Ford Mustang Dark Horse: when a GT just isn’t enough

Published Sep 26, 2022


Detroit - When a Mustang GT just isn’t enough, there’s always the option of the Dark Horse which is a fantastic bit of marketing from Ford linking it to the iconic Mustang pony.

A team of dedicated Ford engineers, designers and experts worked for more than three years to create a street and track-capable performance Mustang making the Dark Horse the first new performance name since the Bullitt was introduced in 2001.

“We’ve taken the all-new Mustang, the best of our new 5.0-litre V8 performance, and added power, improved the aero, tyres, steering and provided an interactive cockpit to create a Mustang that goes beyond any 5.0-litre Mustang before it,” said Ed Krenz, Ford Mustang chief nameplate engineer.

The beating heart under the bonnet is the 5.0-litre Coyote V8 engine, specially modified with piston connecting rods introduced in the Mustang Shelby GT500.

The Dark Horse is differentiated by a dual throttle-body intake to improve engine breathing and accentuated by the large open nostrils on the front of the grille.

If you choose the six-speed Tremec manual transmission (and why wouldn’t you?) you get a 3D-printed titanium shift ball and a separate Dark Horse transmission oil cooler.

The Dark Horse also gets brake cooling NACA ducts, an auxiliary engine oil cooler, rear axle cooler and a light-weight radiator with more powerful cooling fans.

Underneath the sculptured body the chassis has been tweaked, there are larger rear sway bars and MagnaRide shocks that monitor wheel and tyre movement 1 000 times a second.

Stomping on the accelerator without losing traction is courtesy of a Torsen rear differential and Pirelli P ZERO tyres with staggered fitting wheels (19-inch by 9.5-inch in front and 19-inch by 10-inch at the rear).

If you’re looking for more fun and traction the optional Handling Package improves aerodynamics with a rear wing that includes an integrated Gurney Flap, similar to the Ford GT as well as stiffer springs, larger front and rear swaybars and wider tyres.

And if you want to go the whole nine yards slap on lightweight carbon fibre wheels from Carbon Revolution.

New Dark Horse badges were designed and are placed on the bumpers, bonnet and door sills with an anodised version of the pony still on the front with each car receiving an individual chassis number.

Inside there’s a chunkier suede wrapped flat-bottomed steering wheel with Indigo Blue stitching and if you opt for the 10-speed auto the paddle shifters are anodised silver.

The digital instrument cluster is fully customisable including a very cool Fox Body cluster option.

The Fox body ran from 1979 to 1993 with the instrument cluster showing the dials of the ones built from 1987 to 1993 with white needles including the backlit green when the headlights come on.

“If you have the flexibility of being digital it’s easy to play and configure different set-ups when you’re designing the car before it goes into production, so we decided on the Fox Body cluster because of the popularity of the design over the years,” said Craig Sandvig one of the designers on the Mustang.

Blue seat belts, blue stitching across the door panels and seats as well as Black Alley interior trim fittings sets it apart from the rest of the herd.

And if the rumbling sound from the exhausts isn’t a good enough soundtrack there’s the latest B&O sound system with 12 speakers and a subwoofer.

“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, Ford Design. “The visual changes, both inside and out, convey 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.”