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MUSTANGDRIVER | JANUARY 2020From the MUSTANGDRIVER archivesTEXT & IMAGES | DONALD FARRThe crowd at a local car show milled around the low-slung silver Mustang like bees drawn to honey. Even those who didn't yet understand what it was understood it was something special.Yet not so readily apparent to the show crowd is another element of how the Mach Forty is different than an abundance of other top-drawer customs and restorations.
Owner Terry Lipscomb actually drives it, and not simply putzing to and from the local Friday night cruise-in. Truth is, Terry drives the Mach Forty to work from time to time, and during our photo session he readily added 50 miles to the odometer on a variety of local roads, from little used side streets to major freeways. Believe us when we say that not every owner is willing to do the same.
Still more impressive was Terry's willingness to bring the Mach Forty to the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) in Pahrump, Nevada, where some of the most capable custom cars on the planet prove their metal on the track in a variety of circumstances to reveal their inevitable strengths and weaknesses to everyone. Dave Eckert, the mastermind behind the Mach Forty build, wielded the wheel himself and turned in some fast times. Out of at least 50 highly-modified cars at the 2013 event, the Mach Forty finished a respectable 15th, this with what turned out to be a bad last-minute tune that unexpectedly had the car stalling as soon as Dave got off the throttle. "That made it pretty hard to do well in the autocross and 0-60-0 events," says Dave, "though not as big a deal on the road course."Needless to say, the tune-up issue was resolved as soon as the car was back in Oregon.It all began with a well-used 1969 Mustang SportsRoof, which donated individual components rather than the bulk of the final product. Having established Terry and Dave's willingness and ability to build a fully functional and usable uber-Mustang, let's dig into the whats and whys of how it was done. It was Terry who dreamed up the idea for a custom mid-engine Mustang, and despite his many personal talents, he knew such a foray was beyond his scope of expertise.
He turned to Dave's Molalla, Oregon, shop, Eckert's Rod and Custom, where he knew the effort would be in good hands. It all began with a well-used 1969 Mustang SportsRoof, which donated individual components rather than the bulk of the final product. Terry wanted the car to have a "what if" vibe, as in "what if Ford built a mid-engined Mustang back in 1969?"
To that end, the Mach Forty makes use of the stock 1969 Mustang windshield and rear window, door skins and door handles, roof, pieces of the front fenders, and headlight buckets and taillights. Needless to say, pretty much everything else is custom. The chassis makes extensive use of Eckert's C6 Corvette suspension pieces all around, all bolted to an in-house fabricated perimeter frame. The body and paint are but part of the massive man hours committed to making the Mach Forty come together, but indeed they're the most visible.Such an arrangement was an absolute necessity for installing the mid-mounted 5.4-liter engine, which is prominently visible even with the engine cover closed by looking through the interior's rear window. As previously mentioned, the big mod-motor is sourced from none other than a Ford GT supercar, as is the six-speed transaxle.
In stock form, the 2006 GT engine was the pinnacle of Ford performance heretofore, and still is a top-drawer beast, what with 550 factory supercharged horsepower. The modern powerplant may stray from Terry's "what if" mantra, but it really made perfect sense, not only for its phenomenal performance but also for its dead-nuts reliability, remember the driving part of the Mach Forty equation?
The body and paint are but part of the massive man hours committed to making the Mach Forty come together, but indeed they're the most visible. Credit Mike Miernik for the initial drawings and blueprints that identified the myriad of critical dimensions, while Colton Hardison was the main man behind the impressive body modifications and sheetmetal work. The amount of hand fabrication is literally staggering and evident wherever you look. This includes the interior, a joint effort by Eckert's and Griffin Interiors in Bend, Oregon. There's a nice mix of both 1960s and modern styling influences. Notice, for example, the classic twin-pod dash design, as well as the Mach 1 style upholstery over bucket seats built on original 1969 frames. Yet suede and leather abound in ways that simply weren't seen in earlier days–likewise the entertainment/sound system.
We'll be honest when we say we were initially uncertain of the inspiration for the one-off Schott billet wheels, measuring in at a big-by-large 18x10 and 19x11-inches. We had to ask, and when Terry explained, it was a bit of an "a-ha" moment. In hindsight, the wheels are clearly patterned from the factory wheels from the 1969 Mach 1 with their lug concealing center caps and 12 holes around the perimeter. Perhaps it was simply a matter of the massively different scale that had us scratching our head, the originals being 14-inchers, but regardless we get it now.
Behind the rolling stock is a set of 14- inch/6-piston Baer brakes at all corners, with the rears getting cooling from the functional scoops in the rear quarter panels. In short, this thing can stop as well as it will go! In the end, it's fair to say the Mach Forty has us wowed as much as any admiring car show attendee–and then some. The creativity, execution, balance, and real-world performance of the car are unlike anything we typically see or present to readers, and thus we see it as a milestone effort in the evolution of modified Mustangs. That it's driven, and driven hard, makes it that much better! MUSTANGDRIVER | JANUARY 2020