The 2021 model year is expected to bring a handful of not-insignificant changes to Ford’s iconic Mustang muscle car. Arguably the biggest of these is the discontinuation of the Shelby GT350, as originally reported by Ford Authority. But another change is also on the horizon: Ford is expected to replace the Mustang Bullitt with a new model called Mach 1. Here’s everything we know and expect about the upcoming 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1.
To fully comprehend the direction Ford will take with the Mach 1, it’s important to first understand the model it will replace – the Bullitt.
The Mustang Bullitt was introduced for the 2019 model year as a special edition based on the Mustang GT. That means that it’s powered by the peppy Ford 5.0L Coyote V8 engine. But Ford managed to squeeze more power from the Bullitt‘s five-oh thanks to a 97 mm performance air intake, an intake manifold from the Shelby GT350, a larger 87 mm throttle body, plus a unique powertrain control module calibration. The result is a gain or 20 horsepower to 480 horsepower (and the same 420 pound-feet of torque as on the regular GT). Top speed for the Mustang Bullitt was also increased to 163 mph – 8 mph higher than the stock GT.
Other mechanical updates included a fully-active black NitroPlate quad-tip performance exhaust. MagneRide suspension is an option, and the only transmission offered is a six-speed manual.
The Bullitt is available in two exterior colors – Shadow Black and classic Dark Highland Green. Exterior appointments include subtle chrome accents for the model-specific black grille and window surround, classic heritage-inspired 19-inch, 5-spoke aluminum wheels finished in black, and a set of red-painted Brembo brakes. The only badging visible on the exterior is the circular faux gas gap with the Bullitt logo on the rear decklid. No rear spoiler is included.
Inside, a leather-trimmed interior features accent stitching in green on the dashboard, door panels, center console and seats. A 12-inch LCD digital instrument cluster and a heated steering wheel are standard.
All that results in a unique and attractive package. However, as has been rumored for the past several months, and recently confirmed by VIN decoder documents, the Bullitt will be replaced by the Mustang Mach 1 for the 2021 model year.
The going theory about the Mach 1 is that it will be similar to the Bullitt, keeping all of its mechanical improvements. We expect the same playful 480 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque from the naturally-aspirated Coyote 5.0, continuing to give it the performance edge over the stock Mustang GT. We also expect the active, quad-tipped exhaust to be present and accounted for.
Currently unknown is whether the Mach 1 will follow the Bullitt’s direction of being offered exclusively with a six-speed stick, or whether Ford’s excellent 10-speed automatic will be offered as an option. Adding an auto typically expands a vehicle’s market potential.
What’s not unknown is the fact that the Mustang Mach 1 will feature a revised front fascia, as indicated by spy shots from earlier this year. The new design should be more aggressive than the Mustang’s current face. It might also end up making its way across the entire 2021 Mustang lineup (except for the Shelby GT500).
We also expect the Bullitt’s retro-inspired, black wheels will be replaced by a different wheel. The prototypes we’ve spied testing have worn polished multi-spoke wheels that have an identical design to the 19-inch aluminum wheels currently offered on the Mustang GT Performance Package. But while the wheels included with the optional GT performance pack are black, the units used on the prototypes pictured here are silver-painted.
The Mach 1 should also see a broader color palette than the Black and Dark Highland Green offered on the Bullitt, expanding its market potential and sales performance. And, like with the Bullitt, the Mach 1 will likely only be offered in the two-door, Fastback Coupe body style.
On the chassis side of the equation, we expect the upgraded Brembo front brakes with red brake calipers (at all four corners) seen on the Bullitt to make a comeback on the Mustang Mach 1. Ford recently began offering the brake as a kit from Ford Performance.
It’s also possible that the Mustang Mach 1 will feature some unique suspension upgrades and calibrations compared to what we see currently on the Bullitt. In fact, the discontinuation of the Shelby GT350 would create an interesting opportunity to equip the Mach 1 with MagneRide suspension as standard, adjustable strut top mounts, and to also give it larger stabilizer bars from the GT350. Doing so would improve the Mustang GT’s handling significantly.
And that brings us to positioning. The discontinuation of the Shelby GT350 will create a rather large gap between the Mustang GT and the GT500. As a result, it’s possible that Ford will position the Mustang Mach 1 even further upmarket compared to the Bullitt. Such a move would be warranted, if the Mach 1 were to offer more performance and more standard features.
If it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic, the Mustang Mach 1 would launch for the 2021 model year, arriving at dealers during the third quarter of 2020. But the virus has derailed lifestyles, plans, and timetables – so the launch timeframe is currently up in the air.
Last week, Ford outlined how it plans on keeping workers safe when it does resume North American production. Though Ford’s production operations have been back up and running in China and will restart in Europe on May 4th, Ford has yet to announce any specific dates for restarting North American production as of this writing. Some reports have indicated that the Dearborn-based automaker will reopen its plants as soon as stay-at-home orders are lifted. It’s around that time that we will likely hear more about the Mustang Mach 1, which will be made alongside all other Mustangs at the Ford Flat Rock Plant in Michigan.