Frank H. Cicerale
February 8, 2007
Photos By: Peter S. Linney

The Tomahawk cruise missile is a self-guided smart missile used by the U.S. Navy to light up the world of those who oppose U.S. foreign policy and use aggression against our freedom. After being launched from the deck of a surface ship or from an attack submarine below the waves, the missile begins its journey running on solid rocket propellant before a turbo-fan engine takes over. Once the turbo-fan kicks in, the Tomahawk travels to the target at a high rate of speed before the warhead on the tip of its nose eliminates anyone and anything near the impact zone.

If you look closely at Eddy Gomez's '03 Mach 1 Mustang, you can see a bit of a resemblance to the Tomahawk. Strong power to get it started, a turbocharger to keep it running, and enough overall punch to finish the job.

After buying the car bone stock, it wasn't long before Eddy wanted a bigger warhead. "I traded in my grocery-getter Focus for a real car-my '03 Torch Red Mach 1," he says.

Who can argue with his thinking? For all practical purposes, stepping up from the Focus to the Mach 1, with its Four-Valve 4.6-liter modular engine rated at 305 hp, is like ditching a BB gun for a rocket launcher. The thing is, Eddy wasn't happy with his rocket launcher. "I hadn't had the car more than a week when I started making plans on how to make the car faster and more custom suited to my taste," he says.

With mechanical ability already a gift for Eddy; his brother, Peter; and friend Mark Skorka, the trio made the Mach 1 the opening salvo from their new business, Stangwerks. The Pasadena, California-based shop served as the assembly line for the birth of Eddy's ground-based missile.

Knowing that forced induction, specifically the quiet power of a turbo, was in the Mach 1's future, Eddy and the boys yanked out the stock motor in preparation for some improved innards. The Four-Valve monster was crated and shipped to the staff at Powerheads Racing (Wildomar, California), who promptly broke down the box and tore apart the engine. After cleaning the block, the crew at Powerheads bored the block 0.020 over. When the machine work was finished, a forged Cobra crank was dropped in the main web of the bottom end. Resting on the journals of the crank are Clevite 77 main bearings and Manley H-beam rods that are mated to Probe pistons. After buttoning up the bottom end with the stock oil pan, fully CNC'd and ported heads featuring factory valves touched up with a five-angle valve job were slapped on. Crower high-lift springs and titanium retainers keep the valves from touching the pistons, while the factory cam followers were reused from the stock Mach 1 heads. Tickling the valves are custom-ground Powerheads Racing camshafts showcasing a 114 lobe separation angle and 0.450 inch of lift with 215 degrees of duration across the board. Topping off the heads are the stock valve covers.

This missile's power was coming from the turbo Eddy had in line for it, so an improved intake manifold was a necessity. Instead of popping for an aftermarket manifold, Eddy had the stock piece worked over to fit the intake ports. With the powerplant of the ground-based Tomahawk ready, it came time to bolt on the warhead. Eddy fabbed up a Hellion Power Systems 76mm turbo kit. Forcing the air into the combustion chambers at 24 pounds of boost, Eddy made sure that what went in fast came out fast by linking up the factory exhaust manifolds (Jet-Hot-coated, of course) to a custom Bassani/Hellion mid-pipe and exhaust system. Matching the increased airflow are 62-pound injectors. Altogether, the combination is estimated at 800 rwhp. Forget a conventional warhead-this Mustang is downright nuclear.

Eddy didn't stop under the hood, however. Knowing that a long cruising range for the missile was dependent on the drivetrain, rolling stock, and packaging of the warhead, he kept the assembly line moving. The transmission was kept stock, but stepping up the initial launching power of the Stang is a Ford Racing Performance Parts 4.10 gearset that now fills the 8.8-inch rear. The Mach 1 rolls along on DPE custom wheels on all four corners. Shod in Michelin Pilot tires, the front rims measure 19x8 inches, while the rears spec out to 19x10 inches.