February 28, 2007

It's been nearly 40 years since the second decade of the jet age drew to a close, and Ford marketing first tagged a Mustang with a moniker inspired by the fastest crafts in the sky. The year was 1969, and the new Mach 1 name drew from the speed-of-sound terminology used primarily by military aviators, who by this time were reaching new heights at Mach 2 and beyond. The Mach 1 name implied speed beyond belief, and if the majority of early Mach 1s with the base 351 failed to live up to the hype, it was pure promotional genius, to say the least. Consider this: of the nearly 300,000 Mustangs manufactured during the '69 model year, more than 70,000 were in SportsRoof-only Mach 1 guise-that's almost 25 percent of the entire production run, and a slam-dunk sales success to be certain.

Fast forward to 2003 and the reintroduction of a Mach 1 model after a three-and-a-half decade hiatus. While a regurgitation of this fantastic special edition's attributes is not necessary, we will say that the standard 305 hp/five-speed drivetrain is considerably more impressive than the original. White Marsh, Maryland's Bill and Cate Pinder are a couple of today's enthusiasts who bit hard on the new Mach's retro theme, purchasing this Dark Shadow Gray example for Cate's daily driving pleasure. For 30,000 miles, the car lived up to the couple's expectations. Bliss turned to bad news, however, when, as Bill puts it, "the engine seized up." Ford rejected the warranty claim due to some mild performance mods, such as a throttle body and exhaust. Even though the Pinders and FoMoCo became embroiled in a protracted argument over responsibility, Bill wasn't going wait for the legal dust to settle before getting the car back on the road. Taking the proverbial bull by the horns, Bill amicably negotiated with his wife for possession of the '03, then launched an impressive show 'n' go effort that could scarcely have been imagined prior to the engine's unexpected demise. If Mach 1 aptly described the car before its metamorphosis, it was going to be hard to find words to explain it once Bill was through.

Right up front, Bill knew his big power plans had to deliver a civilized driving experience, dictating a power adder and much more. To rectify the wounded engine and prepare for greater-than-atmospheric pressures, Bill had Baltimore's AHM Performance machine and assemble a bulletproof stroker short-block consisting of the original aluminum block, punched and sleeved to a healthy-for-modular bore size of 3.70 inches-pushrod guys, hold the laughter, please. AHM's Chester Crossont added a Kellogg 3.75-inch forged-steel crank with small-block Chevy rod-journal diameters, swinging small-journal, SBC-spec Eagle H-beam rods, and Manley pistons that achieve an 8.8:1 compression ratio. The rest of the bottom end features the expected top-flight components, topped by FR500 Four-Valve heads and camshafts, a modified short-runner intake by Boss 330 Racing, and BBK's twin 62mm throttle body.

A ProCharger F-1R was chosen to cram in the boost, which along with a modified ATI air-to-air intercooler and Reichard Racing pulley conspires for about 30 psi at full song. When we tell you Bill followed up with a custom-built dry nitrous system with "100-horse" jetting, you'll know how nuts this guy really is-but aren't we all? Bill says from the outset, he was seeking "incredible power on hand at all times," and we figure the 833 horses measured on the Dynojet dyno at Kauffman Motorsports ought to be sufficient.

It's important to note that Bill went through plenty of headaches and gnashing of teeth to build the car of his dreams-not to mention wads of hard-earned cash. As might be imagined, the toughest part of the entire build was putting together and sorting through the various ancillaries-items such as fuel and tuning systems, to be specific. Initially, it was thought that supplying the gigantic fuel needs of the Mach could be covered by substantially modifying the returnless fuel system, yet after The Recon Shop in Kingsville, Maryland, fitted all the goodies, including a Cobra fuel tank and dual FRPP pumps, the combination still couldn't achieve the AFR numbers needed. Success was eventually found by switching to a return-style system that brought dual -8 feed lines into custom CPR rails, Siemens 60-lb/hr injectors, and a single -6 return, helped by a Big Stuff 3 EFI system, installed and tuned at Kauffman's.