On paper, one would think the Ford Mustang Dark Horse is an easy victor in this pony-versus-pony showdown. Packing 500 bhp and Ford's quick-shifting 10-speed automatic, it's the current performance champion in the Mustang family. Surely it can outrun a previous-generation Mach 1 with a six-speed manual, right?
The Mach 1 debuted in 2020 as far more than just an appearance package. Ford tweaked the 5.0-litre V8 to make 480 bhp, only 20 bhp away from the Dark Horse. That rating dropped to 470 in subsequent years, but it's still roughly equivalent to a new GT. We've seen just how close the seventh-gen Mustang trims are in a drag race, so there's little reason to doubt this will be a close match, too.
Gallery: 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse
There's more to this story, however. The Mach 1 in question isn't heavily modified, but it's not stock either. The video mentions an exhaust upgrade and an engine tune for E85 fuel. A specific power output isn't mentioned, but such changes should take the Mach 1 beyond 500 bhp. The Dark Horse doesn't have any mods, but it is equipped with a drag pack and sticky tyres. And while purists love to shift manually, there's no denying the 10-speed automatic rips through cogs with virtually no lag.
Pre-race predictions have the Dark Horse taking the win from a dig, with the Mach 1 claiming victory from a roll. That's exactly what we see in the first two races, but the second round is where things get interesting. With a considerably better launch, the Mach 1 fears no evil and ekes out a win from a standing start. The E85 tune certainly helped, but we can't ignore the driver nailing quick shifts with the six-speed.
At the end of the day, the Mach 1 notches three wins to one for the Dark Horse. Perhaps it's time to see what the new Mustang does with an E85 tune of its own.