Ford has unveiled the highly anticipated and highly spy photo leaked new 2024 Mustang!
And it looks amazing. Although understandably, mostly aesthetically different only to the previous model.
The big news, however, is the release of a totally new model, and the first new series of a performance car from Ford since the Mach1 – the renewal of the Shelby GT500 doesn’t count as that was established prior to the Mach1.
We’re talking of course about the new Dark Horse Mustang which is a factory built and track ready performance beast of a car!
It seems that Ford has been listening to their customers and have a deep understanding of their customers and ow they want to use their cars – in particular the Mustang! And the answer of course is that Mustang owners want to enjoy what is the heritage of Mustang and that is the exhilarating power and performance of the race genetics and DNA from the 60’s.
To most people, that means Shelby. But of course, there were many other aftermarket tuners of the great Mustang and in particular, Ford’s in-house performance team also did great work which resulted in the Mach1 and the variations.
In particular, the Ford Performance team has provided upgrade improvements such as transmission oil cooler, rear axle cooler, auxiliary engine cooler and improved coolant. Those items alone indicate a very serious commitment to the racetrack. And there’s also the aero that we haven’t mentioned and Ford’s claim to NACA ducts and brake cooling!
“Dark Horse S is designed for the weekend track day enthusiast while Dark Horse R has been developed for racing.” says Ford’s official statement.
The performance improvements begin with the well-known and by now, well-worn in 5.0-litre Coyote engine!
Displacing 500bhp the trusty and well proven V8 feels like it has more power available to it than Ford have claimed, and that is characteristic. When Ford Australia used the same motor for the 2011 GT-P Falcon – what a legend of a car – the claimed output from factory was well below the figures that started appearing in Dyno charts around the country that pointed to 500 horsepower. We do believe that the current power rating of the Dark Horse is a starting point for homologation and can only get higher in the coming years – or so we hope!
In that case, the power came from a Harrop Supercharger discretely and elegantly placed in the valley of the motor. In the case of the Dark Horse, the updated Coyote V8 has been engineered with a dual throttle body, a new ECU tune and the conrods from the Shelby GT500!
The motor is mated perfectly to a Tremec six-speed manual which is also a very well proven pair, and Torsen limited-slip diff. The Dark Horse is also available with the Ford 10-speed automatic for those who prefer that, but in all honesty, a Dark Horse without a stick has well missed the point of this car!
The suspension is the Ford Performance bracing and MagneRide active suspension which makes sure that the rear end of the Dark Horse remains firmly planted where it should be.
The six-piston Brembo brakes and wide wheels (9.5 inches front, 10 inches rear), provide further stability and control and the Pirelli PZ4s tyres will be standard from factory. This is genuine track ready rubber, however true race enthusiasts will have their own preferences.
Ford also offers an optional Handling Package which includes stiffer springs, bigger sway bars, wheels that are a full one inch wider. The rubber is Pirelli Trofeo and a great looking rear wing with a proper Gurney flap keeps the pressure down to help that rubber grip as intended.
The Dark Horse is a genuine, factory built track ready car. Ford goes further though to offer two types; The Dark Horse `S’ which is a fully stripped-out, track ready Mustang with all the necessary safety kit, as well as an adjustable rear wing, Multimatic DSSV dampers and even a pit speed limiter. For the more adventurous, Ford offers a path to move up to the Dark Horse `R’ which includes seam welding, long-range fuel tank, Ford Performance wheels and special serialisation that marks the car as a race-car – in fact Ford says that this `approves it for racing’. Which is an OEM certification but I’m sure an insurance company probably won’t be as excited about this certification as the owner.
If we stop to think about what’s really happening here though, and here’s the really good news for petrol driven, stick-shift V8 lovers, the Dark Horse is a prototype platform for Ford’s big motorsports ambitions for the future and short term coming years. To prove this further, Ford has announced an unwavering committment to motorsports and in particular, the Executive Chairman, William Ford, explicitly mentioned the highly anticipated Gen3 Australian Supercars Mustang next year, as well as purpose-built cars for NASCAR and in the NHRA’s Factory X division, as well as a factory-backed Mustang GT3 IMSA which will run at Daytona in 2024.
For those with greater ambitions – and appropriately sized wallets – Ford is also offering customer versions of its GT3-class Mustang, as well as one homologated for GT4.
All great news for a brilliant future of motor-racing ahead.