When Ford rolled out the seventh-generation Mustang for the upcoming model year, it offered up three different levels of performance for the iconic pony car, with the EcoBoost, GT and Dark Horse packages. As anyone familiar with Mustangs past certainly might suspect, even more beefy editions were already under development.
But just how far Ford is taking things with the next Mustang trim in the line-up is likely to come as a shock. With unique features including a rear-mounted transmission, spool dampers, active aerodynamics and a supercharged V-8 making “more than” 800 horsepower, the all-new GTD promises to deliver far more than just an incremental improvement in power, performance and handling.
Based on the GT3 track car, the 2025 Ford Mustang GTD is designed to “do the unthinkable and take on the Europeans,” CEO Jim Farley said during a Thursday morning media background briefing. “I want to see Porsche, I want to see Mercedes, I want to see Aston Martin sweat.”
The Mustang GTD is a classic skunkworks program, developed in a metal storage garage tucked behind the Ford wind tunnel a couple miles away from Ford corporate headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.
The original plan was to come up with a next-generation Mustang GT3 race car, the sort of vehicle that could put a halo around the Ford Blue Oval.
“From race to road has long been a winning formula for Ford,” said Jim Baumbick, the automaker’s vice president of product development.
The CEO steps in
But then Farley got involved. He’s a serious racer during his off-hours and was an active proponent of earlier efforts to deliver track-level performance in street-legal vehicles like the second-generation Ford GT. This time, rather than going with an ultra-expensive exotic, the boss told the pony car team to not only develop the track car, but to come up with a street-legal package.
The marching orders meant “taking Mustang in an entirely new direction,” said Baumbick, and develop “the most audacious and advanced Mustang ever.”
A custom-designed engine
The beating heart of the GTD is a custom-designed, supercharged 5.2-liter V-8 making at least 800 horsepower and what can only be described — for now — as massive amounts of torque. To get there, Ford is pulling off a number of tricks. It features twin air inlets, as well as a dry-sump oil system that can keep all the moving parts well lubed even while facing maximum Gs in a corner. Redline is “more than 7,500” rpms. And there will be an “available” titanium active valve exhaust to make sure everyone within several miles can hear the roar of that eight-banger.
But one of the most novel features will be found at the back end of the GTD, connected to a carbon fiber driveshaft. This marks the first time a Mustang will feature a rear-mounted transmission, an 8-speed automatic, beefed up enough to handle all that torque.
Up front, the Mustang GTD goes with a short-long arm suspension to handle high cornering Gs. The rear relies on an integral link pushrod and rocker arm architecture with inboard Adaptive Spool Valve shocks — another first for a Mustang.
The new Mustang’s semi-active suspension will be able to lower as much as 40 mm when the driver mode selector is shifted to “Track.”
Of course, it all comes down to getting power to pavement. Buyers will get the choice of 20-inch forged aluminum wheels or lighter magnesium wheels. Both will be shod with grippy rubber which, at 325 mm up front, is as wide as the tires on the Ford GT. The rear tires measure 345 mm in width.
To scrub off speed, Ford has opted for massive Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes. And the body features rear cooling ducts to help shed some of the heat they’re invariably going to build up.
Controlling weight and drag were critical steps
Aerodynamics play a critical role in maximizing performance, of course. There’ll be a smooth underbody, and a number of active aero parts, too, including a front flap and a big wing attached to the C-pillar.
Much of the GTD’s body will be made of “carbon fiber body panels to reduce weight lower the center of gravity and improve responsiveness,” said chief engineer Greg Goodall. These include the roof, fenders, hood, trunk lid, door sills, front splitter and rear diffuser. There are optional CF front and rear ends, as well.
Wherever possible, Ford engineers also replace traditional interior panels and parts with carbon fiber alternatives. And the GTD introduces 3-D titanium parts in the form of the pony car’s paddle shifters, rotary dial shifter and serial plate. In an intriguing touch, the titanium comes from “retired Lockheed Martin F22 parts.” To further reduce weight, the rear seats have been stripped out.
While performance is key, the Mustang GTD does get a touch of luxury, with Miko suede and leather. And there are Recaro sport seats to firmly keep front occupants in their place.
Taking on the ‘Ring
To get a sense for what Ford expects all that to deliver, the company is aiming to “go much, much faster than we’ve ever gone before with a targeted sub-7-minute Nürburgring time,” said Goodall
We’ve seen Detroit make big promises before. There was the Dodge Challenger Demon making 900 horsepower. But it was really just a dragstrip racer barely legal enough to drive out to the track. Ford wants the Mustang GTD to dominate everywhere it goes, whether on the street or a street course.
Ironically, said Goodall, there’s currently no race series in which all the GTD’s goodies would be legal. It would take setting up a unique, factory-sponsored series — something TheDetroitBureau.com was privately told is not in the cards. Not yet, anyway.
Timing and pricing
The 2025 Ford Mustang GTD will make its debut in “late 2024 or early 2025, as a 2025 model,” said Mustang brand boss Jim Owens.
Production will start out at the Mustang plant in Flat Rock, Michigan. But, not surprisingly, the partially assembled vehicles will be shipped to Markham, Ontario, for completion at the same Multimatic plant that had build both generations of the Ford GT.
According to Owens, Ford will use the same application process it set up for the GT, an approach nearly as top as one might expect when adopting a baby.
And the sticker for the new pony car will again remind some folks of the GT. Look for the 2025 Mustang GTD to carry a starting price of “approximately $300,000 GTP.”