underhood and between the shock towers in the rear. Various high-rate Tokico springs have been tried on this car in the search for the best spring/shock match-this car is also the occasional test mule and Bud's daily driver. The springs we drove on measured in the 650 in-lb range, which is a stout 50-percent stiffer or so than stock. These are hardly the final set of springs for this car, so expect to see a somewhat different spring rate when Tokico [(800) 548-2549; www.tokicogasshocks.com] releases its springs for sale. In keeping with the retro Shelby theme and Bud's racing background, the wheels were upgraded to 18x9 and 18x10-inch Halibrand Cobra III units, complete with genuine Halibrand knock-offs that give us our fun but functionally faux fishnet stockings. Pirelli 275/35R-18 front and 295/35R-18 rear P-Zero Rosso ultra-performance tires provide the definitely not faux grip.

Currie helped out with a differential cover/girdle on the otherwise stock 8.8-inch third member carrying stock 3.55 gears. Bud mentioned he cut off the two inches of protruding studs from the diff cover so they wouldn't center punch the fuel tank in a heavy rear-end collision.

Inside, Bud provided sportier seating and harnesses to match the increased cornering power. Misano L series carbon-fiber seats from Cobra were paired with Scroth harness belts, and an Auto Meter Lunar series instrument cluster assembly replaced the stock gauges. Aluminum knick knacks on the headlight switch, hand brake lever, and so on are from Steeda, as is the Tri-Ax shifter with its matching aluminum handle.

Steeda also played a part in the exterior looks department with its front air dam/splitter, but like a GT500 Shelby, this car's signature design point is a pair of PIAA 510 series high intensity driving lights mounted front and center in the grille. A definitely more subtle touch are the Sporza silicone windshield wipers.