Dave Haymond's 1995/2006 Mach III Replica
Mach, (pronounced "mok.") is a measurement of the speed of sound, which lies somewhere between 740 and 760 miles per hour at sea level, named for 19th-century Austrian physicist Ernst Mach.
Ernst had no idea when he first used theoretical mathematics to probe the mythical 'sound barrier' that his name would one day make Mustang enthusiasts rise to attention like caffeinated meerkats, but we are confident he would have enjoyed watching the Shaker hood dance back and forth while getting rubber in three gears. The term Mach 1 migrated from science nerd culture to everyday English in 1947 when Chuck Yeager flew faster than the speed of sound in an experimental Bell X-1 aircraft at an altitude of 45,000 feet.
Twenty years later, Ford Motor Company applied the name to a chopped-top, high-performance fastback prototype that drummed up excitement on the 1968 car show circuit. Although the dark red design study bore some resemblance to previous Mustangs, it departed from the Pony car formula with its aerodynamic front, covered headlights, exposed fuel filler cap, unusual hinged Plexiglass side windows, exaggerated side scoop, six-outlet exhaust tailpipes and European-style working rear hatch.
Mustangers did not know it at the time, but this one-off Mach 1 was a stylized preview of the line's '69 SportsRoof model - the first street Mustang to be available with a Mach 1 performance/appearance package. With its range of V8 power (from a base 351/2V to a 335-horse 428 Super Cobra Jet) and land speed record stripes and spoilers, the new Mach 1 was a certifiable hit; Ford sold 72,000 of its 300,000 Mustangs with the new package in 1969 and maintained roughly the same total production ratio for '70.
No sooner had the '69 Mach 1 arrived in showrooms than Ford stylists unveiled the "Mach 2" - a mid-engine coupe designed to test the company's interest in the sexy sports car market. Powered by a 351 Cleveland V8 and five-speed manual transaxle, the Mach 2 and its Italian-esque Mach 2-B successor were not so much part of the Mustang family as they were the GT-40 program; the pointy pair quickly evolved into the DeTomaso Pantera, which was sold and serviced through Lincoln-Mercury dealerships.
The Mach 1 Mustang was Ford's most popular performance model from 1969 through the end of the Mustang II era in 1978, when it was dropped as the company simplified the Pony car's lineup of packages and accessories.
The rich history of the prototype and production Machs gathered dust for the next 15 years, until 1992, when Ford's SN95 Product Planning Manager John Coletti convinced his bosses that the world needed another wildass Mustang show car. After all, General Motors would display its re-designed Firebirds and Camaros at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show in January, but the next-generation Mustang would not be available in time to steal GM's thunder. Starting with a budget of zero dollars, Coletti so thoroughly sold the project that he was able to get two identical show cars built in less than six months. He justified the unplanned expense by making the "Mach III" an integral part of the '94 Mustang's publicity campaign, explaining the show car would contain elements of the new Mustang, but at a "next level" of execution.
Both Mach IIIs started life on pre-production SN95 chassis that had been used for research and development. Coletti's team chose the Lincoln Mark VIII's 4.6-liter double overhead camshaft V8 to be the Mach III's engine, to which Powertrain Development added a billet steel crankshaft, twin throttle bodies, Eaton supercharger, intercooler and unique ethyl glycol-injected intake manifold. The 450-horse cammer was backed up by a Borg-Warner six-speed manual transmission. Tipping the scales at 3,000 pounds, the little roadster was reported to be capable of hitting 60 miles an hour from a standstill in 4.5 seconds and reaching 180 with a long enough road.
The Ford Design Center mocked up a two-seater body for the Mach III that featured a chopped-and-rounded windshield, neon taillights, LED third brake light, state-of-the-art headlights and a dual-cockpit interior. Masco-Tech Industries actually built the twin bodies from Ford's approved clay models. Just as the '69 Mach 1 had been before, the Mach IIIs (one red, the other green) were hugely successful on the auto show circuit, where they regularly stole attention from the new Firebird/Camaro twins and captured many national magazine covers.
Dave Haymond knew all about the legendary Mach 1 street cars and prototypes, and he liked the Mach III so much when it was featured in Automobile magazine that he decided to build one for himself. Unlike the average Joe - who would be doomed to fail at such an ambitious enterprise - Dave had two things working in his favor: an obsession for mechanical innovation that borders on insanity and a healthy amount of disposable income.
