Sent straight from the heart of the Motor City, Ford has taken their best shot at a high performance Mustang without the halo brand name of Shelby attached. The result— the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1. Hoisting the traditional muscle car pushrod engine, it strays away from the new age of high performance ‘Stangs. While the Shelby models push their tach needles high with their flat plane engines, the Mach 1 will have no part of that. With the hallowed 5.0 Mustang GT engine, this one is pushing out around 480 horses. Along with various body differences, the Mach 1 returns back to the Ford lineup after nearly 17 years. An ode to the original Mach 1 50 years ago, Ford pulled out all the stops. With various pieces pulled straight from the GT350 the Mach 1 represents a return to normalcy after… cough cough, the Mach-E.
Underneath the hood with no hydraulics, come on Ford, it’s 2021, lays the heart and soul of Mustangs for eons. The 5.0 liter V8 has been the holy grail of Ford Muscle for ages, and the Mach 1 stays true to its roots. Receiving a 20 horsepower boost over the regular GT, the Mach 1 will put out 480 horsepower with 420 lb-ft of torque, the same as the GT. What’s not the same however are the parts pulled straight from its big brother. Both transmissions are picked and pulled out of the GT350, the Mach 1 will come standard with an enthusiast Tremec 6-speed manual transmission or the 10 speed SelectShift automatic. The shifting felt smooth, the shift shock has been engineered out. Pushing the Mach 1 to its somewhat high revs with its classic pushrod let the engine and the exhaust roar. Its sonorous tune all through the short trip was every boy racer’s dream. The exhaust mode is configurable between various different modes, although I don’t know why anyone would take it out of track mode. That thing sounds like a dragon finally coming out of its cave of gold, it is beautiful. The snaps, crackles, and pops coming out of that Shelby exhaust is absolutely exhilarating.
Straight from Ford themselves, “to improve ride and handling, Mach 1 features the latest MagneRide calibration, a stiffer steering I-shaft, new EPAS calibration, stiffer sway bars and front springs, a brake booster from the Mustang GT Performance Pack Level, A rear subframe with stiffer bushings and a rear toe-link from Shelby GT500.” And boy does that MagneRide feel great, magnetic ride control is one of the best comfort innovations of our time, and I feel like Ford hit it out of the ballpark in the Mach 1 application.
A Racing Inspired Exterior
The exterior looks menacing, like a growling tiger. The fighter jet grey also adds to the appearance, paired with its fiery orange accents with the graphics package. It lets you and everyone else know exactly what you’re driving with Mach 1 plastered everywhere. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially with a car like this. The wickerbill spoiler with the Gurney flap fits right into place and is pretty aesthetically pleasing. New functional vents and a rear diffuser straight from the King himself poises to be one of the most stunning features of the ‘Stang.
Stopping power is harnessed by massive carbon ceramic brakes hoisted by dual piston Brembo calipers. The orange on our test car definitely stood out. Sitting on 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport tires, the Mach 1 felt sticker than flypaper. Grounded to the road, maneuverability is way greater than the traditional GT. Also to help handling is a monstrous strut bar spanning the width of the engine bay to prevent as much body roll as possible. The Mustang by nature is a somewhat high riding car compared to other vehicles in it its class. Being in the Mach 1, definitely didn’t feel like it. It felt like I was just as low as a Corvette, very similar. The torque felt very adequate even if if it didn’t get a boost. Wheel spin wasn’t very common, but was readily available on demand with the Mustang’s built in LineLock.
LineLock is a part of the Mach 1’s various Track Apps, which include the aforementioned LineLock, which locks the front wheels and allows the rears to freely spin, a track timer, exhaust setups, and configurable set up modes.
As the Mustang’s track focused variant, these are very crucial building a perfect track demon, and it felt like it. Perfect for canyon driving or taking it to the Texas 2K, it siphons the best of every aspect of the Mustang world.
The interior is very furnished, featuring leather seats but also maintaining the infamous American plastic dash. No exquisite materials, but I don’t believe anyone would expect anything more. The gauge cluster is a welcomed LED display with tons of configurability. Orange trim and piping, or in most cases, just the secondary color is used sparingly around the cabin, but still tasteful. The seats feel super bolstered and built solid, built Ford Tough as the folks up north in D-Town would say.
What’s a little annoying is the lack of, or use of per say, blatant cost cutting. For example, no hydraulics on the hood… it’s 2021, and a $20 piece. The use of plastic all around, Plastic is welcomed in a sports car, but that much? It can’t be that necessary. I wouldn’t go around looking for one of these like you’re buying a luxury car, because quite simply put, it’s not. Finally, the worst thing about the Mach 1 is the price. For around $50,000, you could simply buy the GT350. It financially doesn’t make sense to me, but Ford’s rationale is that you’re paying for a different engine, a pushrod V8 in a track car format.
“The Mach 1 is simply a GT350 in pushrod form”
This new interior features Ford’s brand new FordPass infotainment system, which is one of the best out there. Super intuitive and responsive, definitely at the top of the game in terms of in-cabin screens go. Ford also offers auto high-beam headlamps, rearview camera, Blind Spot Information System, Lane-Keeping System, and Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning and Dynamic Brake Support. For a sports car, the Mach 1 comes pretty jam packed with features and is a great choice for any track goers, as long as you want the Detroit Special pushrod.