R.I.P. ‘Mach 1’ (1968 – 2018)

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Until recently, we could have sworn that Ford “got it” – where “it” refers to the magical mix of performance, innovation, nostalgia, and edginess required to attract die-hard brand loyalists. In recent years, the automaker united all its various sporting divisions under a single “Ford Performance” banner, reintroduced the legendary GT supercar, won Le Mans in the GTE-Pro class exactly five decades after its first victory there, dropped a high-revving V8 with better than 100 horsepower-per-liter into a Mustang, gave its new Focus RS a comically irresponsible “Drift” driving mode, etc. etc.

But then came Sunday’s announcement that “Mach 1” – a name that debuted on an especially cool, performance-oriented variant of the 1969 Mustang with a matte black hood with a scoop and race-inspired hood pins – would live on in the form of a new “high-performance” electric crossover. Mustang fans across the country let out a collective grimace.

The way in which the news first broke was nearly as bad as the message itself. Shortly after having Steve McQueen’s granddaughter Molly help pull the wraps off of the 2019 Bullitt Mustang, Ford showed a cryptic video (above) that depicted a Mustang and an Explorer entering the company’s new Corktown office space, and emerging as a single, fast-moving beam of blue and red light shortly after lightning struck the building.

Hey, at least the music is cool.

So obscure was the video that upon watching it, we mistook it to mean that “Mach 1” might be the name of Ford’s forthcoming Mustang hybrid – a proposition that’s somewhere around 20 to 50 times more appealing than the actual truth. Later in the evening, Ford North America Product Communications Manager Mike Levine took to Twitter to specify that the name would, in fact, describe a “high performance battery electric SUV inspired by a sports car and utility.”

The plan shows such complete and utter obtuseness on the part of Ford leadership that we could almost swear the automaker is intentionally trolling its most passionate enthusiasts. For a company that seems to care so deeply about tradition and heritage to even suggest that the “Mach 1” name could adorn an electric crossover would have been unfathomable just a week ago.

But not everyone at Ford is so oblivious, and in fact, The Truth About Cars spoke to one high-level employee who seemed quite a bit less than 100% behind the plan. “The issue isn’t that it’s an electric crossover; the issue is the name,” he said. “I knew this was going to be a problem.”

Thankfully, a suggestion is all that “Mach 1” seems to have been in this case; later on Sunday evening, Mike Levine clarified via Twitter that “Ford will gauge reaction from potential customers before making a final decision on naming.” There’s time, then, to convince Ford to abandon its plan to throw away the legendary “Mach 1” name on an electric crossover.

Much more distressing than the prospect of that single nameplate’s ruination, however, is what this says about certain members of Ford’s leadership and their apparent inability to grasp what die-hard Ford loyalists want (and don’t want) to see. We don’t know that that’s something any amount of petitioning can fix.

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Written by Aaron Brzozowski

Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

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8 Comments

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  1. Ford, listen to what was said in this article! We don’t want you to build anything outside of a mustang with the Mach 1 name! While most of us would prefer a 5.2l n/a cross plane crank 500hp-plus Mach 1 with matte black graphics, specific wheels, brakes, suspension and everything else, ford could even happily disappoint us and make an awd 3.5l ecoboost hybrid pushing out 500+ hp with all the bells and whistles and we would still be happier than an electric suv. Trust me the cross plane na 5.2 would be fords best choice

  2. Ok so I just actually looked at the video up top. The video was cool. Now what I also saw in the video that ford was doing is that they are finally making a high performance explorer that if done properly could be a successor to the Mach 1 name. But if you were to do that the suv would need to have a v8 under the hood. Now the new explorer is on a modular cd6 platform so the possibility of a 475hp 5.0 explorer could work to combat the srt Durango. And with an awd setup 10 speed auto Brembo brakes a dual mode exhaust and a few mustang inspired upgrades, the video would still be accurate and a lot cooler.

  3. This article is incorrect – the Mach 1 name is being TESTED as a POSSIBILITY for a future electrified CUV. If enough people don’t like the name, it will not be used.

