Starting this summer, Ford will be offering their updated retro muscle car with optional Shelby inspired Track Pack and Ford Racing developed FR3 Handling Package straight from the factory, so now your Mustang GT can handle almost as well as a GT500.

The Track Pack focuses on upgrading the way the car goes through the curves, by adjusting every element of the drive train to maximize the Mustang GT’s V8 and chassis with one of the most thorough “sport suspensions” that we have ever seen. The Ford special suspension product package begins with a set of sticky set of 19 inch Pirelli summer tires to make the most out of their contact patch. A set of retuned dampers work together with the sway bars from a Shelby GT500 to reduce body roll by 13%, giving the vehicle a much more planted feel. The blue oval crew will then swap in a shorter geared rear end complete with a carbon fiber LSD, then a set of new brake pads that are made to work with the factory ABS in order to give the Mustang as much stopping power as it just got handling ability, while still maintaining drivability on the street.

There is a hard core FR3 Handling Package from Ford Racing that uses a lot of the components from the KONI Challenge car. This suspension setup will lower your ride by about 1 inch thanks to significantly stiffened springs and a set of sway bars that are said to “eliminate” body roll.

The Track Pack retails for $1,495 while the FR3 Handling Pack retails for $1,335. Either kit can be installed by a factory certified technician, or in your own garage. It is nice to see that an American automaker is endorsing high performance modifications by offering them right from the showroom, things like this are signs of a return of the muscle car days.

Press release after the jump.

Press release

The 2010 Ford Mustang, now in dealer showrooms, builds on a proud, unbroken 45-year heritage of Fast, Fun and Affordable with an all-new exterior design, available cutting-edge technology and performance enhancements pioneered on Ford’s extensive racing and special programs.

One hallmark of Mustang’s enduring popularity is the opportunity to customize this American icon. Enthusiasts who have personalized and customized Mustangs range from legends, such as Carroll Shelby, to professional drivers to hobbyists who enjoy a weekend at the track.

For those customers interested in more-aggressive performance, an optional factory-installed Track Pack is available this summer for 2010 Ford Mustang GT coupes with manual transmission. Ford Racing’s FR3 Handling Package also is available for those enthusiasts who want even more aggressive suspension tuning and can be installed in their garage or at a Ford dealer. Car and Driver magazine recently declared a 2010 Mustang equipped with a Track Pack the winner in a comparison test against the new Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger, calling the body control of the Mustang with the Track Pack "astounding."

For decades, the Mustang has been the preeminent car in many forms of racing compiling victories and championships on road courses all over the world. In just the last few years Ford Racing’s Mustang FR500C captured the European GT4 drivers championship (2007, 2008) and the Grand-AM KONI Challenge championship (2005, 2008).

"At Ford, we always apply what we learn at the track to the street," said Fritz Wilke, Mustang Performance/Enthusiast Manager. "The Track Pack and Ford Racing FR3 Handling Pack continue that heritage and give our performance customers great ways to have an even sportier experience in the 2010 Mustang GT coupe."

Packaged aimed at performance enthusiasts

Both the 2010 V-6 and GT models feature improved handling, but Team Mustang wanted to create a distinctive option package aimed at performance enthusiasts. Starting with the 2010 GT manual coupe, the engineering team was able to create a package that hits the sweet spot.

The first ingredient was to add a high-performance summer tire, and the 19-inch Pirelli P Zero P255/40ZR-19 proved to be an inspired choice for improved grip. Ford’s engineering team then went to work on the underpinnings of the 2010 Mustang GT coupe, using Ford’s proven technology from the Shelby GT500 program.

The front and rear stabilizer bars from the 2009 Shelby GT500 complement the Pirelli tires and help balance the Track Pack 2010 Mustang GT coupe front to rear. The struts and shocks were retuned for the increased capability of the new tire and stabilizer bar changes. The engineering team also spent significant time at the track to ensure the Track Pack was rewarding on the track and offered a balance of spirited driving and track prowess.

The roll gradient (how much the car rolls while steering) was reduced nearly 13 percent compared with the base 2010 Mustang GT. Damping was increased by 23 percent in the front and 8 percent in the rear in the low- to mid-speed compared to the 2010 Mustang GT.

"By reducing the roll gradient, the car stays flatter in turns," said Tom Barnes, Vehicle Engineering Manager, 2010 Mustang. "And when the car is flatter, the driver is more in command and more confident in what the car’s doing.

"Great handling comes from great control. A driver’s control of the vehicle is facilitated by information. This Track Pack communicates to the driver through the tires and suspension so well that is it easy to drive very quickly. It rewards smooth driving, while offering great capacity to cover driver error."

Looking at all areas for improvement

In addition to the hardware changes and extensive tuning, the Ford team also took a more holistic approach to improving the Track Pack Mustang.

"Handling is not just chassis," Barnes said. "Vehicle dynamics – how the Mustang responds under acceleration and braking – is important as well."

The solution from the powertrain part of the equation was to use a 3.73 limited-slip axle with carbon-fiber clutch plates.

"The 3.73 axle allows for a more-responsive Mustang, especially at mid-range speeds," Barnes said. "The carbon-fiber plates allow a very robust architecture in terms of temperature and repeated hard driving on the track."

Performance® Friction brake pads, which better resist brake fade, are used front and rear. Both the anti-lock braking system (ABS) and AdvanceTrac were retuned to complement the advanced capabilities of the new tires and brakes. AdvanceTrac is standard on the 2010 GT coupe and can be operated in any of three modes: On, Off or Sport.

"The Track Pack covers all the bases," Barnes said. "The new tires give the Mustang more grip, we have a more-responsive acceleration, better brake linings that are more consistent over time and the car is tied down better because of the changes to the bars and the shock tuning."

"Track Pack has the grip, the handling and it has the ’go.’ And it absolutely can be used as a daily driver. Track Pack offers the best of both worlds – great performance on the track or if you’re cruising down the road."

Ford Racing’s FR3 Handling Pack features components proven out on the racetrack. Included in the pack are dampers, lowering springs, sway bars and a strut tower brace.

"The FR3 Handling Pack is derived from our extensive experience with the Ford Mustang FR500C competing in the Grand-Am KONI Challenge and FIA GT4," said Andy Slankard, Engineering Supervisor, Ford Racing.

Enhancements from the FR3 Handling Pack include:

  • Ride height lowered by more than 1 inch
  •  Increased spring rate by about 75 pounds to improve turn in and mid-corner performance
  • Front and rear sway bars stiffened to eliminate roll
  • Re-tuned dampers, increasing the compression and rebound

The Track Pack retails for $1,495 while the FR3 Handling Pack retails for $1,335.

What do you think?
Car Finder: