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The Camaro may have pipped the Ford Mustang in sales occasionally, but there’s a reason we call these American coupes ‘pony cars.’ And with the Mustang’s iconic status comes high market value, especially for classic models. However, while vintage Mustangs are often expensive, a few bargains still remain. This week on Bring a Trailer, one of those bargains is up for grabs: a 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1.

The Mach 1 turned the Ford Mustang from a pony car to a rally-winning muscle car

A red-and-black 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 on a country road
1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Putting the ‘Mach’ name on an electric crossover might have caused some confusion, but it’s a significant part of Ford Mustang history. Decades before the 2021 Mach 1 burned rubber, Ford released the 1969 Mustang Mach 1 for the emerging muscle car segment. With cars like the Camaro SS 396 and Pontiac GTO on the prowl, the ‘Stang needed some extra speed. And the original Mach 1’s looks weren’t all for show: it won the 1969 SCCA Manufacturer’s Road Rally Championship, Hagerty notes.

Performance plus race wins equaled major sales. So much so, that the Mach 1 replaced the Mustang GT in 1970. And it was enough reason for Ford to make a sequel.

Some complain that the redesigned 1971-1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is bigger and less extreme than its predecessor. True, the 1971 car is longer, wider, shorter, and 438 lbs heavier than its predecessor, MotorTrend says. However, compared to the muscle cars that came after, the 1971 Mach 1 is a genuine performance car. And not least because the 1974 Mustang II version needed 12.2 seconds to go 0-60 mph, Car and Driver says.

It’s not quite as quick as the ’69, but the 1971-1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1 was plenty fast enough for James Bond

A red-and-black 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 on a desert runway
1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 | Ford
Spec1971-1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1
Engine4.9-liter two-barrel ‘302 Windsor’ V8
5.8-liter two-barrel and four-barrel ‘351 Cleveland’ V8
7.0-liter four-barrel ‘429 Cobra Jet’ V8
Gross horsepower rating4.9-liter: 210 hp
5.8-liter: 240 hp (two-barrel), 285 hp (four-barrel M-Code/HO), 280 hp (four-barrel Q-code)
7.0-liter: 370 hp (standard), 375 hp (Super Cobra Jet)
TransmissionThree-speed manual
Four-speed manual
Three-speed automatic
Curb weight3220 lbs (1971 model, Hagerty)
0-60 mph time5.8 seconds (1971 351 HO model with a four-speed manual, Car and Driver)

The change-over from SAE gross to net horsepower rating meant classic cars got weaker on paper. However, Ford gave the 1971 Mustang Mach 1 more than just a powerful engine.

While the no-cost-option NACA duct hood wasn’t functional, the 351 and 429 engines offered optional Ram Air induction that was. Ford also offered a Competition Suspension package with stiffer springs, different rear shocks, a thicker front sway bar, and an additional rear one. Buyers could also spec different axle ratios and optional front disc brakes (later standard on 429s). Plus, the 1971 Mach 1’s optional power-assisted steering was quicker than the standard version.

Also, the 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 isn’t that much slower than its predecessor. Car and Driver recorded a 5.7-second 0-60 mph time for the 1969 Mach 1. And the 1971 car actually had a slightly faster ¼-mile time and trap speed. No wonder it was James Bond’s wheels of choice in Diamonds Are Forever.

You can bid on a 1971 example right now on Bring a Trailer

At first glance, the 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 currently listed on Bring a Trailer might seem less impressive, given that it has an automatic. However, this car’s modifications likely make up for any potential performance loss.

Originally, this Mach 1’s M-code 351 Cleveland V8 had a four-barrel carburetor. It’s been replaced by a FiTech fuel injection system with an Edelbrock intake manifold. The V8 also has a Comp Cam camshaft, roller timing chain, roller rocker arms, and Trick Flow aluminum cylinder heads. Plus, it rocks ceramic-coated headers and MagnaFlow mufflers. So, it’s likely more powerful than stock.

This 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 also has some desirable factory equipment. It has power-assisted steering and brakes, A/C, a folding rear seat, and a heater/defroster. Plus, it has the optional sport bucket seats, extra gauges, and front discs. And on the outside, this Mach 1 has a front chin spoiler, rear trunk-lid spoiler, functional Ram Air hood, and rear-window louvers. Not to mention several ‘Mach 1’ graphics. The only non-standard item, apart from the engine mods, is an aftermarket stereo.

Although the seller notes that there’s some bubbling around the driver’s door, this 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is in solid shape overall. It was refurbished several years ago and recently had its fluids and relevant filters replaced.

The 1971-1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is still a classic muscle car bargain

As of this writing, this 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is listed at $20,000 with three days left in the auction. Although automatic-equipped Mach 1s are less valuable, an excellent-condition example like this typically costs around $40K, Hagerty says.

Then as now, the Mach 1 wasn’t quite as fast or ‘special’ as a Shelby Mustang. But then again, both the vintage and modern versions are considerably cheaper than the Shelby cars. And if you want an affordable classic Mustang with some extra muscle and style, this 1971 Mach 1 might be the way to go.

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