Sharad Raldiris
June 28, 2012

Bill Low is a huge fan of '80s metal music. His enthusiasm for heavy metal might seem out of place in today's musical climate, but it all makes sense when you hear Bill's story.

Back in the '80s, he enlisted in the United States Navy, and four of his 10 years of military service were spent on board the USS George C. Marshall, typically hundreds of feet below the surface of the ocean. Hopping into his car at the end of his shift and enjoying the ride home was not an option.

On countless nights at sea, Bill would retire to his rack or to crew's lounge, slip on the headphones, and let the music carry him away. Bands like Dokken and Ratt would take him back to the States, where he would dream about working on his cars, first a '71 Roadrunner, then an '86 Trans Am, and eventually an '88 Mustang GT, which is responsible for turning him into a Blue Oval man for life.

Like many Ford fanatics, Bill has owned several Mustangs, including his '88 GT, which ultimately ran in the 11s on nitrous. When the Mach 1 reappeared in 2003, the allure of its modern technology with a nostalgic flair was too tempting to resist. He just had to have one.

After a patient search, Bill found this Torch Red '03 Mach 1 for sale by the original owner with just 24,000 miles on the clock, and he scooped it up. Early on, the modification process took place at a reasonable pace. He started out with simple bolt-on parts like the C&L cold-air kit, Flowmaster after-cat exhaust, MGW short-throw shifter, and so on. He planned to race the car on sticky tires, so he upgraded the factory rearend to a 31-spline setup with a Detroit True Trac differential, Superior axles, and FRPP 4.30 gears.

When he began to crave more horsepower, he turned to Nitrous Express for an extra kick in the pants delivered by a 150-shot of the good stuff. Bill says he has always gravitated toward nitrous due to its cost-effective nature. While he was working in the trunk, he relocated the car's battery with an aluminum battery box from Taylor and a Jegs battery-disconnect switch.

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A Four-Valve 4.6 on the spray is a powerful ride for sure, but like many things in life, the excitement eventually wore off and left Bill craving more power. He decided to step up his game in a big way and ordered an FRPP Aluminator long-block. Wanting to make the most of the opportunity, he chose to install a new front suspension based on UPR's tubular K-member kit. While he was at it, Bill added Pacesetter's full-length headers.

With the Mustang sporting a seriously potent powertrain, Bill then focused on safety items so the car would pass the tech inspection at his local dragstrip. He had a Maximum Motorsports' six-point rollbar custom painted Torch Red and installed with a matching red G-force harness for the Corbeau driver's seat. A Stifflers driveshaft loop wrapped up his safety checklist, and he declared the car track-ready.

When we caught up with Bill and his Mach 1 at New England Dragway, he was making his first shakedown runs with the new combination, the best of which was a 12.48 at 115.76. The car showed easy 11-second potential once it's fully tweaked, and we'd call that a success for such a clean and streetable ride. Bill says the Mach 1 is his favorite car of any he has owned, which makes sense since it fits perfectly into his life's theme of heavy metal and horsepower.

Nowadays, Bill has a more conventional land-based job as a quality assurance manager, so at the end of his shift, he is finally able to slip behind the wheel of his powerful steed. But now instead of slipping on the headphones, he slides a CD into the Mach 460 sound system and lets the metal carry him away. Rock on, Bill. 5.0

Horse Sense: With the reintroduction of the Mach 1 in 2003, it was somewhat overshadowed by the Terminator Cobras debuting the same model year. The Mach 1 might be considered the sleeper of the Mustang family. It featured a 305hp V-8 and an 8.8-inch solid rear axle which led many to believe that the Mach 1 was more suited to drag racing However, the Mach 1 proved a natural in the corners as well, winning championships in both SCCA road racing and autocrossing.

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5.0 Tech Specs

'03 Mach 1

Engine and Drivetrain
Block FRPP Aluminator
Crankshaft Forged
Rods Forged H-beam
Pistons Mahle forged
Camshafts FRPP DOHC
Cylinder Heads FRPP Aluminator
Intake Manifold Stock Mach 1 with 3/8-in spacer
Power Adder Nitrous Express single-nozzle wet kit w/ 150hp jets and MSD digital window switch
Fuel System Stock w/ SVT Focus 255-lph fuel pump
Exhaust Pacesetter ceramic-coated long-tube headers w/ Pacesetter 2.5-in X-pipe, and Flowmaster two-chamber after-cat
Transmission Stock Tremec TR3650 w/ MGW shifter, Hurst Sidewinder knob, Fidanza aluminum flywheel, Centerforce Dual Friction clutch, and FRPP aluminum driveshaft
Rearend 8.8-in w/ 31-spline Superior axles, Detroit True Trac differential, and FRPP 4.30 gears

Electronics
Engine management Factory ECU w/ SCT XCalibrator2
Ignition Stock
Gauges Auto Meter Pro Comp programmable tachometer and cowl-mounted, liquid-filled fuel pressure gauge

Suspension and Chassis
Front suspension
K-member UPR Products Pro Series chrome-moly, tubular K-member kit; and Prothane polyurethane engine mounts
A-Arms UPR Products
Struts Strange Engineering 10-way-adjustable
Springs Eibach 175–in-lb coilover
Brakes Stock 13-in, dual-piston PBR
Wheels 17x7-in Billet Specialties Street Lite
Tires 205/50-17 Falken
Rear Suspension
Shocks Tokico
Springs Eibach Pro Kit
Control Arms Stock
Brakes 11.8-in stock
Wheels 17x11-in Billet Specialties Street Lite
Tires 315/35-17 Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials