The $300,000, 800-Horsepower Mustang GTD Is The Wildest Road Car To Ever Come Out Of Detroit – Updated

The $300,000, 800-Horsepower Mustang GTD Is The Wildest Road Car To Ever Come Out Of Detroit – Updated

I’m going to have to write this number a few times: $300,000. The new street-legal, definitely-front-engined, mostly-a-racecar 2024 Mustang GTD is a $300,000 Mustang. You want another crazy number: sub-7 minutes. This is a $300,000 Mustang designed to go around the famed Nürburgring with a Ferrari-crushing sub-7-minute lap time. I think, post-COVID, everyone at Ford has lost their damn minds. And I’m totally here for it.

UPDATE: You’ll find 20 new photos at the end of the article –Social Media Pete 

Last night I crowded into a garage near Laguna Seca that usually houses Ford CEO Jim Farley’s small collection of sports/track cars. I was running a little late and all the people who created the car were milling around the just pre-revealed car and one of them politely asked if I had any questions. I stumbled for a second and asked something about the transaxle because, really, the question I wanted to know was: Is there a small gas leak in Dearborn and how do I make sure it never gets fixed?

Mustang Gtd Live

This may or may not be the last gasp of internal combustion performance cars, so it would be doing a disservice to mankind to not create a few truly sublime and ridiculous cars on the way out.

I call this Vegas Buffet Last Plate Syndrome™ and it’s when you’re at a Las Vegas all-you-can-eat luxury buffet and you’ve already filled your plate a couple of times with the variety of all the stuff you think you’ll want (filet mignon, oysters, razor thin crab legs). It’s your last plate. You’re going big. No filler. It’s time to make a giant pancake and fill it with prime rib and shrimp topped with bacon mac-and-cheese and a drizzle of ranch dressing.

Ford has VBLPS™ in the best possible way. Let’s just run through the list of absurdly-cool enthusiast cars they’ve made recently: Focus RS, Bronco Raptor, Ranger Raptor, F150 Raptor R, GT350, GT500, GT, GT Mk IV. GTD — hell, the Maverick itself and all its variants.

Ford Mustang Gtd 3

As way of a partial disclosure: It’s fairly well known that I enjoy Ford performance vehicles and that my all-time favorite car is the Ford Escort Cosworth RS, which is a barely road legal version of the rally car. The Mustang GTD is clearly the insane, Lee Petty-to-Richard Petty next generation of the same idea, but with the Ford Mustang GT3 car that’s going to campaign at Le Mans next year.

No one asked for this and I’m not sure I understand why it exists. I asked many people at Ford why and never got an answer that got deeper than because we can, though there’s a subtle acknowledgement that it’s going to be fun to read headlines on websites like this for a few years about all the Porsche, Ferrari, Corvette, and other lap times this thing is going to smoke.

Sure. Great. This thing is bonkers. Let’s all just not ask Ford these “why” questions so it keeps building these cars.

This Is A Street Legal Mustang GT3 Race Car That’s Probably Faster Than The Race Car

Ford Mustang Gtd Fast

Automakers don’t necessarily like to make a big deal out of the fact that they spend all this money on race cars and, with the ironic exception of stock cars, the road car versions are usually more powerful and faster (To make racing exciting the sanctioning bodies have to make rules, and those rules, inevitably, ban things like active aerodynamic and even restrict the amount of power the motor can make).

Sure, racing sports cars get racing slicks and don’t have CarPlay, but at least one of those problems isn’t hard to solve.

“Mustang GTD shatters every preconceived notion of a supercar,” said 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 MustangGT3 race car, wraps it in a carbon fiber Mustang body and unleashes it for the street.”

Ford and Multimatic–the engineering/race car building Canadian company behind the Ford GT and the builder of the Ford Mustang GT3–only had two obvious restrictions when doing this:

  • It has to start with a Mustang body
  • It has to be street legal

This isn’t a completely-from-the-ground-up car, and it does begin its journey at the same Flat Rock production facility that makes every other Mustang variant, but shortly after that it gets sent to Multimatic’s Canadian facility and basically every other bit gets changed.

Out goes the back seat because you’ll need that to store your helmet and racing suite and HANS-device and snacks on the way to the track. Why not just put it in the trunk? There is no trunk. That’s where this thing goes:

Mustang GTD Transaxle

How To Make A Front-Engined Car Beat A Bunch Of Mid-Engined Ones

I’m not sure if this is obvious to people who do not normally follow the various lap time challenges that automakers put down, but there’s a reason why Chevy went mid-engined for the new C8. Making a car whose heaviest part is in the front with driven wheels in the back creates a physics problem that results in the tires inevitably screaming for mercy.

