By Editors of Motor Trend
Photography by the Manufacturers & the author
First Drive: 2005 Ford Mustang GT Convertible
Drop the top. Let's ride
By Matt Stone
Photography by John Kiewicz
Motor Trend, March 2005
"Oh. My. God. That is soooooooooo cool!" She was hanging half out the window of her Tahoe. Smile beaming, hair whipping in the wind. I thought she was going to jump in for a ride--which would've been fine. Such is life when you're piloting a brilliant-red Mustang drop-top. Soon, you'll be able to get The New Mustang in convertible form.
Powertrains, equipment levels, and critical dimensions are shared with the 2005 Mustang coupe. Ford engineers further stiffened the coupe's chassis to make up for the rigidity lost in an open-topped configuration. The result is a foundation with twice the torsional stiffness of the outgoing 1999-2004 Mustang convertible's--much needed, as that car would shake itself silly over a nasty railroad crossing. Bending rigidity is up 25 percent, too. The suspension is recalibrated for a slightly softer ride, given the convertible's more cruise-oriented mission in life.
The fully lined top is covered in a rich yet durable-looking synthetic cloth and is of a Z-fold design, which allows it to fit in a smaller space than that of conventional convertible tops. The rear window is heated glass. Ford paid particular attention to managing wind noise and water sealing; the windows drop about a quarter inch when the door is open, then the glass slides up next to the seal when closed. To lower the top, release a lever at the top of each A-pillar, and hit the button. It takes about 13 seconds with the windows down. Overall weight increases by about 120 pounds over a comparably equipped coupe.
Ford did some homework and learned that clumsy, vinyl tonneau covers end up in one of two places: the garage or the trunk. So the design team took extra measures to ensure that the top bows are hidden and the front end of the top rests aft of the rear seat when the top is lowered, creating a neat, mostly covered look. If you want an even nicer place for the prom queen to sit during the parade, there's an optional tonneau cover.
First impressions indicate a job well done. Wind noise and buffeting levels--even at 70 mph--allow normal conversation and better-than-average hairdo retention. Chassis-stiffening measures, which include several structural members to fight shake, are effective; only the nastiest bumps and road acne will make it wiggle, and then only a little. Defining any performance differences will have to wait until we get the convertible to the track, but the added weight and softer suspension take a smidgeon of edge off the driving experience. Ford should consider making the GT coupe's calibrations optional for those who value performance over ride quality, but most customers will feel this state of tune is fine.
Since 1964, Ford has built and sold more than one million Mustang convertibles. No reason to stop now.
2005 Ford Mustang GT Convertible
Base price (est) $31,000
Vehicle layout Front engine, RWD, 2-door, 5-pass convertible
Engine type 90* V-8, aluminum block/heads, SOHC, 3 valves/cyl
Displacement, ci/cc 280.8 / 4601
Max horsepower SAE net 300 @ 5750 rpm
Max torque SAE net, lb-ft 320 @ 4500 rpm
Transmissions 5-speed manual; 5-speed automatic
Curb weight, lb (est) 3650
0-60 mph, sec (est) 5.8
EPA mpg, city/hwy 16/24
On sale in U.S. Spring 2005
First Look: Mustang GT-R
Suddenly, it's 1970
By Matt Stone
Photography by John Kiewicz
Motor Trend, March 2005
Any racing fool worth his die-cast-model collection remembers the Grabber Orange, Bud Moore-built Mustang Boss 302s that Parnelli Jones and George Follmer used to crash and bash their way to the SCCA Trans-Am championship in 1970. Ford celebrates these cars--and the Mustang's 40th anniversary--with the Mustang GT-R, a "what if?" club-racer concept that has the look and the moves.
Ford Motorsport Archive The GT-R began life as a 2005 GT body-in-white, receiving a serious but straightforward conversion to race-car spec. Power comes from a 5.0-liter, 440-horse, aluminum DOHC V-8 crate motor from the Ford Racing catalog. Suspension, rollcage, brakes, and rolling stock are all legit track hardware. The paint--now called Valencia Orange--body mods, carbon-fiber trim, and tinwork are Concours quality; the GT-R was developed at the Saleen Special Vehicles facility where the Ford GT is assembled.
Words can't describe this car's bark and rumble (insert "whumpa whummmmmpaa-a-a-a!" noises here). It feels about 350 horses, but sounds 550's worth. While the acceleration was less than expected, the handling proved more: flat, neutral, lots of stick, and with sharp turn-in.
The GT-R would be an ideal weekend track toy. They could build and sell these. And should.
Ford Motorsport Archive
First Look: 2007 Ford Shelby GR-1
A legend digitally remastered and repackaged for the 21st century
By Angus MacKenzie
Photography by James Brown
Motor Trend, March 2005
It shimmers in the studio like liquid mercury, the light flowing effortlessly across the highly polished aluminum panels. Long, long hood, hip-high roofline, cabin set hard back against the rear wheels, stubby Kamm tail--it hits all the right hot buttons with a collection of cues straight out of Sports Car Design 101. We've seen the shape before, in the form of a full-size silver-painted clay model unveiled at last year's Pebble Beach Concours. But not like this. In gloriously naked metal, with a real interior and, soon, a real running engine, Ford's Shelby GR-1 is, quite simply, drop-dead gorgeous.
