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Ford Uses Special Features To Give GTD Mustang Sleek Lines

The car crazies at Ford’s Performance “Skunk Works” put together a street-legal racer that will challenge Germany's iconic Nurburgring.
Posted: September 15, 2023 - 6:37PM
Author: Marc Stern


If you look closely at the aerodynamic Ford Mustang GTD, you begin to think there is something different about the vehicle.

From its active aerodynamic shape-changing rear wing to special flaps that open and close under its body, the Ford Mustang GTD’s Drag Reduction System has the most advanced aerodynamic features of any Ford vehicle to hit the road or track.

Overall, the Vehicle Is Actively Balanced

Every inch of the height-adjustable body of Mustang GTD, from the roof to floor, is designed to actively balance the tradeoffs between aerodynamics for speed and downforce for traction to take on the world’s best supercars.  

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Powerful computer simulations led to new ways to manage airflow under unlimited driving conditions, including specially designed channels under the car to help direct turbulent air from the front tires away from the car. 

Ford plans to take on one of the auto world’s iconic tracks, the famed Nurburgring in Germany, where many performance and supercars have been wrung out in the past.

When the first-ever Mustang GTD takes on the 73 curves of the Nürburgring, it will target a sub-7-minute time thanks to active aerodynamic tech never used on a street-legal Ford car and illegal in GT3-class race cars.

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Drag Reduction System Is Key 

The heart of Mustang GTD’s aerodynamic performance is its Drag Reduction System, which uses a hydraulic system that can change the angle of the rear wing and activate flaps under the front of the car to find exactly the right balance between airflow for speed and downforce for grip, depending on performance conditions. 

“Every surface, body opening, and vent on and under Mustang GTD’s body is functional,” said Greg Goodall, Mustang GTD's chief program engineer. “Some air is directed for cooling, other for aerodynamics and downforce. All of it to help GTD go faster or stick to the pavement no matter the conditions.”

When the Mustang GTD tackles sharp turns, and grip becomes more important than speed, the DRS closes the main wing element and flap to create an integrated airfoil to generate additional downforce on the rear of the vehicle to help the GTD go faster through turns without losing grip.

Air Is Shunted Away From the Bottom

At the same time, the front underbody is shaped like a keel that helps evacuate incoming air through the front wheel wells and large fender louvers to create an area of lower pressure that acts like suction to help keep the front end stable through turns.

“We actively manage where the center of air pressure is on the vehicle so the front and rear can remain balanced,” said Goodall. “The ability to do this isn’t allowed in racing, where the rules don’t allow actively managing airflow.”

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In normal street driving conditions, the body allows clearance of everyday items, like speed bumps.  When maximum track performance is required, Mustang GTD’s suspension can lower the body 40 mm, further helping improve airflow over and around the body. 

Development Team Continues To Refine Things 

The Mustang GTD team continues to refine the supercar’s aerodynamics through thousands of hours of virtual airflow simulation in powerful computers and time testing on demanding road course tracks from Road Atlanta to Spa in Belgium. 

“Our Le Mans drivers would love to have the technology Mustang GTD has for the track and street,” said Goodall.

Ford Motor Photo

Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971. His automotive articles have appeared in venues including Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. You can follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.