Courtesy of Ford Motor Company
July 1, 2009
Photos By: Jim Fets
The White shifter ball is made by a billiard-ball company and has cool Le Mans stripes.

Power flows from the clutch to the revised six-speed Tremec transmission, which has taller Fifth and Six gears to increase fuel efficiency. "Gears One through Four remain the same, but Fifth gear changes from 0.80 to 0.74, while Sixth gear goes from 0.63 to 0.50, meaning that the '10 Shelby GT500 will turn lower rpm in those gears and deliver improved fuel efficiency. The new final drive ratio (3.55 versus 3.31), improves acceleration, while complementing the revised Fifth and Sixth gear ratios," adds Hameedi.

Carving Asphalt
SVT engineers have improved handling with the use of stiffer springs, revised dampers, 19-inch wheels, the latest Goodyear F1 Supercar tires (18s on convertibles), and improved aerodynamics, however, they did so while maintaining excellent street manners. We pushed the Shelby hard on the street and the track, and only experienced a slight bit of understeer on the tightest corners.

The updated front office gets unique Shelby seats with stitched-in striping, a racy shifter ball with striping, and a performance-inspired steering wheel.

The AdvanceTrac has three modes (Full Active/Sport/Off), but we like the Sport mode best. In this position the computer allows a fair amount of slip before it reels you back in. On the strip, however, we turned the system completely off. Overall, the '10 GT500 was better connected to the road. The steering is weighted nicely and gives you good feedback.

We also like how the rear suspension hung in there. It was sucked down better than earlier models, and the tail followed the nose without any drama. Handling balance leans toward understeer, but the Shelby seems more neutral than before, and with 510 lb-ft of torque, we could use the throttle to steer the car if needed.

The 5.4L supercharged beast has been helped out with a factory cold-air package, along with a new calibration. It now makes 540 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque.

"Using data from the wind tunnel and the track, the GT500 is near neutral at 120 mph--it makes about 20 pounds of lift," says John Pfeiffer, product development engineer. "This is 50 percent better than the KR and 75 percent better than the outgoing model. The new Shelby GT500 reacts the same at 120 mph as it does at much lower speeds because the center of gravity doesn't change from aerodynamic forces as you get up to speed.

"One of the new tunable components on the Shelby GT500 is the addition of a wicker bill or Gurney Flap on the rear. Introduced by racing legend Dan Gurney nearly 40 years ago, the Gurney Flap is a tunable element on a low-drag spoiler. It sticks up about 6 mm and is positioned at a right angle to help create downforce."

We put the power to the pavement at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. The '10 GT500 performed flawlessly, with enhanced handling and much-improved balance.

"The front damping and spring rates were increased (13 percent in the front and seven percent in the rear), and share the same setup on the front end as the KR. Overall, the goal with the '10 Shelby GT500 was to maintain the high-performance attributes of the KR, but in a more-refined manner," adds Baldori.

While there was plenty of power on tap, our impromptu strip test didn't produce what we feel are representative numbers. During our test day at Infineon, we faced an unprepped track, cold conditions (50 degrees), and a stiff 20 to 25-mph headwind. Our best e.t. after repeated tries was a 12.67 at 115 mph. Still, not bad considering I spun all the way through First, granny-shifted and spun though Second, and even hazed the tires in Third! Considering the KR ran 11s with virtually the same setup (it had slightly stickier tires and 3.73 gears), we think the GT500 will run 12.10 or better at close to 120 mph. Of course, we plan to prove this at a later date.

What's On The Inside
For '10, the GT500 interior design team challenged themselves to raise the bar to create the ultimate Shelby Mustang interior--they succeeded. The instrument panel is quite sporty in design, and functional, too. Ford used genuine materials such as real leather in all seats, real aluminum on the instrument panel, and Alcantara suede inserts on the seats and steering wheel (which we love). The seats offer comfort and a fair amount of side bolstering, and you can opt for sewn-in racing stripes to add some style. The cue-ball shifter is sporty and moves through the gates with short throws and decent feel.