Justin Fivella
January 9, 2019
Photos By: Stephen Brooks

At some point in our automotive journeys, usually between the endless wrenching, the blown budgets and the many failures, our projects transcend the realm of the mechanical. More than a possession, more than a machine; through the blood, sweat and tears they become a collection of memories and a piece of the very fabric from which our lives are woven.

They, our fast fords, push us to the brink, drain our bank accounts, and make everyone around us question our sanity. And yet, all is forgiven the minute we hit the gas and the fruits of our labor disappear into a haze of tire smoke and rpm. For Duphinder “Deepa” Hayre, this 2004 Mach 1 isn't just special, it's family.

“There’s been too many failures and too many tow trucks; it’s finicky and that makes me love it even more...even at the lowest points, selling it was never an option,” Deepa said.

To understand the depth of the connection to his Mach 1 we must first know the journey, one that starts with a young Deepa, then only 12 years old, and a memorable encounter with his older cousin’s Fox-body Mustang.


With a 2004 Cobra motor outfitted with rebuilt heads and big cams, the beast has no problem burning the tires up in smoke.


“My cousin built a lot of cars out of his shop when I was younger, but his LX hatch with a cage, 5-lug swap and bolt-ons is burned into my memory. I’ll never forget him doing a brakestand, it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen,” he said. Sometimes the smallest things from our youth become indelible memories, and for countless Mustang fans, the car that started it all was the Fox-body.

“After seeing my cousin do that brakestand, I had to have a Fox-body, but in my case, it had to be a GT, so I eventually found a one-owner, bone-stock example with an automatic. It was the perfect first car,” he explained. Shortly after getting the Fox, Deepa learned of the underground street racing scene in the Bay Area. After seeing it for his own eyes, he decided he had to convert his Fox to a stick so he could row the gears; that was, until he saw a Terminator Cobra for the first time.

“I’ll never forget the first time I saw a 2004 Cobra. I immediately started looking for one, but when I realized they were expensive, I got lucky and ran into this Mach 1 at Hayward Ford with just 17,000 miles,” he said. Deepa found himself torn between keeping it stock and wanting to beat the big dogs of the time, the modded fourth-gen F-bodies.

“Once I got the Mach, all I wanted to do was smoke all the modded LS1’s who have been beating the Mustangs,” Deepa said. He started with a single-chamber Flowmaster cat-back, a catless midpipe and some cut springs; the results were less than stellar.


Built in the Bay and shot over the Bay—it just doesn’t get any better than a cool car with a picturesque backdrop like San Francisco.


“It was loud and slow, running high 13’s at the track. Mustangs were known to be slow at the time and I wanted to make the car respectable on motor,” he said. He then added some MAC longtubes, 4.10 gears, drag radials, and a CAI; with some seat time he dipped into the 12.50s at Sacramento Raceway.

“For what it was and the time, it ran good, and gave those modded LS1’s a run, but I was young and dumb and one night found myself in a high speed chase. It was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done; rightfully so, I got caught, and paid the price for many years,” he said. “I got a wreckless driving ticket, went to court and the whole thing; I gave up street racing and only raced at the track from that point forward.”

A hard lesson to learn, but after a long hiatus, steep court fees, impound charges and hefty tickets, Deepa decided he wasn’t going to let the youthful mistake end his passion for cars. “I wanted to run better times at the track so I added a supercharger that pushed power to 460hp at wheels, but it never ran right, hitting a best of 12.0 at the track with clutch issues,” he said. Despite a setup that was never fully sorted, Deepa continued to enjoy his Mach 1 until the motor began to smoke on the long drive down to Orange County for the Fabulous Fords Show at Knott’s Berry Farm. “It started smoking so I knew it was time to pull the engine, so we swapped it for a 2004 Cobra motor with ARP head studs, refreshed heads, John Dougherty custom blower cams and a T56 transmission with a D&D 26-spline input shaft connected to a McLeod RXT twin-disc clutch,” he explained.

Along with the new bullet, he also added a pile of complimentary go-fast parts like a JLT intake, an SCT BA2600 MAF, a Nations alternator and a return style fuel system from Lethal Performance with dual Walbro 465 pumps and Injector Dynamics ID1000 injectors.


Classic touches include wide True Forged Retro wheels, the rear Berger panel, classic Cobra Jet emblems and rear window louvers.


Oh yeah, did we mention that he also added a 2.3L VMP TVS blower and a Kincaid Performance Killer Chiller at the same time too? “I wanted something reliable, quiet and with good low-end power, so I went with the TVS,” he said.

All was well, until he went to tune the motor and a valve spring broke. It went from bad to worse when he realized that not one, but three springs were broken once the valve covers were off. Thankfully no serious damage was done, so 32 Brian Tooley springs and a dyno tune from Bob Kurgan of Kurgan Motorsports later it made 767hp and 690 lb-ft at the wheels on E85.

At some point along the way the combination of too much power, too much traction and not enough chassis reinforcement led to come carnage on a WOT 1-2 upshift. “First time out with the new motor and TVS I banged second gear and felt this loud snap followed by a bunch of noise. I ended up tearing out one of my torque boxes—it was bad,” he explained. Thankfully he had the torque boxes and rear floor fixed and reinforced and added subframe connectors for additional chassis stiffness thanks to Jonathon Lemoine. Additional means of harnessing all the power are left to a UPR K-member and coilovers with Strange shocks and struts, Maximum Motorsports caster camber plates, BMR rear upper and lower control arms and a rear axle filled with a Detroit TruTrac differential, 3.73 gears and Moser 31-spline axles. But to explain this Mach’s performance is to only tell half the story, as we’re sure you’ve noticed by now, Deepa’s build has a unique style that’s a little bit modern and a little bit classic.

“I always liked the classic connection to the past with Mach 1, so I decided to add lots of small classic touches like the old Cobra Jet emblems, the rear window louvers, rear Berger panel and the 18x9.5 front and 18x11 rear True Forged retro wheels wrapped with BFG tires,” he said.

Always one for the details, Deepa added a 2001 Cobra front bumper for a subtle yet serious look, along with a shaved rear bumper that omits the factory “Mustang” lettering and more understated excellence under the hood thanks to a combo of custom painted, powdercoated and polished parts. Those with a keen eye will also note the blower hiding under the factory hood scoop, furthering the blend of contemporary and classic. “It’s been many years in the making and I couldn’t have done it without the help of so many people; the Street Actions Car Club, Garageworks510, Advanced Auto Electric, San Ramon, Bob Kurgan of Kurgan Motorsports along with Matt and Mitch, and Marco Heredia at Pristine Details. It’s just crazy to think back on how many memories are rolled into one car.”

Through the trials and the tribulations with project cars we learn a lot about mechanics, patience and perseverance, but we also learn about ourselves, our families and friends. Sometimes it’s the solitary hours spent under a car where we do our best thinking, other times it’s a show, cruise or track day where we create the greatest of memories. What is the common denominator here? Our project cars, of course, and Deepa’s Mach 1 reminds us that despite the high caliber of his build, what matters most is what will live on forever, the memories.


Hiding under the factory hood scoop is a TVS-blown Terminator Cobra motor with plenty of supporting mods that add up to 767hp and 690 lb-ft at the wheels on E85.

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Photography by Stephen Brooks