Tom Wilson
April 23, 2004

During these happy days when exciting specialty Mustangs sprout on showroom floors like so many spring mushrooms, the Mach 1 has proven a favorite of ours. With a willing engine, an easy-to-work-with chassis, and a price that's obtainable by at least a few of us, the Mach is a mighty temptress of our car-buying budget.

Then along comes Vortech, doing what it does, which is to hang centrifugal superchargers off everything save tree limbs, which now includes Mach 1 Mustangs. Talk about temptation.

Developments such as these lead to ruminations around the 5.0&SF water cooler, and it was thus decreed that closely examining Vortech's enhanced Mach would be a good thing. There were, after all, a few questions, such as how does Vortech plumb its blower into the ram-air air path? How much power does it make? Is it fun to drive? And perhaps as something of a cliche now that we've tested one seven ways to Sunday, how does it compare to that modern benchmark, the '03 Mustang Cobra?

Horse Sense: Just as we hit deadline, we learned our friends at Motor Trend had run the Vortech Mach 1 through their test regimen. Make sure to read the full test results in an upcoming issue. Anyway, at normal operating temperature, the Vortech Mach laid down a blistering 11.96 at 121.16 and went from 0-60 in 3.88 seconds. That positively blows away the '03 Cobra we ran through the same regimen back in the Jan. '04 issue. It registered only a 13.09 at 110.82 and went from 0-60 in 4.9 seconds. It looks as if only modified '03 Cobras can run with the Vortech Mach.

Aside from sitting in the never-ending Los Angeles-area gridlock while shuttling test cars around, getting the answers proved relatively easy. A call to Ford produced the same yellow Cobra we'd previously tested ("Snake Prize," Jan. '04, p. 40), and the rest was done at or near Vortech's facility northwest of Los Angeles. A quick session on Vortech's Mustang chassis dyno revealed the power and torque curves of these two different supercharged Four-Valves, followed by a trip across the local truck scales and then an enjoyable session of side-by-side, rolling-start blasts to see how the power curves came out in the real world.

As the parts count shows, modern supercharging is more of areengineering of the engine than of simply adding a blower.

Great Straight from Ford

As a point of departure for this test, let's recall how enjoyable the Mach 1 is stock. With a naturally aspirated, free-revving, 305hp Four-Valve V-8, a five-speed transmission, and a live rear axle, the Mach is a powerful combination of GT practicality and high-dollar Cobra-esque power and sophistication. Priced in the $28,000 neighborhood, Machs were actually selling for around $21,000 after incentives at our deadline--not chicken feed, but obtainable, especially when compared to the $35,000 Cobra.