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Can Hennessey’s upgraded H850 Mustang Dark Horse take on the GTD? CEO weighs in

For less than $25k you can turn your Dark Horse into a drag star.

Hennessey H850 Dark Horse front

Hennessey is releasing its own twist on the Mustang Dark Horse. Dubbed the “H850,” the vehicle is set to produce around 70% more horsepower than Ford’s stock version. With the upgrades in place, the muscle car will go from 0-60 in just 3.2 seconds and cover a quarter-mile in 10.9. This is a pretty big improvement on the original, which goes from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds and takes 12 seconds to cover the drag-distance standard.

As the name suggests, the vehicle’s horsepower has been ramped up from 500 to 850, and torque now sits at 650 lb-ft. Hennessey achieves this by taking the stock Gen-4 Coyote 5.0-liter V8 and slapping on a high-performance supercharger along with a new high-flow air induction system, fuel injectors, fuel pump, and the company’s in-house engine management system. A couple of additional options are also available, including a “Performance Wheel Package” and heritage graphics. You’ll get the Hennessey badging and some trim touches included with the package, too, so everyone will know you’ve gone beyond stock before you get your foot down and make it very obvious.

The Manual caught up with John Hennessey to discuss what the vehicle can do, where things may go in the future, and how it compares to Ford’s own yet unreleased supercharged version. In terms of why the Dark Horse was chosen, Hennessey was pretty blunt about the current state of American muscle cars and what Ford is currently offering compared to its historic competitors. He says:

“The Camaro is no longer in production; it’s the same thing for the Hellcat and the Challenger. The Mustang is the only muscle car available on the American market. Mustang supports our company; I just think there’s a great opportunity with the Dark Horse. It just lends itself to making a lot more power and is the natural progression of what we do in making fast cars go faster.”

As far as price goes, Hennessey may be offering a bit of a bargain — especially when you look at upcoming alternatives. Ford has its own supercharged ‘Stang on the way, though pricing may be a problem even if you overlook the exclusivity factor. Hennessey, on the other hand, will upgrade your Dark Horse for less than $25,000 and throw in a three-year/36,000-mile warranty.

“The GTD is going to be north of $325,000,” Hennessey explains. “We’re a little bit more powerful than a GTD but not aiming to take it to the Nurburgring and set any kind of record. Our car will be very appealing to the guy who’s looking to spend, say, $120,000 instead of $300,000.”

It may be a GTD competitor in one way

Hennessey H850 Dark Horse on track

The H850 doesn’t just beat the upcoming Mustang GTD on price. Although Hennessey doesn’t claim that his performance package will make a Mustang Dark Horse capable of thrashing a GTD around a track, he does believe that extra power may provide a vital edge in one event.

“I think the H850 is probably a little bit quicker than the GTD in a drag race, but we’re not pretending to be a Nurburgring direct competitor. I think what a classic muscle car is, great sound and a lot of horsepower, then the H850 will deliver on that in a very high-value way,” he said.

It doesn’t just stop there, either. Hennessey believes that a race fuel, such as the high ethanol varieties you need to get maximum performance from the last Dodge Demon, might send the horsepower figures north of 1,000. However, dumping something that potent into the gas tank may lead to warranty issues, so the vehicle is advertised and sold with the use of the regular high-octane stuff you’ll find at the gas station in mind.

Fuel isn’t the only performance booster either. The Texan entrepreneur is convinced that it could post a time in the mid to high nine-second region on drag tires, and that could be an option that the company offers in the future.

Supplies are pretty limited

Hennessey H950 Dark Horse engine

As with everything worth having, there is a degree of exclusivity that comes with the H850. While it may not be as limited as the GTD overall, Ford hasn’t released the exact number it plans to produce yet, and Hennessey’s boosted ‘Stang may be difficult to get hold of — even if you have the cash. As Hennessey explains, his company has only laid out plans to install a limited number of the packages each year: “We’re going to be limited to 200 units per year; that’s our planning volume. So it’s still reasonably exclusive.”

However, if you do have the money, and you do secure a spot, then you may have just nabbed yourself one of the best bargains in performance motoring. “The real attraction, I think, is the value proposition, just the kind of power and performance we’re offering at the cost,” Hennessey says. “Including wheels, tires, and graphics package, combining that with the base cost of the vehicle. In terms of horsepower per dollar, it’s a very attractive thing to buy.”

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