Die-hard Mustang fans had mixed reactions when Ford named its new EV as “Mustang Mach-E.” In a triple blow, the legendary high-performance coupe took on a new form as a four-door family car, an SUV, and a quiet electric vehicle. Now, a few months before the market introduction of the EV, Ford announces that it’s bringing back a limited-edition, track-focused V8 Mustang Mach 1 muscle car.
The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1, coming out this spring, is expected to feature a 5-liter, V8 engine tuned for track performance. The last Mach 1 was produced in 2004. Camouflaged shots of the 2021 Mach 1 released by Ford show round air intakes in the grille a la 1969 and bazooka-sized quad tailpipes. You can expect somewhere around 500 horsepower and a price of around $50,000.
It’s hard to know precisely what motivated the return of the fire-breathing, gas-powered Mach 1. But you can imagine that the desire to appease old-school Mustang fans played a role. The new version replaces the Mustang “Bullit” badge.
Dave Pericak, director of Ford Icons, said in an official announcement about the new model:
Mach 1 has a special place in Mustang history, and it’s time for this special edition to claim the top spot in our 5.0-liter V8 performance lineup and reward our most hardcore Mustang enthusiasts who demand that next level of power, precision, and collectability.
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.
When the Mustang Mach-E was unveiled in November, many Mustang fans thought that Ford had bastardized the name. USA Today said that it was seen as “a slap in the face to those who believe a true-blue Mustang can only be a carefree, spirited coupe.”
It doesn’t matter that the all-electric Mach-E GT version will hit 60 mph in just over 3 seconds. Where’s the roar of the engine? What’s a giant Tesla-like screen doing on my dashboard where my cockpit dials should be? Where’s the plume of exhaust coming from the tailpipes?
Steve McCarley, a past president of the Mustang Club of America, said:
I am not happy with it personally. Even today, if I close my eyes and picture a car, I picture a ’65 Mustang. Telling me you’re coming with an electric Mustang, you’re not spinning my wheels.
Ken Wilkinson, the owner of a 1966 red Mustang convertible, said:
That’s not a Mustang.
Nobody will mistake the Mach-E and Mach 1 from one another. The two very different Mustangs can co-exist. After all, Ford will continue for years to produce internal-combustion cars even as it introduces EVs.
Ford took a gutsy step by leveraging the Mustang Mach 1’s heritage with its new electric SUV. It signaled that the company was ready for a new era, in which the best attributes of its history can evolve with cutting-edge new technology.
However, bringing back the V8 Mach 1 right before the Mach-E arrives—actually a few months ahead of the EV—sends mixed signals.
I suppose an all-electric Mach 1 coupe, positioned as the fastest in the Mustang lineup, would have been too much for old-school Mustang fans to accept. Maybe someday.
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