I came across this article in our local paper (Portland Press Herald) and the paper got it from Newsday. Thought someone might be interested in it.
Ford's Lightly Pumped-Up Version of Its Muscle Car
January 24, 2003
The new Ford Mustang Mach 1 isn't the baddest Mustang in the valley; it just looks it.
An element of Ford's effort to keep interest alive in the Mustang in the final year before a redesign, the Mach 1 is a throwback to the '60s but still a kick to drive in 2003.
People old enough to have driven the original 1964 Mustang might feel just a little silly in this one, though, with its in-your-face looks.
They might remember that there were two earlier Mach 1's, one offered from 1969 through 1973 and another offered from 1974 until 1978. The latter was a muscle car like I'm an astronaut; it was a six-cylinder-powered version of the Mustang II, a car that was based on the ill-fated Pinto and one I suspect Mustang lovers would just as soon forget.
The most noticeable feature of the new Mach 1 is its "shaker" hood scoop, which also was available in the original.
Attached to the intake manifold in the new version and to the carburetor in the earlier ones, it pokes through a hole in the hood and vibrates with the engine. It's functional today, as it was back then.
Modern engines don't shake much, though, and the thing hardly moves except when one starts the engine or blips the throttle in neutral.
There's also a black front air-dam extension, a black trunk lid spoiler, large rocker panels with striping, scoops in the rear quarter panels and striping on the hood- as on the original.
The scoop is attached to the most important mechanical difference between the Mach 1 and the GT, which costs about $4,700 less: a 305-hp. version of the GT's 4.6-liter, 260-hp. V-8. (The most powerful 2003 Mustang is the SVT model, whose supercharged version of the same V-8 engine delivers 390 hp.)
The Mach 1 is a fast car, for sure, and if you have a soft spot in your heart for the sound of a true American muscle car, the Mach 1's exhaust note might bring a tear to your eye.
It never goes away, even at highway cruising speed. Enjoy it; it's a sound that's fast disappearing, being replaced by the high-pitched rasp of four-cylinder engines.
The new Mach 1 can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, according to Car and Driver's testers.
Ford says the original 1969 Mach 1 was available with V-8s delivering as much as 335 hp. but that the 1970 model could be ordered with a 429-cubic-inch, 375-hp. V-8. (Keep in mind that horsepower was measured differently then, so that figures from that era tended to overstate performance on the road.)
The standard transmission in the '03 Mach 1 is a five-speed stick. My tester had a four-speed automatic, an $850 option. I was glad it did; the clutches in Mustangs are quite heavy. The automatic can be downshifted from fourth to third gear via a button beneath the handle and, of course, into lower gears by pulling back on the shift lever.
Ford says the automatic has been beefed up to handle the Mach1's extra power. It shifts roughly at times but that's acceptable in this type of car. The disc brakes have been upgraded too, to 13-inchers from 10.8-inchers in the GT.
The suspension is a half-inch lower and significantly firmer than the GT's and it has its special springs, shocks and stabilizer bars.
The ride, though, is reasonably comfortable for this type of car unless the road is very rough. The Mach 1 comes with Goodyear 245/45ZR17 Eagle tires.
The new car begins at $28,370, plus $625 freight, versus $23,625, plus the same freight for the GT.
Standard in the Mach 1 are traction control, air-conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors, cruise control and leather upholstery.
The tester had a $295 "interior upgrade package" that adds aluminum- finish door lock buttons, aluminum- finish shift boot trim ring, stainless steel pedals, leather-wrapped shift knob and four-way adjustable head restraints.
The package seems worth the money, if for no other reason than to have head restraints you can adjust for maximum effectiveness in a crash.
Some writers criticize the new Mustang's interior as dated, and it is-mostly by design. Ford tried in the current generation of Mustangs to include features reminiscent of earlier ones. But it works well ergonomically. Heater, AC and stereo controls are within easy reach and couldn't be simpler.
The rear seatback is split and the sections fold down to increase cargo room.
If you want to criticize the Mustang's slim rear seat leg room, small trunk or poor fuel economy, however, you'll get no argument here.
The EPA says the Mach 1 gets 23 miles per gallon on the highway. It needs premium fuel and its tank only holds 15.7 gallons. It empties all too quickly.
In its price range, the Mach 1 has no direct competitors now that the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird are gone. The forthcoming Pontiac GTO, a V-8-powered rear-drive car due out early next year, seems likely to be thousands of dollars more expensive than any current Mustang except the SVT version, based on GM statements so far.
Other coupes are available in this price range, of course, but most are front- wheel drivers and none offer the brute power of this Mustang. The new, rear- drive Nissan 350Z and Infiniti G35 are tempting alternatives, though at 287 hp. and 280 hp., repectively, and with starting prices of $26,809 and $29,645, respectively.
Their engines have six cylinders, though, one indication that times have changed since the first Mach 1 and other Detroit muscle cars rumbled through the streets. And many buyers nowadays have a new definition of a performance car.
If the Mach 1 matches yours, act fast: Only about 6,000 are to be built during this model year.
2003 Ford Mustang
Engine: 4.6-liter V-8, 305 hp.
automatic, rear-wheel drive
Safety: Dual air bags, 4-wheel disc brakes with antilock
Place of Assembly: Dearborn, Mich.
Weight: 3,475 pounds
Trunk: 10.9 cubic feet
Price as Driven: $30,105
including destination charge
EPA Mileage: 17 mpg city,
If you are interested in the actual link to Newsday, here it is: http://www.newsday.com/news/printedition/weekinwheels/ny-sstom3100521jan24.story