When Ford revealed the return of the Mustang Mach 1, the company described it as the pinnacle of style, handling, and 5.0-liter V8 performance. Designed to bridge the gap between the base Mustangs and the halo Shelbys, this specialty model draws upon engineering from both lines to deliver a high level of performance.
With styling steered by both its heritage moniker and the science of the wind tunnel, the modern Mach 1 applied the same 480 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque that propelled the now-defunct Bullitt in such a way as to approach the prowess of the Shelby GT350, despite a deficit of 46 horsepower and 9 lb-ft of torque.
At least that’s how the engineers designed it, but the 2021 Mach 1’s recent performance in Car and Driver’s vaunted Lightning Lap competition demonstrates that the Mach 1 can exceed its GT350 cousin in some instances. We were told it was hot on the Shelby’s heels on a tight track, but even on the sprawling Virginia International Raceway course, it managed an impressive feat.
With a2:51.4-minute lap time, the Mach 1 bested the lauded Shelby GT350R by 0.4seconds. That earned the car top honors in the competition’s LL2 classdesignated for affordable performers that sticker for $65,000 or less. With thatkind of credential, it is worth viewing the latest Mach 1 through a new lens. Itis a potent performer with a relatively reasonable price tag, and that issomething to celebrate.