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Wider Is Better and This 2014 Shelby GT500 Is a Street Driven Beast!
Wider Is Better: Edgar Palmer’s Shelby GT500 conversion puts 721 hp to the wheels
“At the L.A. Auto Show there was movie playing called Need for Speed, featuring the Shelby Super Snake,” says Edgar Palmer. “At the time I saw it, I’d owned four Mustangs and currently had a supercharged 2001 Corvette Super Sport. I sold the Corvette in a week. I started by calling Galpin Ford in Van Nuys, California, because I’d bought several cars from them. A salesman friend advised that this was the last year of the GT500 and there would be a markup in price. I asked if they were interested in doing a Super Snake Wide Body. We made the deal, and I never drove the car as a GT500.
“Shortly thereafter, Shelby American advised that they were backed up and couldn’t do the Wide Body, so Galpin Auto Sports (GAS) stepped in and did a flawless job on the conversion. The car went to Shelby for the engine and chassis treatment in April and I didn’t get it back until Christmas Eve. But it was worth the wait.”
Though the GT500 has formidable technical creds, the Shelby folk amended that in Edgar’s Mustang they put up the Shelby/Eibach adjustable coilovers and antisway bar kit and topped them with Shelby adjustable camber/caster plates. A Shelby billet aluminum Watts link helps keep the rear axle centered when the red mist begins to fall.
They swapped in the Wilwoods (14-inch rotors/six-piston calipers, 14-inch rotors/four-piston calipers). One of the reasons for the wide body flares is the commanding tire and rim package: Shelby 20x10 and 20x13 alloys with 275/35 and 345/30 Michelin Pilot Super Sports (instead of the OE 19-inch Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G). The Wide Body conversion is not metal but rather comprised of fiberglass fenders, flares, rockers, and the relative joining bits.
When the original 5.8L motor comes off the line in Flat Rock, it has a rating of 662 hp and 631 lb-ft of smack at the crank. It has forged rotating parts in an updated cross-drilled aluminum block. A rigid cast oil pan brings additional structural strength. Revised heads and camshaft profiles set the 5.8L engine apart from its 5.4L predecessor as well. Ford significantly upgraded the cooling system for both the engine and the supercharger intercooler, along with a larger cooling fan and a fan shroud with special high-speed pressure-relief doors. The intercooler is larger and more efficient as well with a higher-flow fluid pump. The results of these improvements net a cooling volume increase of 36 percent.
At Shelby, the doctors proceeded to make amends that bring the advertised horsepower to a twisty 850. There’s no need to mess with the internals; the forged pistons and 9.0:1 compression ratio are quite sympathetic to compressed air application. Between the Kenne Bell supercharger system (3.6L versus the 2.3L Eaton), the companion holding tanks for the air-to-water intercooler, Shelby’s programming of the Copperhead PCM, and a few exhaust bits (along with the cast-iron exhaust manifolds), Danny Swanson at Swanson Performance in Torrance, California, pulled 721 hp and 617 lb-ft on the flat earth. Palmer maintains that positive manifold pressure is but 8psi (the smaller Eaton runs 14 psi). The original equipment drivetrain is composed of a Tremec TR6060 six-speed, OE clutch/flywheel assembly and a Torsen differential laden with 3.73:1 gears. A Super Snake fluid cooler lends the Tremec a measure of relief in times of the red mist.
Along with the mechanicals, Shelby detailed the interior as well. They snugged leather Katskin covers were placed over the original Recaro seats, fitted the gearbox with a Shelby short-throw shifter, hung a slab of AutoMeters on the A-pillar, laid out Super Snake floor mats, and staked a Super Snake drag-me-to-hell starter pushbutton up there on the dash for all to see. They had gotten the Mustang from Galpin Auto Sports after the Wide Body kit went on, so the car would need paint. It would also need a carbon fiber air splitter, a diffuser in the rear, an insert for the deck wing, a fiberglass Super Snake hood, and fender badges. They applied the Deep Impact Blue and finished with subtle matte black hood and body stripes.
Palmer loves his kidney disturber, and he told us why. “The press of the start button always brings a smile to my face as the engine snarls to life. I love the sound of the supercharger whine. If I decide to hold the gears longer, the rearend squats down before the car leaps forward, and with each shift from Low to Second gear there is a slight wiggle as the car shimmies to stay under control. Driving on the street it gets between 6 and 8 mpg. Mixing in the highway ups it to a whopping 9-10, a graphic reminder of how small that 16-gallon tank really is.
“I drive the car on weekends mostly. I’ve taken it to Willow Springs and it handles amazingly, and I found it very easy to get up to speed during laps. I’ve also taken it to a number of shows and placed first many times.
“This car was the flagship for Shelby American for the 2013-2014 model years. When I went to them and asked how many Wide Body Super Snakes they would build, the salesman told me probably less than 150. The cost of the car plus the Super Snake upgrade and the body parts elevates a Mustang to the stratosphere costwise, but I say that as a reality, not to brag.
“I love comics. Captain America is one of my favorites. He’s injected with Super Serum and becomes America’s Super Soldier. I feel like my Shelby went through the same process. Super Serum and Super Snake complete with bulging muscles. To me, it is the Mustang to end all Mustangs, and while I know Ford will develop other really impressive cars, I love the uniqueness of mine.”