5.0 Mustang & Super FordsFeatured Vehicles
2007 Ford Shelby GT500: Snake Bit Again!
For 2007 the GT500 makes a grand return to the Ford line-up
DETROIT, Jan. 8, 2006-
What happens when a legend from Texas reuniteswith a legend from Dearborn? The most powerful Mustang ever.
After 40 years, racing legend Carroll Shelby and the Ford Mustang are back together with the introduction of the 2007 Ford Shelby GT500.
The collaboration between Shelby and Ford's Special Vehicle Team (SVT)is yielding an instant collector's Mustang that builds 475 horsepower inits 5.4-liter supercharged V-8.
A modern interpretation of the Shelby Mustang of the 1960s, the FordShelby GT500 uses advanced engineering to attain the performance thatmade the original GT500 the king of the road.
True to the original GT500, it will be available both as a coupe and asa convertible when it goes on sale in the summer of 2006.
"When Carroll was developing the original GT350 and GT500, he wanted tobuild the most powerful, most capable Mustangs of his day," says HauThai-Tang, director, Advanced Product Creation and Special Vehicle Team."Our goal was to build the most powerful, most capable Mustang ever."
Serving as touchstone and inspirational leader for both the concept andthe production versions, Shelby was impressed by what the team hasaccomplished.
"It's one thing to put 450 horsepower in an exotic supercar," saysShelby. "It's another to put that much power in something as affordableas a Mustang. The fact that they not only met their goal but pushed onto 475 horsepower is a remarkable achievement."
Shelby knows something about creating modern supercars. He served as asenior adviser on the team that developed and built the 550-horsepowerFord GT.
As expected of anything with Shelby's name on it, the heart of the caris what's under the hood. The Ford Shelby GT500's supercharged5.4-liter, 32-valve V-8 evolves from Ford's experience with tuning itsmodular, or MOD, engines. Output is a brawny 475 horsepower.
The engine is force-fed an air-and-fuel mixture via a "Roots-type"supercharger providing 8.5 pounds per square inch of boost. The GT500uses a cast-iron engine block. It borrows from the Ford GT programaluminum, four-valve cylinder heads, piston rings and bearings, adding ahigh level of performance durability to the drivetrain. "Powered by SVT"camshaft covers add the finishing touch to the engine.
Helping put the power to the pavement is a 6-speed manual gearbox. Forthe performance driver, its evenly spaced gears mean less "stirring" isneeded to find the "sweet spot." This gives a rewarding experiencethroughout the engine's broad torque curve. The heavy-duty transmissionhas proven itself a willing companion to Mustangs in both road and trackenvironments, including recent road-going Mustang Cobras and the newrace-winning Mustang FR500C.
Power Requires Control
The Ford Shelby GT500 continues a legacy of all-around performance thatmade the original a world-class racer on tracks and road courses aroundthe world.
The Ford Shelby GT500 starts with the solid Mustang underpinnings. Theall-new Mustang was designed from the beginning with performancederivatives in mind, providing an exceptionally rigid, well-engineeredstarting point for GT500 chassis engineers.
SVT engineers retuned and upgraded key chassis components. Improvementssuch as revised shocks, spring rates and upgraded stabilizer bars helpthe Ford Shelby GT500 stop and turn with the same authority as it goes.
The Ford Shelby GT500 features a MacPherson strut independent frontsuspension with Reverse L lower control arms, and a solid-axle,three-link rear suspension with coil springs and a Panhard rod forprecise control of the rear axle.
This rear suspension design has been validated on the track by FordRacing. The Ford Racing Mustang FR500C was purpose-built from the base2005 Mustang body structure and suspension geometry to run in theGrand-Am Cup series, a class of road racing for production-based cars.
Competing against the best from Germany and Japan, a Mustang FR500C wonits first race in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway inFebruary 2005. It went on to dominate the season and clinch thechampionship.
"SVT and Ford Racing will be working closer than ever as we go forwardon future projects, especially Mustangs," says Thai-Tang, a Ford Racingalumnus who served as the race engineer for the Newman-Haas Racing teamin 1993.
To match this power and handling ability, engineers fitted some of thebiggest brakes in the business to the Ford Shelby GT500. Four-pistonBrembo calipers are fitted to 14-inch Brembo vented rotors up front, and11.8-inch vented discs in the rear continue SVT's legacy ofgreat-braking Mustangs. Secure footing is provided by 255/45ZRhigh-performance tires in front and 285/40ZR high-performance tires inback. Wheels are 18 inches by 9.5 inches.
The Snake is Back
One glance shows this is not the typical Mustang Cobra. Asinister-looking front-end design includes wide upper and lower fasciaopenings with a functional air splitter. The upper intake sports thefamous Cobra logo floating off-center in place of a centered gallopingpony found on other Mustangs. On either side, slanting headlamp openingsadd to the dramatic front appearance.
The bulging hood has heat extractors protruding near the leading edge,combining to provide improved airflow and aerodynamics. As air passesover the hood, hot air from the engine compartment is drawn out throughducts attached to the hood extractors.