  4. Ford needs to do a few things in my opinion to attract more sales and more enthusiast. Ford’s mustang has gotten a lot better with time but it still has a few improvements and models that need to be met. The base model mustang should drop the 2.3l in favor of the 335hp/380tq 2.7l ecoboost. Honestly the regular gt mustang should have the Bullitt 475hp 5.0l v8, the Mustang performance pack-2 should be a boss 302 and there needs to be a 5.2l na cross plane crank Mach 1 pushing a minimum of 520hp. Those cars along with the new gt500 would be the perfect lineup for the mustang.
    Ford also needs to offer a hot 5.2l f150 as well tuned to about 470hp/430tq. Along with removing the 3.5 ecoboost from the raptor and putting in the gt500 5.2l under the hood and go from there. Those two engines along with a hotter 420hp 5.0l, a 2.7l ecoboost and a 3.0 diesel would work fine for the truck.
    My above idea for the new explorer would still be my favorite thoughts for the suv. I would prefer it not be called the Mach 1 but ford needs to drop the 475hp 5.0l into the explorer to battle the srt Durango. Under that drop the 2.7l ecoboost In with 345/380tq and call it a day. Trust me, no one would miss the 3.5l at that point.
    The Ford Fusion should move to a stretched version of the new S550/650 platform with standard awd with the 325hp/380tq 2.7 standard and the raptor 3.5l 450hp/510tq should be the hot option with an upgraded version of the focus rs Awd system, Brembo brakes, 10 speed auto/6spd manual, recaro seats, alcantara/ leather interior, new Mustang gt styling and renamed falcon.
    The bronco Needs to look like the bronco6g rendering or very close to it. There should be two models, a 2.7l fx4 lariat with 335hp/380tq with features catering to the casual weekender that still uses the suv for normal commute and then there should be a more off road ready bronco with a 3” lifted off road suspension, big brakes, bead lock wheels, Dana axles, winches, 33” tires, and things like that along with a comfortable and rugged interior that can be washed out.

    The expedition is fine and i would say leave it alone but that fx4 package needs major help. A better wheel selection would set the fx4 off perfectly. Something that’s more off road rugged truck looking similar to those chrome wheels with the holes In them that were on the early 90’s broncos and f150 trucks or something other than the current selection. Oh and another thing, drop in the 5.0l please!!! The ecoboost is cool and all but v8 engines belong in big vehicles. Dropping in a 460hp/420tq 5.0 would certainly help out with the expedition’s cool factor. Even if you wanted to keep a 3.5l ecoboost in the truck put the navigator/raptor 450/510 3.5l variant in it above the 5.0and that would work too. And give the 5.0l expedition a voice! Not loud and obnoxious but make it feel right.
    Nothing needs to change with the superduty pickups. Obviously a magical 500hp and 1000lb-ft of torque would be awesome with a few ford performance upgrades like a power tune package with a pro cal, a cold air intake, glow plugs and a turbo-back exhaust would be cool along with ford accessories wheel options ranging from 20” to 22”, new grill options, LED lighting options, etc.
    Vehicles such as the fiesta, the focus, the eco sport, the escape could really all be dropped. As they are truly pointless. Keep the mustang, the falcon, the bronco, the explorer, the expedition, the ranger, the f150 and the super duty and ford would be great. Also as far as electric cars go, ford needs to DESTROY Tesla. I mean completely eradicate, obliterate and decimate the whole entire existence of Tesla. Personally I despise electric vehicles but if we’re going to have them, let’s do it right. I’m thinking a ford gt inspired midsize sedan to the tune of 700hp with awd, tower management for inclement weather, magnetic ride, regenerative braking system with Brembo brakes, a luxurious performance inspired interior, better range than the Tesla, a high end stereo system, solar tint safety glass windows and windshields that are also solar heated, full led lighting inspired by the ford gt super Car, 20” wheels from the ford gt, a bright HUD, a state of the art stereo system, aluminum/carbon fiber frame and chassis, designed as a full roll cage around the passenger compartment and a sub $100,000.00 price tag and for all extensive purposes call it the thunderbolt. That would be how you could bring back an old school name on an electric vehicle and make it cool. An electric SUV based on the new cd6 platform would be cool as well. Make it have the same 700hp as the thunderbolt and call it a model-E with a few throwback styling cues from the model-t and you have another winner. If you want to get really cool and go back to really being ford again you could make a larger luxury electric sedan on the cd6 platform, tone down the power to about 450hp and call it the ford custom and have a hotter variant of that with the 700hp electric setup and call it the ford custom deluxe. An electric lineup like that would be cool and hell! Take the insides of both the custom and the custom deluxe and give it a modern version of the 1950s styling. Bring some of that to the outside as well and you have yourselves an electric lineup to be proud of.
    As far as ford fleet is concerned if it’s not diesel it should be electric. All transits should be electric and truck bodies should be diesel powered. There’s no need for anything else.
    Lastly Lincoln needs a lot more help. The continental was a major step in the right direction just done in the wrong direction. Lincoln needs to be up there with Cadillac in a major way right now and two S550/650 chassis cars would help Lincoln do just that. A Lincoln Mark X coupe and a Lincoln zephyr sedan would help out on that lineup with a base 400hp/400tq 3.0t v6, a 475hp 5.0l v8 and a 700hp 5.2l v8 and the new 7spd dct behind those engines. Tuned to offer better ride qualities than the mustang but still track tuned at the same time. Drive modes, exhaust modes, luxury recaro seats, aggressive Lincoln body language, revel stereo, and a few other things would really help Lincoln right now. The continental does need a recalibration to really compete with the ct6 and honestly it feels more of a low budget Buick Competitor and I’m talking Lincoln black label to base Buick lacrosse. The continental should rival cars like the Audi s8, the bmw 750 and the s500 Mercedes Benz which means a rwd platform with awd and a 450hp/510 tq 3.5l twin turbo v6 should be present under the hood with the 10speed auto, the electric hybrid version of the focus rs drivetrain, magnetic ride, big silver Brembo brakes, much cooler wheels and better styling. Lincoln also needs to hurry up with that aviator but aim it at the Jeep Grand Cherokee variants such as the track hawk, summit and trail hawk. And it should have the base 400hp 3.0t a 475hp 5.0 and a 700hp 5.2l. The navigator is fine for now.

