Ford Mustang Mach 1 - Classic Muscle Car Review 2020 - Muscle Car

Ford Mustang Mach 1 – Classic Muscle Car Review 2020

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Written by Elise

26th October 2020

Ford Mustang Mach 1 – Classic Muscle Car Review 2020
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Ford Mustang Mach 1 – Classic Muscle Car Review 2020

By Charlotte Iggulden 

Mach 1: High speed, exceeding 1200 km/h or 750mph, enough to break the sound barrier.

In the same year that Concorde hit the headlines, Ford’s Jet-Age-influenced Mach 1 performance package was officially launched, responding to a generation’s need for speed. In production from 1969-78, the popular Ford Mustang Mach 1 returned briefly in 2003-4 as part of the Ford Heritage program; its 2021 incarnation will be offered for the first time in Europe.

This short car review  will review the specs and model years of the only car that is synonymous with the phrase “Mach 1.”



Following its successful inauguration in 1964, Ford’s pony car became increasingly performance-oriented to compete with the likes of the Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird.

Packages gave the car its name. The Mach 1 option was introduced in late ‘68 for the ‘69 model year, priced just below the Shelbys and Bosses. Ford first used the name with their concept hovercar, the Levacar Mach 1.


Late ‘60s-early ‘70s Mustangs were increasingly larger and heavier. Ford’s pony car production numbers surpassed previous years, with over 134,000 Mustangs built in 1969. Ten basic engines and six factory Mustang models were available: Ford Mustang GT, Boss 302, 429, Shelby GT350, Shelby GT500 and Mach 1. First generation Mach 1’s were two-door SportsRoofs, Ford’s new name for fastbacks. The Mach 1 made this body style one of the company’s best-selling models.

Late in ‘68, the NHRA drag-race 428cid Cobra Jet engine was added to limited GTs and the Shelby GT500KR, preceding the Mach 1. The Cobra Jet was a star performer: The 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 428 looked like a muscle car and drove like one. Car Life magazine’s road testers assessed it as “the quickest standard passenger car through the quarter-mile we’ve ever tested.”

To prove its performance package was an automobile’s equivalent of a sonic boom, racing drivers Micky Thompson and Danny Ongais took three ‘69 Mach 1s to the Bonneville Salt Flats for Hot Rod Magazine. Over 500 miles and 24-hour courses, they set 295 United States Auto Club speed and endurance records.

Performance cars like the Mach 1, which sold 72,458 units in ’69, contributed to the GT option being discontinued in 1970, with 5,396 sales.


Ford Mustang Mach 1 Specs and Model variations (First two generations):

1960s Ford Mustang Mach 1

The ‘69 Mach 1 had a base small-block 250 horsepower 351 cubic inch engine displacement (cid) Windsor V8 2-barrel (2V) 5.8L with non-functional hood scoop, or 290hp 4-barrel (4V). 3-speed manual. Standard ‘GT-handling suspension’ made it less wild than a Boss. Optional V8s: 320hp 390cid or big-block 428 Cobra Jet 4V FE 7L with low 335hp rating at 5200rpm, 440 torque at 3400rpm, enough to burn out its 108inch chrome-styled tires.

For $133, 428s had Ram-Air and a new functional shaker hood with modified crankshaft and stronger connecting rods for better high-rpm durability, plus ‘competition suspension.’ 4-speed or Cruise-O-Matic.

The CJ became a modified Super Cobra Jet (SCJ), identified by an oil cooler in front of the radiator, if the $155 drag pack rear axle was selected. 0-60mph in 5.7seconds. 13.86 second ¼ mile at 103mph. 3600lbs. Top speed 134mph.

1969 Mustangs were restyled; the Mach 1’s striking race-appearance included matte black hood and cowl, racing pins, simulated rear quarter air intakes, rocker panel moulding, and identification stripes reminiscent of Shelby GTs. Bucket seats and wood-rim steering wheel comprised its sporty interior.

The standard Mustang’s base price was $3,000, compared to $3,122 for the Mach 1.

1970s Ford Mustang Mach 1


1969-70 Mustangs had single headlights; Mach 1s had sport lamps inside a blackout grille, without an emblem.

The 1970 Mach 1 had a base 351cid Windsor, 3-speed, or optional 351 Cleveland-2V 250hp or 300hp 4V with increased fuel/air flow. Like all V8s, the 428cid Cobra Jet could have Ram-Air. It was the last year for Ford’s CJ ‘base muscle engine,’ and SCJ with drag pack; 4-speed or Cruise-O-Matic. Windsor: 0-60, 7.9seconds; 16.1 second ¼ mile. SCJ Detroit-locker 4-speed: 0-60, 5.3seconds; 14 second ¼ mile, with a faster 134mph top speed. Improved competition suspension meant 351s had better steering than smaller or larger engines.


The ‘69 look remained with black honeycomb rear panel applique and die-cast ‘Mach 1’ letters. Its high-back bucket seats became available to other Mustangs. Like the Boss 302, the Mach 1 had a thin black hood stripe and engine size numerals. Despite decreased pony car production numbers, the Mustang outsold the Chevrolet Camaro that year. Base price $3,271. 40,970 produced.


The ‘71 Mustang grew longer and wider, dividing opinion, with a 109inch wheelbase and 400lbs extra weight. The fastback’s roofline was almost flat.

Motor Trend’s Bill Sanders said the “Mach 1 is back in force, its sleek, exciting fastback creating the appearance of motion and power.”

