Jeff Ford
April 1, 2004
Contributers: Ford Motor Company Photos By: Ford Motor Company

We heard rumors that Carroll Shelby and Ford might be up to something. But we misinformed our readers when we stated in our Jan. '04 issue that Shelby was involved in the Ford GT project. Well, we were right and wrong-well, more wrong than right on that. But, Shelby is involved with Ford on their new Shelby Cobra Concept car. And what a cool car it is. We have to wonder on this one-if it does come to pass, is it Ford's answer to the Viper? Maybe what we are looking at is a mid-60 grand car that will compete with the Chrysler V-10 powered snake. It sure seems like a carbon copy of what Shelby is famous for-sleek styling, minimalist interiors, and big power out front. Whatever the case, we like the idea and hope to see more on this from the Ford corporate offices.

In an atmosphere that is part think tank and part speed shop, the Advanced Powertrain team develops technologies that frequently have as many applications on the racetrack as in consumer vehicles.

For approximately two years, they had been working on an all-aluminum V-10 targeted at ultimate, naturally-aspirated performance. When they bolted this beast into a Mustang chassis for evaluation, it only took one drive to confirm its potential.

"The Ford Shelby Cobra concept just begged for this engine," said Graham Hoare, director of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. He continued, "Although it's not yet ready for production, we've reached a credible engineering level for such a serious concept car-and it has a modern soul that matches the famous 427."

Blending the Advanced Powertrain team's work with elements from the 4.6 liter, 4-valve V-8 used in the '04 Mustang Mach 1, the resultant Ford Shelby Cobra concept engine has 10 cylinders and is bored and stroked for a 6.4-liter displacement, or about 390 ci. It produces 605 hp at 6,750 rpm and 501 lb-ft of torque at 5,500 rpm without supercharging or turbocharging.

"In many ways, it's not very exotic," said Hoare. "It uses the same basic castings and assembly techniques as our production modular-engine family. The output, though, is phenomenal. If you can't get in trouble with this kind of power, you're not trying hard enough."

Kevin Byrd, the V-10 project leader, thinks of the Cobra V-10 as an all-star combination of current Ford engine technologies. "This engine is an amalgam of everything right about Ford engines. We took the best the modular-engine family has to offer, then added some tricks of our own. The V-10 is a culmination of 100 years of building engines," he said.

The double-overhead-cam cylinder heads and cylinders are fed by port fuel injection and racing-derived velocity stacks that are just visible within the hoodscoop. For a low hood line, the throttles are a slide-plate design, and the lubrication system is the dry-sump type, which relocates oil from underneath the engine to a remote tank. The engine proudly wears brushed aluminum "Powered By Ford" valve covers.

The rear-mounted, six-speed transaxle is identical to the high-performance unit in the Ford GT, with an integral limited-slip differential to drive the rear wheels. Based on the engine's 7,500-rpm redline and the drive ratios, this Ford Shelby Cobra concept has a theoretical top speed of more than 260 mph and would break 130 mph in third gear, although it's electronically limited to 100 mph-for now.

Front-Mounted Engine And Torque Tube
One of the challenges of fitting a 10-cylinder engine into a compact roadster is leaving enough room for the driver's legs and feet. With a conventional transmission mated to the back of the engine, the tradeoff between hood length and passenger room often makes for a cramped footwell and offset pedals-a flaw of the original Cobras and many modern sports cars.