Ford’s surprise drops on the racetracks with a power of 500 hp 2024 Mustang Dark Horse

The new model, which debuted at the 2022 Detroit Auto Show, marks the first all-new performance Mustang name in more than 20 years.

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Ford had a crowd of media, owners and enthusiasts gathered in downtown Detroit to welcome the new seventh-generation Mustang, but also to joke when the event host hastily said “Goodnight” after introducing the coupe, EcoBoost and V8 convertible models. Turns out the action wasn’t over, and even as the internet saw pre-written stories about the launch, written by journalists using previously provided material, Ford did what’s increasingly difficult in this digitally enabled world and surprised us all with an entirely new performance model that no one expected.

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It’s called “Dark Horse,” and it’s the brand’s first new performance name on a Mustang since Bullitt was introduced in 2001. There’s a Dark Horse S for the track champion who also wants to blow up town; and a Dark Horse R made specifically for racing, something the brand says it plans to do a lot in the car, including in Le Mans.

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Ford says it’s targeting a 500-horsepower V8 Coyote engine that will run “480-plus” on regular V8 models. Engineers managed to get the extra horses out of the most powerful Coyote V8 to enter the Mustang by using piston connecting rods first used in the Shelby GT500, and by adding parts to make it stay cool at speed, like the auxiliary engine oil cooler, rear axle cooler, and an improved coolant.

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Ford also borrowed optional carbon-fiber wheels from the Shelby stable, marking the first time Shelby has partnered with an out-of-home product. Power is handled by a Tremec-exclusive six-speed manual, or a 10-speed automatic, and there’s also a Torsen limited-slip differential.

Further tuning was done to the chassis and suspension, while 19-inch front six-piston Brembo brakes with 13.9-inch rotors were added. All Dark Horses will ride on adaptive MagneRide dampers and have 19-inch wheels shod with Pirelli PZero PZ4 summer tires. The handling package adds an adjustable rear spoiler, stiffer springs, larger sway bars, and wider Pirelli tires.

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Visually distinguishing the Dark Horse isn’t difficult thanks to a dark overall look with black exterior paint, darkened LED headlights, a gloss black grille, trapezoidal gills, darker exhaust tips and a rear spoiler. Plus there is the insignia, which, in my opinion, looks a lot more like equine dogs, almost as if you hired a Doberman for the costume design rather than an actual horse.

Blue Oval also took the launch opportunity to announce its intentions to race with the new Dark Horse, setting sights on GT3, GT4 and even NASCAR with the upcoming model.

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