In developing the 2024 Mustang Dark Horse that goes on sale this summer with a $60,865 starting price, Ford took advantage of access to a new rolling road wind tunnel capable of simulating speeds of up to 200 mph.

The result is that the track-focused Mustang has the most downforce of any Mustang ever equipped with a 5.0-liter V-8 when fitted with its available Handling Package.

The rolling road wind tunnel essentially combines a traditional wind tunnel with a rolling surface. Each wheel gets its own belt that operates just like a treadmill. As an alternative, a single large belt can be used.

This setup allows the wheels of the test vehicle to rotate at realistic speeds rather than remain static, which according to Ford enables engineers to gather more accurate drag and downforce data. This is especially the case when testing the aero effects of different wheel patterns.

2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse rolling road wind tunnel testing

2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse rolling road wind tunnel testing

“Testing while the wheels and tires move is instrumental to improving aerodynamics for track-ready vehicles like Mustang Dark Horse, which have to balance both aerodynamic drags and downforce,” John Toth, Ford's North America wind tunnels engineering supervisor, said in a statement.

Such testing doesn't only benefit high-performance vehicles that require downforce to help them stayed glued to the road surface. For regular vehicles, especially electric vehicles, low drag is essential for efficiency, and as a result range.

Aeroacoustics is another important factor the engineers look at, especially for EVs. Today, the sound the wind makes as a vehicle coasts down the highway is examined much more during development. Quiet-running electric motors have revealed annoying wind noise, which was previously drowned out by a vehicle's internal-combustion engine and its exhaust system.

Finally, the rolling road surface enables a lot of testing that previously required open-road driving to be done inside the lab, which Ford said helps save cost and vehicle development time.