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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 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. The Santa Rosa, California native resides in Phoenix with his wife, son, Siberian Husky, Mini Cooper, and 1977 Chevrolet C10.

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