Don Roy
March 1, 2007
Photos By: Francis Butler

Jeff Wilson’s 2004 Mustang Mach 1
Imagine driving your buddy to work to pick up his paycheck and coming home with a new car. It happens. Jeff Wilson had been pretty happy with his 2001 Mustang GT. It had been lookin' fine with an Invader body kit, 18-inch wheels and a host of performance mods that he'd been installing over the months. In fact, that was Jeff's second Pony to get the full treatment. The master technician at Bolt-Onz Performance in Roslyn, PA, had previously started with a V6 Mustang in 2000, building it up with dual exhaust, short shifter, cold air intake, performance chip and 18-inch Cobra R rims. The call of the wild drove him to move to the GT, in search of more power.

Jeff wasn't at all prepared for what happened when he dropped his friend off at the local Ford dealership in November, three years ago. The two arrived just in time to see a new, competition orange Mach I being unloaded from the transporter. Before he left the dealership again, all the paperwork was done and that Mach I had his name on it. Available only in the 2004 model year, Jeff's special edition car is one of only 1039 Mach I's ever built in that color. He knew that this was a special car - the last of the collectible New Edge Mustangs - and vowed to keep it in original condition.

OK, so that delusion lasted about two weeks and then a K&N cold air kit went on. Following shortly after was a cat-back exhaust and, by that time, the mods bug had fully sank its teeth back into Jeff. The next item on the menu was a Nitrous Express wet kit. Set up for a 75-shot, the giggle gas did its job but the combination of items took the Mach to the point where some custom tuning became mandatory. After checking with the folks at Nitrous Express, Jeff decided to have the tuner shop aim for a 150-shot application. The forged crankshaft in the manual transmission Mach I would handle that level and more, but the hypereutectic pistons would be about at their limit.

There was other work to be done, including the installation of the Tremec T-56, six speed manual transmission from a 2003 Cobra, along with a CenterForce Dual Friction clutch and pressure plate. As a result, the car was left at the shop for the needed work. It didn't go well. The transmission swap went off without a hitch and so did the first two dyno runs, with the nitrous systems set at it's original level. Sometime between then and when Jeff got the phone call he never wanted, the Mach spit a couple of rods out the side of its aluminum block. Relations with the tuning shop went downhill from there.

DA' Strong Stuff
In the end, Jeff pulled his car out of there and started looking for a bullet proof solution. Twice shy now, he closely evaluated a number of potential builders for a new short block. Evenutally, he placed his order with DSS Racing in St. Charles, IL. DSS is a well known engine builder and their Super Mod short block provided just the recipe he was looking for - all forged components. Starting with a race-prepared 4.6-liter aluminum Cobra block, DSS adds their own PRO-X forged pistons and SS50 U Moly rings. Forged 4340-alloy steel, H-beam connecting rods are bolted on to the crankshaft with ARP 2000 rod bolts. That crank, by the way, is a forged steel, 8-bolt affair used in the modern Cobras and manual transmission Mach I's (slushbox Machs come with a 6-bolt, cast crankshaft). All rotating parts are balanced to race tolerance and assembly is completed in the company's climate controlled clean room, with ARP main studs used as well. As a final touch a DSS main support system is added to the block. Collectively, these parts and assembly techniques result in a bottom end that the company says can handle up to 800 horsepower.

Jeff told us that he found the customer service at DSS very professional and that their layaway plan allowed him to get his plans in gear, even though his finances needed time to sort things out. In the meantime, Jeff and his brother began the job of removing the hurt pieces from the Mach and getting ready for the replacement from DSS. There were quite a few long nights and Jeff says that his brother was a big help through a tough time.

