It's been 33 years since the original Mach 1 Mustang hit the streets, but ask anyone who's ever seen one and they'll describe it as if it were sitting right in front of them. With its menacing shaker hood scoop (named so because it was mounted on the engine and therefore "shook" when the throttle was blipped), flat black body trim and optional 428 Cobra Jet V8, the original '69 Mach 1 was certainly a sight to behold and a competitor to be feared. Among the various Mustangs produced during the muscle car era of the late '60s and early '70s, the Mach 1 stood out from the rest -- and still does to this day.
For 2003, the Mach 1 is back again, this time as part of Ford's "Living Legends" lineup. The idea is simple: take some of the most memorable Ford vehicles of the past and recreate them for modern-day consumption. Maintain the style and performance that made each particular model a legend, but do it in a way that not only pays homage to the original but improves upon it as well.
Never having piloted an original Mach 1, our impressions of the new model don't have the added insight of direct comparison, but like most attempts to recreate the past, the modern version is probably dead-on in numerous ways and not even close in others. One look and it's obvious that there wasn't much stylistic license used when it came to the exterior. It's got the shaker hood scoop, the air dam and the black rear deck spoiler just like the original. The extended rocker panels are there, too, along with side scoops and all-new 17-inch wheels similar in style to the original mags used in '69. It doesn't have the awe-inspiring presence of the original but the modern demands of aerodynamics and fuel efficiency don't always allow for the proportions and size that made yesterday's street machines so visually dynamic.
The all-new engine could be accused of the same lack of character if it weren't for the fact that it generates nearly as much horsepower as the top-shelf 428 did in its day. The ultramodern dual-overhead cam V8 extracts a very respectable 305 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque from its comparatively small 281 cubic inches of displacement. Combine that with significantly better mileage and less maintenance and air conditioning and...well, you get the picture.
Credit for the extra 45 horsepower over the standard 4.6 can be attributed to high-flow four-valve heads, higher compression (10.1:1), specially calibrated camshafts and port-matched exhaust manifolds. A specially tuned stainless steel exhaust system finished off with chrome tips completes the upgrades. It sounds burly enough to wear "Mach 1" badges, but we would venture to guess that the original still holds a slight advantage in this area.
Anyone who's acclimated to the standard 4.6 in the GT will notice the Mach 1's extra juice immediately. Unlike the revisions in the Bullitt Mustang that resulted in barely discernable differences in power, the Mach's substantial improvements return results you can feel. The Mach 1 is also aided by a shorter 3.55:1 final drive ratio, so sub-14 second quarter-mile times shouldn't be much of a problem. The Mach uses the same five-speed manual transmission found in the Bullitt, although a standard four-speed automatic is offered as well.
Suspension upgrades for the live axle Mach are nearly identical to those used on the Bullitt. Higher-rate front and rear springs lower the car half an inch, while specially tuned Tokico gas-pressurized shocks provide the dampening. The front stabilizer bar is carried over from the GT (23mm) while the rear gets a solid 23mm bar in place of GT's hollow unit. The Mach 1 also uses the same brake system upgrades as the Bullitt with 13-inch Brembo rotors and calipers (painted black) up front and slightly larger rear rotors (11.6 inches) as well.
Not surprisingly, the Mach 1 performs much like the Bullitt, with a tighter, more stable feel in the corners and a slightly stiffer ride everywhere else. The beefier brakes are a welcomed improvement, but they're still not powerful enough for serious track duty as they faded considerably after repeated hot laps. Those gathered for our media preview drive recalled that the Bullitt seemed to feel more balanced on the track, but the Mach definitely has an edge when it comes to usable power.
Although we spent most of our time behind the wheel staring at the rumbling hood scoop, we did manage to take in some of the Mach 1's throwback styling cues. The black leather "comfortweave" seats look like respectable reproductions of the original trim (albeit with considerably more lateral support), while the retro gauges make for a clean-looking instrument cluster. An optional interior trim package includes gray accents for the instrument panel, center stack and shift bezel in addition to aluminum pedals and an aluminum shift ball and boot ring. The extra dose of shimmering trim brightens up the otherwise unremarkable interior, so if you're planning on buying one don't forget to mark this $300 option.
With only 6,500 Mach 1s scheduled for production, they're likely to fly off the lots as fast as they tear down the drag strip. While the modern version isn't exactly the street king that the original version was, it still has more than enough guts under the hood to rattle a few nerves and put a smile on your face. But then again, like so many other recreations of late-'60s legends, the new Mach is missing that aura of originality that can't be added like an options package. For those who experienced it firsthand, it will never be the same, but for those who only had the chance to admire the original Mach 1 from the pages of a magazine or a dealer brochure, this all-new "living legend" is a dream come true.
