The Mach 1 is coming back, these should too.
Over the years, Ford has built many different performance variants of the Mustang. For the 2021 Ford Mustang, the company has announced that one of its long-gone variants, the Mach 1, will be returning. The Mach 1 name first arrived in 1969 and has not been used since 2004. Not much is known about the upcoming Mustang Mach 1 but Ford typically reserves this name for a track-focused model positioned below the hardcore Shelby models.
We assume the Mach 1 will likely take over for the current Mustang Bullitt and this got us thinking... what other performance nameplates does Ford have in its catalog that could make a comeback? After eliminating a few examples that will likely never happen, like a Taurus SHO or Shogun, we came up with six models that we think Ford should put back into its lineup.
First introduced as a 1969 model (just like the Mach 1), the Mustang Boss 302 was last offered in 2013 as the most track-focused, non-Shelby version of the Mustang. The return of the Mach 1 likely precludes the need for a new Boss 302 but we still believe the nameplate is too strong to leave behind forever. Perhaps the Mach 1 will only last for a few model years before the Boss 302 makes its return.
While the Boss 302 received a modern revival, the Mustang Boss 429 has not been offered since 1970. Ford did team up with Classic Restorations to build recreation versions of the car but we'd still like to see a modern interpretation of this amazing Mustang. Sadly, we think a Boss 429 would be a tough ask considering it would need to be powered by a 7.0-liter V8 engine. Ford does build a 7.3-liter V8 for the Super Duty but it would likely be too heavy for a Mustang. The existence of the Shelby GT500 also lessens the need for a halo Boss 429 model.
From 1993 to 1995 and then again from 1999 to 2004, the Special Vehicle Team (SVT) built a performance variant of the Ford F-150 called the SVT Lightning. The original model was powered by a 5.8-liter V8 producing 240 horsepower while the second-generation used a 5.4-liter supercharged V8 with 360 to 380 hp. The SVT Raptor and similar off-road performance pickup trucks have pretty much replaced old-school road-oriented trucks like the Lightning but we think it deserves to make a comeback, and the Shelby GT500's engine would be a prime candidate to power a new Lightning.
The tale of the Ford Focus RS in the United States is an utter tragedy. After Ford finally brought its ultimate performance hot hatchback to the US market, it was discontinued after just one generation as the company killed off all non-trucks and crossovers besides the Mustang and GT supercar. We still get a few ST-branded crossovers like the Edge and Explorer but they are of little comfort while we see Europeans enjoying the new Focus ST and Fiesta ST. Ford may never offer another RS- or ST-branded hot hatch in the US, which is a shame.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Ford turned to British engine specialists Cosworth when it wanted to develop a fast hot hatch. Models like the Sierra RS Cosworth and Escort Cosworth are legendary, even though they were never offered in the US. We doubt Ford will ever bring back the Sierra or Escort names but we believe a new partnership with Cosworth could produce some excellent results. The RS nameplate has been regularly used since the days of the Cosworth partnership, but the in-house tuned engines have always lacked the magic of their Cossie-tuned counterparts.
While there are currently two Mustang models that bear his name, Carroll Shelby's original creation, the Shelby Cobra, has never received a proper successor. Ok, so it wasn't actually a Ford product, and the British brand simply borrowed a Ford V8 and Carroll Even Shelby's expertise, but imagine if Ford partnered with Shelby on a modern-day equivalent. While the Shelby Series 1 never lived up to the original with its Oldsmobile-sourced Aurora V8. A later Series II model offered up to 800 hp but even that failed to gain any traction. The Mustang punches pretty high in the Ford lineup but we feel there is plenty of room between the Shelby GT500 and the flagship Ford GT for another sports car in the $100,000 range.