Mustang Mach 1 vs Shelby GT350 Compared
Last Updated: April 12, 2021
With the modern muscle car market getting smaller and smaller every day, Ford bringing back one of their performance legends is a well-recognized sigh of relief to many. After it’s 17-year hiatus, Ford has brought back the Mach 1, giving the car enough heritage, looks, and aggression to bring in new buyers. However, with the return of the Mach 1 we unfortunately said goodbye to the incredible Shelby GT350 as it met the end of its production run.
With the Shelby GT350 being replaced in the lineup by the new Mach 1, there is a lot to be asked from the new variant, and Ford knew they couldn’t skimp on performance or value with the Mach 1, even with the nearly $10,000 price difference in comparison to the GT. That said, there are some major differences between the two cars to discuss, so let’s get into it. With enough people already skeptical if the Mach 1 is a worthy successor to the Shelby, the Mach 1 received nearly every upgrade that had been suggested on the GT Performance Package – Level 2.
Mach 1 vs GT350 Exterior – More Than Just Pretty Faces
Mach 1 Exterior
When talking about the Mach 1 and GT350, some of the most immediate differences will be on how the two look. The Mach 1 is at its core a track-bred version of the Mustang name. The entire front end is geared towards taking in as much as possible with its massive lower grille and functional vents under the headlights. In the upper grille, there are even two removable openings to suck in more air directly, if you desire. The Mach 1 also features a massive front splitter that wraps around the sides of the bumper to keep the front tires planted around fast turns. With the Handling Pack, the looks get turned up even more with a massive rear wing, derived from its older brother, the GT500. At the end of the day, the huge Mach 1 decals might be enough to show that the car is more than a tarted-up GT PP2 that we have run comparisons for before.
The Shelby’s wide open front fascia is designed to be aggressive while not being too extreme. Pair the front nose with the incredibly aggressive vented hood and underside aerodynamics and the GT350 looked nearly as brutal as its exhaust note. The GT350 sits lower and looks leaner than the Mach 1 in general but is lacking some of the aggressive aerodynamic work that makes the Mach 1 pop a bit more. The front of the GT350 also benefits from a lower front fascia to complement aerodynamics, while the Mach 1 sits a bit higher. However, that new front fascia on the Mach 1 makes up for it by a long shot!
Mach 1 vs GT350 Interior – On The Inside Counts
Mach 1 Interior
The differences in the interiors of these two cars is where most people will see how track-capable the Mach 1 is, but also how it can work as an incredibly comfortable “gran touring” Mustang, too. One of the most instant differences in each interior resides in the center console; where the option for the 10R80 10-Speed Automatic can be optioned for the Mach 1 – even for the Handling Package! While this is obviously not a purist setup, the Mach 1 is much more available to more buyers with this in mind.
Of course, the manual-equipped Mach 1 could be seen as more aesthetically pleasing since they use the same cue ball shift knob as the Mustang Bullitt in order to sell to even more than the GT350 had targeted. The Handling Package features optional aggressively bolstered Recaro seats which adds to the performance look of the car, while the normal seats feature a more heritage look with leather and a stripe across the width of it.
While the Mach 1’s interior is track-focused, it is not track-dedicated like the interior of the Shelby GT350. The steering wheel of the GT350 is wrapped in alcantara for added grip on track, and with the option for tighter-fitting Recaro seats. The Shelby logo on the steering wheel makes the car feel special, too. While the look of the Mach 1 shifter is more for aesthetics, the shifter in the manual-only GT350 has a more performance-oriented look. Both cars actually use the same Tremec TR-3160 gearbox, but the finish on the two makes them look completely different. The GT350 overall wants to give the experience of being a serious track weapon that can be used daily, while the Mach 1 offers a near-perfect balance of track toy and daily driver.
Mach 1 vs GT350 Performance – What Really Matters
Mach 1 Engine
The main concern for many potential buyers is the performance difference between the Mach 1 and Shelby GT350 since the cars vary heavily under the hood. While both cars are track specials, the Mach 1 weighs less than the outgoing GT350 which came in at 3,760 lbs – heavier than the normal Mustang GT by nearly 60lbs. This can be explained by the larger brakes and 5.2 liter flat-plane crank V8 while the Mach 1 still uses the lightly modified 5.0 liter that can be found in the Bullitt. The smaller engine means the Mach 1 comes to 480 horsepower while the GT350 pushed out 526 horsepower.
