1967 Ford Mustang Mach 2 Concept
Ford’s quest for Total Performance resulted in some very tasty automotive morsels being served up. None more so than the Mach 2, which looked like it could have been another star in Ford’s concept car constellation – had it ever seen production…
From here obscurity
Another tantalising ‘what might have been’ concept car to emerge from Detroit during the Sixties, this mid-engined machine was no show queen. It was a fully functional prototype. Created under styling vice-president Gene Bordinat, it was underpinned by a floorpan borrowed from a Mustang convertible, albeit reconfigured for this application. Power came from a small-block 289cu in V8 allied to a ZF five-speed transaxle. Front suspension and brakes were largely standard Mustang fare, with other parts bin cast-offs including rear drum brakes from a Galaxie. The use of proprietary components also stretched to the rear bumper which was an unmodified Mustang item.
A proof of concept was built, which in turn led to the construction of a brace of drivable prototypes (just to confuse matters, Ford’s press material variously dubbed it Mach 2, Mach 2A and Mach II). A white test mule was evaluated at Ford’s Dearborn Proving Grounds and was reputedly motorsport-oriented, while a scarlet sister car with a less hardcore spec was displayed at the 1967 Chicago Auto Show. All were designed in house, but construction and engineering was undertaken by Ford’s competition partner, Kar-Kraft.
Documentation from the period suggests that prospective production cars would be offered with two body styles: a closed coupe or an open roadster. It was also mooted as being a potential winner in the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) A-Production class and FIA Group 3 category of racing. Accordingly, production would initially be limited to 500 glass fibre-bodied cars in the first year, rising to no more than 1500 thereafter. Internal correspondence also suggests that Shelby American would have some involvement in the project.
Sadly, there was no business case for the Mach 2 to move forward and become a production model, even in limited numbers. However, that wasn’t quite the end of the story. After Semon ‘Bunkie’ Knudsen became president of Ford in 1968, he tasked Larry Shinoda with renewing and revamping the concept. A racy-looking machine dubbed Mach 2C reached the 1:1-scale model stage, but the scheme went no further.
As to the fate of the original Mach 2s, therein lies a story – or stories. They were kept in one of Kar-Kraft’s facilities that were dotted around Michigan between outings, whether in public or private. Photos exist of the cars in storage from the period. The original proof of concept prototype and the white car are known to have been destroyed in May 1969. It wasn’t a painless death for the latter, either: the petrol tank hadn’t been fully drained, hence the very loud bang that occurred moments after it was placed in the crusher.
The red car, by contrast, disappeared into the ether. Kar-Kraft used the car sporadically. It was displayed at Purdue University during an engineering fair at some point in early 1970, and it also appeared in a local parade. And then… nothing. Kar-Kraft, which was ostensibly a race car builder/team with only one client – Ford, was shuttered in November of that year, after which the story goes cold. Rumours persist that an overseas firm borrowed the car for evaluation but never returned it. Internet gossip suggests it may have been saved by a Ford employee and garaged ever since.
Mach 2 made quite a splash… then mysteriously disappeared.