Deep inside a metal storage garage hidden behind a wind tunnel building in Allen Park, Michigan, USA, a handful of team members gathered in 2021 for a new, after-hours mission: design a Mustang to take on the best of European sports cars.
The result is a limited-edition, ultra-high-performance street-legal performance car with the soul of a Mustang.
“Mustang GTD shatters every preconceived notion of a supercar,” said Ford President and CEO, Jim Farley. “This is a new approach for us. We didn’t engineer a road car for the track, we created a race car for the road. Mustang GTD takes racing technology from our Mustang GT3 race car, wraps it in a carbon fibre Mustang body and unleashes it for the street.”
Mustang GTD was developed by many of the people behind Ford’s Mustang race cars and Le Mans-winning GT. It’s built to be the quickest road-going Mustang ever.
The vehicle is planted to the tarmac by astounding downforce from active aerodynamics and enormous grip from huge tyres mounted to an advanced dual ride height short-long arm front and multi-link rear suspension. It features carbon ceramic brakes, rear-mounted eight-speed dual-clutch transaxle, lightweight carbon fibre driveshaft for near 50/50 weight distribution and a supercharged 5.2-litre V8 targeting 800 horsepower.
“We obsessed about the racing technology under its skin,” said Global Director of Ford Performance Motorsports, Mark Rushbrook. “What makes it go is even more compelling than what you can see when it passes you by. When you look at the engineering, the aerodynamics, how the powertrain works, the Mustang GTD is a rocket ship for the road.”
KEEPING THE LE MANS-WINNING LEGACY GOING
Mustang GTD was born from the concept of the Mustang GT3 race car returning to Le Mans next year and will be the pinnacle of the Mustang family that now includes street-legal and track-only race cars. The family includes the recently revealed Mustang GT4, the Mustang GT3, and the upcoming Mustang Dark Horse R spec racer, and more. All will carry on the standing of Mustang as Ford’s most raced and most successful nameplate and will appear on streets and tracks all around the globe. The GTD name for this newest Mustang refers to the IMSA GTD racing class for cars that are built to FIA GT3 technical regulations.
“This is our company, we’re throwing down the gauntlet and saying, ‘Come and get it,’” said Farley. “We’re comfortable putting everybody else on notice. I’ll take track time in a Mustang GTD against any other auto boss in their best road car.”
Designed and engineered as a collaboration between Ford and Multimatic, which developed the Mustang GT3, Mustang GT4, and Le Mans-winning Ford GT, Mustang GTD represents the culmination of decades of engineering advancement borne from continuous learning through racing.
“Mustang GTD represents the very best of Ford Motor Company and what our team needs to do every day,” said Farley. “This is what happens when we take what we’re good at and push the boundaries to see where the bubble stops. It represents the essence of the transformation we’re going through at Ford, from software to special edition cars.”
CHISELED TO EXPLOIT THE AIR
Every line drives aerodynamic performance at track speed, from the front splitter, vented hood and fenders to the available C-pillar mounted hydraulically controlled active rear wing.
Mustang GTD takes advantage of the extensive use of carbon fibre body panels to reduce weight, lower centre of gravity and improve responsiveness. The fenders, hood, cover that replaces the boot lid, door sills, front splitter, rear diffuser and roof are all carbon fibre with optional carbon fibre front and rear fascias.
An available aero package that includes a comprehensive underbody aerodynamic tray is also executed in carbon fibre and includes features pioneered in motorsports racing, as well as some technology that would be illegal in racing, such as hydraulically controlled front flaps to manage airflow for aerodynamic balance in coordination with the active rear wing.
Where there once was a boot is now the semi-active suspension, a hydraulic control system, and a transaxle cooling system that uses a race-inspired cover that replaces the trunk lid and includes two air scoops to funnel air off the back glass into the area and through the heat exchangers.
“Our design team worked in conjunction with the Mustang GT3 design team and the aero team, sharing solutions between race car and road car, and vice versa,” said Ford Performance Design Manager, Anthony Colard. “This is an aerodynamics-driven design.”
Ford said the combination of purposefully designed aerodynamic features will result in massive downforce balanced across both front and rear axles and will in turn drive corner speeds up, produce consistent control and incredible lap times at some of the world’s toughest tracks.