    So there you have it ford, a regular car lineup than includes the mustang and the falcon, an suv lineup that includes the bronco, the explorer and the expedition, a truck lineup that includes the ranger, the f150 and the super duty, an electric lineup that includes the thunderbolt, the model-e, the ford custom and custom deluxe, an improved fleet lineup and lastly a Lincoln lineup which includes a mark-x, a zephyr, a continental, an aviator and a navigator. not only would it be a much better and more cost effective and profitable lineup it comes from a lot of stuff that ford already has so that cuts down on souring materials, r&d and a lot of other stuff so it’s benefical to the company plus the customers will love it! Hopefully a ford ceo will get this and see how much sense this makes!

    • Your ideas sound great. However; you know it can’t happen…even if Ford wanted to do this, it is not possible
      with the stricter and stricter Federal rules. Damn government regulations killed the muscle cars of the
      60’s and 70’s and they are hell-bent to do it again. Rules and regulations are made by politicians who know
      absolutely NOTHING about automobiles, manufacturing, or how a business is run. Most career politicians
      have NEVER held a real job and couldn’t run a business for a day. Sad for those of us who love our cars.

  5. I think people are taking this a little out of context. The video sho a Mustang and an Explorer going into the factory before the Mach 1 brand is used.

    It seems like Ford is looking to use Mach 1 as a performance trim for their electric performance vehicles. If that’s the case, we may have a Mach 1 trim of the Mustang as well as other models as well. I’m totally fine with that cause it’s a cool moniker.

      • Or a completely fresh name altogether. A performance EV crossover has no lineage, no pedigree, and didn’t spin off from anything. Ford needs to try harder in figuring out a name for a new vehicle that represents a new segment in a new time.

        At the end of the day, we might all have become suckers to some psi-ops level trolling. Because would Ford have gotten the world so abuzz over an electric crossover otherwise? Unless they were going to call it the Bronco, probably not. We’re a ways out from this thing launching and it’s plenty of time to brainstorm on what to call it.

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