What Is It?
As the original pony car, the Ford Mustang endures as one of the most iconic vehicles on the road, and one of the most celebrated Mustangs is the Mach 1. Well known in the early 1970s for its impressive performance, the Mach 1 now returns as a track-ready Mustang with commemorative styling cues as well as a powerful 5.0-liter V8 engine to take its proper place between the GT and the Shelby Mustangs. We spent a few days with the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1, and simply remembering our experience in this American icon still evokes a smile. And those fortunate enough to own one of these amazing cars will also appreciate that experience — every day.
Ford provided us with a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 painted in Fighter Jet Gray. In addition to the long list of standard features, the tester Mach 1 arrived equipped with a Mach 1 Appearance Package, a voice-activated touchscreen navigation system, a Mach 1 Elite Package and a 10-speed automatic transmission for a total MSRP of $60,390. Competitors to the Mustang Mach 1 include the Chevrolet Camaro SS, Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack, BMW M4 and Toyota GR Supra.
The Mustang Mach 1 eclipses the rest of the Mustang lineup with a unique front fascia and grille that mimic the original Mach 1, as well as improved cooling for the big V8 that offers superior performance. The hood and bodyside stripes — as well as the larger rear spoiler — also pay homage to the original. More than simply a decor package, the Mach 1 gets improved aerodynamics with up to 22 percent more downforce versus the Mustang GT.
Wheels and Tires
Adding to the overall style of the Mach 1 are 19-inch 5-spoke Tarnished Dark-painted aluminum wheels that conjure the spirit of the original’s Magnum 500 style wheels. The striking wheels get fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S high-performance tires, while stopping power is provided by large disc brakes clamped with Brembo calipers.
Under the Hood
The 2021 Mustang Mach 1 draws power from a specially tuned 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 480 horsepower at 7000 rpm, and 420 lb-ft of torque at 4600 rpm. A Tremec 6-speed manual transmission is standard; however, the test vehicle came equipped with the optional 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. While we would have preferred the manual gearbox, the automatic performs admirably with quick upshifts and downshifts.
In addition to its potent V8 engine, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 sports a number of improvements under the skin that further increase performance. Upgrades include the latest MagneRide calibration; a stiffer steering I-shaft; stiffer sway bars and front springs; a brake booster from the Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2; and a rear subframe with stiffer bushings, as well as a rear toe-link from the Shelby GT500.
A special interior treatment further differentiates the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 as something unique from the rest of the Mustang line. The dashboard gets trimmed in a Dark Spindrift with aluminum accents, and an exclusive Mach 1 badge placed in front of the passenger displays the vehicle’s chassis number. The large infotainment display and digital instrument cluster in front of the driver add the right amount of tech.
Trimmed in black leather with an orange accent stripe — a hint of the original Mach 1 — the sport seats not only look great, they also provide needed support during spirited driving. As anticipated, the rear seats of the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 are pretty cramped, so they function better as storage rather than as seats.
Granted, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is all about performance . . . but in a nod to everyday use, the trunk is sizeable — a few pieces of decent-size luggage can be easily accommodated.
On the Road
Simply starting the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 delivers a full-on adrenaline boost. The car possesses a wonderful exhaust note that sounds incredible at idle and borders on obnoxious at full tilt. The driver can select a quieter exhaust, although why would anyone want to do that?
You know we are going to say it — the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is a blast to drive, whether accelerating hard on a long, straight road or hustling through turns on a favorite winding back road. The steering provides excellent feedback, delivering great confidence even at high speeds. Although it’s not a small car, the Mach 1 still feels surprisingly light and nimble.
Drivers will appreciate the awesome power of the Mach 1, which always seems to have plenty reserves, and the 10-speed automatic transmission works wonders by taking full advantage the engine’s power band. Putting the car in Sport + mode keeps rpm high while delivering incredibly quick shifts up or down. Romp on the throttle and the gears drop almost instantly as the car shoots forward. We admit we would still prefer a manual gearbox on the Mach 1, although the automatic works exceedingly well. While cruising on the freeway in 10th gear, this amazing pony car averaged better than 20 mpg.
Admittedly we’ve always been big fans of the current-generation Mustang, and the Mach 1 quickly became one of our favorites. The styling that pays homage to the original is on point — classic and classy without being overdone — and the blend of comfort and high performance makes the Mach 1 a great car to drive every day. As a track-ready racer also capable of remaining serene on city streets, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 practically guarantees a smile every time the engine roars to life — and isn’t that a great trait for a driver’s car?
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