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The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Handling Package Gets Some Pretty Special Wheels

They're more than just pretty rollers wrapped in rubber.

The 2021 Mustang Mach 1 is shaping up to be a potent beast, a replacement of sorts for the Bullitt variant and a serious upgrade over the standard GT. While it's not going to fill a GT350-shaped hole in anyone's heart, with that Shelby model's discontinuation, the Mach 1 is the stoutest Mustang south of the superlative GT500. But we're taking a closer look today at the wheels on the optional Handling Package, serious and intricate units that are more than just nice-looking alloys.

The Mach 1 Handling Package wheels are made of forged aluminum, which generally is stronger and lighter than wheels made via casting. That means that even though they're an inch wider than the base wheels, Ford has shaved two pounds off per roller. Notice the layering—some spokes appear behind the others. It's a complicated split-spoke design, basically one pattern laid on top of a second. Ford says the appearance was inspired by bridge trusses and, strangely enough, bird nests.

Two pounds of weight savings might not sound like a lot, but it's not just any weight. Wheels represent unsprung weight and rotational mass. Reducing weight at the wheels lets more horsepower find its way to the pavement, and improves handling—just the thing for a track-focused car like the Mach 1 with the Handling Package.

Ford says the "Y" shape of the spokes is a design callout to the Mach-E GT prototype's wheel design, and inspired by various wheels on ST models. We say the pattern looks a lot like that used for the spectacular Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition's wheels, but more subtle and complex.

Speaking of the Mach-E, the designer of these wheels—Mark Kaski—was lead designer on one of the most famous cars to die an infamous death: the GM EV1. He's now at Ford, obviously, and did the 2015 Mustang line of wheels as well as many of the exterior design elements for the Mach-E.

Those wheels will be spun by a 5.0-liter Coyote V-8, a regular cross-plane crank one albeit endowed with a host of GT350 bits. Like the Bullitt's engine, it shares its intake manifold with its more rarified Shelby predecessor, but it also gains the GT350's oil filter adapter and engine-oil cooler. The latter two boost oil-cooling capacity by 50 percent.

While the Handling Package wheels are unique, the Mach 1's transmission options aren't. The Shelby GT350 donates its Tremec TR-3160 manual, and the 10-speed auto is shared with other Ford products. That said, Handling Package cars are only available with the manual.

The unique Handling Package wheels are 20 inches in diameter all around and measure 10.5 inches wide in the front and 11 inches wide in the back. They're wrapped in sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.

The Mach 1 will be available in spring of 2021, with pricing starting at $52,915. The Handling Package is a $3,500 option.