Ford needed a place to test its new Mustang Dark Horse, an aerodynamic 500 horsepower version of its classic pony car. What it built is a unique facility that will likely play a role in developing many of its future vehicles.
The automaker recently revealed its “rolling” wind tunnel capable of testing at serious high road and wind speeds, which are simulated by a five-belt rolling road system. The first four belts provide a spot for each tire and a fifth larger belt runs under the center of the vehicle, allowing Ford to test for optimal aerodynamic performance. A separate single-belt system can operate at up to 200 miles per hour.
According to Autoblog, a crane is required for switching out the belts, since the five-belt system weighs around 70,000 pounds and the single-belt system weighs about 90,000 pounds.
The publication also got a closer look at the huge fan that powers the wind tunnel. The 26-foot fan features carbon fiber blades and is rated at 7,100 horsepower. Ford said the fan is capable of moving enough air through the tunnel to fill the Goodyear Blimp in about five seconds.
Ford’s new wind tunnel allowed the company to perfect a lot of interesting aerodynamic features that boost the downforce on the new Dark Horse, like an extra plate on the rear wing and three vertical plates under the vehicle, near the front wheels, which helps to disrupt airflow. The company said the vehicle includes a redesigned front bumper, a lower valence, a spoiler, and unique wheels.
The front design is optimized to increase airflow for engine cooling, brakes and air intake, while also reducing front lift. Ford also added a lower air spoiler and splitter to help the Dark Horse cling to the track.