Featured

Ford Mustang Mach 1 history: Time-traveling at the speed of sound

The Mach 1 debuted for '69, stuck around until '76, and returned in 2003-'04

  • 1970 Mach 1 Ad 2
  • 1968 Ford Mustang Mach I concept car neg CN4903-406
  • 1969 Ford Mustang Mach I neg CN5250-20
  • 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 fastback neg CN5503-167
  • 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 fastback neg CN5503-168
  • 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 fastback neg CN5703-326
  • 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 fastback neg CN6003-036
  • CN6003-39 1971 Mustang Mach I
  • 1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1 fastback neg CN6240-098
  • 1973 Ford Mustang Mach I neg CN6603-31
  • 1974 Ford Mustang II Mach 1 neg 161003-083
  • 1976 Ford Mustang II Mach 1 neg 170003-309
  • 2003 Mustang Mach 1
  • northamerica mm1 02newyork
  • 2003 Ford Mustang Mach 1 coupe neg CN336001-062
Add a Review

"Mach 1": The term refers to the speed of sound, which is not a fixed number but varies based on the temperature of the surrounding gas. Named for Austrian physicist Ernst Mach, the term is a little science-geeky, but Ford evidently felt it connoted jet-age performance. Ford first applied the Mach 1 name to a Mustang with a 1968 show car that featured a chopped roofline and square headlights. Neither of those elements made it into the production version that arrived with the aggressively restyled new Mustang for 1969.

1969. The new Mustang Mach 1 came standard with a 351ci 2bbl V8 but a 390ci V8, or a 428ci V8 in 335-hp or 350-hp Cobra Jet form could be had. Special Mach 1 equipment included a competition suspension, a hood scoop, dual sport mirrors, and decklid graphics. All Mach 1 Mustangs were "Sportsroof" fastbacks, and more than 72,000 were sold in the first year.

1970. For 1970, the 351ci 2bbl V8 was again the Mach 1's standard engine, with a new 300-hp 4bbl 351ci "Cleveland" V8 optional. A 428ci Cobra V8 and a 428ci Cobra Jet V8 with Ram Air were the hardcore choices.

1971. Longer, lower, wider, (and heavier), the '71 'Stang was completely restyled. The Mach 1 again was offered as a Sportsroof fastback only, and came with a competition suspension, twin hood scoops (a no-cost option), a special grille and rear sail-panel treatment, black or silver lower bodywork, Mach 1 decals, and a decklid paint stripe. A 302ci V8 was standard but options included two 351ci V8s, a 429ci Cobra Jet V8, and a Drag-Pac rear axle. Oh, and an 8-track tape player could be had.

1972. The '72 Mach 1 lost its optional 429ci V8, and the 351ci 4bbl was now the hottest engine.

1973. The last year of the big-boy Mustang, 1973 was mostly carryover for the Mach 1. A 351ci 4bbl was again the top engine offering and could be paired with a functional Ram Air induction hood that also came with a black- or silver-painted hood with locking pins. A rear spoiler was also optional, as were forged aluminum wheels.

1974. With the downsized 1974 Mustang II, the Mach 1 became the higher-spec version of the fastback — now hatchback — body style. It skipped the base model's 2.3-liter four in favor of a 2.8-liter V6, with either a four-speed manual or a three-speed automatic. The Mach 1 V6 had fractionally larger displacement and a higher compression ratio than the V6 offered in other Mustang II models, with the result that it made 5 more horsepower for a total of 109 horsepower. No V8 was offered. The mid-Seventies bummer was in full bloom.

1975. The V8 returns! A 302-ci V8 was a new an optional upgrade over the Mach 1's standard V6, and made a tire-roasting 122 horsepower. As in '74, the Mach 1 (like most other Mustangs) could be fortified with a Rallye Package that brought a limited-slip differential, heavy-duty cooling, a competition suspension, a Sport exhaust system, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

1976. The '76 Mach 1 remained a fastback exclusively and was the only way to get a V8 hatchback (although a 2.8L V6 was standard). The V8 could be paired with three-speed automatic or a four-speed manual. Dual racing mirrors, white-letter tires on styled-steel wheels with trim rings, decals on the fenders and rear, and black lower body accents, dressed up the Mach 1. A new Cobra II option package appeared this year and would ultimately usurp the Mach 1 as the hi-po 'Stang.

1977. T-tops! That swinging late-'70s feature arrives as an option for the Mach 1, and well as regular Mustang fastbacks. Also new is a Rallye Appearance Package consisting of gold accents on a black or white body.

1978. Things are static for the '78 Mustang II Mach 1, but the arrival of a second Cobra package, the King Cobra, does not portend well. Indeed, when the Mustang is redesigned for 1979, the Mach 1 is dropped, as the (just plain) Cobra takes up the performance banner.

2003. The waning years of the fourth-generation, SN-95, Mustang saw Ford dig back into the model's performance past, first with the Bullitt then with a revived Mach 1 for 2003. The reborn Mach 1 boasted 305 horsepower from its 4.6-liter DOHC V8, slotting in between the mainstream Mustang GT's 260 horses and the top-dog SVT Cobra's 390. Retro-style graphics (including on the instrument faces), Magnum 500 wheels, a functional hood scoop, and a rear spoiler complete the visual makeover, while a stiffer suspension with a lower ride height and a unique exhaust system round out the mechanical upgrades. The reborn Mach 1 would stick around for the 2004 season, but with the coming of the redesigned 2005 Mustang, it nameplate would disappear again.

Until now, that is.

Ford Mustang Information

Ford Mustang

Autoblog accepts vehicle loans from auto manufacturers with a tank of gas and sometimes insurance for the purpose of evaluation and editorial content. Like most of the auto news industry, we also sometimes accept travel, lodging and event access for vehicle drive and news coverage opportunities. Our opinions and criticism remain our own — we do not accept sponsored editorial.

Share This Photo X