The Mach 1 is a combination of some of the best parts found on various other Mustang models. Running the same Tremec TR-3160 manual gearbox as the GT350, as well as the GT350’s intake manifold and engine oil cooler as well. The Mach 1 takes the best from the GT350’s parts and pairs them with the brakes from the Mustang GT Performance Pack 2 as well as the engine from the Bullitt. With the upgraded aerodynamic parts on the Handling Package, it has an overall 150% aerodynamic increase – meaning it should keep up on a road course with the Shelby. With the Mach 1, Ford made an effort to make it “the most track-capable 5.0-liter Mustang ever”.
The Shelby GT350 will go down as one of the best modern Mustangs, leaving some huge shoes for the Mach 1 to fill. The GT350 revved higher than any previous road-legal Mustang – 8,250 RPM – and the flat-plane crank kept the car balanced and poised as it went around tracks and streets alike. Additionally, the GT350’s active exhaust and modified drive modes further improved the track capability while making it still comfortable enough to drive on normal roads. While the Mach 1 may use parts from the GT350, the GT350 itself was able to use them to the best of their abilities when driven hard. The VooDoo was built with the intention of being used on track during its life and so were the parts fitted for suspension, brakes, and the entire car was designed to be one of the most track-oriented Mustangs ever with only the GT350R and GT500 placing higher at the time.
Mustang Mach 1 vs Shelby GT350 - The Numbers
|Vehicle Specification||Shelby GT350||Mustang Mach 1|
|Base Price||$59,140 ($73,435 For GT350R)||$52,915|
|Drivetrain Layout||Front Engine, RWD||Front-engine, RWD|
|Engine||“Voodoo” Flat Plane Crank 90-degree V-8, Aluminum Block & Cylinder Heads||Upgraded "Coyote" Gen III 5.0L Ti-VCT 32V V8, GT350 Intake Manifold, Throttle Body, Intake; Revised Calibration|
|Valvetrain||32V DOHC TI-VCT||32V DOHC TI-VCT|
|Displacement||5.2L, 315 Cubic Inches||5.0L, 302 Cubic Inches|
|Horsepower||526 hp @ 7,500 rpm||480 hp @ 7,000 rpm|
|Torque||429 lb-ft @ 4,750 rpm||420 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm|
|Transmission||TREMEC TR-3160 6-speed Manual Transmission||TREMEC TR-3160 6-speed Manual Transmission (std.) or
10R80 10-Speed Automatic Transmission (opt.)
|Rear Axle Ratio||Torsen 3.73||Torsen 3.73 (manual) or Torsen 3.55 (auto)|
|Front Suspension Configuration||MagneRide Dampers, Struts, Coil Springs, Adj Shocks, Anti-Roll Bar||MagneRide Dampers, Struts, Coil Springs, Adj Shocks, Anti-Roll Bar|
|Rear Suspension Configuration||MagneRide Dampers, Coil Springs, Adj Shocks, Anti-Roll Bar||MagneRide Dampers, Coil Springs, Adj Shocks, Anti-Roll Bar|
|Brakes, Front & Rear||Brembo 6-Piston Front, Brembo 4-Piston Rear||Brembo 6-Piston Front, Single Piston Rear (Red or Orange Painted, opt.)|
|Wheels||19” x 10.5” F / 19” x 11” R, Aluminum Alloy||19” x 9.5” / 19” x 10”, Tarnished Dark-painted aluminum (std.)
19” x 9.5” / 19” x 10”, Magnetic-painted aluminum (opt.)
19" x 10.5" / 19" x 11", Tarnished Dark-painted aluminum (Handling Pack)
|Tires||295/35R19 / 305/30R19, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2*||255/40R19 / 275/40R19, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S (std.)
305/30R19 / 315/30R19, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 (Handling Pack)
Mach 1 vs GT350: Which Is For You?
While it is sad to see the GT350 go, Ford has definitely taken what they learned from it and put it to good use. The upgrades done to the Mach 1 have made it into the most track-focused 5.0-liter Mustang – just as Ford had intended. While the Shelby GT350 is an absolute beast of a car on track, the Mach 1 looks like it will be at least as good in the hands of the right driver. The Mach 1 makes for a better daily driver since it is not as harsh a ride, and the 10R80 automatic makes the car more available to the public than the GT350 had been. If you’re looking for parts on your Mach 1 or GT350, keep it right here at Steeda for all your S550 Mustang Parts!
Image Credit: Ford Media