The Upcoming GTD Is Cool, but the Mid-Engine Mach 40 Remains the Coolest 'Stang Ever Built

Though it wasn't built by Ford but an all-star lineup of customizers, the Mach Forty is still the most mind-blowing Mustang ever created.
Mustang Mach Forty 15 photos
Photo: Eckert's Rod & Custom
Mustang Mach FortyMustang Mach FortyMustang Mach Forty Sketch by Mike MiernikThe '69 Mustang Before TransformationThe '69 Mustang Before TransformationThe '69 Mustang During TransformationThe '69 Mustang During TransformationThe '69 Mustang During TransformationThe Mach Forty's Ford GT-sourced V8Mustang Mach FortyMustang Mach FortyMustang Mach FortyMustang Mach FortyMustang Mach Forty in Gran Turismo 7
Ford introduced the Mustang nearly sixty years ago, and even if the company had high hopes for the model, no one could've anticipated just how successful it would become.

In only a few years since its debut at the 1964 New York World's Fair, the Mustang shattered sales records and gave birth to the pony car segment.

Unlike some of its rivals, the Mustang survived on the market for seven generations.

Though some were better than others, the first generation (1964 1/2 - 1973) remains the most beautiful, fascinating, and sought-after for the vast majority of Mustang enthusiasts.

Because of this, the first-gen is also the most heavily customized Mustang ever built, with projects ranging from discrete restomods to full-blown insanities, like this triple-supercharged beast.

But just when you thought you'd seen all the custom first-gen 'Stang variation possible, Eckert's Rod & Custom came with the mid-engine Mach Forty, which was accompanied by the sound of jaws dropping to the floor.

An enthusiast's pursuit to make a dream come true

Mustang Mach Forty Sketch by Mike Miernik
Photo: Mike Miernik via Eckert's Rod & Custom
Though only some remember it, Ford actually built a series of mid-engine concepts during the 1960s that were initially based on the Mustang.

That project, dubbed Mach 2, never made it into production, but it inspired many enthusiasts to dream about a mid-engine 'Stang.

One of those enthusiasts was Terry Lipscomb, who, back in the early 2010s, purchased a banged-up 1969 fastback (aka SportsRoof) and decided to transform it into a custom Mustang like no other.

In his mind, the classic pony car didn't start as a mid-engine monster but evolved into that after countless months of daydreaming.

At one point, Lipscomb decided to put his idea on paper and contacted renowned hot rod designer Mike Miernik, who produced around 30 detailed sketches for the project.

Those sketches would come to life thanks to Dave Eckert and his talented Eckert's Rod & Custom crew located in Molalla, Oregon, who took charge of the project.

Extensive mods with painstaking attention to detail

The '69 Mustang During Transformation
Photo: Eckert's Rod & Custom
Lipscomb chose one of Miernik's most dramatic sketches, and after receiving the old '69 shell, the team at Eckert's R & C began the arduous task of transforming it into reality.

Separated from its stock frame, the old Mustang body underwent a series of drastic modifications.

The greenhouse had to be moved forward to make room for the mid-mounted powerplant, while almost every panel was modified to give the Mach Forty its aggressive look.

While the transformation was dramatic, to say the least, Eckert's R & C crew, along with Hardison Metal Shaping (who handled the custom panel fabrication), made sure that the finished body retained and improved the original Mustang's timeless styling cues.

This attention to detail also carried over to the interior, which oozed 1960s vibes even if it was fully custom and thoroughly modernized.

Since Lipscomb wanted the car to behave like a modern supercar, the chassis was rebuilt from scratch using state-of-the-art hardware like a custom, C6 Corvette-based suspension with QA1 coilovers and a Baer braking system with six-piston calipers and 14-inch (355.6 mm) rotors.

Powered by a monstrous Ford V8

The Mach Forty's Ford GT\-sourced V8
Photo: Eckert's Rod & Custom
The idea behind the project was to design a car that would look like Ford developed it in the 1960s by crossing a Mustang with a GT40.

Naturally, the mid-mounted engine had to have ties with the latter Blue Oval engine. Still, since an original Le Mans-spec 427 V8 would have been nearly impossible to source and challenging to maintain, the Mach Forty received the next best thing.

Sourced from the GT40's modern successor, the 5.4-liter all-aluminum, supercharged Modular V8 was deemed ideal.

The powerplant retained its stock block, cylinder heads, and internals but received a series of awesome upgrades, including a Whipple 4.0-liter supercharger, a custom fuel delivery system with 1,000 cc injectors, and dual Lamborghini-sourced throttle bodies.

Hooked up to a Ricardo six-speed manual transaxle also borrowed from the 2005–2006 Ford GT, the epic powerplant was capable of delivering 720 hp (later improved to 787 hp) and 780 lb-ft (1,057.5 Nm) of twist to the rear wheels.

An award-winning piece of automotive art

Mustang Mach Forty
Photo: Eckert's Rod & Custom
Finished in a bespoke Silver paint and sitting on a set of custom Schott billet-aluminum wheels designed by Mike Miernik, the Mach Forty didn't just look impressive but also behaved like the daily-drivable supercar that Terry Lipscomb dreamed about.

Before being handed to its ecstatic owner, who ended up driving it as often as possible, the stunning one-off made an appearance at the 2012 SEMA show.

In Las Vegas, the Mach Forty became a worldwide star, earning first place at the annual Gran Turismo Awards.

Anyone who owns a PlayStation can drive it (well, sort of)

Mustang Mach Forty in Gran Turismo 7
Photo: Polyphony Digital
Convincing the owner to let you drive the real thing might be more challenging than brokering peace between Russia and Ukraine. Still, if you own a PlayStation, you can easily drive the Mach Forty in a virtual environment.

Since it earned the award mentioned above from Kazunori Yamauchi, the creator of the Gran Turismo video game series, the Mach Forty became a playable car in Gran Turismo Sport.

It also returned in the next (and latest) iteration of the legendary car simulator, Gran Turismo 7, where it can be purchased for 300,000 in-game credits (a steal!) or won by achieving gold in the Moby Dick mission challenge.

Back in the real world, the Mustang reached the seventh generation, and for the first time in model history, a GT3 race car-derived special edition is set to be unleashed on public roads.

Though it's an impressive piece of machinery, the upcoming GTD is still a long way (at least in my opinion) from the Mach Forty, which remains the most impressive Mustang ever built.

If you would like to learn more about this fascinating piece of automotive art and see how it performs on the road, we recommend watching the YouTube video below by JC Image Inc, Joe Casvin.

If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
About the author: Vlad Radu
Vlad Radu profile photo

Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories