Ford revealed its redesigned 2024 Mustang on Wednesday at the 2022 Detroit auto show, but the new design wasn’t the only surprise. Included in the range this time is a new track-focused Mustang Dark Horse model which boasts a version of the familiar Coyote 5.0-liter V-8 with a targeted output of 500 hp.
The Dark Horse, a trademark for which was discovered in June, isn’t actually a single model but a new performance series. In addition to the track-focused but street-legal regular Dark Horse, there will also be a track-only Dark Horse S and race-ready Dark Horse R. But more on those models later.
The track-focused Dark Horse is the model most buyers will be keen on. The car is comparable to the outgoing Mustang’s Mach 1 grade, in that it boasts extra power, more aggressive aerodynamics, and a chassis honed on the track. However, it doesn’t go all the way on the performance dial like the previous Shelby Mustangs.
The extra power is courtesy of a unique configuration for the 5.0-liter V-8, which relies on connecting rods from the previous Shelby GT500, as well as a new dual throttle-body intake design said to improve air flow into the engine. Paired to the engine is a standard 6-speed manual with a titanium shifter ball and transmission oil cooler, but the Mustang’s 10-speed automatic can be swapped in as an alternative. And crucial for long track days, the car is also fitted with an auxiliary engine oil cooler, a rear axle cooler, more powerful cooling fans, and a unique radiator that’s lighter than stock but better at cooling.
When it comes to the chassis, Ford engineers made some unique calibrations and added larger rear sway bars, a strut tower brace, a K-brace, and uprated front dampers. Magnetic ride dampers are standard at all four corners. There’s also a Torsen rear differential and powerful Brembo brakes that include 6-piston calipers biting down on 13.9-inch rotors up front.
The standard wheels are a staggered 19-inch set of alloys that come wrapped in Pirelli P Zero tires, but lighter carbon-fiber wheels will be made available after launch.
Also available will be a Handling Package that adds stiffer springs, larger front and rear sway bars, a revised rear wing with an integrated Gurney flap, and wider wheels measuring 19×10.5 inches up front and 19×11 at the rear, or an inch wider front and rear than the standard wheels.
You’ll easily spot the Dark Horse thanks to unique styling treatments like the darkened surrounds for the LED headlights, darkened exhaust tips, gloss black grille with trapezoidal nostrils, and unique front fascia. Aerodynamics elements include the front splitter, side skirts, and fixed rear wing. The Dark Horse has a unique badge with a forward-facing horse, and the model comes with an exclusive shade of metallic paint called Blue Ember. Various graphics and blue paint for the brake calipers will be available.
There are treatments for the interior, too. The list includes a thicker steering wheel wrapped in suede and featuring blue accent stitching. The blue stitching extends to the door panels and seats, gear shift surround, and center console, and the seats are also blue and feature their own perforation pattern. Models equipped with the automatic also receive silver-colored shifter paddles.
The hardcore Dark Horse S and Dark Horse R models won’t be street legal and will come stripped of any features not required for track use. In place of these will be an FIA-certified roll cage, safety nets, a race seat with safety belts (front passenger seat available), and a steering wheel with quick disconnect. There will also be electrical disconnects and a fire suppression system.
Most of the standard controls will also be replaced by dedicated switches and knobs located on a new central panel. There will also be new controls for features like a pit speed limiter and a performance data recorder.
Performance upgrades over the regular Dark Horse will include upgraded brakes, Multimatic DSSV dampers, an adjustable rear wing, high-flow exhaust, hood pins, and tow hooks.
The Dark Horse R will be similar to the S but feature serialization that approves it for racing, including potentially in a new one-make series. Some of the additional upgrades will be strategic seam welding, a larger fuel cell, and unique wheels.
The 2024 Ford Mustang reaches dealerships next summer. Specific timing and pricing for the Dark Horse models will be announced closer to that date.
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