Ford recently invited me to the Mustang Mach 1 Track Tour at Radford Racing School in Chandler, Arizona. At the event, select media had the opportunity to experience Mach 1 2022 performance on Bob Bondurant’s purpose-built training track and, as a bonus, Ford He also brought a handful of Shelby GT500 Mustangs to show off.
As we near the end of the internal combustion era, the GT500 may well go down in history as the most powerful gas-powered factory Mustang of all time, while the Mach 1 stands as a celebration of the V8 of old-fashioned natural aspiration. engines mated to six-speed manual transmissions. But after a full week at Radford earlier this year, I was very curious how Ford’s modern muscle cars stack up against the competition.
Mustang Mach 1 Track Toys
For the 2022 model year, the Mach 1’s 5.0-liter V8 drops 10 horsepower from its official rating, down to 470 from 480 for the 2021 cars. But the engine still makes an impressive 420 lb-ft of torque, sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed lever with a classic cue ball shifter. Ford also offers the Mach 1 with a 10-speed automatic transmission, the same one featured in the F-150 pickup, but I refrained from such heresy in hopes of experiencing the real deal during a track session at Radford.
- Engine/Engine: 5.0-liter V8
- Horsepower: 470 horsepower
- Torque: 425 foot-pounds
- Transmission: 6 speed manual
- Naturally aspirated V8 engine
- Six-speed manual with cue ball shift
- Impressive handling considering the weight.
- Incredible stopping power
- No voodoo engine
- Slight tendency to understeer
- Stronger exhaust could be good
Only the third Mach 1 in history
Revived once again for the 2021 model year, this Mach 1 generation is only the third and builds on the success of previous iterations. Ford brought in Mach 1 Vehicle Dynamics Development Engineer Mike Del Zio to provide insight into his team’s combined features of the Shelby GT350 and GT500 to produce the new trim level.
But Del Zio emphasized that all the online rumors about “parts bin” construction are simply not true: He described nearly a decade of planning that went into the Mach 1, and how details like the Mach 1’s rear differential cooler GT500 and GT350 subframes, among others, always fit into the mix. Styling details like stripes, a mesh front grille, and unique Fighter Jet Gray paint also help set the Mach 1 apart from lower-spec Mustangs like the Bullitt and GT editions.
behind the wheel
Inside, the Mach 1 feels comfortable and borders on premium, with tactile switches and a classic Mustang steering wheel in front of a digital dash. Various switches and the touchscreen on the center console control the vehicle dynamics settings, though we stayed in Track Mode the entire time. Somehow, compared to the interior of the GT500 (click here for a full review of that driving experience), the Mach 1 looks much more refined, somewhat counterintuitive given the price difference of about $25,000. My only hesitation involved the cue ball shifter, which looks great but made me a little nervous about how slippery it was for actual driving on the track.
Perfect seats for fun on the track
Thankfully, the optional Recaro buckets kept me firmly in place, even though the test cars still used three-point seat belts instead of racing harnesses, and all my worries about the slippery gear stick evaporated once. time we went out for some warm-up laps. While 470 horsepower may not seem like a huge figure in the midst of today’s Hellcat madness, the 5.0-liter’s torque hits hard enough on the bottom end to make the Mach 1 feel quicker than the specs might imply. paper statistics. The growling but restrained exhaust note develops well, but never in the kind of crescendo that track driving demands; Still, Ford could expect owners to turn to aftermarket options for louder pipes.
Incredible braking performance
Ford shipped Mach 1s equipped with the Track Handling Package to Radford, a $3,500 option on manual cars that adds features like 19-inch aluminum wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber, a GT500 rear wing and a front splitter. Selecting track mode reasserts the magnetorheological shocks and helps the Mach 1 feel much lighter than a curb weight bordering on 3,900 pounds might also suggest. A bit of understeer started to creep in as we pushed harder down the track, although the lead-follower format probably kept us at 80% Mach 1 performance.
Perhaps the star of the show emerged at the end of Radford’s modest straight, where 15-inch front rotors and six-piston Brembo brakes provided prodigious grip and inspired a lot of confidence in the following corners. The retuned electric power steering, compared to the Mustang GT, also helped the feeling that pushing the Mach 1 closer to the limit could only improve the driving experience.
Lead Tracking Format
However, Ford’s driving instructors never let the general public, even on a press day, get anywhere near 10-10 during our lead tracking session. Instead, to fully demonstrate the Mach 1’s combination of power, braking, and handling, I had the opportunity to climb into the passenger seat for a quick edge session, where a hint of that understeer began to surface again. But both my own driving and that of a pro just left me wanting more, a good sign for Mach 1 given my extensive experience on the tight, technical Radford track.
My own exposure to the Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody that I drove during Radford’s signature four-day Grand Prix race circuit provided the best perspective for interpreting what Del Zio and his team accomplished with the Mach 1. While the defunct GT350 could fit in tool bag as more of a scalpel, the slightly softer Mach 1 seems likely to handle a wider range of driving conditions with better poise.
“We do a lot to hide the weight,” he told me, “one of the things we realized is that we can tune Normal, Sport and Track for really different personalities, in terms of pure control. But roll control, transient stability It’s true “You can’t control true understeer with damping, but by controlling weight transfer, you can achieve understeer. We used the MagneRide to make the car feel more agile.”
Two of the last gas-powered Mustangs
After a morning at Mach 1, I switched the Shelby GT500 several times to the other Radford track, where Ford set up a Christmas tree and braking zones on a long straight to show off the 760-horsepower supercharged V8 in a straight line. . acceleration and, perhaps most impressively, the Shelby’s even bigger brakes.
Ford also brought in a pair of Mach-E Mustangs and a pair of Shelby representatives, board member (and Carroll’s grandson) Aaron Shelby and president Gary Patterson, to discuss the future of electric performance. While we enjoy some of the best and latest gas-powered Mustangs ever, the all-electric Mach-E can already post better lap times thanks to the combination of four-wheel drive and instantly available torque. Unfortunately, I left without getting a chance to get behind the wheel of any of the electric crossover vehicles; instead, I drove back to Los Angeles wondering how well a Mach 1 would handle in the Malibu canyons or scrambling up the Angeles Crest Highway.
Sources: radfordracingschool.com, youtube.com, ford.com and michelinman.com.
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