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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A blue 2024 Ford Mustang GT is shown driving to visit a Ford dealer.

Building a Wild Horse: Which Mustang Performance Options Should You Pick?

As a proud member of a loyal Ford family, my father-in-law surprised me the other day when he called and said, “Don’t let me go to a Ford dealer anytime soon. I had a dream that I bought a new Mustang.” He isn’t the only one dreaming. All eyes are on the iconic Mustang lineup, particularly the new Dark Horse version. But do you have to spend that much to enjoy the jaw-dropping performance of the powerhouse?

As it turns out, you don’t. Ford makes it easy to spec the 2024 Mustang GT with high-performance features that will satiate your need for speed without the Dark Horse price tag. So, what’s the secret behind this magic? It’s time to find out with a custom build that offers plenty of thrills in the driver’s seat.

Trims and Design Details

The first step in custom building a performance-oriented 2024 Mustang GT is obvious––looking at trim options. The GT Fastback sets the benchmark at $41,960. It’s a base model with 18-inch Ebony Black-Painted aluminum wheels, a functional hood vent, large brake rotors with four-piston non-painted fixed calipers, and a six-speed manual transmission with Rev Matching. You don’t get anything fancy here, like performance dampers. That’s an option on the GT Premium with the GT Performance Package, but more on this in a moment.

The bare-bones GT Fastback is excellent if you’re looking to simply get behind the wheel of the GT, but I’d much rather spend the extra on a GT Premium Fastback that gives me the option to add more performance-oriented components. Other details like paint and stripe options are the same, giving you the freedom to design the GT to reflect your style. Standard colors include Shadow Black, Oxford White, Iconic Silver Metallic, and Carbonized Gray Metallic, with Ford charging extra for exclusive colors. For example, Rapid Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat adds $495 to the base price, while Yellow Splash Metallic adds $995. The same is true when you start adding stripes, with a $475 charge for over-the-top stripes.

A Blank Canvas: The GT Premium

Before you can spec the GT Premium as a legendary speed demon, you must know what you’re working with. Fortunately, Ford does an excellent job and designs the GT Premium as a blank canvas. It rolls off the production line ready for the track, but you have plenty of opportunities to finetune its performance and design to reflect your needs and style.

The GT Premium leaves Ford’s factory floor on 19-inch Shadow Silver painted aluminum wheels with W-rated tires and a legendary fourth-generation 5.0L Coyote V8 engine under its hood. Mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed manual transmission, the Coyote produces up to 486 hp and 418 lb-ft of torque for track-like performance without further modifications. A 3.55 limited-slip rear axle, independent rear suspension, and Brembo calipers complement that performance, with Ford adding selectable drive modes to let you finetune the Mustang’s handling and responsiveness to your preferences.

Moving beyond its exterior, the GT Premium is well-equipped with plush seating, a nine-speaker sound system, and wireless charging. Ford outfits the muscle car with a 13.2-inch center stack touchscreen with SYNC 4. Beyond this, packages are minimal, with the GT Premium offering the standard Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of safety and driver-assist tools. Fortunately, this is where the real fun begins.

The black interior and dash in a 2024 Ford Mustang is shown.

Performance Details: Taking the GT Premium to the Next Level

The real excitement of owning a Mustang GT is designing it to satiate your penchant for performance. While the GT Premium is an excellent starting point, customizing it with various packages and upgrades is the real bread and butter of the process. So, what options give you the most from the icon?


It’s blasphemous to some, but you can swap the Mustang GT Premium’s six-speed manual transmission for a 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. The manual transmission gives you a physical connection to the Mustang GT, but not everyone can drive a stick shift or wants to navigate the clutch and shifting gears. Even so, there’s something else to consider when you opt for the automatic transmission.

Swapping the transmission will cost you $1,595 on the GT Premium. It includes a leather-wrapped shift knob, paddle shifters, remote start, and a 3.15 limited-slip rear axle. Your options to upgrade the rear axle are more limited with the automatic transmission, with the GT Performance Package adding a TORSEN differential with a 3.55 axle ratio rather than the 3.73 ratio of the manual. Is it a big deal? Not really, since the automatic has more gear ratios to play with.

GT Performance Package

The easiest way to get a track-ready GT Premium is to add the GT Performance Package. The package adds $4,955 to the sticker price, updating every major performance component to improve the Mustang without requiring you to navigate aftermarket modifications. With the package, the Mustang GT Premium has a uniquely tuned chassis, stability control system, and anti-lock brakes. It also features a larger rear sway bar, a K-brace, a black-painted strut tower brace, heavy-duty front springs, and upgraded Brembo brakes. Aesthetic updates are also plentiful and include a front tow hook, an Ebony Black grille, a raised rear wing, and 19-inch Carbonized Gray aluminum wheels.

The GT Performance Package also opens the door to other upgrades, like the MagneRide Damping System. Adding MagneRide is another consideration because of how the system impacts the Mustang’s handling and performance. As you switch between driver-selectable modes, MagneRide stiffens the shocks and completely transforms how the Mustang GT Premium handles and responds.

Beyond the performance-oriented components, the GT Performance Package is a requirement if you’re looking to take the GT Premium cabin to the next level. If you’re building the Mustang GT Premium as a track-ready road warrior, why not go all out and add the RECARO leather-trimmed sport seats? The addition transforms the cabin, with the seats designed to offer optimal support and comfort as you push the Mustang’s limits.

A person is shown driving a 2024 Ford Mustang.

Shopping Beyond Your Custom Build: Ford Performance Parts

The Mustang is iconic, with Ford making the legendary speed demon affordable and accessible to more drivers for decades. While the 2024 Mustang GT certainly lives up to that legacy, you can get even more power from the muscle car by turning to Ford Performance Parts. The Mustang GT’s fourth-generation Coyote engine is impressive but gets even better with the available Ford Performance Whipple supercharger.

You can add the Whipple supercharger to the 2024 Mustang GT Premium for an extraordinary experience in the driver’s seat. The supercharger transforms the Mustang into a powerhouse that delivers 810 hp at 7,500 RPM and 615 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 RPM. With a patented dual pass intercooler, 92mm throttle body, colder spark plugs, and an exclusive calibration from Ford Performance, you can expect the supercharger to exceed every expectation of performance if you can swing the nearly $10,000 price tag.

A Custom-Built Powerhouse: The Final Package

If you’re looking for a custom-built powerhouse but are worried about spending Dark Horse money, consider the 2024 Mustang GT Premium. You can customize the Mustang GT to get it closer to the Dark Horse and even turn to aftermarket Ford Performance Parts for significant upgrades to the powertrain. But how much will any of this set you back?

The GT Performance Package adds $4,995 to the price tag, but the upgrade is worthwhile since it lets you add the TORSEN differential with the 3.73 axle ratio, like the Dark Horse. I’d also add the RECARO leather seats for $1,995, the active valve performance exhaust for $1,225, and the MagneRide suspension for $1,750. By then, my custom powerhouse is around $57,000. While the Dark Horse starts at $58,185 for the base version, you can expect to spend several thousand dollars over that price tag to customize the icon. By then, you could get behind the wheel of a custom GT Premium and still have money to put toward that Whipple supercharger.

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