The rumors are running hot and heavy right now about a vehicle that, frankly, we expected to exit the scene on a rather quiet note. Dress up the Ford GT a neat final edition package to end its production run in 2022, maybe bump the horsepower a few notches, you know the drill. But maybe, just maybe, Ford will send its supercar out in fantastic fashion with a thundering American V8.

It's important to understand that maybe is the key word here. We have no definitive proof that Ford is planning a V8 engine option for the GT. What we do have is an unconfirmed rumor from an anonymous source that merely hints a boosted 7.3-liter V8 could replace the current EcoBoost V6. And now, we also have these spy shots fresh off the wire, showing a GT that clearly has a modified backside and engine cover. Furthermore, it was caught near an EPA testing facility not far from Ford's world headquarters in Dearborn.

Gallery: Ford GT Powertrain Test Mule Spy Photos

This is actually the second Ford GT V8 rumor we've heard today. A previous reportcited another anonymous source as hearing a GT test car sounding unlike any other second-generation model. As for these photos, the rear fascia is missing its lower grille and diffuser, and makeshift bumper pads are visible. The exhaust tips are very different, and if you look closely just ahead of the spoiler, you'll see what looks like an oil cap. Regardless of the cap's purpose, you won't find it in that spot on a typical GT so something mechanically different is happening here.

Ford GT V8 Test Mule Rear View Spy Photo

Combine that with the exposed bottom end, the exhaust tips, the location of this sighting, and the rumors, and suddenly we have more than just a couple of sketchy claims. Of course, Ford could be using a GT body to test something completely unrelated to the GT. It wouldn't be the first time an automaker hid a new powertrain in a familiar wrapper. It's also possible this could be a prelude to a track-only model. As for fitting a 7.3-liter V8 into the 3.5-liter's space, pushrod engines are quite compact compared to double overhead cam designs. Size-wise, it should be doable without too much effort.

Here's one final thought on this wild V8 idea. The second-generation Ford GT is slated to end its production run in 2022. When that happens, it will almost certainly be Ford's last internal-combustion supercar so we aren't just talking about the end of the GT, but the end of an era. Looking at it that way, dropping a pushrod V8 under the glass for one last ride of loud American power isn't just a fitting way to drive into the sunset. It feels almost mandatory.

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