Mustang Dark Horse Wind Tunnel

Mustang Versus Wind Tunnel

Ford has taken wind tunnel technology to the next level by combining it with a vehicle-sized treadmill to enhance the design of their next-generation production vehicles, including the all-new Mustang Dark Horse. The Rolling Road Wind Tunnel (RRWT) is capable of simulating wind and road surface speeds of up to 200 mph, enabling testing for efficient and high-performance vehicles across Ford’s lineup, including electric, hybrid, and gas-powered models.

Compared to earlier wind tunnel designs, the RRWT provides more accurate data on wind drag and downforce, crucial factors for optimizing range and efficiency. It also allows for in-house testing that simulates real-world open-road conditions, resulting in reduced design costs and accelerated development processes.

John Toth, North America Wind Tunnels Engineering Supervisor, emphasized the importance of bringing reality into the lab for better and faster creation of energy-efficient vehicles with exceptional stability on the road and track. The ability to test vehicles with moving wheels and tires is instrumental in improving aerodynamics for performance-oriented vehicles like the Mustang Dark Horse, which requires a careful balance of aerodynamic drag and downforce.

A notable feature of the RRWT is its new five-belt rolling road system, which replicates real-world drag by bringing the road to the vehicle. Each wheel has its own belt, forming the first four belts, while a large fifth belt runs under the center of the vehicle. By switching between the five-belt and single-belt systems using a crane, Ford can conduct high-speed performance testing at speeds of up to 200 mph.

The Mustang Dark Horse is one of the vehicles being tested in this wind tunnel, and tailored aerodynamics play a crucial role in its development. While passenger vehicles and trucks aim for low drag to enhance efficiency, track-ready vehicles like the Mustang Dark Horse prioritize increased downforce for better road adhesion and improved handling during cornering.

The Mustang Dark Horse features additional aerodynamic elements such as a Gurney flap attached to the rear wing to generate extra downforce, as well as strakes near the front wheels that disrupt airflow and increase downforce on the vehicle’s underside. The design changes for the Mustang Dark Horse include a redesigned front bumper, lower valence, spoiler, and unique wheels. The front design optimizes airflow for engine cooling, brakes, and air intake while reducing front lift. The lower air spoiler and splitter are specifically tuned for greater downforce. The Dark Horse also benefits from an upgraded handling package that includes a unique splitter, spoiler, and wheels, further enhancing its performance on the road and track.

Jonathan Gesek, Program Aerodynamicist for Mustang and Bronco, mentioned that approximately 250 hours were spent in the wind tunnel to develop the 2024 Ford Mustang, including the Dark Horse variant. The aerodynamics of the Mustang Dark Horse, combined with other enhancements, have resulted in the most track- and street-capable 5.0-liter Mustang to date.


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