American ClassicsFord

Breaking Records with the Ford Mustang Mach 1

Debuting in August of 1968, Ford released the Mustang Mach 1 performance package in the heart of the muscle car era. Initially available for 1969 Mustang models, there are now three generations of Mach 1 Mustangs with a fourth on the way. 

When most collectors and enthusiasts refer to Mach 1 Mustangs, they are usually talking about the first generation. In 1969 and 1970, the Mach 1 package was available on any “SportsRoof” fastback style Mustang, these are the first-gens. This special package was not available for hardtop or convertible models from the factory.

Many custom car builders perform the visual modifications necessary to turn some hardtop or convertible models into Mach 1 tributes. It should be noted, however, that the VIN will never match as an actual Mach 1 model. Obviously a real Mach 1 model is worth more than a replica or conversion.

Every first generation Mach 1 Mustang features the body style code 63C on the door data plate. This is the easiest way to distinguish a first-gen Mach 1 Mustang from ‘69 or ‘70. 

Although the standard 351 cubic inch, 5.8L engine is still a worthy V8, it is not the most sought after Mach 1 variation. The most desirable Mach 1 models feature a 428 cubic inch, 7.0L Cobra Jet (CJ) V8 engine. With 335 horsepower and 440 ft-lbs of torque, the Cobra Jet V8 is the king of all first generation Mach 1 motors.

There is a Super Cobra Jet version as well, however, the factory horsepower numbers remain the same. Very often, the Cobra Jet and Super Cobra Jet are categorized together. Super Cobra Jet packages simply feature more engine modifications for a specific purpose, not to increase horsepower. 

A 3-speed manual transmission came standard in the original Mach 1 models equipped with the base 5.8L V8 engine. 3-speed automatic and 4-speed manual transmissions were factory options depending on various configurations of the Mach 1 packages.

Several other performance features and upgrades tailor the Mach 1 experience including locking rear differential options from the factory. All Mach 1 Mustangs enjoy upgraded suspension components with big block models receiving additional reinforcement.

Instantly recognizable, the optional shaker package features an air scoop mounted directly above the engine on the hood. With the V8 rumbling below, the vibrations cause the scoop to shake, which is why it is known as the shaker hood. This shaker option is not to be confused with the aggressive hood scoop featuring turn signals, standard on Mach 1 models.

Adding to the Mach 1’s increasing popularity, Hot Rod magazine featured the Mustang Mach 1’s performance at the Bonneville salt flats. With the help of race car drivers Mickey Thompson and Danny Ongais, the Mach 1 set 295 records. From speed to endurance, the Ford Mustang Mach 1 put its money where its mouth is in the 1968 issue.

In 1970, Ford slightly changed the design of the Mach 1, as well as the engine. Now the Mustang featured dual-beam headlights, recessed tail lights along with new badging and striping. The Mach 1’s newer 5.8L engine now topped out at 5,400 RPM instead of 4,600.

Although not true first-generation models, the 1971-1973 Mustang Mach 1s are still extremely desirable. 1971 brought more changes to the Mach 1, most notable was the unique hood design, now with two scoops. The ’72 model remained largely unchanged.

In 1973, the Mach 1 changed styles once again. No longer sporting lower body accented paint or trim, the car now had a mostly uniform color. Although, all ’73 models still received either a black or argent colored wide-body stripe.

Quick breakdown of Mach 1 models available:

  • 1st Generation Mustang Body 1969-1970
  • 1st Generation Mustang Body (Mach 1 Facelift) 1971-1973
  • 2nd Generation Mustang Body 1974-1978
  • 4th Generation Mustang Body 2003-2004
  • 6th Generation Mustang Body 2021-?

As you can see, not all generations of the Mustang included a Mach 1 version. After a 17 year hiatus, many Mustang enthusiasts can’t wait for the release of the 2021 Mach 1. Unfortunately, like some other Mach 1 models, the 2021 version is a limited release.

Although limited availability is not what fans want to hear, it does increase the chance of the car becoming a true collectible. More than 72,000 Mach 1 Mustang packages sold in 1969, which was the first year of existence. Today, a first generation variation of the Mach 1 in good condition featuring the CJ engine lists for six figures.

No Mustang enthusiast can ever have enough ponies in the stable. Almost all drivers and collectors have a soft spot for the Mach 1. The average value of a first-gen Mach 1 is about $40k, so finding a deal is possible for the savvy shopper.

With the newest Mach 1 set for release soon, expect to see some uptick in interest. Long-time Mustang collectors are already getting their saddles ready while dusting off their boots…

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