The muscle car as we know it is an endangered species. Dodge is discontinuing the beloved Hellcat engine family soon, and Chevrolet is sidelining the Camaro (again), and there really isn’t anything that’s set in stone to replace it. But Ford Motor Company insists on the carrying forward with the Mustang. It’s an icon, after all, and one of those reasons it’s remained iconic – and a muscle car for that matter – is the immutable fact that it maintains the option of all the drama, vigor and sounds with a V8 engine. That will continue to be the case with the next-gen S650 Mustang that will go on sale sometime in 2023. But what about after? That’s a dilemma that the Mustang team has to solve.
The Coyote V8 in the Ford Mustang defies logic. Not exactly a “new” engine, the 5.0L V8 originally debuted in the S917 Mustang in 2010 for the 2011 model year. It’s since seen significant modifications since then, such as the addition of direct injection paired with its existing port injection fuel system (thus creating a “dual injection” setup). And yet this DOHC V8 will howl well into this decade with the S650 Mustang, facing an emboldened vigor from myriad policy makers on multiple continents that seek to do away with combustion engines. Particularly, loud, powerful ones that so many people seem to enjoy. Ford’s already had to reduce power in its Mustang GT and Mustang Mach 1 for this reason.
Just how desirable is a Mustang with a V8 engine? Ford actually discontinued the sale of the baseline Mustang EcoBoost in the European Union last year and decided to exclusively sell the Mustang GT there, as well as the Mach 1, which also features the Coyote engine. The irony of all this is of course that Ford championed the EcoBoost engine in the S550 Mustang when it originally debuted because that was supposed to be the configuration that would be desirable in markets like the EU. Those customers just skipped it, and went for the authenticity of the Coyote. The Mustang was even crowned global sports car sales champion for 2021.
It seems that Ford Performance Chief Engineer Carl Widmann has made the same observation. Even as regulatory pressure tightens. Speaking with Australia’s CarsGuide, Widmann admitted that the V8 is “what buyers want” despite strong evidence that Ford can do incredible things with an EcoBoost V6 engine. It’s in the Ford GT, after all. But angry kazoo noises are simply no substitute for a Coyote’s howl. Let alone the subtle power tool noises of an electric motor.
Widmann was also the one who clarified that the V8 engine isn’t going away anytime soon. His words are echoed by Canadian union representatives in Windsor, as Ford Motor Company plans on producing multiple V8 engines out of its engine factory there.
How can Ford keep everybody happy? Is it possible to keep everybody happy? While we’re not sure of the answer to either question, there have been significant engineering advancements for the sole purpose of prolonging the V8 engine. This is particularly the case in the field of zero-emission hydrogen combustion, as multiple companies with deep pockets are utilizing existing engine architectures and infrastructure, but doing so using a different fuel source. In the case of Ford Motor Company, it’s gone on to patent a turbocharged engine that runs on hydrogen combustion power.
Will this be how the Mustang keeps its V8 for decades to come? Suppose we’ll have to wait and see.