It’s a new chapter for America’s pony car.
Between the Mustang GT, two Performance Pack levels, the GT350, and the GT500, there is already plenty of high-performance variety in the Mustang lineup. That said, we won’t say no to yet another V-8 pony car in the stable, especially one with such a beloved badge.
Confirming longstanding rumors, a Mustang Mach 1 is headed our way for the 2021 model year. Although Ford isn’t saying much beyond that, we do know that under the Mach 1’s hood is a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8, and these images of a camouflaged prototype betray a few other technical tidbits.
For starters, let’s focus on what we can see up front. It’s clear that the Mach 1 will have a unique front fascia and grille, with larger intakes and fewer triangular shapes than the Mustang GT. The more obvious distinction, however, is the pair of round intakes tucked into the grille. Surely these nostrils are meant to ape the original ’69 Mach 1’s circular lights, while adding additional cooling for the free-breathing Coyote V-8. While the Mustang Bullitt is good for 480 hp, we expect that the Mach 1 will replace the Bullitt, slotting in between the 460-hp GT Performance Pack 2 and the 526-hp Shelby GT350. A nice round number like 500 sounds reasonable for this heritage-conscious powerhouse.
Out back, the Mach 1 will sport large spoiler atop the trunk—a wing that looks to be borrowed from the track-ready GT350. Quad exhausts will blast out the Coyote’s howl, and a close shot of the 10-spoke black wheel showcases sizable brake rotors with Brembo calipers and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Based on what we’re seeing so far, the Mach 1 appears to crib several essential chassis and aerodynamic elements from the Shelby range, while offering more grunt than the PP2.
“Mach 1 has always been that bridge between base Mustangs and the Shelby models,” says Ford archives heritage brand manager Ted Ryan. “From a style and handling perspective, the original Mach 1 managed to stand out as unique, even in the Mustang lineup—and as the name implies, it could really move.”
As detailed in our deep dive of the Mach 1 lineage last month, Ford showed a Mach 1 concept in 1966, which previewed a production model that was keen to compete with the Camaro SS 350 and Pontiac Firebird 400. The Mach 1 arrived for 1969 based on the Mustang SportsRoof, complete with generous visual flair like a blackout hood, locking hood pins, a hood scoop, and white-letter tires wrapped around snazzy wheels. Ford included the GT’s handling upgrades as standard with the Mach 1, and customers had the choice between the base 351 Windsor (250 hp), the M-code 351 with a four-barrel carb (290 hp), and the full-tilt 428 Cobra Jet (335 hp) that could be upgraded to a Super Cobra Jet (360 hp) with the 3.91 or 4.30 axle ratio.
The Mach 1 was a hit. Customers flocked to its attainable performance and aggressive looks, and Ford built 72,459 examples in the first year. The Mach 1’s production figure blew away the competition, beating the Mustang GT’s 6694 units so handily that Ford didn’t even renew the handling pack for 1970.
Later, the Mach 1 received a Cleveland V-8 instead of the original Windsor, and for 1971–73 the vehicle became notably larger in concert with changes to the entire Mustang range. While not as popular as the original, it still sold reasonably well, and eventually the Mach 1 badge was added to the Mustang II for 1974, which received a V-8 for the ’75 model year.
Fast-forward to 2003, the Mach 1 returned to the SN95 Mustang, pumping out 305 hp from its 4.6-liter DOHC V-8. This Mach 1 made a return for the 2004 model year, but that marked the curtain call for this historic moniker—until now.
“Like the original, the all-new Mustang Mach 1 will be true to its heritage, delivering great looks and as the most track-capable 5.0-liter Mustang ever,” says Ford Icons director Dave Pericak.
What might the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 cost? Ford is probably months away from revealing anything specific, but (including destination fees) the 2020 Bullitt starts at $48,900, compared to $61,635 for the Shelby GT350. Fifty grand, or a bit north of that mark, is a reasonable estimate for where the Mach 1 will stake its ground.
No doubt it is a great time to be a Mustang fan, and with the Mach 1 rejoining the fold, we haven’t been this spoiled for choice since the good ol’ days.