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Mustang Goes Dark.

Ask most car enthusiasts what era contained American “muscle cars” and the answer will probably be ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. Check Wikipedia and it will weigh in with 1964 – 1970. But I’d assert that the last decade or so has brought a lot more muscle under the hood than those good old days. That wickedly fast 1969 Camaro SS 396 developed 325 HP but today’s ZL1 weighs in with 650 horses. The ‘69 Dodge Challenger with its 426-CID HEMI published 425 HP while the 2024 Challenger Demon 170 boasts a tire shredding 1,015. And Ford’s old Mustang Boss 429 model claimed 375 horses, although most thought that was quite conservative. Today’s 5.0-liter 2024 Mustang Dark Horse makes 500 HP at 7,500 RPM while making the sweetest mechanical music that car fans love.

Yes, I know that horsepower isn’t everything and more than a few electric vehicles can match or beat our Mustang’s 3.7-second 0-to-60 time. But climb into the deep Recaro seat and push the start button and try not to grin like a six-year-old. Then find a place to drive it like you stole it, a racetrack is recommended, and try the rev-matching gearbox along with the big Brembo brakes. If you wanted more muscle, you’d have to bring Schwarzenegger along in the right seat.

This may be the last “muscle car” era if defined by what have been traditional attributes of engine size and growl. It’s hardly the end of adolescent fun for those who occasionally enjoy eye-watering acceleration since EVs may be quiet, but they’re darn quick. Yet there’s little substitute for the fastback coupe that’s clung to its iconic style, heritage and more than a little attitude. The Dark Horse logo on the front flanks is a great example. Allegedly, an equestrian advocate was deeply troubled by the horse’s forward-facing eyes since that breed is not a predator. But of course that was exactly what the Ford team was communicating.

This seventh generation of Ford’s Mustang is nicely improved, especially with contemporary features, over previous models although there’s no question that it’s a direct descendent of the 1964 original. The updates include big air intakes flanking the grille that funnel lots of air into two big throttle bodies under the hood and help the high-revving V8 deliver 100 HP per liter without turbo or supercharging. The spec sheet asks for 93 0ctane petrol and with 12-to-1 compression ratio, you’ll want to stick with high test fuel during fill-ups.

The biggest visual change inside the new Mustangs are the two digital displays, the instruments that flow into a 13.2-inch screen with Ford’s new Sync 4 interconnections. I had a full week in the car but that was not nearly enough time to try all the display combinations that are purportedly available. Ford PR suggests inspiration from jet fighter cockpits and the use of video game hardware. Perhaps I might borrow a teenager from one of our readers to demo all the settings, although driving couldn’t be part of the bargain. Sorry, insurance rules.

So if you’ve always lusted for a Mustang Boss 429 like the one John Wick drove, the average price these days for a nice one is $307,754. Or save yourself $238,534 and get the new Dark Horse. Ford will even include a Bang & Olufsen sound system when you want to hear something other than the cascade of mechanical marvels.

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