When the short block finally arrived, Jeff was ready for it. In particular, he'd come to view this challenge as an opportunity and was also going to upgrade the exhaust system. MAC Performance had been called on to supply a set of long tube headers for the Mach, in addition to their 2.5-inch H-pipe. For a little more unique sound, Jeff went with Magnaflow's 2.5-inch MagnaPack mufflers to complete the job. Making sure to take no chances with the future of this motor, he also added a Canton 7-quart oil pan. Knowing that the car would have to go back for tuning after the engine was together, Jeff started asking around for recommendations and checking out the actual work of several shops. In the end, he took the car to Kauffman Motorsports, in Dillsburg, PA. Pushing the nitrous jetting up to a 185-shot, the Kauffman folks were able to wring a safe and solid 440 rear wheel pony count.

Building The Package
Along the way, Jeff's Mach I has received more attention than just the engine. He's replaced the front K-member with a tubular version from UPR, along with their matching lower control arms. The car's new dry cell battery has been relocated to the trunk and dual Cobra 255 lph fuel pumps have been added to make sure that the engine has a more than adequate supply of gasoline. The SCT dual tune chip that Kauffman installed is switchable between nitrous and non-nitrous tunes. The task of keeping the needed 411 available to the driver fell to Auto Meter gauges, including Air/fuel ratio, nitrous pressure and oil pressure units. Since there are ongoing competition plans for the Mach, g-Force's 5-point restraints were installed for both front seats.

The car rolls on 17 x 8-inch aluminum rims with Fuzion 245's up front, and 18 x 9.5-inch rims out back, shod with BF Goodrich's finest drag radials in the 295/35-18 size.

All of this work was called to the forefront when Jeff took the car to the track after engine tuning was complete. With the NOS bottle wide open, he was rewarded with a 1.6 second short time and a 11.70 @ 120 mph at the big end. Jeff's day finished there, but with only a minor problem. It seems that the wide open throttle switch decided to pack it in, so that was the only run he got in. The problem is now fixed up, but as we're writing this, Jeff hasn't been back to the track. Rightfully so, he feels that there's still more left in this Mustang andis looking forward to the spring so it canshow it's best.

Speaking of Show, Jeff has been known to take the car out for a quiet day among like-minded enthusiasts. In fact, a visit last year to the Hot Rod Weekend at Maple Grove raceway rewarded him with a 1st place nod in the Best Ford class. Along the way, he's added a few showy bits, including FRPP chromed cam and coil covers, an MGW Mach I fuel cap cover and a flamed pony emblem up front.

Jeff's plans for this year include some rear suspension work and a lot more racing. When we asked him what thoughts he'd like to pass on to our readers, he didn't have to think twice. "Checking out a tuning shop is important. Ask around and don't just take what the shop says for granted. If you're not comfortable with what you're hearing, move on. There are more shops around," he said. That sure seems like sound advice to us.

Jeff Wilson's 2004 Mustang Mach 1

Ford 4.6-liter DOHC V8

Engine Modifications
DSS Racing Super Mod short block; Canton 7-quart oil pan; ARP main bolts; Felpro head gaskets; Steeda PCV oil separator; MAC long tube headers, 2.5" H-pipe; Magnaflow Magnapack 2.5" mufflers; Ford Racing chromed coil covers; K&N cold air kit; Dual 2003 Cobra 255 lph fuel pumps; Nitrous Express wet nitrous system, 185-shot with WOT switch; SCT dual tune chip

2003 Cobra T-56 6-speed manual transmission; CenterForce Dual Friction clutch

440 RWHP, 550 RWTQ
Best ET To Date: 11.70 @ 120 mph

UPR tubular K-member; NAPA dry cell battery, relocated to trunk

MGW Mach I fuel door; Polished shaker scoop; Flamed front pony emblem

Auto Meter gauges, including Air/Fuel ratio, nitrous pressure, oil pressure; g-Force 5-point restraints; Nitrous controls on console

UPR tubular front A-arms

Wheels And Tires
Front: Venom 17 x 8" with Fuzion
245/45-17; Rear: Venom 18 x 9.5" with BF Goodrich g-Force T/A 295/35-18 drag radials