HomeCar CultureThrill ride and test drive in a Mustang Mach 1

Thrill ride and test drive in a Mustang Mach 1

A Mini Cooper owner in a 480 horsepower Mustang

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It’s an uncommonly windy morning at Westworld in Scottsdale. Those of us that reside in the Valley of the Sun are used to heat but not wind and I don’t think I have enough pomade in my hair to keep it properly styled. But issues with my hair aside, I need to gather my focus for my turn to drive the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1.

My current ride is a 2015 Mini Cooper with a factory-rated 134 horsepower turbo 1.25-liter 3-cylinder engine. It’s a zippy, peppy fun car to drive but with an engine the size of a Singer sewing machine, well, it’s a bit underpowered.  The lack of horsepower is readily apparent when I must go up a steep hill, specifically when I drove to Colorado a couple of years ago and spent a lot of time in second gear trying to climb the Rockies.

For two laps this Friday morning I found myself behind the steering wheel of the new Mach 1. It’s stout, aggressive and a bit mean looking. Definitely a far cry from my Mini, especially the rumble while idling from its 480 horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine. Simple math and its more than three-time the horsepower than my eco-friendly coupe and a bit intimidating.

Ford Mustang Mach 1, Thrill ride and test drive in a Mustang Mach 1, ClassicCars.com Journal
The graphic design team incorporated an updated, bolder sans-serif font to achieve a more modern look. The nod to the past comes largely in the form of the playful letter styling, which includes the easily identifiable down-sized lowercase “h.”

I’m given the only automatic in the fleet. I haven’t driven a manual transmission since college and in the ensuing 16-years I probably don’t have the muscle memory for proper heel toe motoring. Also, I don’t want to stall it in front of my fellow automotive press. I have confidence in many of my skills, but I don’t like to be embarrassed in front of a group of strangers that I may never cross paths with again.  

My turn and I have a Ford representative riding shotgun to make sure I can make my way around the cones in the parking lot track. I need him. I have no sense of direction and the sun glares at me for most of the lap. Half blind without my sunglasses, I lower the sun visor and hope for the best.

Put it in drive and ease of the brake. Simple acts but I am nervous, and I slowly amble on from a dead stop. A little gas on the initial straightaway and we’re off. It has more low-end torque than I am used to and the barrier at the end of the straightaway gets closer in less time than I expected. A soft left and then I am back to 35 mph on the next straightaway.

Slow and steady, I make my way around the cones with trepidation. Oscar Wilde let us know that “Talent borrows, genius steals” and I use this notion as I steal James May’s ideology as Capt. Slow. No top speed records were set this morning, I was the tortoise and happy to cruise in second gear for my two laps.

The Mach 1 is a capable sports car in many capacities. I learned this when a substantially more talented driver took me on a thrill ride in the same car on the same track. Without racing seats, I have minimal body support and I’m thrown around like a rag doll through the turns. I have no idea where I am going due to the velocity and his ability to whip the steering at the last moment to negotiate a turn.

And yet it was all over in 30-seconds.

David P. Castro
David P. Castro
David P. Castro is one of our lead writers. The Santa Rosa, California native is an experienced automotive and motorsports writer with a passion for American muscle cars. He is a credentialed automotive, NASCAR, and IndyCar reporter that graduated from the University of Nevada-Reno. A devoted F1 and NASCAR fan, he currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife, son, Siberian Husky, Mini Cooper, and 1977 Chevrolet C10.

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