Like you and me, Dave spent his childhood years building tons of Revell plastic car models, and his father made the mistake of taking 10-year-old Dave to the vast Harrah's automobile museum, which is where he claims his love of cars took hold.
"After that," he remembers, "I went looking for old cars to restore and modify. At 13 I had a '29 Model A roadster; at 19 a '57 Thunderbird. I was really into Mustangs, so I built four '65s. I even bought a wrecked Lamborghini Countach and fixed it up, but Fords were still my passion.
"I taught myself to make anything I needed to do a job, whether it was a part or a machine. I was always tinkering with something mechanical."
Unfortunately, playing with cars was not paying the bills, and in the early '90s Dave's vending machine business was not doing too well. Confident he could fix anything he put his mind to, Dave built a prototype of a gumball machine with a clear, spiral delivery system. The "Gumball Wizard," which provides children all the entertainment of watching a hamster scoot through his tunnel (but without the feeding and clean-up), was patented and the checks began to roll in just as Dave caught sight of Ford's Mach III red and green show cars.
"It never occurred to me to contact Ford and try to buy one of the cars from them after they were retired from the show circuit," he recalls. "I just assumed I would have to build one myself, so in 1995 I happened to see a new Mustang convertible that had caught fire and bought it from the wrecking yard.
"I stripped that '95 and began using it as a styling buck for the body molds."
With no formal education in full-scale prototype modeling, Dave used two-pound roofing foam to form the approximate shape, then applied a variety of tools and sanding implements to fine-tune the design of each panel. His goal was to build a Mach III as if Ford had developed its show car into a production vehicle.
"Ford did a beautiful job of producing the Mach III so quickly," Dave says, "but there were many shortcuts and some impractical styling ideas that would not have worked on a street car. I wanted to build the car that would have been the company's next step in the evolutionary process.
"For instance, the back of the show car is one solid piece, which would never fly in production. It would be too cumbersome to produce, and way too expensive to fix if damaged, so I designed my version with a traditional bumper cover that attaches to the rear quarter panels. The frame of the show car's windshield was rounded off in a way that would never mate to a convertible top; the A-pillar also cuts in on the driver's forward vision. I chopped two-and-a-half inches out of the windshield, but kept a conventional frame design."
Once the foam-covered '95 had the shape Dave was looking for, he created Polylite molds and used those to form each body panel out of high-quality resin composite materials. The new panels were carefully applied to a '96 SVT Cobra convertible, which had been stripped and prepped for its Mach III transformation. Then began the arduous task of creating each and every bit of hardware for the project.
"I worked with a SolidWorks software program to design all of the little pieces in 3D," he recalls. "Nothing on the car came off the shelf; everything was created from billet steel or aluminum, based on the photos I was working with.
"Bosch sold me some of its raw components, which I used to design the headlights. Each light is sealed and adjustable for aiming, just a like a production car, but I'm planning to convert them to high-intensity discharge units when I have time. The taillights are individual LED pieces that work sequentially."
Dave's Mach III is a two-place roadster, just like the original show car, with a curved bulkhead just inches behind the carbon-fiber Cobra brand leather-covered bucket seats. The interior received subtle, but substantial, modifications that include a Kenwood touch-screen panel with CD player and DVD navigation - modern touches Ford would have incorporated had they been available in 1993. Diamond speakers (six inside the car and two subwoofers in the trunk) and a pair of 500-watt amplifiers put the production '94 Mustang's high-end Mach 460 stereo to shame. Dave designed a new center stack panel and console that perfectly complements the shape and color of the bulkhead behind the seats. Other show car touches include white-face gauges with billet trim, a pair of AutoMeter gauges (for fuel pressure and boost) on each edge of the cluster, Bentley-style cupholders and a push-button starter.
His Mach III's twin-cam 4.6-liter Cobra V8 generated a respectable 305 horsepower from the factory, but Dave added a polished Kenne Bell supercharger, JBL headers, a Ford Lightning 91mm mass airflow sensor, 42-pound injectors, a K&N filter, Bassani X-pipe and SuperTrapp mufflers for a boost to 400 ponies and 425 foot-pounds of torque at the rear wheels.
Never content to do things the easy way, he invented his own charged-air intercooler system by adapting the car's AC unit to provide 50-degree air to the intake system.
