First Look – 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse – Playing Second Fiddle Isn’t So Bad In This Pony

When the 2024 Ford Mustang lineup made its debut late last year, it was evident that a broader transition was taking place. The Mustang’s two bitter rivals (Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro) were all preparing to enter retirement due to electrification for the former and a collapse in sales for the bowtie brigade. This means that the Mustang will once again be all alone in the traditional pony car segment and will have the market largely to itself for the foreseeable future. But what will this segment domination formally look like? If the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse is to be believed, muscle car enthusiasts will be pleased with what they see.


Sinister Dark Horse Was The Surprise No One Saw Coming

When the Dark Horse first made its appearance, Ford claimed that it was the Mustang model that no one saw coming and was (for a time) the most powerful 2024 road-going Mustang you could buy before it was relegated to second-best after the surprise debut of the utterly insane 2025 Ford Mustang GTD. But being demoted in this case is not necessarily bad, with the Dark Horse still being a performance bargain when compared with the $300,000 plus GTD.

Our encounter on Woodward was brief (partly due to the Dark Horse’s popularity on media day), but we still managed to learn a lot about this special muscle car. The exterior styling does share some of its core traits with the standard GT model, but that’s where the similarities end, with all Dark Horse models getting black contrast trim on the front that makes it look like it’s wearing black lipstick. While the effect can be outright garish looking on colors like blue or red, the Dark Horse exclusive Vapor Blue hue works well with the blackout treatment and even incorporates gold metallic flecks in the paint that make the color pop in the sunlight. A slick set of black wheels are also standard, and the Dark Horse benefits from a revised aero package, including a massive spoiler at the rear,


The interior is mostly carried over from the standard GT as well, but the Dark Horse adds some welcome renovations to help spice things up a bit. The Recaro Sport seats are finished in two-tone blue/grey, with Ford designers also throwing in suede inserts on the seats as well as the steering wheel. The back seats are not meant for adults, but the front seats walk the line between comfort and support, with the bolsters still doing a good job holding you in place without going overboard and ruining long-term comfort. A fully digital instrument cluster is standard on the Dark Horse, and while some will cry foul for the company abandoning traditional analog gauges, the screen does come with some nifty visual tricks, including custom gauge presets that give the instrument cluster motifs that are similar to Mustangs from the past including the Fox body era model (this author’s favorite.) Otherwise, it’s all largely copied and pasted from the GT, which means ergonomics and performance-focused features are at the forefront of the driving experience.


Dark Horse’s 500 hp V8 Is beefy, Yet Still Very Approachable

Performance for all Dark Horse models comes from the GT’s 5.0-liter DOHC 32-valve Coyote V8, but Ford engineers have given it revised tuning and strengthened cam shafts which allow it to produce an extra 100 hp for a revised total of 500 hp. The extra power allows the Dark Horse to have more punch, but it’s not too overwhelming either, and it will feel like you’re driving a standard GT model most of the time, especially when cruising up and down your favorite driving road or Woodward Avenue.

A six-speed manual is standard, but the hot temperatures and deteriorating traffic situation on Woodward opted us to pick the optional 10-speed automatic instead. The 10-speed here is a commendable unit, and Ford claims that both transmissions also benefit from revised components and shift software that allows them to make full use of the extra power. As a bonus, the automatic also allows owners to use the remote rev feature that allows the Mustang to be revved via the keyfob. The Dark Horse gets Pirelli PZ4 summer tires standard, but opt for the $4995 handling package and you swap them out for Pirelli Trofeo RS tires which are an evolution of the older R tires that were standard on the Camaro Z/28 and optional on the McLaren Senna supercar.

The sticky rubber helps provide plenty of grip on dry pavement but is a double-edged sword and will provide the opposite if it rains. The reworked steering does a good job of sharpening up the Mustang’s handling, and it lets the Dark Horse to have a playful character when allowed to be in its comfort zone.


Value Quotient

As mentioned earlier, the Dark Horse will be playing second fiddle to the GTD in the Mustang family, but many enthusiasts will be pleased with the pricing with a base model starting at $61,510 when fees are factored into the mix with the Premium starting slightly higher at $65,505. That’s admittedly a noticeable jump in price over the GT models (which firmly reside in the $40,000 range), but this model will also be the cheapest entry point for upgraded Mustang performance unless the company has a few other surprises up its sleeve.

In the meantime, the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse will continue to be a potent performance entry for the company while also giving long-time loyalists and newcomers a potent way to join the Mustang family.

Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as

Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.

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