American muscle may be having a moment right now, but a little over a decade ago the marketplace looked very different. The fourth generation Chevrolet Camaro went out of production in 2002, Dodge was still wandering the desert in search of their soul, and Pontiac, ok Pontiac had the 2004 GTO which was pretty awesome, I’ll give them that. My point is, for a few blissful years, Ford had the domestic sports coupe marketplace all to themselves, and even then, the pushed the envelope.
The 2003 and 2004 Mustang Mach 1 is notable not because it was the most extreme Mustang you could buy, that honor goes to the Mustang Cobra, but because it perfectly bridged the gap in the Mustang line. The Mustang GT put out 260 hp, and was run of the mill fun, while the Cobra was 390hp, and was reserved for power hungry maniacs who missed the days when mullets were fashionable. By reviving the legendary Mach 1 nameplate, and stamping it on a car that slotted in between the GT and the Cobra, Ford set themselves up for success. The Cobra is cool and all, but it’s not exactly the most street friendly vehicle I’ve ever been in. The Mach 1 on the other hand is just soft enough to be useable as a daily driver, while still retaining enough of the sportiness one would expect from a Mustang with a functional shaker hood scoop.
Ah yes, lets talk about the wonderful bit of plastic poking through the center of the hood. It’s throwback in the best way possible, but it’s not just there for effect, it’s really quite necessary. It allows the 5.4L DOHC V8 to breathe as much frosty air as it can muster into the throttle body, which then makes its way through a Mach 1 specific exhaust manifold, resonators, and mufflers. This setup makes for an exhaust note that is all Mach 1, and a quick visit to YouTube will show you just how enjoyable that is.
The interior will seem dated, and there will no doubt be a number of rattles, and squeaks because after all, this is a Ford Mustang. However, as far as period interiors go, I find that of the Mach 1 to be pretty enjoyable. The deeply curved passenger dashboard is most often a point of contention, people either seem to love it, or really hate it. It’s not as terrible as some make it out to be, I think it adds a nice classic vibe to the cabin, given that the classic Mustangs had high symmetrical dashboards. Overall it’s not a bad interior, certainly not great, but then again if you’re thinking about buying a Mach 1 for any other reason than the performance, you might want to reconsider.