The Ford Mustang Dark Horse at the 2023 Festival of Speed

16th July 2023
Adam Wilkins

Ford made a bold statement last September when it revealed details of the seventh generation of the Mustang. With the global push towards electrification, including with the brand-stretching Mustang Mach-E, it was a signal of intent that petrol-powered fun would be here to say... for the time being at least.


Coinciding with the launch was the unveiling of the Dark Horse, which sits at the top of the performance tree – and visitors to the 2023 Goodwood Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard had their chance to see the 5.0-litre V8 powered coupe up close. Ford tips it as the most track focused Mustang to date.

The Coyote engine has been upped to 506PS (372kW) thanks to revised camshafts and improved induction, and it drives through a six-apeed Tremec transmission as standard with the option of a ten-speed automatic. If you opt for the manual, you get to change gear with a 3D-printed titanium gearknob that’s unique to the Dark Horse. With either gearbox, power finally goes through a Torsen limited-slip differential before it’s delivered to the 19-inch rear tyres.

Those Pirelli P Zero PZ4 tyres are up to be tortured with an electronic drift brake that aims to give experienced sideways merchants a competition-ready system and those who are newer the art of setting fire to tyres something to improve their skills. Other track-ready equipment includes coolers for the engine and transmission oils and a lighter weight radiator that is less prone to heat soak than the item in the standard car. 


The Dark Horse is visually distinct from its stablemates thanks to a unique grille, additional nostrils and shadow graphics around the darkened LED headlamps. It also has side skirts, a fixed rear wing and a diffuser. Darkened tail pipes and Dark Horse badging are further identifiers of the most potent Mustang. There’s also a bespoke colour for the Dark Horse: metallic Blue Ember.

Inside, the driver has a thicker, flat-bottomed steering wheels, anodised paddleshifters (for the automatic) and a drive mode button within reach of the driver’s thumb. The bright silver trim of other Mustangs is usurped by dark metallic gloss.

While it was road car that was ascending the Hill at the Festival of Speed, the Dark Horse paves the way for the Mustang in motorsport around the globe. The car will be made eligible to compete in a variety of series, including GT3, GT4 and Nascar with the Mustang Dark Horse S. “We’re taking this all-new Mustang to competition racing and the very definition of a Mustang Dark Horse is the perfect fit to introduce this vehicle to the Mustang brand,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “With our race program development underway, we’re confident we have the right car for success.”

The contrast with the Mach-E might be stark, but the Dark Horse proves that Ford is keeping the Mustang brand true to its roots.

Photography by Toby Whales.

  • FOS

  • FOS 2023

  • Festival of Speed

  • Ford

  • Mustang

  • ford_mustang_gt3_dark_horse_fos23_goodwood_list.jpg

    Festival of Speed

    Ford Mustang GT3 and Dark Horse to debut at 2023 Festival of Speed

  • mach-e-rally.jpg

    Festival of Speed

    Video: Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally debuts at 2023 Festival of Speed

  • ford mustang hill debut MAIN.jpg

    Festival of Speed

    Video: Ford Mustang GTD makes roaring debut at 2024 Festival of Speed

Download the

Goodwood Motorsport App

Timetable, personal itinerary, map and more. Download free for iOS and Android.