EXTREME PERFORMANCE AND TECHNOLOGY
“The hardware has been carefully selected and developed to enable blistering lap time performance,” said Ford Chief Program Engineer, Greg Goodall. “The target for this project was clear – go much, much faster than we’ve ever gone before with a targeted sub-7-minute Nürburgring time. This makes it the fastest roadgoing Mustang ever from Ford.”
Mustang GTD uses a purpose-developed supercharged 5.2-litre V8 with dual air inlets and the first dry-sump engine oil system fitted to a roadgoing Mustang to help keep the engine lubricated during sustained and demanding cornering. The engine’s more than 7,500 rpm redline generates exceptional notes through the available titanium active valve exhaust system. It’s the highest horsepower street-legal Mustang ever developed by Ford.
All of that power is sent from the engine to the rear wheels through a carbon fibre driveshaft connected to an 8-speed rear transaxle for near 50/50 weight distribution between the front and rear. Lap time drive simulations and powertrain dyno testing led to the selection of the powertrain and transaxle architecture to put power to the ground.
Mustang GTD’s exceptional performance is further enhanced by a state-of-the-art semi-active suspension that can vary spring rates and ride height. The adaptive spool valve damper technology with hydraulically actuated dual spring rate and height suspension provides two unique states which enhance on-road and on-track performance independently. The suspension settings allows for nearly 40 mm lower ride height in Track Mode and overall has a nearly four inches wider track than Mustang GT.
A short-long arm front suspension provides enhanced lateral stiffness and improved kinematics especially in high-G cornering. The rear suspension features an integral link pushrod and rocker arm architecture where the inboard Adaptive Spool Valve shock absorbers and coil-over springs are arranged in a horizontal cross pattern and integrated with a strong, stiff, and weight-efficient motorsport-style tubular subframe. The unique architecture creates a motion ratio from pushrod to damper of 1:1 so the car responds precisely to track conditions.
“We are extremely proud of our work on the Mustang GTD,” said Executive Vice President, Multimatic Special Vehicle Operations, Larry Holt. “It showcases our state-of-the-art DSSV spool valve suspension technology, with features not even allowed in racing. The Mustang GTD sets a new benchmark for road-going racers, and we can’t wait for clients to experience the thrill of driving it.”
Road grip and cornering stability for the Mustang GTD come from 325 mm in width front tyres – as wide as the rear tires of Ford GT – while the rear measure 345 mm, mounted on 20-inch forged aluminium wheels or available forged magnesium wheels. The magnesium wheels offer the ideal combination of weight and durability and with a similar design to the Mustang GT3 race car.
Behind those wheels are massive Brembo carbon ceramic brakes, optimised for heat rejection leading to harder, more consistent stopping further into the braking zone. Rear brake heat is shed with the aid of cooling ducts mounted below the rear suspension.
Mustang GTD features technology new to Ford with Variable Traction Control in track mode. This allows the driver to push the limits of the car by modulating engine output and traction control intrusiveness. Adjustments can be made without taking hands off the wheel, allowing the driver to match track conditions to their driving ability.
Embracing the future of automotive technology, Mustang GTD uses an advanced electrical architecture leveraged from the new seventh-generation Mustang, helping to offer seamless connectivity, myriad personalised driving modes, and over-the-air software updates.
The cockpit features are finished in premium materials including Miko suede paired with leather and carbon fibre, while digital displays keep drivers engaged and in full command. RECARO seats optimised for track days are complemented by available 3D-printed titanium paddle shifters, rotary dial shifter and serial plate, all made from retired Lockheed Martin F-22 titanium parts. The rear seating area has been removed to reduce weight and provide cargo space.
Mustang GTD will be available with multiple interior colour combinations and in several special option packages. The car can also be ordered in any colour, even colour-matched to a customer-provided sample. These customisable options allow buyers to personalise their example should they choose to make it entirely unique.
The end result is an unmistakable presence, as close to a race-ready Mustang GT3 for the street as possible.
Production of Mustang GTD will be limited, and pricing is expected to begin at approximately US$300,000. It will start life at the Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant and then be transported to Multimatic facilities in Markham, Canada, where it will be handcrafted for racing-inspired precision by the Ford Performance and Multimatic teams. Mustang GTD will be available in late 2024, early 2025.