Ford has talked a lot about V8s lately. The automaker's CEO Jim Farley recently said he's alright with being the "only one" on the planet selling an affordable V8 sports car, and judging by Dodge and Chevy's recent moves, he just might get his wish. In that same schpiel, Farley said the V8 is what enables the Mustang to race on nearly every continent across the world on any given weekend. But would Ford race a Mustang that isn't a V8?
"We raced the EcoBoost in the [Ford] GT, but from a Mustang standpoint, we’re focusing on what we have now—GT3, GT4, Dark Horse R—only the V8s," explained Jim Owens, Ford Mustang GTD brand manager, to The Drive.
We caught up with Owens during last weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona. It's there that the new Mustang GT3 made its competition debut in the GT Daytona and GT Daytona Pro classes. Another V8 Mustang race car—the NASCAR Cup Series Dark Horse—will race for the first time at the Daytona 500 in just a few weeks.
EcoBoost-powered Mustangs have seen success in other forms of racing such as drifting and time attack, but Ford has no plans to bring its turbo-four to road racing. Ford could enter a Mustang EcoBoost in IMSA competition if it wanted to. The 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder has proven to be a stout engine in its own right, and there's no rule on cylinder count or aspiration type so long as it's reflected in the manufacturer's production offerings. But the Blue Oval is up against big firepower in both classes with Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, Aston Martin, and—perhaps most importantly—Chevy bringing their best. Also, you not only have to consider power output but also durability. The V8 just makes the most sense.
This onslaught of new racing V8 Mustangs has one core focus: stoke the fire for enthusiasts. With Dodge recently canning the Charger and Challenger as we know them, as well as Chevy discontinuing the sixth-gen Camaro, Ford is really the only option for fans of traditional domestic performance. It knows that and just keeps pouring it on with more production models to match the race cars, too.
You might remember that in addition to the Mustang GT and Dark Horse, Ford recently pulled the covers off the Mustang GTD. It's by far the wildest 'Stang ever available to the public, as it should be for $300,000. It's available with—what else—a V8 measuring 5.2 liters and a big supercharger strapped to the top so it makes 800 horsepower. Owens oversees that model from a brand perspective and he's been with Ford for more than 30 years, so he knows what he's talking about in saying:
"Mustang is the most raced vehicle that we have at Ford, starting in 1901. It’s currently racing on five continents and racing is part of its DNA. Racing helps the Mustang globally and has helped it become the best-selling sports coupe over the last two years running."
I hope Ford clings to V8 Mustangs for a while to come, not because I hate progress in powertrain tech but because it really might be the last one around. It comes with a turbo-four and even an electric variant if you consider the Mach-E a true Mustang, so it's not like it's stuck in the dark ages. Both can exist simultaneously, at least for the time being, and a lot of people are counting on the Mustang to keep the tradition alive.
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