The Ford Mustang has a rich history, and many auto enthusiasts consider it the original muscle car. The Shelby GT350 and GT500 versions give regular consumers a taste of what it’s like to race a track-focused Mustang. The Ford Mustang GT500 is even capable of beating expensive supercars in a race.
The 2021 Ford Mustang is now available as a Mach 1 model, paying tribute to the original Mach 1 of 1969. How powerful is the 2021 Mustang Mach 1, and is it better than the other available Mustangs? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is a Mach 1?
The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 has several performance enhancements not included on the base EcoBoost. Instead of the simple rotors with 2-piston calipers, Mach 1 gets black-painted Brembo six-piston brakes, plus bigger rotors. It also has heavy-duty front springs and Magneride adaptive damping to enhance the Mustang’s ride quality and cornering prowess.
Like all Mustangs, Mach 1 has standard launch control and an independent rear suspension. Mach 1 has five drive modes for daily driving, performance, or wet and wintry conditions. This can be especially useful considering the Mustang is only available in RWD.
For optimal engine performance, Mustang Mach 1 has a special intake manifold and an open-air induction system. It also has a bigger radiator and enhanced cooling for the differentials, engine oil, and transmission. The upgraded V8 engine comes standard with a rev-matching six-speed manual gearbox. It also comes with a revised active valve performance exhaust system, allowing drivers to adjust the engine growl’s volume.
The Mach 1 gets 19-inch wheels instead of the standard 17-inches, outfitted with some sticky summer tires. The optional Mach 1 handling package, only available for this model, comes with special dark aluminum wheels. It also has a front bumper sport, rear spoiler, and strut mounts. The interior gets a split-bench folding rear seat.
Mach 1 can seat four riders, but shotgun passengers get the cloth Recaro sports seats. These come with extra bolstering to provide more comfort during intense maneuvers. On the instrument panel, you’ll find a special badge displaying your Mach 1’s unique chassis number.
Mach 1’s interior feels a little fancier than the standard Mustang. It has polished chrome accents along the dashboard, plus a stylish white cue-ball shifter. The Sync 3 infotainment system includes an 8-inch touchscreen with smartphone integration, satellite radio, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The Mach 1 comes with Ford Co-Pilot 360 safety technology. That includes blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, reverse braking assist, lane-keeping assist, hill descent, and parking assist. Forward-collision warning is also standard.
Is the Mach 1 a Shelby?
The Ford Mustang Mach 1 isn’t exactly a Shelby, but MotorTrend says it comes pretty close. It was tested against the Mustang Shelby GT350, which was sadly discontinued for 2021. It produced more power than the standard GT model, plus had exclusive paint options and a carbon-fiber rear spoiler.
Mach 1 can reach 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, barely missing the Shelby GT350’s clean four-second run. It was also nearly on par with the GT350 and GT350R in quarter-mile quickness and braking distance. The Mustang Mach 1 does all this with a smaller engine and 46 less hp than the Shelby GT350.
When paired against the Mustang Shelby GT500, the Mach 1 is half a second slower, getting to 60 mph. However, that’s still an impressive feat given the GT500’s supercharged 760-hp engine and an upgraded transmission. MotorTrend also found that the Ford Mustang Mach 1 exhibited more controlled power delivery.
What is the Ford Mustang Mach 1 price? Is it worth it?
Without any extra packages or add-ons, the Ford Mustang Mach 1 starts at $53,400. The base EcoBoost Fastback retails for a mere $27,205. However, the EcoBoost only comes with a turbo-four engine that makes almost 200 hp less than the Mustang Mach 1’s V8.
The Mustang GT Fastback has the same beefy V8 as the Mustang Mach 1 but lacks horsepower. The GT coupe starts at $36,285, while the fancier Premium models start at $40,285. The Mustang Mach 1 Premium, starting at $55,300, offers the same performance specs with more interior trappings.
The Mach 1 handling pack costs an extra $3,500. You can also outfit your Mach 1 with an optional $1,000-appearance pack containing an exclusive Fighter Jet Gray exterior color. Orange and black adorn the interior, exterior hood, exterior side stripe, and brake calipers. You could also get the black accent or Pony package, which adds more of the Mustang’s iconic stallion emblems.
In terms of features and performance, the GT trims will probably offer drivers the most value. However, Mach 1 can have that handling package with otherwise exclusive features to the Shelby GT500. That’s the most expensive Ford Mustang available, starting at $72,900.
How fast does a Mustang Mach 1 go?
In addition to its 4.2-second 0-60 mph time, the Mustang Mach 1 has a top speed of 163 mph. According to Phil Long Ford in Denver, that’s only 23 mph slower than the Mustang Shelby GT500. Both the EcoBoost and GT models only have top speeds of 155 mph, though the GT obviously has superior acceleration.
