Is it like a rhino – a specimen of an endangered species that deserves protection? Or, should it be seen as a dinosaur – the representative of already extinct genus?
Those questions bellow from the multiple chrome-tipped exhaust tailpipes of the mighty Ford Mustang Mach 1 with its 5.0 V8. One way or another, it is clear that evolution has sidelined this beast with its average fuel consumption (in my hands, at least) of 17 mpg. The combination of the Ukraine war and of super unleaded petrol heading towards £2 a litre at the pumps have shoved this Mustang firmly into the margins of history. You might as well keep a NASA shuttle in your garage and take it out for a blast on high days and holidays.
In its way, this development is as poignant as the moment when the steam train or the transatlantic liner were overtaken by events. It is sad to think that our grandchildren will probably never experience the thrill of unleashing a V8 engine with almost 500bhp and over 500Nm of torque or pulling power. Such is the depth of power in this car that I had scarcely begun to explore its full range in the week’s test loan that has just ended.
There remained two settings on the selectable driving modes that I never even engaged – Track and Drag (which could also be known as Blast Off). The Sport+ setting was more than enough for my talents as a driver and the roads on which I was driving. Even then, I rarely saw the needle on the rev counter approach the 8000 rpm red line – partly because the din it creates in that mode is enough to be an arrestable offence and partly because I didn’t want to inflict whiplash on my daughter in the passenger seat when I was driving her to school. Despite this sensitivity towards her well-being, she insisted on being dropped in a side-street rather than being driven up to the school gates. She didn’t want to be seen getting out of a car so ostentatiously in-your-face.
I loved the Mach 1 to bits but it has to be admitted that everything about this car is so comically excessive that it’s like a posing body-builder showing off his muscles onstage. Beneath the Y spokes on the 19” alloy wheels on our test car, disc brakes as big as dustbin lids were adorned with orange Brembo six-piston calipers to match the orange stripes that ran up the bonnet and along the sills. Mach 1 logos are all over the body and the tail. You can’t blame people for sniggering when they see it, as they might if Arnold Schwarzenegger swaggered into the school playground.
The all-in price of our test car was a shade under £60,000 at £59255. There is absolutely no sensible reason to spend that money unless you want to invest in a museum piece or to get your hands on the most rapturously engaging supercar on earth under £100,000.
If this is a dinosaur, so am I.
Neil Lyndon has been a journalist, broadcaster and writer on the UK’s national stage for 40 years, writing for every “quality” newspaper on Fleet Street. He started writing about cars and motorbikes for The Sunday Times in the 1980s and was Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph for 20 years, having previously written a column on motorbikes for Esquire. He is also recognised as a leading commentator on gender politics, having published No More Sex War in 1992 – the first ever critique of feminism from a radical, egalitarian point of view.