The 1971 Mach 1 had a base 210hp 302cid-2V V8 Windsor and plain Mustang hood. Additional 240hp or 285hp 351cid Cleveland, and 375hp 429cid 7L Cobra Jets had complementary NASA hoods with pins and twin dummy scoops, known in aviation circles as NACA ducts. Optional Dual Ram-Air made the black or argent striped lid functional. Both the CJ and SCJ with drag pack option were offered only for 1971. CJ drag pack: 0-60 5.1seconds, 13.8second ¼ mile. TS: 136mph.


The car had E70-14 tires, power front disc brakes, dual exhausts, black or argent lower body, rear tape identification and blacked out rear cove panel. Black honeycomb grille with sport lamps and centre mustang. The Sports Interior became a $130 option, including knitted vinyl high back seats with accent stripes. $3,268 base price. 36,498 produced.

1972 looked like ’71. One difference was the removal of the pop-open gas cap. The hood scoop and grille remained unchanged for the first time in Mustang’s history.

Big-blocks were unavailable in 1972. The Mach 1 had a base 302cid Windsor without NASA hood, although buyers could upgrade to a 351 Cleveland-2V, 4V, or new 275hp 351cid HO, each including non-functional NASA hood. Sports interior. $3,053 base price. 27,675 produced. HO: 0-60 5.9seconds, 14.6second ¼ mile. TS: 134mph.

Hardtops and convertibles inherited the honeycomb black grille. Despite a 16% sales decrease, the Mustang remained the best-selling pony car compared to Camaros, Cougars, and Barracudas.

The popular 1973 Mach 1 was one colour, with black or argent side stripe and MACH 1 cut out, optional ‘Tu-Tone’ black or argent hood. Only 351-2V’s had Ram Air. Same engine options as ‘72. The 351 4V was described in the manual as a Cobra Jet, but not advertised as one. 35,439 produced. $3,088. 351: 0-60, 6.1seconds, 14.8 ¼ mile. TS: 132mph.


Increased fuel prices and austerity led car buyers to downsize. Ford responded by creating a smaller, 175inch long ‘74 Mach 1, now three-door hatchback with 96-inch wheelbase. They kept the performance name, but the car had dramatically decreased in horsepower to 105 and a base V6 engine, with optional four-cylinder and low body identification tape. 

A Rallye package included Traction-Lok differential and competition suspension. Its overweight chassis was underpowered, with poor acceleration, but sold more than ‘72 and ‘73. $3,621 base price. 44,046 produced. 0-60, 11.4seconds, ¼ mile 18.3secs. TS: 101mph.

The 1975 Mach 1 shared the same model and features as ‘74, with larger 302cid Windsor and increased horsepower: 140hp and 240lb-ft torque. 4-speed manual. 21,026 produced. $4,188. Similar acceleration and ¼ mile as ‘74. TS: 104mph.

The ‘76 model and engine was unchanged.

Engine and suspension improvements characterized 1977, with black lower side/rear panel and slightly updated grille. Just 6,719 sold. 0-60, 9.8secs. ¼ mile 17.4seconds. TS: 106mph.

The ’78 Mach 1 had a base 104hp 170cid 2-barrel 6-cylinder, styled wheels and aluminium dashboard. Similar acceleration and ¼ mile to ‘77, with a faster 111mph top speed.

Modern Ford Mustang Mach 1


Revived after 17 years, the new Mach 1 will be offered for the first time in Europe in Spring 2021. It made its debut at Goodwood’s SpeedWeek in October 2020. For sale as a limited-edition production model with strong track-emphasis, its estimated price is £50,000. Performance specifications have not been revealed, but it is purported to be the fastest production Mustang to date on a circuit. With a 5L Coyote V8, 460hp at 7,500rpm, 391lb-ft torque at 4,600rpm, it is slightly less powerful than the US version, which has the same 480hp as the Bullitt.

The new Mach 1 shares the legacy of the first generation. According to Matthias Tonn, Mach 1 Chief Program Engineer for Europe, “The original Mach 1 delivered the ultimate in production Mustang performance and proved itself with success in motorsport.”

As with the first ‘69 model, the Mach 1 is a fastback coupe, with signature bold stripes, black hood and grille. Eight colour combinations include Fighter Jet Grey with Reflective Orange/Satin Black stripes; Shadow Black, Oxford White with Satin Black/Red stripes or Velocity Blue, Race Red, Twister Orange, Grabber Yellow with Satin Black/White stripes. 

It shares GT components such as subframes and suspension from the Shelby GT350 and GT500, plus unique 19inch alloy wheels. 6-speed manual or 10-speed automatic.


The looks and performance of the first-generation Mustang Mach 1 helped define the muscle car era and Jet Age, especially when powered by the Cobra Jet or Super Cobra Jet. This option was not recommended for use at legal speeds! 

The Mach 1’s fastback body style sent shock waves throughout the Mustang production line, proving irresistible to buyers and lover of sports cars. A trendsetter since its inception, its exterior and interior styling influenced the appearance of other Mustang models.

The first-generation Mach 1 has an appreciating value, now sold between five and six figures. 

Due to outside forces, the second-generation Mach 1 was less powerful, with poor acceleration, slower quarter-mile, and top speed. However, ‘74 proved popular.

The Mach 1’s revival in the US and European launch suggests we will see more of this iconic car in the future. With performance specs still to be revealed, its reputation precedes itself.

Author: Charlotte Iggulden

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