When the C8 Corvette debuted back in 2019, the world finally got the mid-engined sports car that GM had been toying with for decades. And while there was some initial pushback from the purist crowd, the level of performance the new mid-engine platform offers up is staggering. Of course we already knew that was going to the case, as the Italians have been proving that for decades. That said, it’s not like America doesn’t have a history with mid-engined cars. The Ford GT40 is one of the most iconic and successful racing cars to ever hit tarmac, and is arguably the greatest clap-back of all time. But did you know the GT40 wasn’t the only mid-engined sports car that Ford was working on in the 1960s? Thanks to a write-up from Ford Performance, we have some info to share with you about the abandoned mid-engined Mustang Mach 2 project.
That is right folks, Ford was developing a mid-engine Mustang back in the high-era of the muscle car. Originally called the Road Sports Car, three variants of the Ford Mach 2 were developed over the years. The project began on March 22, 1966, when Ford’s Advanced Concepts Department was tasked with undergoing a new design study. The mid-engined sports car was not initially supposed to wear a Mustang badge at all, but it did borrow the pony car’s platform underpinnings during prototyping. This was seen as a way to keep development costs down, and possibly get a viable road car out the door for cheap. Roy Lunn of GT40 fame was tasked with heading the Mustang Mach 2 project, with the Chevrolet Corvette in his sights. Ford specifically wanted the car to be competitive in the SCCA A-Production and FIA Group III GT categories.
The three variants of the Ford Mach 2 were known as Mach 2A, B, and C. The cars were all designed at Ford, but the engineering took place at Kar-Kraft in Brighton, Michigan. Ford had plans for a coupe and roadster variant, as well as the racing car. The first Mach 2A was designed as a non-running prototype, but two more Mach 2As were built as driving machines. One was a street-going model, while the other was the lighter racing version. Both cars were powered by Ford’s 289 V8, which came mated to a five-speed transaxle. The 351 V8 was seen as a better engine for the Mustang Mach 2’s intended purpose, but it wasn’t yet available in production spec.
The Mustang Mach 2 was the second variation of the sports car, which was tossed around in 1967. This car seemed ready to get the green-light at Ford, but that never happened. The company didn’t want to use the redeveloped 2A’s underpinnings any longer, as asked the team to move the car over to the Maverick’s Delta platform. This was done to accommodate the big-block V8 engine they so desired. Development of the Mustang Mach 2 continued into 1968, when Ford decided they wanted the upcoming Boss 429 V8 behind the driver. This was an awesome idea, but they ran into a problem. They couldn’t find a transaxle that would work, and they didn’t want to spend the cash to build one from scratch. Due to this, only three clay models were ever built. They did all wear a Mustang badge, however.
The car started development in 1969, running concurrently with the Mach 2B for some time. This car was far more European in its styling, and featured a mid-mounted big-block. It only ever lived to be a design and costing study however, as Ford no longer saw the market for a mid-engined sports coupe by the end of 1969.
So then we were actually quite close to getting a mid-engined Ford Mustang back in 1969 it seems. Unfortunately for all of us, issues with sourcing a transaxle appear to have been the death-knell for this project. That’s a real shame, especially considering the reported Shelby model that was in the works. That said, what a different world we would live in today in the Ford Mustang Mach 2 was released back then. We would likely still have a mid-engined Ford Mustang on sale today, assuming the project didn’t end up killing the pony car. We’d love to see Ford try it out once again, however.