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Ford Shelby GT500 Track Testing - Shelby Bolt On Bonanza
How quick can a GT500 run with basic bolt-ons?
It was Grabber Orange with Shelby lettering and GT500 emblems emblazoned on the decklid and fenders, and though it was sitting still under the tower of Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, it was a four-wheeled monster looking to eat something for breakfast.
With an iron-block version of the Ford GT engine, the '07 Shelby GT500 needs no intro-duction as it makes itself known long before the key is turned and the blown 5.4-liter powerplant roars to life. Packing 500 hp, the beast is capable of low-12-second quarter-mile times with a terminal velocity upwards of 117 mph. Not too shabby for a base price around $42,000.
We all know the GT500 is fast right out of the box. Ford did a marvelous job in engineering a car that-despite its 2-ton weight-will hang with Chevy's Corvette and with the right driver can almost hang with Chrysler's big dog at the dragstrip. The thing is, why settle for an even matchup with a 'Vette or Viper when you can throw a few bolt-ons at the Shelby and thoroughly whoop some Brand-X butt?
That's why we spent a day at the famed New Jersey dragstrip flogging this issue's cover car in search of true happiness and bolt-on madness. All of the parts and pieces we tested are things anyone can do in their spare time or at the track. In Part 2 we plan to take the car further-namely into the 10s. Now, follow along as we partake in the journey of our trackside bolt-on bonanza.
As with any test, a baseline must first be established; this way, any improvement or decline in performance can be noted. First was the weigh-in: The Shelby tipped the scales at a hefty 4,080 pounds with driver, and that's a lot of mass to move from a dead stop to the 1,320 mark. Even though we were there to see what bolt-ons could do to the car, the gears in our heads were spinning trying to figure out ways to lighten the sled. But our plan was to keep all the sweet amenities of the Shelby, so little, if any, weight would be yanked. Imagine how quick the Shelby could be if you knocked 600 pounds off of its flanks?
Either way, our goal was to see how quick we could get the S197 to run both stock and modi-fied. Our test car belongs to Eddie Alterman from Bonner Springs, Kansas. With around 800 miles on the odometer, the bone-stock GT500 had sufficient break-in time, but based on past tests, we know they run better with a few thousand miles on them-oh well. To aid us in our bolt-on endeavor, we enlisted the help of Jim D'Amore and Shaun Lacko of JDM Engineering. On our list of modifications was installing a set of drag radials, reflashing the computer with a new tune, and bolting in a new after-cat exhaust system. In Part 2, we hope to return with new gears, more boost, and a cold-air inlet.
We decided to run in the right lane throughout the day, and traction was excellent. The air was on the hot side compared to what is the norm for New Jersey weather in early October, and the Shelby ran high-test gasoline the entire day. With the basics covered, tire pressure checked, and the engine up to optimal operating temperature (just above the cold line), it was time to let 'er rip and see what kind of numbers the stock Shelby could produce.
MM&FF Editor and resident car jockey Evan Smith handled the driving duties. After heating up the tires, he rolled into the beams and carefully slipped out the clutch from 4,000 rpm. The Shelby ripped off a 2.010-second 60-foot time, and finished the quarter-mile in 12.38 seconds at 115.38 mph. You may recall we previously ran 12.25 in another test Shelby, but that one was broken in well, and the conditions were improved. In addition, we were fighting a 10- to 15-mph head wind that would stick with us the entire test day.
After giving the car a short cooldown, a second run was attempted. This time leaving at 4,500 rpm, the Shelby recorded a 12.510-second pass at 114.55 mph. The 60-foot time was nearly identical to the first run as the short time came in at a 2.018. When it ran another 12.51-second pass on its third effort in stock trim, we realized that due to a rise in ambient temperature the car would not come back to the 12.38 it ran early in the morning. In addition, it was difficult to launch on the stock tires.
"It was very difficult to find a happy medium between bogging the car and spinning the tires on the launch," Smith says. "It was hard to launch it above 4,500 rpm. If I just dropped the clutch, it would spin. On the other hand, with any less rpm, it would want to bog-bad. Side-stepping the clutch didn't seem to help our cause, but I eventually found something that would work. The 12.38 was a result of an extremely good launch."
With the last two runs within 8-thousandths of a second of each other, we handed the Shelby over to the JDM crew for the first stage of the bolt-on bonanza.