Don Creason: Ford Needs A New Mach 1 To Slot Between GT and GT350

Is this the car Ford should build next? A Mach 1 to slot between the GT and GT350. I like the idea so much, I did my own rendering.

This week we’ve seen quite the stir surrounding the 2016 Mustang GT350, it’s a fitting homage to the legendary nameplate, and I’m optimistic about this car’s future. While that car is cool, it brought an immediate question to my mind -what will fill the gap?

The GT350 is nice, but we need something to fit in the center.

The gap I’m talking about is the gap between the Mustang GT and the GT350. We don’t have pricing data for the GT350 yet, but you can imagine that this high-tech marvel, with a brand new engine, is probably going to start somewhere in the ballpark of $55,000, possibly more. This would put it in direct competition from a price standpoint with the Z/28, without threatening Mustang GT sales.

A few years back we were lucky, we got the BOSS 302 to slot between the respectable performance of the Mustang GT, and the brute force of the GT500. The BOSS was the road race Mustang that could still be had by blue collar guys, the GT the blue collar car, and the GT500 the brute. Today the GT is still a blue collar car, but there needs to be something in the middle and that’s where my latest idea comes in, the Mach 1.

I have to admit, I’m not the first to think up this idea. Just days after the official 2015 Mustang debut last December, there were renderings out by various artists of a potential Mach 1. My idea stems more from a car to fill a market gap for hungry enthusiats.

Today the GT is still a blue collar car, but there needs to be something in the middle and that’s where my latest idea comes in, the Mach 1. -Don Creason, StangTV Editor

Fans of corner carving already have the best handling Mustang GT ever, and the GT350 will be a dominant force on the track. The Mach 1 package, both when it was originally conceived in the late 1960s, and revived for the 2002-2003 model years, was more straight-line oriented. I propose that’s what this sixth-generation Mach 1 would be as well.

Before you start salivating with ideas of your own, or fire up the keyboard with a comment, take a minute to read through my ideas. You can agree or disagree, but the whole point here is thoughts on what Ford could do.

Power

There’s power in here somewhere, Ford just needs to find it from the OEM level and put it in a Mach 1 package.

The Mustang GT is the most powerful GT ever produced by Ford. Back in 2011, Ford told the press that they’d squeezed everything they could out of the Coyote engine. Then the BOSS program with the Roadrunner variant of the Coyote was announced and the idea that the Coyote had nothing left in it from the factory was out the window.

We’ve seen Ford squeeze a very modest power increase out of the Coyote for the 2015 GT. We know there’s more left. The BOSS wore special cylinder heads, cams, and intake manifold. The same could be done again for a Mach 1 program. This time with emphasis on torque production. The revised engine should make closer to 430 ft-lbs, and horsepower should be in the 460-470 range. I’d make the Mach 1 available with an automatic or manual transmission, just like it was in its previous incarnations.

 

I’d also borrow the active exhaust that will appear on the 2015 GT350. Allowing drivers to select a rowdier exhaust note for the track, but keep the car from wearing you down with noise fatigue during the commute.

Programmable active exhaust would help set the Mach 1 apart from the GT further, and give the car its own unique exhaust note.

At The Rear

This is another area where Ford could work some magic straight out of their parts catalog. Since we know the car would be launched hard at the drag strip, on sticky tires, the Mach 1 could use the in-house Torsen differential from the upcoming GT350, along with upgraded half-shafts from the Ford Racing catalog. This would ensure that when enthusiasts head to the track, they aren’t snapping axles. 3.73 gears would be standard fare in all Mach 1 cars, and an upgraded driveshaft should also be a consideration.

The rear suspension would need bushing upgrades as well. A small sacrifice in NVH for stiffer bushings that could reduce wheel hop, and help the car plant the rear axle would be in order. Add a rear shock upgrade and you’ve got a recipe for better launches.

Front

We’ve seen Ford squeeze a very modest power increase out of the Coyote for the 2015 GT. We know there’s more left.

The front suspension of the Mach 1 would need some changes as well. We’ve seen how well the cars equipped with the FRPP handling pack launched, struts with similar valving would be ideal. I’d keep the standard brakes on the car to reduce front end weight and sticker price.

Inside

Inside the Mach 1 should use a touch of retro styling. The seats could be covered in pleated material similar to what was done in 2003-2004, but with some modern flair. Special Mach 1 plaques should also be in the appropriate places.

I also think track apps, including Line Lock should be standard. Customers should be able to order their cars with our without the technology pack for Sync and other add ons. Manual transmission cars should get a special shift lever, and shift knob, similar to what was done with the BOSS model. The display screens on the instrument panel should show a Mach 1 logo on startup, as should the audio system.

Outside

Outside the car could be a combination of retro and functional themes. I think a shaker hood wouldn’t look proper on the S550 body, but a fresh air scoop and slight bulge to the existing hood’s cowl would work. Bring fresh air into the engine, compartment and ram it towards the air inlet, feeding the revised Coyote a steady stream of cool outside air.

The rework is not overdone, the scoop would be functional to bring in more fresh air, move the fog lights to the grill for a traditional Mach 1 feel, and add the Mach 1 style rear spoiler and graphics.

I’d make the hood flat black, add a hood pins option for appearance, maybe even functional twist-lock system similar to what you see on several classics. I’d move the fog lights to the grill delete the running horse. I’d also delete the normal front bumper fog lights and close that area off for better aerodynamics. The rear would get a unique spoiler and valance panel. The sides would get appropriate Mach 1 livery, and maybe a running horse badge in lieu of a 5.0.

The Mach 1 would only be available in a limited list of colors. Grabber blue, competition orange, screaming yellow, vibrant red, and black sound good to me.

Package this up and sell it in the $42,000-$45,000 range and Ford would have a winner. Quarter mile times should easily be mid to low 12s off the show room floor, and 11s easily obtainable. While the sticker seems high, it is high enough to not be threatening to Mustang GT sales, and low enough to leave the GT350 alone.

Sadly this is an ambitious wish list. One can only hope and wait for what the blue oval will do next. I doubt we’d see another special edition Mustang until the S550 platform has aged by at least five years. It took several for the BOSS to come about, but it did happen, and that should be a spark of hope for Mustang enthusiasts everywhere.

About the author

Don Creason

Don Creason is an automotive journalist with passions that lie from everything classic, all the way to modern muscle. Experienced tech writer, and all around car aficionado, Don's love for both cars and writing makes him the perfect addition to the Power Automedia team of experts.
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