May 16, 2011

If you own a modern rendition of the Shelby GT500, even a stock one, you have a stout Pony capable of dropping the competition with a crack of the throttle. The GT500 is a machine that not only has 500-550 hp--it also carries one of the most iconic names in automotive history. So, if you’re interested in modifying your Shelby for increased power, what better way than to have it done by the specialists who carry the Shelby name?

With this in mind, we hopped a flight to fabulous Las Vegas, where our destination was the headquarters of Shelby Automobiles. There, we hooked up with Gary Patterson, vice president of Operations. Patterson arranged for us to follow along as this Shelby received a big bump in power at the in-house performance shop, Shelby American Motorsports.

The cool thing is you don’t have to be a Shelby owner to get the Shelby experience as anyone can bring his or her car to SAM. We wanted to appeal to all performance customers, not just those buying one of our specialty cars, but to anyone who wants to take their car to the next level, said Patterson.

Drag racer Gil Nevarez serves as the shop supervisor, dyno operator, and tuner, and SAM is capable of working on all types of vehicles. (Hey, Shelby built more than just Mustangs.) Nevarez and his staff attended to our power needs by selecting a combination of a Ford Racing Performance Parts TVS supercharger, along with Kook’s headers and midpipe exhaust to enhance power on the GT500.

Before starting, the Shelby was strapped down and a few baseline pulls were made on the DynoJet chassis dyno. The result was 478.86 rwhp and 479.43 lb-ft of torque. The exhaust swap was done first. This task was handled by Justin Quinville and Randall Laviolette of Shelby American Motorsports.

With the new pipes in place, attention was turned to the FRPP blower kit, which is a straight- forward swap on the GT500. Within two hours, the new blower was sitting atop the 5.4L, ready to make some noise. Quinville replaced the battery cable, loaded the FRPP tune (which comes with the kit), checked the fluids, and cracked the key to fire the mill.

All was well, and we were anxious to see the level of improvement, so the GT500 was returned to the dyno for the after test. The results were instant and impressive, as the blown 5.4L now cranked out an effortless 601 hp and 574 lb-ft of torque, all using the conservative FRPP tune. Nevarez commented that SEM could easily tune this combination to well over 600 rwhp, but this owner was content with the FRPP tune. The new parts produced peak gains of 117.75 hp and 79.68 lb-ft of torque.

On the road, the GT500 was a complete animal, scooting from a roll to well past the triple-digit mark in a hurry. The insane tip-in throttle response was the best part--it makes you giggle every time you breathe on the gas. And while we didn’t get a chance to drag-test this Pony, similar mods on a another GT500 tested produced a bunch of low-11 and high-10-second runs at close to 130 mph.

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