It doesn’t seem that long ago when we were ripping into American cars for being terrified of corners and having generally rubbish build quality. But when the current Mustang was launched in Europe for the first time in 2015, we were all surprised at just how competent it was on a twisty road. Sure, it wasn’t an all-out driving machine, but all the ingredients were there for a proper American performance car.
We got a glimpse of just how good it could be with the rather brilliant Bullitt Mustang a few years back, where Ford Performance put the effort in to upgrade the chassis so that it might play better with its beefed-up V8. But it’s the Mach 1, arguably the closest we get to an old-school performance Mustang in the UK, offering the best driving experience we’ve yet seen from Ford’s pony car.
At first blush, it doesn’t look all that different to the Bullitt. The 5.0-litre naturally aspirated Coyote V8 offers up 460hp, which is a match for the green machine and is only 10hp more than the Mustang GT. It’s also matches the Bullitt on acceleration, taking 4.8 seconds to hit 62mph from a standstill, which is plenty fast enough but it unlikely to set your pants on fire like other US-spec performance ‘stangs. Especially those with cobras on the front.
But that’s really not what the Mach 1 is about. Instead, it’s a Mustang that’s built for track use. For instance, the front and rear subframes are all new on the model, which goes hand in hand with recalibrated MagneRide adaptive dampers. Mind you, it’s still extraordinarily heavy at 1,851kg, but Ford has stiffened up the anti-roll bars and springs to help keep all that weight in check. And, lest we forget, the new rear-wheel-drive M4 Competition weighs about the same…
Besides, you’ll be helped out by a set of Michelin’s Pilot Sport 4 tyres and, at higher speed, there’s actually a fair bit of aero work going on to give you that extra bit of grip. The rear diffuser is taken straight from the Shelby GT500 and, coupled with a new front splitter and undertray, is said to add some 22 per cent more downforce over the base Mustang GT. Of course, extra cooling was needed for the gearbox, limited-slip diff and new Brembo brakes – so the only thing stopping you from putting laps in all day is the fuel tank. Or, you know, binning it.
That’s quite the shopping list of parts, and the best thing is it all comes together in a rather brilliant package. Mach 1s aren’t offered with many optional extras, but this example comes with the most important of all: the six-speed manual gearbox (rather than the ten-speed auto), complete with pool ball gear knob. Those 19-inch Y-shaped rims were also a cost option, as opposed to the Bullitt-style five-spokes that came as standard; plus the Mach 1 styling pack works wonders with this car’s Battleship Grey finish.
It's listed for £57,991 with just 2,000 miles on the clock. Yes, that’s still around £8,000 more than a standard Mustang GT but, believe us when we say it's worth it for the enhanced driving experience. Make no mistake, there aren’t many performance cars weighing nearly two tonnes that are as fun to drive as the Mach 1. Nor are many as loud.
SPECIFICATION | FORD MUSTANG MACH 1
Engine: 5,038cc, naturally aspirated V8
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 460@7,250rpm
Torque (lb ft): 390@4,600rpm
Year registered: 2021
Recorded miles: 2,000
Price new: £57,630
Yours for: £57,991
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