Ford is extremely clear that it wants to post a sub-7-minute lap time at the famed Nürburgring track and, yet, that’s not something front-engined cars do easily. With the exception of the also stratospherically-priced AMG GT Black Series, every other sub-7-minute car is mid- or rear-engined. Even the mighty Viper ACR GTS-R couldn’t crack 7 minutes. Is Ford really gunning for the Black Series? It’s a crazy thought but the answer appears to be: Yes.

The only way to reasonably accomplish this with a naturally-aspirated V8 is to move as much of the car to the back. This has been accomplished with a dual-clutch, eight-speed transaxle made by Tremec. A transaxle is, if you were curious, a transmission/differential combo. This isn’t wild technology, as cars like the Nissan GT-R employed a front-engine/rear-transaxle combo. This gives the Ford close to a 50/50 weight distribution.

What’s wild is, clearly: No one thought the Mustang would end up with one, so where the hell do you put it? This is where the GTD’s impressive engineering is most evident. This is where the secret sauce of how all this works exists. Look at this photo:

Img 0227

That’s the rear suspension. That’s also, if you were curious, a pushrod rear suspension. In a Mustang. In the year-of-our-Lord 2023. We’ll get to all the suspension shenanigans in a bit, but you’ll notice that there’s a big old space in there. That’s where this goes:

Mustang Gtd Differential

You might ask: What goes where the transmission once was? The interior of the Mustang GTD I saw seemed mostly complete, but the windows were extremely tinted and all you can really make it is there is some sort of interior in there. It’s something to look forward to in a future press release. Were you to be able to crawl under the carbon fiber aero shield underneath you’ll see they built a high-strength, hollow brace that helps keep the massive V8 from flying through the firewall.

All of this is connected to what Ford calls a “purpose-developed” supercharged 5.2-liter V8 with dual air inlets and a dry-sump engine oil system, which is a first for a production Mustang. The GT3 has a 5.4-liter V8. Specific power numbers for the Mustang GTD haven’t been revealed, but the power is said to be above 800 horsepower with a 7,500 RPM redline.

Perhaps as wild as the transaxle setup is the suspension, which is derived from the Mustang setup in the same way the Gran Turismo movie is derived from real life. Up front is the Multimatic-developed adaptive spool valve damper technology that has a dual spring rate/suspension setup. What does that mean? Up front, there are two springs and, when you’re driving around, your GTD drives around with, hopefully, pretty great performance and decent comfort. Get to the track, hit a button, and the front suspension compresses to make, effectively, one spring. Out back, the pushrod setup does essentially the same thing and you end up with a car that’s 40 mm lower and way stiffer.

There’s so much here that, honestly, we’ll probably have to do a second swing through the car. I haven’t even touched on the diff cooler, which grabs air off the roof at speed and then dumps warm air out of vents in the back via a fan when the car is going slow.

Why Is It The GTD?

Mustang Gtd Wheels

If there’s one slightly confusing bit about the car to most people it’s the name. What does GTD mean? One joke going around is that Ford finally gave the Mustang the Big D. If that’s the concept that people take way from it, that’s fine.

In reality, the term GTD derives from the GTD class the GT3 car will be racing in for the IMSA series. Why not call it the GT3? Probably because of comparison to Porsche they decided not to use GT3. It’s a little confusing. I asked IMSA mechanic and Autopian super friend Bozi Tatarevic about it and he agreed:

“The Mustang GTD seems like a fun interpretation of a modern day homologation special but the name is bound to cause some confusion when people are trying to Google the Mustang GT3 race car which races in the IMSA GTD class.”

Can You Buy It?

Yes, probably. This isn’t Ferrari. There are limited allocations of the car, much like the Ford GT, but Ford seems like it wants to build as many of these as it reasonably can so that would-be owners can go chase down confused F8 Tributo owners during open track days like a hungry German Shepherd unleashed on a loose squirrel.

The $300,000 Mustang GTD is a car literally no one outside of Ford asked for, but I can’t think of a way to get an American car that’ll go any faster. It’s a supercar killer with a Mustang badge, a bona fide slice of hot, nasty, badass, all-American X-rated speed. How rock and roll is that? Things seem to be going great in Dearborn, just don’t light a match anywhere.

(Photo credits: Ford)

UPDATE – More Photos!

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