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Watch the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse Clock 130 MPH at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Mike Levine, the Ford Blue division's product communications director, has recently posted a clip of the Dark Horse doing its thing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The manual-equipped car in the featured clip sounds exactly as you'd expect from a double-overhead-cam V8 with dual throttle bodies, a naturally-aspirated engine that's exclusive to the Mustang at press time.
2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse at Charlotte Motor Speedway 20 photos
Photo: Mike Levine on Twitter
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The Dark Horse in question hits 130 miles per hour (just under 210 kilometers per hour) at one point, which is nothing for a performance-oriented 'Stang with sticky rubber and track-oriented chassis tuning. As for top speed, the GT-based Dark Horse is much obliged to reach 168 miles per hour (270 kilometers per hour).

Coincidentally, that's also the top speed of the Mach 1 before it. Unlike the Bullit and GT, the Mach 1 came with a Tremec-supplied manual rather than a Getrag. This differentiation applies to the seventh-generation pony car as well. EcoBoost trims cannot be configured with either manual due to low demand for the EcoBoost 6MT during the life cycle of the sixth-gen Mustang.

Now boasting the Modular Power Cylinder engine architecture, the 2.3-liter EcoBoost develops a respectable 315 horsepower and 350 pound-feet (475 Nm). The GT is listed with 480 horsepower and 415 pound-feet (563 Nm) of torque as standard, whereas the sports exhaust elevates both to 486 and 418 (567 Nm).

Care to guess why the Ford Motor Company chose 486 and not a round number? That's because of the 6.4-liter HEMI, the 392-ci lump in the 2023 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack, which is rated at 485 and 475 (644). The Dark Horse improves to 500 ponies on the nose, while retaining the peak torque figure of the GT with the less restrictive exhaust system. Not bad for 5.0 liters, huh?

The Dark Horse was developed from the outset with track-only versions in mind, namely the Dark Horse S and Dark Horse R. The latter will be revealed today at 9 pm Eastern Time. But how different are they?

For starters, the S is best described as a stripped-down take on the street-legal Dark Horse. In addition to the more spartan interior, this version also sports an FIA-certified safety cage, nets, belts, a race seat, and a race steering wheel with a quick disconnect mechanism.

Aimed squarely at track day enthusiasts, the S further sweetens the deal with a data and acquisition display system, a pit speed limiter, as well as plenty of switches and knobs contained within a central panel. The finishing touches come in the guise of hood pins, fancy dampers, upgraded brakes, an adjustable rear wing, and the same wheels as the road-going Dark Horse.

The Dark Horse R will raise the bar with Ford Performance Parts lightweight wheels, strategic seam welding, and a high-capacity fuel cell. Its dual-throttle-bodied 5.0L Coyote V8 is believed to produce 500 horsepower and 418 pound-feet, just like the Dark Horse S.

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About the author: Mircea Panait
Mircea Panait profile photo

After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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