The Mustang Mach 1 returns after 17 years with Shelby upgrades

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is a higher performance version of the sixth-generation Mustang. A limited-edition model that revives the Mach 1 nameplate after 17 years, the 2021 Mustang Mach 1 bridges the gap between the GT and the Shelby GT350 models. It’s essentially a Mustang GT with a more aggressive exterior and some parts from the Shelby GT350. Power comes from the standard 5.0-liter V-8 from the GT, but output matches that of the limited-edition Bullitt model. The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is the fifth Mach 1 pony car produced since the late 1960s.

Ford Mustang Mach 1 history

1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1
- image 870376
The Mustang Mach 1 was born in 1969 as a performance-oriented option package for the first-generation model.

The performance war between Detroit’s muscle car manufacturers was in full blast in the late 1960s, and the Mach 1 appeared at a time when Ford was already selling a range-of performance models, including the Boss 302, Boss 429, Shelby GT350, and Shelby GT500. Fitted with stripes on the hood and side skirts, a revised bumper, and foglamps into the main grille, the first Mach 1 debuted with a 5.8-liter V-8, but Ford also offered a 6.4-liter and the massive 7.0-liter Cobra Jet as options. Powered ranged from 250 horses and 355 pound-feet to a more impressive 335 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of twist. The Mach 1 featured an upgraded suspension system, thicker sway bars, a Shaker hood, sport seats, and teak wood grain trim for the interior. For 1970, Ford revised the front of the cars, but most features remained unchanged.

1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1
- image 870377

The Mach 1 remained in production in 1971, when Ford gave the Mustang an extensive facelift. The car now also featured body-colored bumpers instead of chrome, "Mach 1" decals, a sports suspension, and a unique pop-open gas cap. The standard engine was a 4.9-liter V-8 good for 210 horsepower and 296 pound-feet, but the options list also included the 5.8-liter Cleveland V-8 and the 7.0-liter Cobra Jet. The latter delivered a whopping 375 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. For 1972, Ford discontinued the 7.0-liter engine, so the most powerful version had a 5.8-liter with 275 horsepower and 286 pound-feet. For 1973, output decreased a bit more to 266 horses.

Ford continued to offer the Mach 1 into the second generation starting 1974, but it was initially fitted with a 2.8-liter V-6 rated at 105 horsepower. The V-8 returned in 1975 with 140 horsepower and 240 pound-feet and remained in the Mach 1 until the second-generation was discontinued in 1978. For all these years, the Mach 1 was nothing more than an appearance package.

2003 Ford Mustang Mach 1
- image 5408
The nameplate skipped the third-gen Mustang and remained dormant for 25 years, until 2003.

Offered as a limited-edition model produced for just two years, the New Edge Mach 1 featured a 4.6-liter V-8 rated at 305 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. Unlike the previous Mach 1, this model marked a return to its roots with upgrades to the engine, the chassis, suspension, and the interior. The New Edge was the last Mustang with a Mach 1 package until 2020.

Exterior

  • Sportier appearance
  • Looks a bit like the Shelby GT350
  • Heritage-style front grille
  • Unique front bumper
  • Grey badges
  • Unique wheels
  • Rear spoiler with Gurney flap
  • Stripes package
  • Exclusive color available
2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Exterior
- image 912527
Just like the first-generation Mach 1, the modern version bridges the gap between the regular Mustang and the Shelby GT350 when it comes to exterior design.

Highlights include a unique grille, a sportier front bumper, a rear spoiler, and stripes on the engine hood and above the side skirts.

What sets the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 apart from the regular Mustang?

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The grille and the front bumper are the first elements that stand out. The grille features a deep 3D mesh, a shark-nose shape, and faux light elements that harken back to the original Mach 1 from 1969. The bumper is fitted with notably larger side vents when compared to the GT. While the latter comes with small, vertical openings, the Mach 1 features big and almost square vents that are very similar to the GT500. The central outlet is just as wide as the GT’s, but it’s taller for improved cooling. Finally, the splitter is a bit bigger, extending further away from the lower apron. The stallion badge on the grille is finished in Magnetic, a dark grey hue.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Exterior
- image 912542

The profile is pretty much similar to the GT, but we can spot more Magnetic-painted features, like the "Mach 1" badges on the front fenders and the mirror caps. The Mach 1 also rides on 19-inch wheels specifically developed for this model. Finished in Tarnished Black, they feature a five-spoke design that harkens back to the iconic Magnum 500 wheels. Ford also offers multi-spoke wheels with a more modern look.

