2004 was the last time a Mach 1 badge graced the fenders of a new Ford Mustang. Spanning just two years, the 2003 and 2004 Ford Mustang Mach 1 was a throwback to the iconic pony that launched in the late 1960s. Now, the supersonic ‘Stang returns for a limited run, and it's bringing a bit of Shelby DNA with a tweaked 5.0-liter V8 under its striped hood.
Obviously, Ford is tapping into some nostalgia with the design. The graphics and stripes are very much a callback to the original 1969 model, as are the round inlets in the grille. Back in the day you would find a set of lights in there, but for the 2021 Mach 1, they are functional air scoops.
Yes, that means there's no Shaker hood this time around, but during a special Mach 1 preview event, Ford reminded us that not all Mach 1s had Shakers and for this new model, an open airbox and those trick inlets supply plenty of air.
"When you weigh the track desire for lift balance, putting a hood scoop on – and the minimal impact you’d get by running the air from there to the front corner – you get better air pulling from the front with an open air box. And you don’t get any of the downside from a lift perspective," Mustang Chief Engineer Carl Widmann said. "For track performance, that was core to what we wanted to do. It was a decision early on."
The Ford reps on hand also divulged other details on the new model – full info comes later but we have enough now to thoroughly whet our appetite.
Performance-wise, we're told the 5.0-liter V8 develops a Bullitt-matching 480 horsepower (358 kilowatts). Unlike the Bullitt, however, you’ll be able to get the Mach 1 with a 10-speed automatic transmission. A new rev-matching Tremec six-speed manual will also be offered, built with gearing that matches the Shelby GT350 (you can disable the rev matching, if you prefer to heel-toe yourself). Speaking of Shelby, heat exchangers come from the GT350 and rear-axle coolers are sourced from the GT500. Front and rear subframes are Shelby spec; the rear valence is pure GT500, as are the massive 4.5-inch exhaust tips out the back. The suspension is upgraded, but to what level is still under wraps.
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Ford envisions the Mach 1 as a bridge between the GT and Shelby models, something with a punchy engine and deft handling in the corners. In fact, Ford Icons Director Dave Pericak says the 2021 Mach 1 will be “the most track-capable 5.0-liter Mustang ever." That title is currently held by the previous-generation Boss 302 Laguna Seca, and we suspect many people feel a new Boss might be a better choice for such a machine instead of Mach 1. Ford had something to say about that.
Gallery: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1
“When you look through the heritage, we thought the automatic worked better with the Mach 1 nomenclature,” said Widmann. “This is a global product, so we’ll hit almost 50 countries with this car. From the engine perspective, that was one thing in a Boss world that we’d have wanted in the 525-hp range, which we didn’t go into in the Mach 1. We wanted to use the motor from the Bullitt in an application for the automatic.”
That said, the new Mach 1 isn’t just a Bullitt with an automatic transmission, Shelby parts, and some stickers. “We didn't want this to strictly be a heritage vehicle,” said Gordon Platto, Ford design director for cars in North America.
As such, the Mach 1 gets its own front clip with a new fascia, lower valence, and grille. A modern set of the classic Mach 1 Magnum 500 five-spoke wheels are available, but a performance edition with optional wheels will be offered. The GT500 wing with Gurney flap will also be offered, along with a range of low-gloss badging, low-gloss Magnetic stripes, and orange Brembo brakes. 10 different exterior colors will be available.
Moving inside you’ll find a new splash screen for the instrument cluster, a Mach 1-specific shifter, new sill plates, and a plaque with the chassis number. Recaro seats will be available, but other interior options are unknown at this time. Price and production numbers are also unknown, though we are told the Mach 1 will be “relatively limited.”
Full information will come closer to the Mach 1’s on-sale date in the spring of 2021.
Mustang Mach 1 Returning for 2021 Model Year As Limited-Edition Pinnacle of Style, Handling and 5.0-liter V8 Performance
DEARBORN, Mich., May 29, 2020–With speed, style and a name that embodies both, Ford today announces the Mustang Mach 1 is roaring back to life this year, with its debut coming this spring.
The iconic fastback coupe that debuted during the first golden era of muscle cars in the late-1960snow returns for global Mustang enthusiasts looking for the epitome of naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 performance in a new golden age of power as a new choice in the lineup of the world’s best-selling sports car.
“Mach 1 has a special place in Mustang history, and it’s time for this special edition to claim the top spot in our 5.0-liter V8 performance lineup and reward our most hardcore Mustang enthusiasts who demand that next level of power, precision and collectability,”said DavePericak, director, Ford Icons.“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.”
Continuing the legacy of Mach 1 debuted for the 1969 model year and immediately carved out its place in the Mustang lineup, delivering performance and improved dynamics with its GT handling suspension. In the years that followed, Mach 1 saw improved performance versus Mustang GT and was more attainable than Shelby and Boss variants.
“Mach 1 has always been that bridge between base Mustangs and the Shelby models,” said Ted Ryan, heritage brand manager, Ford Archives. “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.”
Two years after its debut, Mach 1 with its competition suspension hit the streets in 1971 longer and larger than the original, with an assortment of powerful engine options. In 1974, Mach 1 again saw major changes, reimagined for the first time as a hatchback. This Mach 1 generation enjoyed a five-year run and beefed up its handling capabilities more with an optional Rallye Suspension Package.
Mach 1 returned for2003 and 2004 model years, blending modern power with the nostalgia of 1970s-era Mach 1 design elements. Its unique Mach 1 handling suspension with larger Brembo front-disc brakes improved on-road performance, while its matte black spoiler and hood stripe helped the coupe standout.
Seventeen years later, the all-new 2021 Mustang Mach 1 is set to return as the most track-ready 5.0-liter Mustang ever, once again delivering design magic while adding to its performance legacy