photos by: the author
The Tale of a Tastefully-Modified, Low-Mileage Mach 1 and its Owner
It’s been a long time since the New Edge/SN95 cars have rolled off of the assembly line. The year 2020 celebrates 15 years since the Mustang went retro, and the Mustang finally left behind the structural architecture of the Fox Body chassis. Towards the end of the SN95 run, Ford announced a selection of special edition Mustangs to not only send the car out with a parade of awesomeness, but to tap into the market of the then recently orphaned F-body owners.
It may have worked, because in addition to the Bullitt GT, the iconic “Terminator” Cobra, Ford 100th Anniversary Edition, 40th-Anniversary Mustang and countless tuner versions available through third-parties, Ford unleashed the Mach 1. Using a blend of Mustang GT cosmetics, a GT-sourced solid axle, a DOHC 4.6L borrowed from the 2001 Cobra and some styling accessories, it was the perfect balance of power and drag-friendly capabilities.
It was also the first time since 1978 that a Mustang wore the Mach 1 nameplate attached to its flanks, but it was the first time since the early ’70s that it actually had the power to back its credo. A full 305hp was in fact, accounted for, and at the time, it was rather impressive. The relatively low curb weight helped get it down the quarter-mile, in the low 13-second bracket, although there were reports that very high-12s were very possible, at least when ordered with the optional 5-speed manual transmission.
A 3.55 gear set resided out back, and a functional ram air Shaker hood scoop was mounted through the hood up front — harkening back to the first-generation cars of ’69 and ’70. In typical Mustang fashion, the aftermarket catered to the Mach 1 immediately, as much of the support had already been in place and was able to be carried over from the ’94 and ’96 cars. Of course, there are some noticeable differences from the 2001 Cobra engine to the 4.6L that was used in the Mach 1.
For instance, there was a bump in compression from 9.85:1 to 10.1:1, and higher-flowing heads from the 2003-04 Cobra were used. The camshafts were revised, and although there looked to be a 15hp deficiency from the ’01 Cobra powerplant, dyno- and track-testing revealed otherwise. In fact, the Mach 1 spec DOHC mill produced more torque overall, and roughly the same horsepower, in the real world.
What wasn’t already available from the aftermarket quickly went into production, and it wasn’t long before we started to see more Mach 1s that were modified, than those that weren’t. Final production numbers equated to 9,652 for 2003, and 7,182 for 2004. These days, it’s amazing to find an example that’s perfectly well kept, unmolested and unmodified in any way. In fact, that’s exactly how Shawn Davis found his 2003 example.
Having wanted one of these cars since they were new, Shawn felt that after having owned several performance cars over the years, including a couple of 5-liter Foxes and an ’81 Cobra, plus a few from Brand X, it was time for that elusive Mach 1. He considers it a retirement present to himself after serving 22 years in the armed forces. We caught up with Shawn and his Mach 1 at the 2019 Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival, and it was looking on-point in the show area.
What makes his particular car unique, as we’ve mentioned before, is the fact that it only had 4500 miles on the clock when he purchased the car in 2018, and it was completely stock — down to the air filter and exhaust. Apparently, the car sat in the Ford dealership showroom where it was originally shipped in 2003, up until 2007. From there, it ultimately ended up at a classic car dealer and that’s where Shawn found it — complete with all of its original paperwork, window sticker and as he says, air in the original tires.
Looking to preserve those tires for originality, he swapped out the factory 17-inch Magnum wheels for 18-inch SVE Series 1s, that measure 9.5-inches wide in the front, and 10-inches wide in the rear. To help the lager diameter and wider wheels provide improved cornering capabilities, the Mach 1 now uses SR Performance cast and camber plates, and 1.5-inch drop springs (front and rear). A set of subframe connectors also went into place, with the stock shocks/struts and sway bars still mounted since Dearborn Assembly.
Naturally, a Mach 1 of the New Edge variety can’t go without its proper growl, so an SLP X-pipe and mufflers were installed, and welded to a set of dual 3-inch diameter tubing exhaust pipes. Looking to be loud, but not obnoxious, the Mustang still retains its OEM exhaust manifolds. To balance out the air intake/exhaust combination, the stock airbox was ditched, and in its place went… a ProCharger Stage II P1SC, because why not?
The blower arrives to the party with the boost setting on 8-psi., and a matched 3-core ProCharger intercooler, to keep the intake charge cool and dense. The fuel system has been upgraded only slightly, with a set of 35.5-lb/hr fuel injectors being the only fuel system upgrade. A DiabloSport tuner was used initially, but final tuning was handled by 5th-Gear Automotive in the Nashville, Tennessee area.
The resulting dyno neighbors were in excess of 480hp to the rear tires, and for what little that’s done to the car, we find that to be quite impressive. Keep in mind, the curb weight of a New Edge Mach 1 is just a hair under 3500-lbs., so a 480hp car is quick enough to keep up with many of the factory heavy hitters of today. Also keep in mind, that beyond the blower and the exhaust upgrade, the car is still essentially stock, leaving a lot of power still on the table.
In any event, Shawn kept all of the original parts on the shelf, and if the occasion presents itself and the time is right to do so, he can always return the Mach 1 back to stock. It might not be time yet, but eventually, the day will come where we will start seeing these SN95 cars restored back to factory specs, for collectibility and investment opportunities. You can laugh, but the same thing was said about 1st-gen fastbacks and Fox-bodies, now look at what’s happening to those cars. We’re not clairvoyant, but it could certainly happen. Until then, Shawn is going to enjoy his car as it is and we look forward to catching him at another event in the near future.
- CAR: 2003 Mustang Mach 1
- OWNER: Shawn Davis
- ENGINE: 4.6-liter DOHC
- CYLINDER HEADS: Stock
- CAMSHAFTS: Stock
- PISTONS: Stock
- CONNECTING RODS: Stock
- CRANKSHAFT: Stock
- COMPRESSION: Stock
- INDUCTION: K&N air filter, stock throttle body, stock intake manifold
- POWER ADDER: ProCharger; Stage II P1SC
- INTERCOOLER: ProCharger; 3-core
- BOOST: 8psi.
- EXHAUST: Stock manifolds, SLP X-pipe, SLP mufflers and 3-inch diameter tubing
- FUEL DELIVERY: 35.5-lb/hr injectors, stock pump
- TRANSMISSION: Stock 5-speed, stock shifter
- CLUTCH: Stock
- DRIVESHAFT: Stock
- REAREND: Stock with 3.55 gears
- SUSPENSION: SR Performance cast and camber plates, 1.5-inch drop springs (front and rear), subframe connectors and stock shocks/struts and sway bars
- BRAKES: Stock
- WHEELS: SVE; Series 1 18×9.5 (front), 18×10 (rear)
- TIRES: Nitto NT555 G2 245/40/18 (front) 295/40/18 (rear)
- Horsepower: 480 to the wheels
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