Ford Mustang brings back iconic Mach 1 alongside electric Mach-E
Ford Motor Co. is reviving the storied Mustang Mach 1 badge for 2021, just in time to go on sale next to the futuristic Mach E electric SUV.
The fire-breathing, V8-powered Mach 1 will be the old-school bookend to Ford’s performance lineup as it introduces its stealthy, high-torque Mach-E — which Ford says is the battery-powered future of the company. The Mach-E is the first electric SUV ever produced by Mustang as it expands the legendary pony car beyond its two-door sports car roots.
Ford says the Mach 1 will be Mustang's most track-focused coupe. It will replace the Bullitt badge as a limited-edition, V-8 performance model slotted between the $36,725 GT and top-of-the-line, supercharged $71,495 GT500. Mustang is the world's most popular sports car with over 100,000 copies sold globally each year.
“Mach 1 has a special place in Mustang history,” said Dave Pericak, director of Ford icons. “Like the original, the all-new Mustang Mach 1 will be true to its heritage, delivering great looks and as the most track-capable 5.0-liter Mustang ever.”
Just as the iconic, fastback Mach 1 helped define the 1960s muscle car era when it was introduced in '69, so does Ford hope the Mach-E will define the emerging electric car era of the 2020s.
“The timing is undeniable with the introduction of the Mach-E,” said Karl Brauer, auto analyst, muscle car enthusiast and executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book. “The heritage of the Mach I invokes a sense of speed, and the Mach-E brings a distinctive name to the electric space with that heritage behind it.”
Badging aside, the Mach 1 and Mach-E couldn’t be more different. The iconic fastback coupe that debuted during the '60s golden era of muscle cars returns as Mustang’s ultimate, naturally-aspirated, 5.0-liter V8 beast. When it debuted in 1969, the Mach 1 set design cues that would carry through three generations of the Mach 1. The last Mach 1 was produced from 2003-2004.
The original Mach 1 featured quad headlights with the inner pair inset in the grille. Camouflaged shots of the 2021 Mach 1 released by Ford show round air intakes in the grille reminiscent of the '69 car's lights. The inlets might take the place of the Mach 1’s traditional hood scoop in order to cool the 5.0-liter V-8 beast within.
The Mach 1 traditionally features a hood scoop and a “shaker” option (a hood scoop that sticks through a hole in the hood), though Ford gave no indication of the latter. Rear photos do indicate that the 2021 Mach 1 will, however, continue the traditional rear wing and bazooka-sized quad tailpipes. Expect the new Mach 1 to also feature a signature matte black hood stripe and front spoiler.
By contrast, the battery-powered Mach-E will not exhale through rear tailpipes because it will be powered by either one or two electric motors. The latter version will get the performance GT moniker and boast 459 horsepower and 612-pound feet of torque — competitive with the Mach 1’s power stats which should be similar to the Bullitt’s 480 horsepower and 420-pound feet of torque. The Mach 1 will have to hustle to stay with the EV's sub-4 second zero-60 time.
Expect dramatically different interiors as the Mach 1 will feature Mustang’s familiar dash and instrument displays with round, aviation-style air vents, while the Mach-E EV interior will be spartan with a big tablet center screen like its chief Tesla Model Y competitor.
In an indication of the expense of electric cars versus their gas-powered cousins, the Mach-E will start at $44,995 ($61,600 for the GT) while the Mach 1 will likely start at a price similar to the $48,905 Bullitt it replaces.
With the Mustang Bullitt and GT350 models slated for the chopping block at the end of the 2020 model year, the 2021 Mustang Mach 1 should take its traditional place as the most capable, normally-aspirated V-8 Mustang in the showroom.
“Starting in 1969, the Mach 1 was the best-known, highest-volume, highest profile performance version of the Mustang,” said KBB’s Brauer.
The first generation Mach 1 was re-imagined in 1974 as a hatchback version — a body style that the Mach-E EV will revive in SUV form. The Mach 1 badge returned for a third generation in 2003-2004 with a more athletic suspension and performance Brembo brakes. Photos indicate the new Mach 1 will also feature Brembos.
“Mach 1 has always been that bridge between base Mustangs and the Shelby models,” said Ted Ryan, heritage brand manager, Ford Archives. Now, Ford hopes it will help build a bridge to a new electric era of the performance automobile.
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @HenryEPayne.