Eric English
January 23, 2007
With just 1,800 miles and a couple of years under the belt, the Competition Orange paint is still flawless and a real throwback to the days of early Mach 1s that sported similarly loud hues-Calypso Coral and the Grabber colors of orange, blue, and green being examples.

Horse Sense: Wheels can make or break any Mustang, and they don't get any better than the lightweight Fikse Profil 5S forgings seen here. Alan Feenstra custom-ordered them with an offset of +25mm on the front, +19mm on the rear, and a black center finish. While the wheels certainly help make this Mustang, they can also break the bank at about $1K each-but nobody said the best was cheap!

You might say that Bremerton, Washington's Alan Feenstra is a man who's used to working on some serious equipment. A lifelong employee of the federal government-a U.S. Navy lieutenant to be specific-Alan's 21-year career included such critical positions as chief reactor operator on three nuclear-powered fast attack subs, and chemistry and radiological controls assistant on the USS John C. Stennis, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Obviously, we couldn't resist the temptation to work Alan's atomic credentials into this feature title, yet the play on words is well representative of the transformation he's performed on this '04 Mach-indicating he's nearly as serious about his hobby as he is his profession.

As expected, this isn't Alan's first foray into the world of high-performance Mustangs, but it's arguably his most successful. Also residing in the Feenstra stable is a street/strip '91 GT, which was purchased brand-new and still sports but 12,000 miles. As Alan puts it, "The '91 is a car I've had so long that I've modified all the modifications." Yet as much as Alan was a pushrod traditionalist, the reemergence of the Mach 1 for '03-'04 was the car that finally sucked him into a brave new world-that of the Four-Valve mod-motor. Truth be told, it was his wife, Lori, who encouraged Alan to go for the unique throwback model, though with a none-too-realistic expectation that the Mach remain factory stock for the foreseeable future. Within 500 miles, such delusion was shattered by a Vortech blower, which, as they say, "was just the beginning."

Show-and-go is the theme under the hood, as Alan opted for polish on almost everything possible, including the Vortech head unit, aftercooler, Canton overflow tank, air ducting, and Maximum Motorsports caster/camber plates. Don't let the shine fool you.

Of course, wrenching on any new car is pure joy, but it's particularly so when executed in the manner that FoMoCo laid on the newest Mach 1. Aside from the rolling stock, it's clear that Alan feels Dearborn stylists did the car right-leaving all other cosmetics as the factory saw fit, and letting the retro styling and Competition Orange topcoat do the talking. Speaking of the tire and wheel package, the rims are 18-inch Fikses, custom-built for the Mach 1 with specific offsets front and rear, while the rubber is Kumho ECSTA MX..

Clearly visible through the forged spokes is a massive upgrade from the stock braking package-in this case Brembo clamps on all four corners. Lay into these binders and you'll feel as though an anchor was thrown from one of the Navy ships Alan rode on a regular basis. Alan explained that the rear brakes are actually designed for use on a Cobra IRS, requiring some extra effort and creativity to make the jump to the stick axle. The Brembos are fixed-mount calipers rather than the stock floating style, and installer Brian Holsten at Brad's Custom Auto figured it wise to go with a differential with less potential lateral axle movement than the stock Ford Traction-Lok-a Torsen piece from Ford Racing Performance Parts was the answer. Mounting the emergency-brake caliper required more of Brad's ingenuity, resulting in a custom CNC'd bracket to get the job done.

The Brembo Gran Turismo 13-inch rear brakes are impressive, and Alan explained the E-brake assembly is manufactured by McLaren. The kit is designed specifically for Cobra IRS applications, which added some complexity to the live axle installation as described in the main text.

With top-of-the-heap brakes and wheels, it's of little surprise that the underpinnings of the car have been reworked to take full advantage. Maximum Motorsports got the call for their full-meal deal, while Brad spun the wrenches on the company's torque arm, Panhard bar, lower control arms, adjustable rear sway bar, tubular K-member, front control arms, coilover Bilsteins, and plenty of ancillaries. Alan says the control and handling is now phenomenal-a report we have little difficulty believing.

If the upgrades to this special '04 had been limited to the aforementioned suspension, wheels/tires, and brakes, Alan would have had plenty of ammunition to compete with today's top performing elite. But as we've already hinted, the genie came out of the bottle with the mods under the hood. Boosting the stock Mach 1's 305 hp is a Vortech supercharger kit featuring an SQ SC-trim blower, an air-to-water charge cooler, and an advertised claim of 484 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Alan and his son did the install together over several weekends, then dialed it in with an SCT Pro Racer flash tuner-the result being a combination that'll respond when the hammer falls, yet knows what to do when the straightaway ends.

Two years into ownership, Alan believes he's finished with the modifications (can't fool us) on his special '04, and he now plans to spend more seat time with his performance mission accomplished and a new assignment with the Navy that should provide more time on dry land. That'll be a welcome change, as Alan mentioned shipping out on a six-month tour just days after purchasing the Mach 1, explaining the car's low mileage. Talk about delayed gratification. Alan figures he's ready to head to a road-course track day where, whether nuclear or not, we predict the fun to be only just beginning.