Mysterious Mid-Engined Ford Prototype Identified as Mockup of 1967 Mach 2 Concept
It may have shared some components with the Mustang, but Dearborn archivists have confirmed it’s something completely different.
Last week, Ford Performance dug up the above photo of an inexplicably Mustang-esque, mid-engined sports car, and sent out an SOS seeking help from anyone who might know what it was. Since then, company archivists and fans of Ford's pony car alike have collaborated to rediscover this odd mule's true history, and they have found that it is not, in fact, a Mustang at all.
After speaking with designers who were employed at Ford around the time the photo was taken in 1966, Ford Archives and Brand Heritage Manager Ted Ryan helped Jalopnik confirm the vehicle was an early mockup of a vehicle that eventually became the 1967 Mach 2 concept. Its development was a secret, after-hours project undertaken by Ford's Special Vehicles Group in the basement of one of the company's design studios. Managed by Ford design chief Gene Bordinat, the Mach 2 was originally intended to be something of a successor to the Shelby Cobra, though that's obviously a dream that Bordinat was never able to realize.
At the time of the black-and-white 1966 photo up top, the Mach 2 chassis primarily served as an engineering and packaging testbed, per Jalopnik, and borrowed heavily from the Mustang's parts bin. It shared front suspension, steering, and brakes with the pony car, as well as some bodywork, specifically the front bumper and rear fenders.
But a pony car it wasn't, and the Mustang-derived panels were later traded for a one-off, fully fiberglass body. This contributed to the Mach 2's reportedly feathery curb weight of just 2,650 pounds which, when paired with independent rear suspension, would've made the Mach 2 as nimble as anything on the market. For a drivetrain, the Mach 2 would've paired a five-speed manual with a 4.7-liter "289 Hi-Po" V8 used in the Fairlane and Mustang, where it made 271 horsepower and 312 pound-feet of torque.
We can confidently say the Mach 2 would've made a serious performance car, one possibly worthy of being called a Poor Man's Miura. Alas, like most prototypes of mid-engined American cars, the Mach 2 never came to be, which leaves us to pine for the alternate timeline where the Mach 2 went on to win Le Mans, and where the Mercury Cougar still exists today.
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