- with seven motors and a targeted 1400 horsepower, the mach-e 1400, the work of vaughn gittin jr. and ford, is built for thrill rides.
- the 1400 is all-wheel drive, but removable front driveshafts allow for maximum drift action.
- like the production mach-e, the race car has four doors. and back seats.
ford invited skepticism when it decided to hang the mustang name on its upcoming electric crossover, the mustang mach-e. a four-door ev wearing a mustang badge? what's next? an electric race car with body panels made of flax? actually, yes. also seven motors, all-wheel drive, and 1400 horsepower. ford is pretty sure that the mustang mach-e 1400—vaughn gittin jr.'s new four-seat hell sled—is worthy of the badge worn by your 5.0.
gittin jr. is no stranger to fast mustangs. his race outfit, rtr vehicles, built ken block's hoonicorn, the twin-turbo all-wheel-drive mustang-bodied tube-frame beast that set a seemingly unreachable bar for drift craziness. gittin jr. himself runs an 1100-hp mustang in formula d. and yes, he's excited about an electric car. specifically, the winged monster in his rtr garage in concord, north carolina, where this project started more than a year ago.
normally, ford builds a car, and then gittin jr. sets about tuning it to the stratosphere. but in this case, development work on the 1400 race car and the production mach-e happened concurrently. "as soon as they could get me a body in white, we got started," gittin jr. says.
underneath the flared fenders and pikes peak wing is a production mach-e unibody, albeit one that's caged and reinforced for a carnival-ride duty cycle. "it's designed around the idea of going all out for a couple minutes at a time," says dave pericak, ford's guy in charge of the mustang, bronco, and gt. "warm-up lap, hot lap, cool down." the 15.5-inch dash touchscreen is also a production piece, though what it's doing in a drift car remains to be seen.
the mach-e 1400's 56.8 kwh lithium-ion battery is sized for thrill rides, not road trips. that could mean drifting, lapping a road course, or just terrifying passengers in a parking lot for about 45 minutes between charges. the front driveshafts can be removed to create a rear-drive drifter or bolted back in for time-attack track mode. of course, the car can drift in all-wheel-drive mode, too, as attested by the spray of shredded rubber that coats the inside of the front fender wells.
"the main advantage of going rear-wheel drive for drifting is that the front driveshafts limit steering angle," gittin jr. says. take them out and the car can crank its front tires over like a zero-turn mower's casters. but that means you forgo a measure of power, as three of the seven motors power the front axle. "you can adjust the torque bias, front to rear," gittin jr. says. "but even with no preset torque bias, it inherently skews rearward, since there are four motors in back and three in front."
the mach-e 1400's prominent aero pieces—splitter and dive planes up front, wing and diffuser at the rear—generate about 2300 pounds of downforce at 160 mph, and the car is set up to be aerodynamically stable even when it's sideways. the wing is carbon fiber, but the hood is a composite based on woven flax. ford wants the mach-e 1400 to serve as a test bed for new technologies, and not just the ones devoted to rapid tire incineration.
for instance: sound. what should an electric drift car sound like? the answer, it seems, is anything you want. the mach-e 1400's diffuser is probably the first to include speaker-grille perforations, behind which lies an lrad 100x military loudspeaker that can deliver the soundtrack of your choice at drive-noriega-from-his-compound amplitude. everyone seems to expect a high-pitched electronic "screeeee!" but may we suggest van halen?
customizable sound is just the beginning. "this is infinitely tunable," gittin jr. says. "it could behave any way you want. when i first drove it, i was shocked. it's quick on a level i've never experienced." gittin jr. grabs a laptop and queues up an in-car video of him and ken block—two of the planet's most horsepower-jaded humans. gittin jr. flattens the accelerator, and both of them start deliriously laughing. ford hasn't put any numbers on the mach-e 1400's performance, but it's freak-out-ken-block quick.
gittin jr. would clearly love to demonstrate this for us, but at the time of our visit, the mustang mach-e 1400 is still a secret, and it's being sequestered in a small rtr garage. he takes a look around, making some mental calculations, and declares, "i think i could rip some donuts in here." a minute or so later, the garage is filled with the noise of tortured rubber with dense clouds of tire smoke wafting toward the ceiling. yeah, that's a mustang.