But is the GR-1 the real deal? Or just another Detroit show-pony? Well, it's built on exactly the same chassis as the Cobra roadster unveiled at the 2004 Detroit show, which means it uses a lot of ready-made suspension and chassis hardware from the mid-engine Ford GT, plus the Cobra's thundering 6.4-liter, 605-horsepower V-10 and six-speed manual transmission. Ford execs admitted the Cobra was production feasible. Ask the inevitable about the GR-1, and Dearborn insiders will say, yes, it could also be built. But they insist no decision on a production version has been made.
Center stack shape, steering-wheel design, and even the vent openings are all clever riffs on the famous Cobra logo.
It sounds like the usual PR
spin that surrounds any number of concept cars. But what if we told you Ford has done a full engineering feasibility study on the car? If Ford management presses the go button, a production version of the GR-1 would get a new chassis with the wheelbase stretched almost three inches to accommodate a 20-gallon fuel tank between the seats and the rear shock towers. The A-pillars would be pulled slightly more upright and the roof raised 1.6 inches to move the front-header rail away from the occupants' heads to meet safety regulations. And the show car's V-10 will be replaced by the oft-rumored 7.0-liter "Hurricane" V-8 pumping out more than 600 horsepower and more than 500 pound-feet of torque.
Using the V-8 rather than the V-10 means marginally better weight distribution--47.6 percent front and 52.4 percent rear versus 48.3 percent front and 52.4 percent rear. You only have to look at the cars the GR-1's engineers are using as benchmarks--Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and Mercedes SLR McLaren, both of which have rear-set front engines--to see where they're heading in terms of handling. Target weight for the production version is 3450 to 3550 pounds (the GT weighs 3480 pounds), and the key performance targets are 0-to-60 mph in under 3.9 seconds, 0-to-100 mph in under 8.0, and a standing quarter mile in better than 11.9 at 126. Yeah, it's going to be fast.
It looks stunning, has the right hardware, and carries the legendary Shelby name. If you have an ounce of gasoline in your veins, you're probably already wondering how you can sell the kids and raid the 401K to raise the ready cash. So what's stopping Ford? "We still haven't made a business case for this thing," insists Ford design chief J Mays. "We've made the announcement that we have a relationship with Carroll, that we're going to put his name on a couple of products--and I'm sure you can guess what the other one might be," he adds with a big grin. Uh, that wouldn't be the Shelby Mustang, would it, J?
A key piece of the puzzle, says Mays, is the Ford GT. "We've got to sit down and look at the runout of the GT and what we want to do with that," he says. "We've got to put the final numbers together on how this would fit into things as a potential replacement." With GTs selling faster than Ford can build them--"we sold it too cheap," grumbles one insider--the planned production run of 1500 cars will finish much sooner than expected, leaving the small manufacturing facility specially set up at Wixom, Michigan, with nothing to make. Because it uses a lot of GT parts and requires similar low- volume manufacturing techniques, building the GR-1 there "obviously makes a lot of sense when you think about it," Mays admits.
It sounds like a no-brainer, especially when you consider Ford's beancounters figured the company could bring a production version of the closely related Cobra roadster to market for about $110,000. But there are a couple of complications with the GR-1. First, as Mays points out, a closed coupe requires far more work on NVH suppression than an open-topped roadster. That takes time and costs money. Second, says Ford product creation chief Phil Martens, those cool scissor-hinge doors are a nightmare, requiring a lot of expensive engineering to ensure they fit properly and protect adequately in a crash.
"It's gonna be up to Phil and me," says Mays bluntly. "How badly do we want to do it?"
Let's make that decision easier for them, shall we? Let's get their boss to order them to build it. If you want Ford to produce the Shelby GR-1, send your cards and letters to Bill Ford at The Ford Motor Company, The American Road, Dearborn, Michigan 48126-2798. Ours are already in the mail.
2007 Shelby GR-1
Base price (est) $130,000
Vehicle layout Mid-engine, RWD, 2-door, 2-pass coupe
Engine type 90* V-8, aluminum block/heads, DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
Displacement, ci/cc 427.0 / 6997
Max horsepower SAE net 600+ @ 6500 rpm
Max torque SAE net, lb-ft 500+ @ 4000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Curb weight, lb (est) 3450-3550
0-60 mph, sec (est) 3.9
EPA mpg, city/hwy Not yet rated
On sale in U.S. Late 2006
Okay, Okay, So You Didn'T Like Der Cobra
Does the Shelby GR-1 owe its existence to the lukewarm reaction the world's media gave the Cobra concept at the 2004 Detroit Show? Well, sort of, says J Mays (top).
"We said we didn't want to go retro with the Cobra in the way that we did with the GT because we were just going to end up with a kit car. Although I still really like the car, when we finished it we sort of stood back and said 'you know, it's like a Cobra TT. It's just too German looking.' Almost everyone agreed, including me, that it wasn't voluptuous enough."
"We wanted to come back and show that we can do big, fluid, voluptuous,
wonderful, organic shapes, and that we can do them fresh."
"Is there a Cobra coupe influence in the GR-1? Yeah, I suppose there's a knowing wink to it in the tail, but everything else is different. It's got some 1970s Italian influence in it as well--there's a lot of linearity and sheerness to it that you might find on Maseratis from that era. There's some DeTomaso Mangusta in there, too."
"But I wouldn't call this car retro. I'd call it bloody modern."