2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 First Look: An Icon Returns

Ford rolls out the 2021 Mustang Mach 1, the 5.0-liter Coyote-powered, 480-hp ’Stang that bridges the gap between the GT and the Shelby GT350.

© Motor Trend Staff

It's back for 2021: The Ford Mustang Mach 1. The supersonic Concorde jet first allowed civilians to travel faster than the speed of sound (Mach 1) on March 2, 1969. That same model year Ford introduced the Mach 1 performance package to connote the top performing "civilian" Mustang.

© Motor Trend Staff

Meant to rank just below the mighty Boss and Shelby models in terms of price and performance, a wide range of engines ensured there was some performance overlap between these models, but the Mach 1 proved so popular it outsold the GT model.

Dave Pericak, director of Ford Icons, says the Mach 1 will "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." It's to be the track Mustang for folks who can't swing the note on a Shelby. In that way it harkens back to the '69 and '70 originals, which claimed back-to-back SCCA Manufacturer's Rally Championships in those years, along with setting 295 speed and endurance records at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

© Motor Trend Staff

What Engine Will Be in the Mustang Mach 1?

As with the Bullitt, Mach 1 gets just one engine choice—the 5.0-liter Coyote V-8. We're told it's not identical to the Bullitt's, although it is rated at the same 480 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 rpm. This one shares its intake manifold, oil filter adapter, and engine-oil cooler with the Shelby GT350 (these last two boost oil cooling capability by 50 percent).

Two Transmissions

The Bullitt was only offered with a Getrag six-speed manual. The Mach 1 gets the Shelby GT350's Tremec TR-3160 manual and short-throw shifter along with its auxiliary oil cooler, though the Mustang GT's twin-disc clutch is used. Mach 1 buyers can also opt for Ford's terrific 10-speed SelectShift automatic as well, outfitted with an upgraded torque converter and sharper sport-shift programming. Choosing the manual trans Mach 1 also gets you rev-matching for the first time on a Mustang. There's also a second oil-to-air cooler that improves cooling by 75 percent.

Two Suspension Calibrations

The standard Mach 1 gets specially tuned MagneRide shocks, a stiffened steering intermediate shaft, unique electric power-steering calibration, stiffer anti-roll bars and front springs, the brake booster from the Mustang GT Performance Pack 2, firmer rear subframe bushings, and the rear toe links from the Shelby GT500. Also hailing from the big Shelby: a rear diffuser and rear-axle cooler.

© Motor Trend Staff

The standard 19-inch "dark tarnish" gray wheels feature a five-spoke design that is mildly evocative of the styled steel Magnum 500 wheels on the original Mach 1. Measuring 9.5 inches wide in front and 10.0 inches in back, they're a half-inch wider than Bullitt's American Racing mag-style wheels. They're shod in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires. The big six-piston Brembo front brakes from the GT and Bullitt and the Perf Pack's vented single-piston rear brakes were deemed sufficient for Mach 1 track duty.

© Motor Trend Staff

Upgrading to the Handling package, offered only with the Tremec manual transmission, buys the basic 20-inch wheel/tire specification from the Shelby GT350 (10.5-inch front, 11.0-inch rear), with dark tarnish web-mesh design wheels wearing Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 meats. Also included are unique wheel lip moldings (to cover the larger tires), the GT500's rear tire spats, plus numerous aerodynamic upgrades.

Mach 1 Aerodynamics

The standard front splitter is unique to the Mach 1; it is larger than the Performance Pack 1 splitter. It's paired with the rear spoiler from the Perf Pack 2. A new underbody pan extends 20 inches farther rearward than that of the Mustang GT Performance Pack and features various "underwing features" to improve downforce and assist brake cooling—a first for Mustang. Together with the diffuser, downforce is improved by 22 percent relative to the GT with Performance Pack 1.

© Motor Trend Staff

Upgrading to the Mach 1 Handling package buys an additional add-on splitter that's larger than the one on the Perf Pack 2 and trades the rear spoiler for the Shelby GT500's "s'wing" spoiler/wing with Gurney flap. This setup is said to be good for a 150 percent downforce bump relative to the GT PP1.

Exterior Design

The original 1969-'78 Mach 1 models, as well as the 2003-2004 reboot all telegraphed their performance intentions with plenty of graphic cues. The 2021 model will do the same. It wouldn't be a Mach 1 without a hood applique and side stripes in matte black plus front and rear spoilers. Here the "satin black" hood and side stripes include reflective accent stripes in red, white, or orange, color-matched to the eight available body colors—Iconic Silver, Shadow Black, Oxford White, Velocity Blue, Twister Orange, Race Red, Grabber Yellow, and Jet Gray. That last is only available in the Appearance package and is the only color to get the orange accent stripes and orange calipers (all others get red).

© Motor Trend Staff

Also harkening to the first-gen Mach 1 is a deep 3-D mesh two-piece upper grille featuring two round elements that evoke the inboard high-beam lamps of the 1969 car. These are blocked with blanking plates designed for easy removal to improve cooling at track-day events. A unique front fascia optimizes airflow to the additional heat exchangers and the brakes.

The team resisted the urge to include ram-air scoops or shaker hood elements popular on past Mach 1 editions—opting instead for functional air extractors toward the front of the hood. The Mach 1 fender badges, mirror caps, and Mustang emblem in the grille are all rendered in low-gloss Magnetic Gray.

Interior Upgrades

Mach 1 customers will be greeted by logos on the sill plates, a new instrument panel finish that evokes an "engine-turned" swirl look called Dark Spindrift, a white cue-ball shifter for the manual transmission, a unique splash screen on the 12.3-inch digital cluster, and a plaque displaying the car's chassis number. Recaro seats will be optional, and standard seats feature a horizontal accent stripe in orange (Appearance package only) or white (on cars with the reflective white exterior accent stripe).

What Will the 2021 Mustang Mach 1 Cost?

Final pricing won't be announced until closer to the launch in spring of 2021, but it is expected to replace the Bullitt special edition model, which starts at $48,900 (including a $1,000 guzzler tax).

Presuming the Mach 1's entry price comes in around $50K, we don't see it outselling and displacing the GT model (which starts at $36,825) like the original did. We will be eager to find out whether, like its 1971 forebear, the 2021 Mach 1 will be able to enter a narrow alley on its right wheels, and then somehow transition to its left wheels before exiting, as James Bond demonstrated in Diamonds Are Forever.

See more at: Motor Trend


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Automotive Magazine: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 First Look: An Icon Returns
2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 First Look: An Icon Returns
Ford rolls out the 2021 Mustang Mach 1, the 5.0-liter Coyote-powered, 480-hp ’Stang that bridges the gap between the GT and the Shelby GT350.
Automotive Magazine
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