2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 First Look Review: The Shelby-Light

First Look / 2 Comments

Bridging the gap between the Mustang GT and Shelby GT350.

Back in 1969, Ford introduced a new version of the Mustang that was meant to bridge the gap between the V8 GT model and the specialized Shelby variants. It was called the Mach 1 and, despite being used many times in the pony car's history, the name has been out of use since 2004. Now, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 has returned and it is once again ready to fill the space between the Mustang GT and the Shelby GT350. To do so, Ford has given the Mach 1 a power increase over the standard GT, some performance parts from the GT350, and its own unique styling. The Mach 1 will be the ultimate non-Shelby Mustang for the track.

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The Mach 1 Gets Its Own Unique Styling

You can easily spot the new Mach 1 via its badging, graphics package, 19-inch wheels, and unique front end design. Both wheel designs are new and change depending on whether or not you get the Handling Package. The front end of the car has been redesigned for better cooling and downforce and even adds two blank spaces in the grille where you can install spotlights. With the revised bodywork, even the base Mach 1 offers 22 percent more downforce than the Mustang GT while the Handling Package adds 150 percent more downforce.

Ford says the Satin Black side and hood stripes can be paired with red, white, or orange accent colors with the Appearance Package. The body color options include Fighter Jet Gray (Appearance Package only), Iconic Silver, Shadow Black, Oxford White, Velocity Blue, Twister Orange, Race Red, and Grabber Yellow.

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A Familiar Mustang Interior

Unlike the exterior, you shouldn't expect to see any drastic changes inside the cabin of the Mach 1. It still looks very much like other Mustang models, albeit the higher-end versions. The dashboard features aluminum accents and if you get a car with leather, the seats feature an accent stripe as a nod to the original Mach 1. Other Mach 1-specific touches include new door sill plates, an updated splash screen on the LCD instrument cluster, a white cue ball shift knob (manual models only), and engraved badging with the chassis number.

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Near-Shelby Performance

Ford has managed to walk a thin line with the Mach 1, placing it squarely between the Mustang GT and Shelby GT350. Its 5.0-liter V8 produces 480 horsepower, which is 20 hp more than the GT but 46 less than the GT350. Ford hasn't quoted any 0-60 times just yet but it should be even quicker than the GT, which can already hit 60 mph in around four and a half seconds. A six-speed manual is the default option, paired with the cue-ball shifter from the Mustang Bullitt, but the option of a 10-speed automatic could make the Mach 1 quicker than the GT350 off the line. That's besides the point, however, as the Mach 1 is all about handling and involvement. To this end, Ford has decided to only make the Handling Package available with a six-speed manual transmission.

The Mach 1 was designed with the race track in mind, borrowing the GT350's higher-flowing intake manifold, oil cooler, and oil filter adapter for better cooling. It also borrows the GT350's tougher Tremec transmission instead of the GT's Getrag unit. Ford has also equipped the Mach 1 with MagneRide dampers and massive Brembo brakes so it should handle well and stop on a dime.

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The Price (Still A Question Mark) And The Rivals

Ford has not yet put a price on the 2021 Mustang Mach 1, but we expect it to sit between the GT with the Performance Package Level 2 ($45,757) and the Shelby GT350 ($59,140). Since the Mach 1 will essentially replace the Bullitt, we suspect it will start at around the same price ($47,705), with the Handling Package adding to that figure.

In terms of rivals, the Mach 1 has few. As a specialist racer from the brand, it's the equivalent - in performance terms - to the Corvette Grand Sport. However, as always, the Chevrolet Camaro SS with the 1LE Performance Package will be the Mach 1's most direct competition.

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