Maverick alert! Ford’s Mustang Mach 1 is for you
Stealthy paintwork, a rowdier V8 and cool factor to boot
South Africans were seriously deprived of the Ford Mustang. Yes, there were various imports and conversions rectifying the left-hand drive issue, but those were the preserve of extremely well-heeled enthusiasts. The average person was unable to walk into their local dealership and put money down for the iconic muscle car. All that changed in December 2015. The anticipated machine went on sale in our tip of the continent, officially produced by the manufacturer in right-hand drive for the first time. Took them long enough, considering it was first released in 1964!
Reception was warm, to say the least. Even though the Mustang has its drawbacks when assessed objectively, the appeal and mystique of its storied legacy eclipse certain criticisms. It might not set the bar high in terms of build quality, refinement, efficiency or future-forward technologies, but for cool factor? Please, leave your Volkswagen Golf GTI at home if peacocking is on your agenda — you need a Mustang. Even a pre-owned example of the four-cylinder derivative could make you the talk of the town. Just feign difficulty hearing when passers-by ask you to rev it. In 2019 the Mustang received minor revisions. The outputs of the 2.3-litre and 5.0-litre engine choices were bumped up, in addition to subtle visual tweaks. But even more exciting was the arrival of a special edition version, the Bullitt. It was named for the eponymous film starring Steve McQueen as a steely San Francisco detective. Just like the fastback driven by the debonair star, the 2019 Bullitt wore Highland Green paint. It rolled on alloys with a retro design, while the interior featured a cue ball shifter, which was magnificent.
This year saw the introduction of the Mustang Mach 1, another limited-run expression of the breed and a nod to the 1969 original. It was a certified collectible even before it launched, with only 90 units for the local market, of which just 15 feature a manual transmission. The whole batch is accounted for, but that didn’t stop the company from throwing keys to privileged media for a go in the exclusive car. Truth be told, my stint with the Mach 1 tester was approached ... judiciously, to say the least. Imagine putting hard-earned money down for this demonstrator, only to be told that some ham-fisted scribe launched it into a concrete island while attempting doughnuts...