How Is a Ford Mustang Dark Horse Different From a Standard Mustang?

It's intended for street and track usage

Ford Mustang Dark Horse
Getting up close with the Ford Mustang Dark Horse.

Few cars occupy the sheer volume of psychic real estate as the Ford Mustang. It sits at the crossroads of performance, design and automotive history, given the model’s close association with the legendary Carroll Shelby. (It’s probably worth mentioning here that I grew up in a house where the book Shelby’s Wildlife: The Cobras And Mustangs had a prominent place on the bookshelf.)

All of which makes this week’s announcement of the Ford Mustang Dark Horse a significant one for longtime followers of Mustang lore. But it also begs a question: how does the Dark Horse differ from the standard Mustang?

According to Ford’s announcement, the Dark Horse utilizes a modified version of the Coyote V8 engine found in standard Mustangs — in this case, with distinctive piston connecting rods that hearken back to the Ford Performance Mustang Shelby GT500. The automaker has deemed this “the most powerful 5.0-liter V8 ever” — which connects to the overall ethos of a car that’s equally at home driving on roads and being taken to the track.

The Mustang Dark Horse also features both transmission and engine oil coolers, the latter of which is one of several features implemented with track use in mind. That also includes brake cooling ducts and a real axle cooler, as well as an option to add carbon fiber wheels from Carbon Revolution. A shade of metallic paint, Blue Ember, will also be available for the Dark Horse only.

The design of the Dark Horse accentuates air flow in several ways, including what Ford refers to as “a dual throttle-body intake design.” With projections of 500 horsepower from the aforementioned V8, it’s not hard to see why air flow is important to this car for reasons of both performance and engineering.

There’s likely to be more news about Dark Horses in the future, given that Ford’s announcement also provides details on two versions of this designed for tracks only: the Mustang Dark Horse S and Dark Horse R. One big question left to answer, though, is this: what’s it like to drive a Dark Horse compared with its standard Mustang counterpart? Hopefully we’ll know more about that in the coming months.

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