Ford Mustang Dark Horse Stampedes Into Detroit

© Ford Motor Company2024 Ford Mustang Reveal
On September 14, 2022, thousands of Mustang fans gathered at The Stampede, an event at Hart Plaza along the Detroit riverfront in Michigan, for the debut of the all-new, seventh generation Mustang. As expected, Ford revealed the Mustang with a new turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, as well as a Mustang GT with a new version of the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 engine (expected to produce 480 horsepower). But the big surprise was an all-new performance version called Ford Mustang Dark Horse. In another unanticipated announcement, Ford revealed that the new Mustang will compete in various racing series around the world — including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord Mustang Dark Horse
The first new performance Mustang series added since the 2001 premiere of the Mustang Bullitt, the Ford Mustang Dark Horse will also include a track-only Dark Horse S and a Dark Horse R as two of six new racing Mustangs. Based on the all-new 2024 Mustang, Dark Horse will be powered by a 5.0-liter Coyote V8 engine targeting 500 horsepower. With an available handling package, the Dark Horse will be the most track-capable 5.0-liter V8 street-legal Mustang ever.

© Ford Motor CompanyTrack-Capable Mustang
“For decades, Mustang has competed against the most premium brands on the greatest world stages and won,” said Jim Farley, CEO of Ford Motor Company. “We surprised everyone, and we’re going to surprise them again with a track-capable Mustang that puts a new level of performance, styling and American engineering in the hands of everyday customers who still want the thrill and excitement of a V8 sports car,” Farley enthused.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord Mustang Dark Horse
The most powerful 5.0-liter Coyote V8 engine to date features modified piston connecting rods first used on the 760-horsepower Ford Performance Mustang Shelby GT500, as well as a dual throttle-body intake design. The Coyote V8 gets mated to a 6-speed TREMEC manual transmission with a 3D-printed titanium shift knob and a Torsen limited-slip differential. Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is optional. In addition, Dark Horse adds brake cooling ducts, an auxiliary oil cooler, a transmission oil cooler, a rear axle cooler, as well as a lighter radiator with improved cooling capability and more powerful cooling fans.

© Ford Motor CompanyMustang Dark Horse Handling
Mustang Dark Horse adds unique chassis tuning including a larger rear sway bar, heavy-duty front shocks, a lightweight Ford Performance strut-tower brace, and standard MagneRide shocks that monitor wheel and tire movement to optimize performance based on the driving surface and selected drive mode. The Mustang Dark Horse also has Brembo 6-piston front calipers and 13.9-inch front rotors, as well as standard Pirelli P ZERO tires fitted to 19-inch wheels that are 9.5 inches wide at the front and 10 inches wide at the rear.

© Ford Motor CompanyHandling Package
The Ford Mustang Dark Horse also has an available Handling Package that includes a unique fixed rear wing with an integrated Gurney flap to improve aerodynamics by increasing downforce. Other additions are stiffer springs, larger sway bars and wider Pirelli Trofeo tires fitted to 19-inch wheels: 10.5 inches wide at the front and 11 inches wide at the rear.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord Mustang Dark Horse Design
The Ford Mustang Dark Horse sports a unique gloss black grille flanked by trapezoidal air intakes. Black trim below the headlights extends to the outer edges of the darkened LEDs. An aggressive lower front bumper includes gloss black trim with a flat black splitter below. At the center of the grille rides a dark, anodized Mustang pony emblem. New Dark Horse badges on the fenders, trunk and door sills feature a forward-facing horse. Dark Horse also adds more aggressive side skirts, a race-inspired rear diffuser, a fixed rear wing and darkened quad exhaust tips.

© Ford Motor CompanyDual-Purpose Performance
“It’s more than a new name. Dark Horse brings a new design language to Mustang that is refined yet perfectly suited to its dual purpose of street and track performance,” said Joel Piaskowski, global director of Ford Design. “The visual changes, both inside and out, message that Dark Horse has a directed performance focus. The mechanical changes reinforce the purpose of Dark Horse, providing the driver with increased confidence and competence,” Piaskowski noted.

© Ford Motor CompanyDark Horse Interior
Inside, the Ford Mustang Dark Horse features a thicker, flat-bottom steering wheel with Bright Indigo Blue accent stitching, a drive mode button and anodized silver paddle shifters when equipped with the 10-speed automatic. A digital cockpit features a 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster that flows into the 13.2-inch SYNC 4 center screen behind a single piece of glass, angled toward the driver. The interior features Black Alley trim with a dark metallic gloss, blue seat belts and contrasting blue stitching on the seats, door panels and center console. An available Dark Horse Appearance Pack adds Deep Indigo Blue seats with unique seat perforation.

© Ford Motor CompanyFor the Track: Dark Horse S, Dark Horse R
Ford will offer two motorsport versions of Dark Horse for track-only, non-street use: a Dark Horse S for the track enthusiast, and a Dark Horse R further developed for racing. Ford will build the Dark Horse S without non-essential parts and trim pieces but adds an FIA-certified safety cage, safety nets, race seat, safety belts, quick-disconnect steering wheel, electrical disconnects, a fire-suppression system and central control panel for the driver. Dark Horse S also includes upgraded brakes, Multimatic DSSV dampers, adjustable ride height, a pit speed limiter, a data acquisition system, hood pins, tow hooks, an adjustable rear wing and a full exhaust system. A passenger seat is optional. The Mustang Dark Horse R includes all the upgrades and features of Dark Horse S, and also adds seam welding, a fuel cell and Ford Performance Parts wheels. According to Ford, Mustang Dark Horse R features special serialization for racing approval.

© Ford Motor CompanyMustang Racing
“We’re taking this all-new Mustang to competition racing and the very definition of a Dark Horse is the perfect fit to introduce this vehicle to the Mustang brand,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports. “With our race program development underway, we’re confident we have the right car for success,” Rushbrook observed.

© Ford Motor CompanyFuture of Ford Mustang Motorsports
In addition to Mustang Dark Horse S and R, Ford announced a return to factory-backed GT3 racing with the Ford Mustang GT3 developed by Ford Performance and Multimatic. Powered by a 5.4-liter Coyote-based V8 engine, the Mustang GT3 will be available for customers beginning with the 2024 Rolex 24 at Daytona — the first race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. A new Mustang GT4 will also be available for customers and will debut in 2023 to compete in GT4 classes in series such as IMSA, SRO and FIA GT. A new version of the Mustang will debut next year in the Australian Supercars series; new Mustang models will also be made available for NASCAR Cup Series and NHRA Factory X racing in following years. Ford also announced an exciting return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with details to follow at a future date.

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