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The 2023 Ford Mustang Mach 1 stepped up to repair the broken hearts of Mustang fans in a lineup that didn’t include a Shelby badge. However, the new, seventh-generation pony car is on the way and a new performance variant with it. Enter the new Ford Mustang Dark Horse, the range-topping performance variant of the new S650. Still, fans might be better off opting for the outgoing Mach 1, especially if they value classic Mustang features. 

How is the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach 1 a better option for die-hard fans than the new Dark Horse?

A new Mustang Dark Horse parks in a tunnel.
A Dark Horse | Ford

Before you get too excited about the new 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse, the outgoing 2023 Mach 1 has a few things you won’t find on the new nameplate. 

  • Retro and old-school features
  • Lower starting price
  • Historic nameplate

The 2024 Dark Horse is all-new, inside and out. It features refreshed styling with tri-bar lights at the front in addition to a derivation of the classic three-chambered tail lamps. Moreover, the most significant update is in its interior, where the Dark Horse gets the full S650 update. The model’s 13.2-inch center stack with Sync 4 connectivity bleeds into a customizable 12.4 digital display. 

Of course, like the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach 1, the Dark Horse packs track-ready equipment like a Tremec six-speed transmission and forged internals from the S550 GT500. However, the new technology-packed Dark Horse loses a few things in the major update. 

The new Dark Horse loses some of the retro and nostalgic features of the outgoing 2023 Ford Mustang Mach 1

A new Mustang Dark Horse shows off its rear-end styling.
A new Mustang Dark Horse | Ford

While the new Dark Horse attempts to rescue its missing nostalgia factor with a Fox Body display mode, it drops a few throwbacks that the Mach 1 wears proudly. For instance, the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach 1 features the double bubble dash of the first, fifth, and sixth-generation cars. 

Moreover, the Dark Horse ditches the Mach 1’s metal toggles and cue ball shifter, albeit in favor of a slick 3D-printed titanium shift knob. Still, the Mach 1’s retro graphics and stripes also get the heave-ho. 

How much does a Mach 1 cost?

A 2023 Ford Mustang Mach 1 shows off its interior.
A Mach 1’s interior | Ford

The 2023 Ford Mustang Mach 1 starts at $56,570 for the coupe and $58,665 for the Premium trim. That makes the base model around $1,400 less than the 2024 Dark Horse Fastback. 

As a result, the similarly track-ready Mach 1 is a more affordable option than the new Dark Horse. Of course, Ford says the new model will produce 500 horsepower from its 5.0L Coyote V8, making it 20 ponies more potent than the outgoing Mach 1, per Car and Driver. Moreover, the new range-topping pony car’s power output makes it the most powerful 5.0L Mustang and the second most potent naturally aspirated pony car the marque has ever produced. 

What makes the Mach 1 special?

The 2023 Ford Mustang Mach 1 parks on a track with its lights on.
A Ford Mustang Mach 1 | Ford

Part of what makes the outgoing 2023 Ford Mustang Mach 1 so special is its connection to history. The Mach 1 nameplate first hit the streets in 1969, during the Mustang’s first generation. Like the contemporary Mach 1, the first models from the late 60s and early 70s served as a high-performance variant above the standard GT

However, the Dark Horse wears an all-new badge and nameplate with no previous model nostalgia to capitalize on. Still, a blank slate for the most potent 5.0L pony car ever could be an exciting evolution for the storied model.

What do you think about these performance-oriented Mustangs? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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