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How do people like the 2003 Ford Mustang? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2003 Ford Mustang and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2003 Mustang 4.6 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2003 Mustang.
Review I have owned 2 Mustangs, a 00 V6 which had no problems, and a 01 GT which was towed 7 times (in 1.5 years), had the T45 trans replaced (trans seized at 50, which shattered the clutch. It felt like I'd jammed the brakes on at max strength, I'm lucky I wasnt in traffic. Warranty was denied cost me 4500), the car refused to start 5 times (in 4 of the cases the engine wasnt turning over, battery only died once), torque converter failed, a fuel pump gave out, brakes (disks) needed to be replaced. Also note the steering wheel can lock in such a way that a pin blocks the key from turning, if this happens to you try turning the steering wheel until it lets you turn the key.
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What options are available on the 2003 Ford Mustang?
Available Ford Mustang 2003 Submodel Types: Coupe, Convertible, SVT Cobra, Boss 302, Mach 1 Premium, Hatchback, Mach 1 Premuim
Exterior Colors: Shadow Black, Oxford White, Black, Race Red, Magnetic Metallic, Ingot Silver Metallic, Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Grabber Blue, Black Clearcoat, Lightning Blue Metallic, White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat, Triple Yellow Tri-Coat, Sterling Gray Metallic, Torch Red Clearcoat, Deep Impact Blue Metallic, Kona Blue Metallic, Performance White Clearcoat, Guard Metallic, Windveil Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Competition Orange, Satin Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Red Candy Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Performance White, Alloy Clearcoat Metallic, Gotta Have it Green Metallic Tri-Coat, Screaming Yellow Clearcoat, Tungsten Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Ebony, Brilliant Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Laser Red Tinted Clearcoat, Redfire Clearcoat, Redfire Clearcoat Metallic, Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Mineral Gray Clearcoat Metallic, Oxford White Clearcoat, Sunset Gold Metallic, Zinc Yellow Clearcoat, Dark Candy Apple Red Clearcoat Metallic, Legend Lime Clearcoat Metallic, Mineral Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Red Candy Metallic w/Tinted Clearcoat, Vista Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Yellow Blaze Metallic Tri-Coat, 40th Anniversary Crimson Red, Amazon Green Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Shadow Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Orange Fury Metallic Tri-Coat, Performance Red Clearcoat, Rio Red Tinted Clearcoat, Sonic Blue Clearcoat Metallic, True Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Wimbledon White, Azure Blue, Bright Red, Crystal White, Crystal White Clearcoat, Electric Green Clearcoat Metallic, Grabber Orange Clearcoat, Lava Red Metallic, Royal Crimson Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Satin Silver Clearcoat, School Bus Yellow, Screaming Yellow, Silver Metallic, Vapor Clearcoat Metallic, Vermillion Red, Vibrant White
Interior Colors: Ebony cloth, Ebony leather, Charcoal Black cloth, Charcoal Black leather, Dark Charcoal cloth, Dark Charcoal leather, Ceramic leather, Dark Charcoal, Medium Stone cloth, Medium Parchment, Dark Saddle leather, Medium Stone leather, Medium Parchment cloth, Raven Black leather, Dark Ceramic cloth, Medium Parchment leather, Saddle leather, Ceramic cloth, Midnight Blue leather, Cashmere leather, Stone cloth, Black w/Chamois Accent leather, Dark Charcoal w/Red Accent leather, Ebony leather/sueded microfiber, Medium Graphite, Dark Charcoal w/Red Accent, Black w/Dove Accent premium leather, Black w/Red Accent leather, Charcoal Black w/Cashmere Accent leather, Dark Charcoal w/Medium Graphite, Dark Charcoal w/Medium Parchment, Light Graphite, Light Graphite leather, Showstopper Red leather, Stone leather, Yellow Jacket leather
Popular Features: Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Aux Audio Inputs, Tire Pressure Warning, Post-collision safety system, Stability Control, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Upgraded Headlights, Power Driver Seat, Bluetooth, USB Inputs, Alarm, Back-up camera, Keyless Entry/Start, Rear Bench Seats, Leather Seats, Heated seats, Auto Climate Control, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Cooled Seats, Soft Top, Remote Start, Mobile Internet, Trip Computer, Parking sensors, Navigation, 2nd Row Bucket Seats, Blind Spot Monitoring, Upgraded Stereo, Adaptive Cruise Control, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Sunroof/Moonroof, Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Pre-collision safety system