Like a racehorse being led to the starting gate, the Ford Mustang Dark Horse was unveiled on Wednesday night and is raring to take to the track. The high-performance pony car harnesses a modified version of Ford’s 5.0L V8 Coyote engine with 500 horsepower chomping at the bit, making it the most track-capable street-legal 5.0L V8-powered Mustang ever produced.
Ford engineers pored over the Mustang Dark Horse for more than three years, fine-tuning every aspect of the high-performance pony car for the ultimate show of muscle. It’s the first new Mustang nameplate introduced since the Mustang Bullitt was unleashed back in 2001, serving as a successor to the Mustang Mach 1, which in turn was successor to the aforementioned Bullitt. Based on the forthcoming 2024 Ford Mustang, the Dark Horse features aggressive exterior styling, a “digitally immersive” cockpit and an athletic powertrain for an adrenaline-inducing ride.
The 5.0L eight-cylinder powerhouse under the hood utilizes a dual throttle body intake design along with modified connecting rods that were first designed to handle the 760 horses in the Mustang Shelby GT500. The Dark Horse’s 500 ponies meet the pavement by way of the standard six-speed manual transmission, or optional 10-speed automatic. Other performance upgrades include brake cooling ducts, an auxiliary engine cooler, rear axle cooler and lightweight radiator with improved cooling fans to keep the Mustang Dark Horse from working itself into a lather.
Inside, the Dark Horse features a driver-centric cockpit with a flat-bottom steering wheel, a 12.4-inch diagonal instrument cluster with customizable screens and a 13.2-inch Sync 4 center stack. The optional Dark Horse Appearance Pack grants Deep Blue Indigo seats with seat perforations underscored by hints of blue.
The exterior styling hints at the muscle riding just below the surface of this vehicle, sporting LED lights embedded in a gloss black grille with large trapezoidal nostrils. Blue Ember metallic paint will be available, a color that will be exclusive to the Dark Horse, and can be overlaid with applied or painted feature graphics on the roof and hood. It also sports new horse badging on the fenders, trunk and door sills, depicting a head-on view of a stallion for the first time in Mustang history.
“It’s aggressive, a bit sinister and it’s coming from the shadows head-on to win,” said Joel Piaskowski, global director of Ford Design.