Dale Amy
February 8, 2007
Mach 1 toughened: Lowered and with fat rolling stock, Larry and Tammy Harkins' '04 edition cruises Florida's Gulf Coast with nearly 600 hp and semi-subtle metallic silver graphics sprayed on by Clearwater, Florida's Keeping it Real.

Horse Sense: Though the more common stick-shift Mach 1s come with steel cranks, automatics make do with cast versions.

Sadly, it wasn't until the waning years of the Fox 4 chassis that the "mainstream" kids from Dearborn started churning out special-edition factory Mustangs that were both exciting and collectible. Up until then it had been left in the oh-so-capable hands of SVT to spice up the Mustang stew with anything hotter than the venerable GT. No one's arguing the merits of SVT's various Cobras, whether pushrod or modular, in either naturally aspirated or Roots-style blown form. But for whatever reason, it wasn't until the writing was clearly on the wall for the New Edge era that the faithful were finally treated to what might be considered regular-production specialty models, namely the Bullitt and the Mach 1.

For quarter-milers, the Mach 1 may have been the ultimate non-supercharged New Edge with its combination of deep-breathing, aluminum DOHC modular and unfussy stick axle. This was a genuine out-of-the-box performer and looked good to boot. But, like the Bullitt, the Mach was built in limited numbers (fewer than 17,000 were sold in model years '03 and '04), making it something of a collectible, therefore perhaps curbing some owners' enthusiasm for messing with them. We stress "some" because as you can see, modification is not a problem for Clearwater, Florida's Larry and Tammy Harkins.

Perhaps this should not be overly surprising when you learn that Larry's previous toy was a '98 Lincoln Mark VIII-something not many of us would confuse with a typical musclecar-that he proceeded to mutate into a 547-rwhp ego crusher. According to Larry, the big coupe was "fun for five years of car shows and racing." The hot-rod Lincoln went on the block when the Harkins laid eyes on this '04 Mach 1 in Dark Shadow Gray. The retro Mach was just the ticket for Larry, whose earliest infatuation with Ford muscle began in high school with the familial pairing of his own new '66 Fairlane GTA and his brother's equally new '66 Mustang GT.

To prepare for a 22-psi ATI-ProCharger and a shot of Zex squeeze, the Harkins had Dennis Ramsey construct a suitably strengthened short-block, then surrounded it with nearly every polished accessory they could find. Beauty and the beast.

We can see some old school is revisited on Larry's highly personalized '04 Mach 1 via the '69 chrome Cobra Jet script on the Shaker scoop. Everything else, however, is as modern as a hybrid econobox, but a pant-load more fun. Basically, the Harkins went nuts-outside, inside, and underneath-but underhood is where we'd venture to say most of Larry's venture capital was, uh, ventured. Note not only the presence of a ProCharger D-1SC centrifugal supercharger-intercooled, of course-but also the telltale yellow and purple hardware of a ZEX 75-125hp laughing-gas system. Shoving both squeeze and a 22-psi blower into an engine room is not something we'd like to think about on a stock short-block. Neither did Larry, so he turned to Ramsey's Performance in Tampa. The company had done the motor tricks on Larry's Lincoln. On the Mach I, Ramsey's bored the stock aluminum block 0.020-inch and stuffed in hearty CP pistons and Manley rods, working on an FRPP Cobra steel crank.

FR500 heads were ordered from Ford Racing and assembled by Dennis Ramsey with stock Mach 1 cams, stainless valves of factory dimensions, and Comp Cams beehive valvesprings. Larry then made a call to Michigan for a Paul's High Performance Stage II ported intake. All this strength and stamina is surrounded by so much chrome or polished metal, my toughest job in shooting the magnificent Mach's engine bay was keeping reflections of my ugly mug from spoiling the view

When all the wrenches finally stopped smokin', the result was a mere 599.29 rear-wheel horsepower-without arming the nitrous. Behind the revitalized long-block is an AODE considerably modified by ATCO of Clearwater, Florida, and teamed with a 2,800-stall Precision Industries Stallion converter. Out back, 31-spline Moser axles and an Auburn Pro diff have found their way into the otherwise stock 8.8-inch housing with the factory 3.55 gears. With a hair shy of 600 ponies on tap, any more gear would be torque-amplification overkill. At the track, the combo translated to a 10.84 pass at 132 mph, though the quarter-mile is not the Mach 1's primary venue.

It appears Larry and Tammy ran amok in the UPR catalog, picking out just enough to brighten the Mach 1's coal-bin cabin. Even so, the black-anodized shifter is one of our favorite pieces.

When the car emerged from Ramsey's, the Harkins worked on all the little details that set this Mustang apart from the herd to make it a consistent trophy stealer at any car show it rolls into. The interior, for example, is an interesting blend of stock Mach, UPR brightwork, UPR reverse-glow cluster appliqu, and that trick-looking black anodized UPR shifter. For some strange reason, Larry has a lot of radar/laser detection equipment onboard as well. Hmmm

Externally, there's not much wrong with a Mach 1, and the Harkins seem to agree-except they considered the factory footwear a bit underwhelming, dimensionally speaking. This was addressed with 17x9.5 and 17x11 front and rear rims, from Wheel Vintiques, mounting Nitto Extreme ZR rubber in size 275/40 at the pointy end and 315/35 Nitto Extreme Drag skins out back. Oh, and the metallic-silver tribal graphics on the hood? That design was borrowed from one Tammy noticed on a nephew's T-shirt, proving that inspiration can come from the least expected places. Speaking of inspiration, check out the onboard blue LEDs illuminating the squeeze purge in our drive-by shot.

While others may leave their Mach 1s stock for eventual collector value, Larry and Tammy Harkins are collecting the value of their near-600-horse Mach 1 every time they launch it from the garage. As we said, Mach fun