According to Car and Driver, Mach 1’s handling is perfectly matched to the discontinued Shelby GT350. The Mustang feels sporty no matter which driving modes you select, especially in Track. You can also disable Traction Control in this mode for less tire wear and more exhilarating performance.
The ride quality admittedly suffers over uneven terrain, but Car and Driver say it’s not that big of an issue. However, testers still disliked the unruly jerking of the steering wheel; a problem shared with the Shelby GT350. Mach 1’s good reputation is also slightly tarnished by some understeer and unsteady straight-line acceleration.
Still, Car and Driver recommends the Mustang Mach 1 for its feisty engine and road manners, especially with the Handling package. The Mustang Mach 1’s hp is 480, backed by 420 lb-ft of torque. If you’re not a fan of the rev-matching six-speed manual, you can opt for an optional ten-speed automatic gearbox. It may not be as engaging, but the automatic can boost the Mustang’s performance and provide better gas mileage.
A Ford Mustang Mach 1 with the automatic transmission gets 16 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, slightly above average compared to rivals. The Shelby GT500 is actually more efficient with the manual, but it still only makes 14 mpg city and 21 mpg highway.
Given the higher price tags, nobody’s buying these cars with improved gas mileage in mind, but it’s still important to note. All the extra racing components on Mustang Mach 1 might also lead to higher maintenance or repair costs. Fortunately, the 2021 Ford Mustang earns a near-perfect reliability rating from J.D. Power.
If you’re lucky, it might even be able to last as long as the original 1969 Mustang Mach 1. Similar to the Mustang Boss 429, its rich history makes it a highly-prized model among collectors. Interestingly, a Mustang Mach 1 actually masqueraded as a Boss 429 in the popular film John Wick.
The true story behind the ‘John Wick’ Mustang
The John Wick film series follows the titular character, played by Keanu Reeves, as he gets revenge on his enemies. Most dedicated Mustang fans can tell that he drives a 1969 Mach 1 model. However, when a man refers to it as the 1970 Mustang Boss 429, Wick only corrects him on the car’s model year.
As shown by HotCars, other telltale signs give away the true identity of John Wick’s Mustang. The Boss 429 and Mach 1 of this era had hood scoops, but they served different functions. The interior is also identical to the 1969 Mach 1, albeit with a Shelby Mustang steering wheel.
The most obvious difference is Wick’s use of the Mustang’s automatic transmission. While the 1969 Mustang Mach 1 had an optional automatic transmission, the 1969 Boss 429 had a manual shifter. We’re not sure what caused the filmmakers to use a Mustang Mach 1 in place of a genuine Boss 429.
It’s definitely not because it’s an inferior model, as evidenced by its impressive specs. The Mustang Boss 429 came equipped with a hefty V8 that could reach up to 500 hp with the right modifications. Its big-block engine was nicknamed the ‘Shotgun engine’ because its exhaust ports were so satisfyingly noisy.
This new engine was too big for the standard Mustang’s hood, so the Boss 429 has a unique front end. Some Boss 429 models were outfitted with a special package that included a front spoiler, fender decals, and the awesome hood scoop.
Perhaps it’s better that no Boss 429 Mustangs were featured in the first John Wick. All five classic Mustangs used in the first movie were destroyed during the course of filming.
History of the Mustang Mach 1 1969 to the Mustang Mach 1 1971
According to MotorTrend, the Mustang Mach 1 originally made its debut as a concept car in 1968. The Mach 1 distinguished itself with a hood scoop, hood pins, spoilers, and a hood decal upon its release. Drivers could also have a shaker scoop that pushed cool air toward the engine, resulting in more horsepower.
Top Speed says Ford offered four engines for the 1969 Mach 1. The standard motor was a V8 capable of 250 hp and 355 lb-ft of torque. There was also a 290 hp four-barreled engine and a bigger V8 that made 320 hp. However, many Mustang fans believe that the 355 hp Cobra Jet V8 was better for the car’s character.
All engines came paired with either a three-speed or four-speed manual, with a three-speed automatic gearbox as optional equipment. This Mach 1 also has a huge window panel and teak wood interior trim, plus an upgraded suspension.
Ford didn’t make any drastic power changes for Mustang Mach 1 1970. Two of the lights on Mach 1’s grille were converted into vents. Mach 1 also shed its intake scoops on the doors and got new taillight elements. Appearance options for the Mustang’s exterior, wheels, and seats were also tweaked.
The 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 would lose some popularity thanks to its downgraded power. The base engine only made 210 hp, but drivers could get a Cobra Jet engine for one more year. Fortunately, this muscle car also benefited from more aggressive styling and several add-ons to enhance its track readiness.
After a massively unpopular redesign in 1974, Mach 1 went away until 2003. During its two-year run, the new model’s positive reception gave Ford the green light to revive Mach 1 for 2021. Although Ford has made some questionable decisions regarding the Mustang Mach 1, it has never truly gone out of style.