Miles Cook
January 1, 2004
Photos By: Dale Amy

The year 2003 was a banner year for Mustangs. Not only were regular V-6 and two-valve GT models helping carry the baton as the only "Pony" cars left standing after about 40 years, the Mach 1 and Cobra iterations were providing unprecedented excitement for a model that's now 10 years old. And the lineup looks set to repeat for 2004, with two new colors on deck for the Mach 1, along with a Mystichrome Cobra to pique even more interest.

You could safely say the current Mach 1 and Cobra (that is, both '03 and '04 models) might be the greatest Mustangs to date-certainly so on the late-model side of the ledger. And, if that's the case, what would happen if you combined the two? One possible outcome is Classic Design Concepts' "Machinator," built to showcase CDC's Mustang accessory line. The "Cobra-ized" Mach 1 is a true standout no matter how you look at it. Late-model-style Mach 1 cachet? Check. Eye-catching good looks with vintage-style Mach wheels and a full helping of CDC goodies? Check. And, finally, knuckle-dragging, supercharged Cobra horsepower? Check.

The first part-those things that make an '03 Mach 1 all the rage-you already know about. But we'll concentrate on the other two areas since they make this early production Mach 1 (the fifth one built) such a spectacular mix of Mach/Cobra cool.

First, the engine and transmission were needed to create the Machinator (short for "Mach 1" and "terminator," as often attributed to the supercharged Cobra). After CDC acquired a new Cobra drivetrain, the conversion began. Though not a one-day swap-in-and-start task, the transformation was feasible because both the new engine/transmission and receiver car were the same model year. Further, CDC had in stock plenty of supporting components because a division of the company (CDC Racing) is heavily involved with Mustang Racing Technologies and its Mach 1 Racer program.

It took some real involvement, however, as the Torch Red Mach was taken down to its bare shell to exchange the unibody's three main electrical harnesses for the Cobra-spec versions. A Cobra EEC V computer was also used, along with a dual-pump '03 Cobra fuel tank (we investigated this process in our Sept. '03 issue).

In keeping with the Mach 1's spirit as a straight-line screamer, the 3.55:1-geared 8.8-inch solid-axle rearend was retained in lieu of the IRS used in the Cobra. Between the Cobra engine and the Mach's 8.8 is the T56 six-speed that came with the new Cobra engine. A smaller F-150 Lightning supercharger pulley ups the boost and pushes output at the flywheel past the 500hp threshold.

So there's the Cobra part of the mix. Stirring in the CDC bits made the package complete so this Mach-1-on-steroids could look the part. First up was the custom Shaker setup that's part factory and part CDC; recall that CDC offers Shaker kits for '99-'04 Mustang GT and V-6 models and was instrumental in the Mach 1's Shaker scoop at the factory developmental stages. Also used on the engine were the Mach's valve (or is it cam?) covers along with a powdercoated blower-belt shield that shows the Mach 1 logo proudly on the front of the engine.

To set the car apart from its seemingly more pedestrian Mach 1 siblings, the wheels are a Wheel Vintiques take on a Mach 1 wheel-think of them as a large-diameter version of a vintage Magnum 500 wheel, and you'll get the idea. The front 17x8-inchers are home to 245/45ZR17 Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, and the big-boy 18x9.5s in back are shod with 275/40ZR18 Eagle F1s. The ride height is just right, thanks to an MRT spring and shock package.