Around back, there’s isn’t much setting the Mach 1 apart from the Mustang GT. The most notable upgrade is the spoiler, which is quite larger, almost as big as a fixed wing. It also includes a Gurney flap. However, this spoiler doesn’t come standard, and it’s only offered with the optional Handling Package.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Exterior
- image 912523
Speaking of aerodynamics, the front bumper, the splitter, and the rear spoiler improve downforce by 22 percent compared to the Mustang GT fitted with the Performance Pack Level 1.

With the Handling Package, that figures increases to a spectacular 150 percent. Needless to say, the Mach 1 should handle much better at the track.

When it comes to colors, you can pick from a numbers of different options, including:

  • Iconic Silver
  • Shadow Black
  • Oxford White
  • Velocity Blue
  • Twister Orange
  • Race Red
  • Grabber Yellow

These are all standard Mustang colors, but Ford also offers the exclusive Fighter Jet Gray with the Appearance Package. The stripes are Satin Black on all body colors, but you can pick from accent colors in Red, White, or Orange. The latter is also available with the Appearance Package only.

Interior

  • Looks a lot like the GT
  • Unique dashboard finish
  • Aluminum accents
  • engraved badge
  • optional leather seats
  • white stitching
  • custom sill plates
  • White cue ball shifter
  • Unique splash screen
2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Interior
- image 912534

Much like other limited-edition sixth-generation Mustangs, such as the Bullitt, the Mach 1 is pretty much identical to the EcoBoost and GT models. The layout is identical, and the technology is similar. It also comes with regular seats, so don’t expect it to be as sporty as a Shelby model.

What sets the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 apart from the regular Mustang?

left right
Basically, the only feature that looks different, and it's immediately noticeable, is the Dark Spindrift front dashboard cover with aluminum accents.

It looks a bit like carbon-fiber from a distance, but it really depends on how light falls on the dashboard. On the passenger side dashboard, there’s an engraved badge that displays the model and the unique chassis number.

You don’t get leather as standard, but you can opt for seats wrapped in ebony-colored hide with accents stripes. These seats also come with white stitching, which is also visible on the center console. Other extras include door sill plates with "Mach 1" lettering and checkered flags, a white cue ball shift knob (also a tribute to the original Mach 1), and a unique splash screen for the 12.3-inch infotainment display.

Drivetrain and Performance

  • 5.0-liter V-8
  • 480 horsepower
  • 420 pound-feet of torque
  • Output similar to Bullitt
  • Standard 6-speed manual
  • Optional 10-speed automatic
  • Shelby GT350 drivetrain components
  • Enhanced handling
  • 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds
  • Top speed at 160+ mph
2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Exterior
- image 912526

Unlike the Shelby models, the Mach 1 doesn’t feature its own unique engine.

Power comes from the familiar 5.0-liter V-8 that also motivates the Mustang GT, but it benefits from a bit of extra oomph.

The naturally aspirated mill cranks out 480 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. If these figures seem familiar, it’s because they’re identical to the Mustang Bullitt.

Is the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 more powerful than the Mustang GT?

2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Exterior
- image 912527

Compared to the Mustang GT, the Mach 1 comes with an extra 20 horsepower and similar torque. That’s not a whole lot, but it’s enough to bridge the gap between the GT and the Shelby GT350.

How does the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 compare to the Shelby GT350

2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Exterior
- image 912528

Although it’s a bit more powerful than the Mustang GT, the Mach 1 isn’t as powerful as the Shelby GT350. This isn’t surprising though, as the Mach 1 has been bridging the gap between these two models since day one. At 480 horsepower, the Mach 1 is 46 horses less powerful than the GT350 When it comes to torque though, only nine pound-feet separate the Mach 1 from the Shelby.

How does the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 compare to its predecessor

2003 Ford Mustang Mach 1
- image 5410

Not surprisingly, the new Mach 1 is notably more powerful than the previous Mach 1, which introduced back in 2003. Powered by a 4.6-liter V-8, the Mach 1 New Edge was rated at 305 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. All told, the 2021 Mustang Mach 1 comes with an extra 175 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of twist.

Even though it matches the Mustang Bullitt for power, the Mach 1 is not just a Bullitt under the hood.

The 5.0-liter V-8 engine features a host of upgrades from the Shelby GT350, including the intake manifold, oil filter adapter, and engine oil cooler. The rear axle cooling system is borrowed from the range-topping Shelby GT500.

