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2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 First Drive Review: Middle Child Syndrome

A capable muscle car that feels a little too familiar.

When Ford realized what a sales juggernaut the Mustang was in the mid-1960s, the it quickly set to work developing performance-oriented variants of the pony car to shore up its reputation among enthusiasts. Carroll Shelby and his team of engineers soon put the Mustang on the map with the GT350R and the road-going GT350 homologation car, and before the close of decade, Ford’s own Boss 302 and Boss 429 had joined the fray as well.

By then the Shelby had become a fast, feature-laden grand tourer, while the new Boss models represented the pinnacle of Ford’s own track-focused designs – both commanded serious coin in turn. To face the onslaught of stylish, ground-pounding machines coming from GM, Chrysler, and other automakers at the time, the Blue Oval needed a more accessible Mustang model that could melt rubber and turn heads in equal measure.

Introduced for the 1969 model year, the Mach 1 was precisely that. With muscular bodywork and plenty of horsepower even in base spec, it effectively blended style and substance without breaking the bank, and it went on to outsell the Mustang GT by more than 14 to 1 in its first year on sale. The company brought back the Mach 1 in 2003, borrowing components from the Bullitt and SVT Cobra.

Now, seventeen years after Ford put the last Mach 1 out to pasture, the company has called upon its pony car heritage once again. The playbook is strikingly similar, with the Mach 1 sourcing the majority of its go-fast hardware from both the latest Bullitt as well as the Shelby GT350, both of which recently went out of production. But this time around the world of high performance is a very different place, and standing out amongst the array of fast machines on the road today is a significantly taller order than it was nearly two decades ago. For the full story, check out this article from Motor 1.

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