Wind tunnels have been used to test a vehicle’s aerodynamic and energy efficiency for quite some time. But when developing the Mustang, Ford didn’t just use any wind tunnel to test the S650; it also combined the latest technology with the equivalent of a vehicle-sized treadmill to help create its next-generation production vehicles, including the new Mustang Dark Horse.
Ford’s new state-of-the-art tunnel is called the Rolling Road Wind Tunnel (RRWT), capable of simulating wind and road surface speeds of 200 mph. The RRWT supports testing for efficient and performance-driven vehicles across the Ford Lineup, including the next generation of Ford electric, hybrid, and gas vehicles. One key benefit to this new system is that it gives more accurate wind drag and downforce data compared to other designs. These are vital factors when optimizing for range and efficiency. The system also allows for more in-house testing that simulates open-road conditions, which can help reduce design costs while also accelerating the design process.
S650 Ford Mustang Dark Horse: Aerodynamics
The S650 Ford Mustang Dark Horse is among the first of many vehicles to be tested in this wind tunnel. The goal of passenger vehicles and trucks is to achieve low drag, creating a more efficient vehicle. However, for vehicles such as the Mustang Dark Horse that prioritize track-ready performance, aerodynamicists will trade low drag for increased downforce, which helps cars stick to the road or track and improves handling feel while cornering. Additionally, the Mustang Dark Horse has an available Gurney flap, which is an extra plate attached to the rear wing to help generate additional downforce, and three vertical plates coming off the underbody near each front wheel called strakes. The strakes help disrupt airflow, generating greater downforce on the vehicle’s underside, which can help the car stick better on corners at higher speeds.
But that’s not all, as the S650 Ford Mustang Dark Horse includes multiple changes and additional features, including a redesigned front bumper, a lower valence, a spoiler, and unique wheels. The front design is optimized to potentially increase airflow for engine cooling, brakes, and air intake while reducing front lift. The lower air spoiler and splitter on the Dark Horse are unique, allowing the car to be tuned for greater downforce. The upgraded handling package provides a unique splitter, spoiler, and wheels – changes that may seem small but make a huge difference when hitting the road or track with performance in mind; and let’s face it, who wouldn’t have performance in mind when behind the wheel of a Dark Horse.