Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
September 1, 2008
Photos By: Drew Phillips

From the enhanced aero work on the car to the subtle touches of visible carbon fiber, the KR is distinctly in its own element. As for the scooped and vented carbon-fiber hood, it truly is the icing on an already very tantalizing cake. This masterpiece of autoclave goodness isn't just to make the KR look pretty (which it does in spades). Nor is it simply to save some weight, which it does to the tune of 11 pounds less than the stock GT500 aluminum version. What makes this hood special is that it truly is an example of functional Air Management 101.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) were utilized to optimize the cold-air induction system as well as heat extraction. The hood features two chambers, one for the fresh-air inlet by way of the forward intakes to feed the Ford Racing cold-air induction, and a second chamber to extract warm air from the engine area through 10 smaller openings exiting the rear extractors. Add a set of sweet-looking, fully functional hood pins and you've got yourself one uncompromising piece of automobile art. The Ford and Shelby brass on-hand were tight-lipped about the actual hood cost, but we're guessing it's a good chunk of the KR's premium price tag.

Of course, the new carbon-fiber hood (the first for any Ford vehicle) isn't all we're here to talk about. Elsewhere in the KR's stable of good looks, you'll find mirrors wrapped in carbon fiber, a revised front splitter-also made out of carbon fiber-and a more aero-worthy rear spoiler to aid in increased downforce. These are but some of the KR's exterior design attributes.

Further examination of the KR's flanks will net you more changes front and rear with the classic "SHELBY" lettering spaced and centered on the rear decklid and the leading edge of the hood, while brushed aluminum rings in the lower fascia are at the ready for the full race-ready "Track Accessory" brake cooling duct kit found in the trunk of each KR upon delivery. Finally, a revised faux fuel cap graphic at the rear of the car announces to those being passed by the KR that it is indeed the King of the Road-but better look quick before the KR disappears beyond the horizon!

Stop, Go, And Handle
It's not often that a production car is as balanced as the KR. We've endured years of Mustangs with decent power and lousy brakes (raise your hands Fox owners), as well as countless other Mustangs that had a good start in one direction, but didn't really have it all.

The KR's development team worked together on all facets of the car's suspension, handling, braking, and engine per-formance to ensure each design tweak complemented other areas of the car instead of fighting against it. Ford engineers worked hand-in-hand with people from Shelby Automobiles as well as the guys in the white coats (actually more like red Polo shirts) at SVT and Ford Racing.

When the dust cleared, this group of hard-core performance junkies delivered one amazing performance machine, both within the build and budget parameters of the project. The result? How about 1.0 g of lateral acceleration on the skidpad, 40 more horsepower, 30 more pound-feet of torque, 0.7 quicker in the quarter-mile, and improved braking over the GT500, just to name the obvious.

Of course, there's a lot more going on under the KR's skin, too, with a lowered ride height, stiffer springs, shorter rear gearing, cold-air intake, recalibrated engine management, and a completely upgraded aero package resulting in just 54 lb-ft of aero moment at 120 mph. That's a whopping 92 percent increase over the GT500-mainly due to the revised front splitter, which is deeper, has a consistent shape, and reaches all the way to the leading edge of the front wheel openings, similar to another legendary {{{Mustang}}} of recent times, the '00 Cobra R. The splitter plays a significant roll in the KR's total downforce improvement of 31 percent over the GT500.

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