Unlike the Bullitt, which is restricted to a manual gearbox, the Mach 1 can also be specced with an automatic. The standard six-speed manual comes from the Shelby GT350, and for the first time, it’s paired to a rev-matching system. The optional 10-speed automatic was modified as well with an upgraded torque converter, unique calibration, and a second air-to-oil cooler that increases cooling capacity by 75 percent.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Exterior
- image 912531

Performance upgrades trickle into the chassis, too, by means of a MagneRide system with revised calibration, new EPAS calibration, a stiffer steering I-shaft, and stiffer sway bars and front springs. The Mach also features a rear toe-link from the Shelby GT500, a rear subframe with stiffer bushings, and a brake booster from the Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2. Overall, the Mach is the most dynamic Mustang without a Shelby badge.

How fast is the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1?

2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Exterior
- image 912533

Ford has yet to release performance figures, but it’s safe to assume that the Mach 1 is at least as quick as the Bullit. The latter needs 3.9 seconds to hit 60 mph with the manual transmission. Since it’s available with an automatic gearbox, the Mach 1 could actually get there in 3.8 ticks with the 10-speed. The best scenario is that the drivetrain upgrades shave a tenth-second off these sprints, so the Mach 1 could hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds with the manual and 3.8 clicks with the automatic. Top speed should be similar to the Bullitt model at 163 mph, which is eight mph more than the standard Mustang GT.

How much does the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 cost?

2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1
- image 912525

Ford has yet to announce pricing for the Mustang Mach 1, but it will probably cost about as much as the limited-edition Bullitt, if not a bit more. The Bullitt retails from $47,705, so the Mach 1 could come in just below $50,000. This means it will cost around $13,000 more than the Mustang GT it is based on. At the same time, it will be around $10,000 less expensive than the Shelby GT350.

When is the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 coming into dealerships?

2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Exterior
- image 912526

The Mustang Mach 1 is scheduled to arrive in U.S. and Canadian showrooms in the spring of 2021. This means that it will go on sale in the third or fourth quarter of 2020. Ford says the Mach 1 will be a limited-edition model, but it has yet to reveal how many it will build.

Is the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 better than the Chevrolet Camaro SS?

2019 - 2020 Chevrolet Camaro Exterior
- image 837872

Chevrolet currently doesn’t offer a model between the SS and the ZL1, so it doesn’t have a head-on competitor for the Mach 1. The SS comes with a 6.2-liter V-8 rated at 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque under the hood. But even though it lags behind the Mach 1 by 25 horses, it offers an extra 35 pound-feet of twist. This levels up things in overall oomph, but the Camaro SS is a bit slower from 0 to 60 mph, needing four seconds to get there. You can opt for the 1LE package to add sporty features inside and out, as well as some chassis upgrades, but chances are the Mach 1 will be the better car on the race track. The Camaro SS starts from $38,495, but the 2SS version will set you back $43,495 before options.

Read our full review of the Chevolet Camaro.

Is the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 better than the Dodge Challenger

2019 Dodge Challenger
- image 823062

The Challenger is very long in the tooth as of 2020, but it can still hold its own in terms of power and performance. The 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine is plenty powerful at 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque, offering an extra five horses and 55 pound-feet over Ford’s 5.0-liter V-8. However, the Challenger is a bit bigger and notably heavier, so it’s significantly slower to 60 mph, needing 4.4 seconds to get there. But the Challenger wins the top speed battle with an impressive 182 mph rating. Dodge’s best option against the Mach 1 is the R/T Scat Pack, priced from $39,995. You can also opt for a widebody version of the same trim for $45,995 before options.

Read our full story on the Dodge Challenger.

Conclusion

2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Exterior
- image 912532

A revival of the Mustang Mach 1 was among the most anticipated for Mustang fans. While Ford kept offering Shelby versions that harken back to the early days of the Mustang, the Mach 1 has become a unicorn. Even the Bullitt received more attention, with such versions offered with the fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-generation Mustang. The last Mach 1 came was discontinued in 2004, and for some reason, Ford skipped this trim for the fifth-generation models. But the American company finally made the move we all wanted. It’s been a long 17 years, but I guess it was worth the wait. Although it’s not notably more powerful than the Mustang GT, the Mach 1 stands out through its Shelby-inspired styling, the vintage stripe package, and enhanced handling and aerodynamics. It’s a solid option if you don’t want to spend more than $60,000 for a Shelby model, but you want some extra oomph and sporty upgrades. It looks cool, it comes with a lot of heritage, and it could become a collectible in a few years.

  • Leave it
    • A bit expensive
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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