Wayne Cook
July 1, 2009
Photos By: Tracy Stocker

Bill Birch of Indianapolis, Indiana, is a dedicated Ford enthusiast. When Bill decided he wanted something extra in a Mustang, he dreamed of a car with all of the attributes of a Mach I and with a convertible top to boot. Since Ford didn't offer the Mach I package on the latest Mustang incarnation, Bill contacted Scott Hoag, founder of MRT (Mustang Racing Technologies). While Scott was at Ford Motor Company, he was the driving force behind the Mustang's popular Mach I package for '03 and '04 with its retro interior, graphics package, and immediately recognizable Shaker hood and scoop setup. Who better to contact when the plan was to create a Mach I using the '05 convertible platform?

Bill was interested in a car with not only the visual attributes of the Mach I, but he also wanted his car to run a little better than the rest when the light turned green. It just so happens that MRT specializes in all kinds of Mustang performance upgrades, so Bill knew he had found the right outfit to create an authentic-looking and -performing Mach I Mustang tribute, both on the outside and under the hood. MRT worked closely with Bill in the creation of this one-of-a-kind project. Although the formula included upgrades to improve the car's appearance and acceleration, the guiding concept was simple-build the Mach I that he wished Ford had built. After review and consultation, the decision was made to build an engine with increased power and also the ability to handle incremental performance modifications later on. This included a tear down and rebuild with the typical forged internals used for big-power blower applications. A billet steel crank from Kellogg and the modular standard; Manley forged rods found their way into the aluminum 4.6L block. They decided to make as much power "on the motor" as possible, while retaining manageable street drivability characteristics. Bill agreed to sacrifice some idle smoothness and went with an aggressive Comp Cams Three-Valve cam package, including phase limiters, matched with the factory 5R55S five-speed automatic transmission.

Although not the typical street package, the end product is a fast and fun boulevard cruiser that has outstanding throttle response and gets a ton of thumbs up and smiles with its authentic and distinctive Mach I presence. Let's take a closer look at the cool convertible and see just what MRT has done to make the combination work.

We certainly like the all-Ford look provided by the M-1007-S1895 SVT wheels. The blacked out spoiler and taillight panel are Mach I styling cues along with the rocker stripes. The MRT exhaust tips fill out the openings in the factory valance panel nicely. The Mach I emblem on the trunk lid is an exact replica of the original Ford ornament.

The Details
Bill Birch's '05 Mustang GT convertible Mach I tribute

Engine

  • MRT built 4.6L Three-Valve V-8
  • 281 cubic inches
  • 3.55-inch bore
  • 3.54-inch stroke
  • Kellogg billet steel crankshaft
  • Manley forged steel connecting rods
  • Diamond forged aluminum pistons 10.5:1 compression ratio
  • Perfect Circle piston rings
  • Comp Cams Stage 2 camshafts 0.535/0.535 lift advertised duration 264/275
  • Ported and polished cylinder heads with cam phase limiters installed
  • K&N cold air inlet
  • SCT XCal II tune
  • 329/300 hp/tq (on Mustang chassis dyno)

Transmission

  • 5R55S five-speed automatic
  • TCI 3,500 rpm stall torque converter

Rearend

  • 8.8-inch
  • Ford Racing 4.10 gears
  • 31-spline axles

Exhaust

  • JBA headers
  • MRT-built 304 stainless steel 2½-inch dual exhaust
  • MRT Aero Turbine axle-back system

Suspension

  • Front: OE coilover MacPherson struts
  • Rear: OE three-link with tubular Panhard rod

The MRT Shaker hood kit is certainly a major contributor to the Mach I persona. The kit includes all required ducting and other components to make the scoop fully functional. Otherwise, the engine bay is all business and completely void of bling.

Brakes

  • Front: OE 12.4-inch ventilated disc, two-piston caliper
  • Rear: OE 11.8-inch ventilated disc, single-piston caliper

Wheels

  • Front: Ford Racing SVT Mustang, 18x9½
  • Rear: Ford Racing SVT Mustang, 18x9½

Tires

  • Front: Goodyear Eagle, P235/45R18
  • Rear: Goodyear Eagle, P235/45R18

Interior

  • OE red leather deluxe interior, billet A/C and radio knobs

Exterior

  • OE Torch Red paint, Mach I graphics package by MRT, MRT Shaker Hood system

Mach 1 Origins
In 1969, the Mach 1 was introduced. It featured the new SportsRoof body with simulated sidescoops high on the quarter-panel with a prominent air dam and rear spoiler. It replaced the Mustang GT as the most popular Mustang performance option. The package included a long list of desirable features. The blacked out hood was adorned with a non-functional hoodscoop. The Shaker hoodscoop was optional and was mounted directly onto the carburetor projecting through an opening in the hood. It was available on 351 2V, 351 4V, and 390 engines, but was standard on the 428 CJ. Side stripes were color keyed to complement the body color and dual sport mirrors were also included. NASCAR-style hoodpins were also part of the visual and functional enhancements. Styled steel wheels and a pop-open fuel door rounded out the exterior appearance. Inside, the original Mach I came equipped with the deluxe interior. The popular Mach I package continued on into the big-bodied Mustangs and was also available on the Mustang II through 1978. The package then disappeared until the creation of the '03 Mustang Mach I, which was equipped with the 32-valve DOHC 4.6L engine. This Mach I was continued into the 2004 model year and then faded away with the introduction of the '05 Mustang.