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Rare Ford Mustang Mach 1 shines at auction


Announced as the world's best selling sports car of 2016 earlier this year with a total of 395 000 units produced at its Flat Rock, Michigan plant since 2015, 98 000 of which were exported outside the United States, an earlier version of Ford's iconic Mustang caused a frenzy of its own when it came under the hammer at Park Village Auctions' most recent event on May 31st.

Originally a bank repossessed vehicle with 61 731 miles (99 346 km) on the clock, the rare 1971 Mustang Mach 1, fitted with the optional four-barrel 351 cubic inch (5.8-litre) Cleveland V8 with dual Ram Air intakes and mated to a three-speed Cruise-O-Matic gearbox, garnered R501 000 after bidding had commenced at R300 000.

Seemingly set to fetch below half-a-million rand after bidding stalled at R482 500, a showdown between two bidders ultimately saw the price spike until the hammer dropped at said price. The winning buyer however declined to comment when approached.

"Auctions represent a means for ordinary people to get their hands on exceptional cars. Today is proof of this as the lucky buyer just walked away with a collector’s item rarely found in retail outlets," Park Village Auctions' Clive Lazarus said.

Launched in 1968 as a performance package for the standard Mustang, the Mach 1 in question was based on the final redesign of the first generation pony car available from 1971-1973, and could be had with either a 302 cubic-inch (4.9-litre) Windsor V8, the aforementioned 351 with two-or four-barrel carburettors, the latter setup with or without the dual Ram Air intakes, and a 429 inch-cubic (7.0-litre) V8 in Cobra Jet (four-barrel Rochester carburettors) or Super Cobra Jet (four-barrel Holley carburettors) guises.

With 276 kW and 610 Nm of torque on tap in Super Cobra Jet spec, and fitted with the optional four-speed manual 'box, the Mach 1 could dispatch the 0-62 mph (96 km/h) sprint in 5.8 seconds and reach a theoretical top speed of 202 km/h, while models with the Cruise-O-Matic took 0.1 second longer and topped out at 198 km/h.

In 351 Ram Air Cleveland form however, the Mach 1 produced 213 kW and 502 Nm of torque, with the Cruise-O-Matic resulting in a one km/h drop from the four-speed manual's theoretical 207 km/h top whack. The 0-60 mph (62 km/h) dash also took longer at 7.4 seconds versus the manual's 6.6.

Capping the Mustang's hero status in a number of films off, the Mach 1 famously appeared as Eleanor in the original Gone in Sixty Seconds (1974) as a 1973 model year vehicle, and as James Bond's (Sean Connery) ride in 1971's Diamonds Are Forever.

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