"The compressor shuts off when you really get on the gas," Dave tells us, "but there is about a 60-second supply of cool air going into the intercooler so it is a very effective system for the type of driving most people do."
The transmission is a T-5, but with a catch. Dave never liked that long reach required to put a Mustang into first, third or fifth gears, so he designed an adjustable, hidden linkage that allows the billet shift knob to sit exactly where it's most comfortable for the driver. The rest of the drivetrain is made up of a stock clutch, aluminum driveshaft and 3.73:1 rear axle.
Dave engineered his own suspension and steering system from a combination of existing Ford parts and his own designs. For instance, the rear suspension is a 1999-2004 Cobra IRS. Because the Mach III replica's body is 1.5 inches wider than stock, the car's overall track grew by nearly four inches, requiring the creation of new lower A-arms and many other components. Dave applied an airbag suspension, Tokico struts and shocks and two-piece Baer 13.25-inch rotors on front and back with stock Cobra calipers. The rear brakes are stock Cobra units. Wheels are custom-made three-piece Vellanos (20 x 9-inch in front, 20 x 11-inch in back) wearing super low-profile Continental SportContact 2 tires (255/30-20 in front, 305/25-20 in back).
Eleven years after he began packing styling foam onto that burned out '95 Mustang, Dave took the Mach III out of the garage for its first trip on October 21, 2006, to attend a Copperstate Mustang Club show. The drive gave him a chance to evaluate ride, handling and other characteristics; remarkably, the roadster needed only minor tuning to meet Dave's incredibly high standards.
A month later, Dave trailered his red replica to a pre-arranged location (see sidebar) an hour before dawn for a Modified Mustangs photo session. Knowing what effect the Mach III has on people, we purposely chose to work in an isolated part of the state.
"Since I started driving it," Dave tell us, "I've seen people go nuts over this car. Some of them know what it is or is supposed to be and they have a million questions. They want to know how I got it, where I got it, if they can buy one, if they can buy mine ... I can't stop for gas without drawing a mob. One guy thought it was the real show car, and he got really mad that I had it and wouldn't confess how I got it from Ford."
To that gentleman, we make this offer. Get busy building your own Mach III, and we will consider shooting it for the Modified Mustangs cover in 2018.
Dave Haymond's 1995/2006 Mach III Replica
4.6-liter DOHC Cobra V8
JBL headers, polished Kenne Bell supercharger, SVT Lightning 91mm mass airflow sensor, K&N filter; 42-pound injectors, custom charged-air intercooler, Bassani X-pipe, Supertrapp mufflers
Stock SVT Cobra
Borg-Warner T-5 five-speed transmission; aluminum driveshaft, 3.73:1 gears, custom shift linkage
400 RWHP, 425 RWTQ
Customized '96 Cobra chassis
Composite body panels, custom LED taillights, custom headlights with Bosch components, 2.5-inch windshield chop, touch sensor door handles, functional hood scoops, functional rear scoops
Cobra brand carbon fiber seats, custom two-tone leather, custom pods for AutoMeter fuel pressure and boost gauges, custom console, custom billet pieces, Kenwood CD/DVD navigation system with touch screen; six Diamond speakers, two trunk-mounted subwoofers, two 500-watt amps, Viper pager alarm system
Late-model Cobra IRS rear suspension, airbag suspension, Tokico struts with coil-overs (front), Baer 13.25-inch discs (front) with stock Cobra calipers, stock Cobra brakes (rear), custom lower A-arms
Wheels And Tires
20 x 9" Vellano three-piece alloy chromed wheels (front), 20 x 11" (rear); Continental SportContact 2 tires (255/30-20 front, 305/25-20 rear)
Special thanks to AMP Performance, BC Automotive, Alumalite Engineering, Interior Shop and Marline Holl for her extreme patience and understanding.
Route 66 historian and automotive writer Jon Robinson showed me the perfect photo location for this article: the restored Cool Springs Cabins store about 20 miles from Kingman, AZ. According to Cool Springs manager Dennis DeChenne, at one time this stretch of road carried 9,000 vehicles a day, ranging from wide-eyed vacationers enjoying the wild west to long-haul truckers full of caffeine and other day-extenders. Cool Springs is strategically located between Kingman and Oatman, just at the point where Route 66 changes from long straightaways to tight curves. Visit www.coolspringsroute66.com for more information about this historic stop on The Mother Road.