With the exception of the Mustang, Ford has all but abandoned the passenger car market—but it’s more than making up for that gap, it seems, by rolling out a steady stream of pony car variants for seemingly every possible buyer.
We’ve already seen new versions of the Shelby twins, the GT350 and GT500, this past year. Now, after a 17-year absence, we’re about to see the return of the track-focused 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1.
“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 V-8 performance lineup and reward our most hardcore Mustang enthusiasts who demand that next level of power, precision and collectability,” said Dave Pericak, director, Ford Icons. “Like the original, the all-new Mustang Mach 1 will be true to its heritage, delivering great looks (while being) the most track-capable 5.0-liter Mustang ever.”
The original Mach 1 appeared in 1969, and came stock from the factory with a 351ci twin-barrel carbureted V-8. But, for those who wanted still performance, there were two other options, a 390ci V-8 or a 428ci V-8 that could take things up to as much as 350 horsepower.
Like the standard-issue Mustang, the Mach 1 went through an array of body and powertrain updates over the coming years, the fastback design likely the most familiar for ‘Stang aficionados.
(First drive: 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.
The Mach 1 name referenced the speed of sound. But, like the mainstream Mustang II upon which it was based, the Mach 1 seemingly couldn’t get out of its own way and the special edition was dropped for the 1979 model-year.
It returned – briefly – for the 2003-2004 model-years, this time with a 305 horsepower 4.6-liter V-8. But when the fifth-generation Mustang was launched for 2005, the Mach 1 badge vanished again.
Several years ago, rumors swirled, suggesting Ford was about to being back the “Mach” designation. As it turns out, sources were right – though first in the form of the Mach-E, Ford’s first long-range all-electric vehicle. That’s been a controversial move amongst Mustang mavens, though initial orders suggest the EV is turning on an entirely new crop of customers.
The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is clearly aimed at traditionalists, what with a classic 5.0-liter V-8 under the hood. It’s set to come in a step above the current Bullitt in Mustang hierarchy. For the moment, Ford isn’t revealing any hard specs but, with the latest version of the Bullitt making 480 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque — 20 hp more than the top version of the current Mustang GT can deliver – it’s likely a safe bet that the 2021 Mach 1 will nudge into 500 pony territory. That will help it serve as a bridge between the GT/Bullitt models and the top-of-the-pack Shelbys.
(Take a closer look at Ford’s other Mach, the Mustang Mach-E EV.)
The formal debut of the 12th Mustang variant is planned before the end of spring, which translates into somewhere in the next three weeks or so.
For now, we’ll have to settle for these lightly camouflaged images. But what we know that it will share some of the upgrades currently available on the GT’s Performance Pack Level 2, including Brembo brakes and 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Expect to see some modest – functional — exterior tweaks, including larger front air intakes, a bigger lower grille.
Considering Ford is positioning the 2021 Mustang Mach 1 as a serious track car, meanwhile, we’d not be surprised to learn about some enhancements to the Performance Pack’s already impressive magnetic ride control suspension.
Pricing? We’ll have to wait for that, as well as details like 0-60 times, but considering the current Mustang Bullitt comes in at $48,905, it would seem likely to see the Mach 1 nudge closer, if not above, the $50,000 mark.
(Why did this classic Mustang sell for a record $3.74 million?)