"The restrained, performance-oriented SVT design theme has becomeinstantly recognizable to enthusiasts without brash styling cues," saysDoug Gaffka, design director, Ford SVT vehicles. "The GT500 takes a hugeleap forward by combining the modern Mustang muscle car with the classicShelby performance look."
The 2005 Mustang design team drew inspiration from classic 1968Mustangs, the models that transformed the mild-mannered pony car into amuscle car with attitude. Envisioning a high-performance model, the teamtested GT500 design cues on the Mustang GT coupe concept that wasunveiled at the 2003 North American International Auto Show.
In 2004, designers further developed the GT500 look on the Mustang GT-R,a race-bred concept with the dual purpose of foreshadowing SVT's Mustangdesign direction and Ford Racing's plans to return Mustang to roadracing. The Ford Shelby GT500 Cobra concept coupe capped the designconceptualization effort.
The production Ford Shelby GT500 Coupe now comes into full light,punctuated by the classic Le Mans-style white stripes that race alongthe top from nose to tail. The stripes recall the Shelby Mustangs thatmarked another important 1960s Mustang transition when Ford put it onthe track to becoming a racing legend. The GT500 nomenclature isprominent in the lower bodyside racing stripe, another cue from theclassic Shelby Mustangs.
In a touch also borrowed from the GT500's past, no Le Mans stripes willbe seen on the 2007 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible. However, theconvertible will sport a cloth top similar to those found on pricierconvertibles.
"There were no Le Mans stripes on Shelby's original GT500 Convertible,so we decided to pay homage by not offering them on the 2007 Ford ShelbyGT500," says Gaffka. "We also went with a cloth top material as anothermeasure of substance and authenticity. The fabric used is the same usedon the 2002-03 SVT Mustang Cobra, the Thunderbird, Jaguar and Ford'sother high-end convertibles."
The unique rear fascia features lower strakes inspired by the Ford GT'sintegrated rear airflow diffuser, and a rear spoiler reminiscent of aclassic GT500. To mark the collaboration of two Mustang performanceicons, the GT500 features Shelby and SVT badging.
The fenders each feature an updated design of the Cobra. The frontgrille features an off-center snake in place of the standard runninghorse. "GT500" is emblazoned inside the side rocker stripes, and thename SHELBY is prominently written across the rear deck. The SVT logocan be seen on the wheel center caps, a signature SVT location, as wellas on the doorsill plates. To top it off, the medallion between thetaillights reads "Shelby GT500" centered on the Cobra image.
Inside, too, upgraded levels of flair and function abound. The locationsof the speedometer and the tachometer are swapped to provideperformance-oriented drivers with a better view of shift points whilechanging gears. Front seats have received additional lateral support tohelp keep the driver optimally positioned during cornering. The interioris offered in a choice of two colors, Charcoal Black or Charcoal Blackand Crimson Red. The charcoal/red offering features Crimson Red seatingsurfaces and door panel inserts. Seating surfaces are leather with bothinterior treatments. Snake logos embossed in the seat backs finish thepackage.
The Shelby GT500 script and Cobra image are repeated on the steeringwheel cap. Behind the wheel, the gauges wear light faces in keeping withSVT tradition. The chromed accessories inside the cabin have beenreplaced with a satin aluminum finish, including the aluminum shiftlever knob that is nicely positioned for quick, positive shifts.
SVT and Shelby: The Legends Grow
With the look and legend one would expect from Shelby and the kind ofpower and performance enthusiasts have come to expect from SVT, theGT500 points to a brand-new era in Ford's performance future.
Shelby first put his name on a Mustang back in 1964 when he was asked toinject some high performance into the brand-new pony car. The result wasthe GT-350R, a lightweight, handling-focused race car that earnedMustang its first performance credentials. Subsequent Shelby Mustangsincluded a street version of the race car, the GT-350, and what wasknown as the "rent-a-racer" Mustang, the GT-350H, a joint project withthe Hertz rental car corporation.
The ultimate Shelby Mustang of the era was the GT-500KR, or "King of theRoad." Powered by a big block 428-cubic-inch "Cobra Jet" V-8, the GT-500was one of the most powerful, and memorable, muscle cars of that period.Shelby Mustang production ceased in 1970 with a total volume of 14,559units.
The Ford Special Vehicle Team brought high performance back to Mustangin 1993. After 12 years, with nearly 80,000 high-performance Mustangs onthe streets and total SVT vehicle production nearing 145,000, SVT isprimed for growth with the GT500 serving as the foundation for otherperformance Mustang projects.
By bringing together Shelby and Ford SVT, the company's commitment toperformance becomes as powerful as at any time in its history -including the famed "Total Performance" days of the 1960s. From the FordGT supercar, the GT500, to a rejuvenated Ford Racing Performance Partsprogram, performance and racing can drive innovation and add luster toFord's proud brand heritage.
"SVT will remain the leader in performance vehicle engineering," saysThai-Tang. "It will continue to build new, innovative products usingadvanced processes that will not only provide great enjoyment to thededicated driving enthusiast, but that also will provide great benefitto other Ford products and Ford Motor Company itself."
The Ford Shelby GT500 will be built at the Ford-Mazda joint venture,AutoAlliance International, in Flat Rock, Mich.