We recently had the opportunity to see Ford’s new high-tech wind tunnel. And while we were there, we also learned more about the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse, specifically its aerodynamics. The sports car has had an extra level of aerodynamic development, and some nifty aero features, not just because of Ford’s facilities, but because the Dark Horse was actually developed in the light. Let us explain.
One of the Dark Horse’s aerodynamicists, Jonathan Gesek, said that a few of the hot Mustang models from the past few years were underground projects. The Mustang GT Level 2 Performance Pack and the Mach 1 were both projects that were done by engineers outside of normal hours, without a real budget. They were not approved by upper management until after the engineers had done the development work and shown them off. While those vehicles turned out great, obviously there were limits to what could be done when you’re not getting official time on the clock to work on them. But after these projects were successful, upper management gave the greenlight for the same engineers to create the Dark Horse. And that has led to some of the special aerodynamic aids we’ll cover, here.
Starting from the front, the Dark Horse has a unique fascia, and the version with the handling package has an extra deep front spoiler. Brake ducts come along like on the GT Performance Pack Level 2, and there are engine intake ducts in the front grille.
Then there’s the hood scoop. This scoop does not strictly provide cooling, but is rather just there for aero. In fact, Gesek said that he went to the powertrain team to see if they could use some ventilation for cooling as a bit of an excuse to use budget on it. They said they didn’t need it, but obviously Gesek and the team were able to still work it in. The scoop specifically provides much more downforce.
Underneath the car, there is of course a rear diffuser, but there are also some strakes toward the front of the car. These also add downforce. Some of the design choices did do more than just add downforce, though. There’s a grille between the exhaust tips that hides the opening to provide ventilation for the differential cooler, which evidently wasn’t initially being cooled as well as the engine.
The Dark Horse’s rear wing is another unique piece to the car, particularly the Gurney flap. Again, it helps with downforce, but it’s also removable. So depending on your needs and preferences, say, you want a bit less drag for better top speed, you have that adjustment.
On the whole, Gesek also revealed that the Dark Horse overall makes more downforce than a Mach 1 with the handling pack. But at the same time, it creates it with less overall drag, and the team feels that the car is easier to drive fast than the Mach 1. We’re looking forward to finding out first hand.