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2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 builds a bridge between GT and Shelby

Twenty more horsepower, a slew of Ford Performance parts and killer looks might make this the Mustang to get.

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Welcome back, Mach 1.

Ford

Remember when Ford thought about using the Mach 1 name for what eventually became the Mustang Mach-E? Thank goodness it didn't go through with that plan, because what we have here is totally fitting for a modern day Mustang Mach 1.

Indeed, this is the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1, and it comes with the same mission the original set out to accomplish back in 1969: split the difference between a full-blown Shelby Mustang and the Mustang GT. Really, this seems like the best of both worlds, and Ford has confidently called it the most track-capable 5.0-liter Mustang ever.

First and foremost, the 2021 Mustang Mach 1 packs 480 horsepower, or 20 more ponies than a standard Mustang GT from the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 engine. Ford engineers dug into the Shelby GT350's parts bin and attached a revised intake manifold, oil filter adapter and engine oil cooler to help create more power. There's also 420 pound-feet of torque on tap, which remains unchanged from the GT.

Purists rejoice because a six-speed manual is standard -- also borrowed from the GT350 -- and Ford decided to toss in a rev-matching system for silky-smooth downshifts. A 10-speed automatic is on the menu, too, but c'mon. You can't look more boss than flicking through gears with a Mustang Mach 1. A stiffer steering shaft and power steering calibration double down on performance, while engineers also equipped this pony with stiffer sway bars, springs and bushings in the rear subframe borrowed from the Shelby GT500.

Aside from the unique engine tuning and various new parts for the 5.0-liter V8, the Mustang team also looked at the front fascia. Not only did designers want to emulate the original's pretty much timeless looks, but engineers wanted functionality. So, we're treated to a front end that's, primarily designed for aerodynamic efficiency, but also looks properly retro.

There's a 3D mesh texture to the grille, and two circular elements recall the big fog lights of yesteryear. It's a real shame they don't actually light up because that'd be simply amazing. New side grilles round out the changes, and everything's painted in a low-gloss black hue. The front splitter not only looks right in place, but is totally functional, and matches a rear spoiler for the right balance of lift. A new underbody belly pan also helps make the Mach 1 more slippery. There's actually 22% more downforce than a Mustang GT with the Performance Pack 1 add-on.

Those who want more can swap in an optional Handling Package, which adds a higher-downforce front splitter, front wheel lip moldings and a swing spoiler with a Gurney flap painted to match the front splitter. Those who partake also get rear tire spats from the Shelby GT500. With all the goodies, there's 150% more downforce than you get from a Mustang GT Performance Pack 1.

This is a very good look.

Ford

There'll be no mistaking the 2021 Mustang Mach 1 for just another GT because Ford will offer a stripe package with each car. Everyone gets satin black hood and side stripes with "Mach 1" displayed proudly on the hood. The side gets an identical badge, and it again finds its way to the rear where we typically see the pony or GT badge. As for exterior colors, the corral of hues come from the Mustang, but the Mach 1 gets one exclusive choice called Fighter Jet Gray. Standard Mach 1 models get 19-inch wheels with a five-spoke design, while cars fitted with the Handling Package rock wider 19-inch wheels with a multispoke design.

Don't think Ford forgot about the interior. The changes aren't drastic, but each Mustang Mach 1 sports a dashboard finished in "Dark Spindrift," unique to the model, and it also boasts aluminum accents. Leather upholstery is standard, and a stripe in the seat recalls the original Mach 1's cabin, too. The white cue-ball shift knob is a cherry on top of it all, and passengers can admire engraved badges that also display the car's chassis number.

Cue-ball shifter!

Ford

Ford wasn't ready to talk money yet, but it's safe to say this will cost a chunk more than a Mustang GT, but less than a Shelby GT350. Somewhere in the mid-$40,000 range seems like a safe bet. Make multiple stops at the piggy bank because there's still time to save; the 2021 Mustang Mach 1 hits dealers in spring 2021.

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