My Car Quest

May 30, 2024

The 1967 Ford Mach I Mustang: Where Racing Influenced The Breed (Even If Only The Prototype)

by Wallace Wyss –

Even though in 1967 Ford had a good deal of irons in the fire with the ol’ Snakemeister, Carroll Shelby, the existence of this car without a hint of involvement by Shelby is proof to me that Ford had a Plan B; Ford Mustang after Shelby.

What they had to do was invent a new performance car that didn’t have the Shelby name on it but still looked ready to race.

Ford Mustang Mach I Concept

The power-dome hood in this sketch is very similar to the design on the 2010-2011 Mustang.

This prototype was called Mach I, something about the speed of sound (officially 742 mph at 32°F at sea level). Of course at the time, 1967, we had airplanes that could do well over mach 2 (the SR71) but we didn’t want the Russians to know that.

In late 1966, Ford was already looking to finalizing the design for the 1969 model. The Mustang Mach I was a four seater floorpan made into a two-seat fastback with a chopped top that would’ve made George Barris proud. Each of the rear pillars featured a flip-open racing-style gas cap similar to those on Fifties Indy. And in the case of the race car influencing the street car, they had big ol’ air-scoops on the flanks. The hatchback, which wouldn’t appear on a production model until the 1974 Mustang II. I’d like to credit to Chuck McHose, at least his name is on the drawings.

1966 Ford Mustang Mach I Concept

Now I don’t think Ford ever built production Mustangs with a 427 but this one had them with four four-barrel Weber carbs.’ The drawings show the hood and fenders coming up as one, I don’t know if it was built like that, sort of funny car style. They also had a movable rear spoiler which I think didn’t go into production on Detroit cars until decades later (Chrysler Crossfire?).

Ford’s experimental one took three seconds to deploy and depended on vacuum pressure. I don’t know, three seconds sounds like forever if you need a couple hundred pounds downforce RIGHT NOW.

1966 Ford Mustang Mach I Concept

The quad exhausts never made it onto Mustang but now that I showed this photo, some Corvette designer will say “I wasn’t born yet” but they have been on recent Corvettes, even the one they make now.

There was one major flaw to the outside rear view mirrors being put on the side windows. That meant you couldn’t roll down the side windows which would induce in me severe claustrophobia. Oh, there was a little pop-open “toll window” to pay the tolls on toll roads but I can just see me, my nose trying to scoop in some air poking out that window.

Ford Mustang Mach I Concept

And the tires. Well, I remember those gold-lined Firestone Indy tires being all the rage in California in ’65 but the truth was they were not for the street. They were supposed to be racing tires. Maybe Ford made a street version later but those Indy 500 tires sure set you apart as a serious driver back then.

Ford did two kinds of headlights, indicating that this was not just a one-hit-wonder, that they were thinking of evolving it. One used Cibie-or-Marchal shaped rectangular lamps , open, as they say, the other had plexiglass covered headlamps. Both designs would have been illegal for production cars back then in the U.S.

Ford Mustang Mach I Concept

The car had a full racing interior with wrap around bucket seats, racing shoulder harnesses, the whole nine yards. But I am unsure if it actually ran.

Now I haven’t heard hide-nor-hair of this car in many a year. When Ford dumped dozens of prototypes in 2002, in a sale conducted by Christies, I don’t remember this one rolling across the block.

Ford Mustang Mach I Concept

Is it still there? Well, I dunno. Once Ford loaned me a large key ring with dozens of keys and I went poking about in Dearborn, trying the keys on different buildings. Some had prototype cars gathering dust, some just had junk. I had the feeling they have no idea what they had in storage.

Anyway, I get a kick out of the car even existing in the first place. Though McHose and Pete Stacey had designed the ’67 Shelby clay model right at Shelby American, it wasn’t for Shelby that they did the Mach I. Of course Ford came out with the Boss 302 in ’69, moving one giant step away from Shelby (though he got one of the contracts to race them) and Ford eventually had the tamer Mach I Mustang production car. But, ironies of ironies, last time I looked Ford and the newly reconstituted Shelby company are still making Shelbys….

Another mystery wrapped up inside an enigma from the world of prototypes…..

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Ford Mustang Mach I Concept

The Mach 1, as it was shown at the 1967 Detroit Auto Show with a face closer to production Mustangs of the time. The low-cut roofline and racing-type fuel cap never made it to production, but the hatchback did eventually arrive on the 1974 Mustang II.

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of SHELBY: The Man, the Cars, the Legend, available from Enthusiast Books, Hudson, WI.



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The 1967 Ford Mach I Mustang:  Where Racing Influenced The Breed (Even If Only The Prototype)
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The 1967 Ford Mach I Mustang: Where Racing Influenced The Breed (Even If Only The Prototype)
You have probably never seen this Ford Mustang prototype.


  1. Michael Antin says
  2. Sketches and design by Charlie McHose. He was super capable designer that did some of the best work at Ford during this period. Shinoda, Herb Grasse, and Ken Dowd were all together in the studios at more or less the same time – the stories of street races with these guys is legendary.

    I believe Charlie and clay modeler Joe Farrer worked together on the 67 Shelby – McHose being primarily responsible for the Shelby scoops and much of the front end treatment you would see on the 69 and 70 Shelby.

  3. Ciaran Payne says

    They should have gone into production with the Mach 1shown at the Detroit Motor Show in 1967,for me it is the best looking of all the varieties and still looks great today.

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