Ford Motor Co. took advantage of the new summertime North American International Auto Show, better known as the Detroit Auto Show, moving its big reveal of the seventh-generation Mustang outdoors.
Because the car being revealed was the next generation Mustang — the last passenger car in Ford’s portfolio — the company invited the factory build team from the Flat Rock factory where the Mustang is produced, along with a few thousand Mustang enthusiasts to the event.
The result? A raucous, enthusiastic crowd that stood in sharp contrast to the reserved press-only unveilings earlier in the day.
“This is a great night for Mustang lovers,” said company chairman Bill Ford. “Hey Flat Rock, I can’t wait for you to build me one of these.”
At a rebooted auto show basically all about electrification, including an appearance by President Joe Biden to tout $900 million in investments in electric vehicles and charging, this reveal was a gasoline-fueled, noisy celebration of classic Detroit muscle.
“Investing in another generation of Mustang is a big statement at a time when many of our competitors are exiting the business of internal combustion vehicles,” said Jim Farley, CEO of Ford Motor Co. “Ford, however, is turbocharging its ICE growth plan, adding connected technology, opinionated derivatives and hybrid options to our most profitable and popular cars, on top of investing $50 billion in electric vehicles through 2026.”
Redesigned inside and out
The 2024 Mustang is updated with sharp cutlines delineating the fenders, hood, and front valance. There will be convertible and coupe bodies, and each model in the Mustang line-up will use a unique front end.
The Mustang GT is differentiated from the EcoBoost by its larger, more aggressive grille openings, engineered to allow increased airflow, reflecting the increase in power and performance. The car’s aerodynamics are optimized further with the addition of new hood vents and a redesigned front splitter for the GT models.
“The new Mustang is more chiseled and edgier, leaning into Mustang’s classic brawniness and timelessness,” said Christopher Walter, Ford Mustang design manager.
Both the coupe and convertible will be available with the 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine or the Coyote 5.0-liter V-8.
According to Ford’s Mustang chief nameplate engineer Ed Krenz, “It starts with the V-8, five-liter, gen 4. At 480 horsepower, the most powerful Mustang GT ever. The manual (transmission) lives! We can’t forget about our very popular 2.3-liter EcoBoost, all new for this generation. It delivers on the balance of performance and efficiency.”
The Mustang GT will carry a Getrag 6-speed manual transmission as standard equipment, with an optional 10-speed automatic.
Inside, the new Mustang blends traditional pony car styling cues with Ford’s latest in dashboard tech. Leading the show is a 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster that can be configured in a variety of displays, including a replica of the 1980s Fox-body Mustang gauge set.
The display is powered by the same Unreal Engine 3D creation tool used in modern video games. As an upgrade option, the Mustang will be available with a 13.2-inch Sync4 center stack, with both screens integrated behind a single curved glass unit that is slightly angled toward the driver.
The dark horse
Ford was rumored to have a surprise at the reveal event, and they did not disappoint the crowd. There will be a third trim option for the new Mustang: the Dark Horse.
“The first new performance series in more than two decades, and a new chapter in restoring racing history at Ford Motor Co.,” Krenz declared. “Its name is indicative of its design and its aspirations. Its demeanor is absolutely sinister.
“We turned up the volume on everything that matters. Striking visual cues, countless hours of iteration between our engineers and the studio to get everything right for high-speed handling, reduced drag, cooling and a driver focused interior.”
The Dark Horse model will use the same naturally aspirated 5.0-liter Coyote engine, but tuned up to a target of 500 hp, and will have a standard a Tremec 6-speed manual transmission, or an option for the 10-speed automatic. The Dark Horse suspension will come with Ford’s MagneRide active damping system, and Krenz announced an optional handling package.
“This is the most capable five-liter yet,” Krenz said.
Win on Sunday, sell on Monday
In addition to the road-going Mustangs revealed in Detroit, Ford also teased six purpose-built racing Mustangs that will be available to the public. The line-up includes models designed for amateur road racing, Supercars championship, NASCAR, NHRA, and GT4 and GT3 spec for IMSA pro racing and European FIA racing. There will also be a track spec for the Dark Horse.
Chairman Bill Ford finished up the evening with another surprise announcement.
“As you’ve heard time and time again tonight, the Mustang really is Ford’s icon, on the street and on the track,” he proclaimed. “Mustangs race on all the great tracks around the world, but there’s no track that means more to our history than Le Mans.
“It’s where we took on Ferrari and won in the 1960s. It’s where we returned 50 years later and shocked the world again. Tonight I’m announcing that we’re going to go back to Le Mans again, with this Mustang. It’s going to be great and once again, we’re going to go like hell.”