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US:Ford taps Shelby magic for new GT500 Mustang

Ford taps Shelby magic for new GT500 Mustang


Clarence Tabb Jr. / The Detroit News;Ford
After testing the new supercharged Ford Shelby Cobra GT500, racing legend Carroll Shelby was impressed. "This is a street car that you can go to the race track with," he said.


Clarence Tabb Jr. / The Detroit News;Ford
The Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 boasts a 5.4-liter engine that cranks out 450 horsepower. It debuts at the New York auto show today.

Shelby Mustangs

1965: The first Shelby Mustang is produced. The GT350 featured a fastback design with a hood scoop and a 306-horsepower V-8 engine.
1966: Hertz purchases nearly 1,000 special GT350H models to accommodate weekend racers.
1967: The GT500 debuts with a 355-horsepower V-8. More than 2,000 were sold.
1968: The first year "Cobra" was used on a Shelby Mustang.
1969: The Shelby Mustang's body featured nine scoops -- five on the hood, one at each front fender and one on each quarter panel.
1970: The last Shelby Mustangs are sold.

By Eric Mayne / The Detroit News

DEARBORN -- The smile on Carroll Shelby's face was 35 years in the making.

The 82-year-old racing legend had just climbed out from behind the wheel of a prototype 2006 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 -- the first Mustang to bear his name since 1970.

With the tires of the GT500 still warm after his five-hour test drive, Shelby gave his approval. The Shelby Mustangs of the past were visceral road rockets. But the GT500 combined power with balance and refinement, he said.

"That's what we wanted back then, but it was impossible with the technology that we had," Shelby said after the spin at Ford's Dearborn proving grounds. "What we really built in the first place was a race car that you could drive on the street. This is a street car that you can go to the race track with."

If the GT500 show car debuting today at the New York auto show is anywhere near as good as its namesake predicts, it's likely to become an immediate sensation when it goes into production next year.

The Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 not only marries two of motoring's most revered names -- Mustang and Shelby -- but also boasts a pavement-shredding, supercharged 5.4-liter engine that cranks out more than 450 horsepower.

It will be the most powerful factory-built Mustang ever and just the kind of attention-grabbing sports car Ford was counting four years ago when it patched up its tattered relationship with Shelby, the icon whose name is synonymous with high-performance cars.

A dirt-poor, former chicken farmer from Leesburg, Texas, Shelby enjoyed a superstar career as a race driver in the 1950s. In 1962, he developed the first Cobra with a $25,000 investment stake from Ford.

Not long after that, he was challenged by Henry Ford II to help Ford Motor beat Ferrari and win Le Mans, the most prestigious race in Europe. The Ford chairman summoned Shelby and two associates to his office and handed each a name tag that read: "Ford Wins Le Mans."

Shelby didn't let him down. On June 20, 1966, a trio of Ford GT-40 Mark IIs crossed the finish line first, second and third at Le Mans.

The relationship between Ford and Shelby soured in the ensuing years. Shelby joined Lee Iacocca at Chrysler Corp. and filed a $30 million suit against Ford for using the GT350 name. It was settled out of court.

In 2001, Edsel B. Ford II, Henry Ford II's son, approached Shelby about returning to Ford to help produce performance vehicles. Since then, Shelby has consulted on the $140,000 Ford GT super sports car and Ford Shelby Cobra concept car.

Ford says the new Shelby Mustang car will bridge the gap between the Ford GT super sports car and the rest of its lineup.

"We're taking a multitiered approach," said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's director of advanced product creation. "We've got the GT that's the top-of-the-line, race-inspired performance. Then you'll have high-performance cars like the Shelby GT500 that will be more affordable."

Ford is expected to sell the GT500 for just under $40,000 -- about $15,000 more than the starting price of a base-level, V-8-powered Mustang. Ford plans to build about 7,000 GT500s a year at its plant in Flat Rock.

Following next year's arrival of the Shelby Cobra GT500, SVT will launch the Sport Trac Adrenalin -- a sport utility truck based on the next-generation Explorer. The company has also committed to building a Lightning, based on the F-150, while Ford designers and engineers are contemplating an SVT version of the Fusion, Ford's new midsize sedan that will debut this fall.

But it's the GT500 that will grace magazine covers and send fan Web sites buzzing.

Well aware of the expectations, Shelby wanted to put the prototype through its paces personally. At Ford's Dearborn test track on a recent Monday, he effortlessly guided the car through the banked turns and straight-aways, filling the air with the aroma of burnt rubber.

"Very seldom do you ever, right out of the box, get in a vehicle that feels as solid as this does and as controllable without a lot of adjustments," Shelby said. "There's very few things that need to be done to this car."

The GT500, he said, will be a worthy successor to scorching GT350 fastbacks and 427 Cobras of the past.

"That was what Shelby vehicles were in the beginning and that's what they were meant to be," Shelby said
 

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Discussion Starter #2
GT500 reborn as a modern thoroughbred: Shelby, SVT create most powerful Mustang ever

Autoindex.org

Ford has issued the following press release:

The most powerful factory-built Ford Mustang in history takes to the street next year, following a unique collaboration between performance car legend Carroll Shelby and the Ford Special Vehicle Team (SVT).

Ford took the wraps off the 450-plus-horsepower Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 show car at the New York International Auto Show March 23. Designed in the unmistakable image of Shelby Mustangs of the 1960s, the Shelby Cobra GT500 melds SVT's modern engineering with the big-block performance that made the original GT500 the king of the road.

"The all-new 2005 Ford Mustang is one of the hottest cars in many years," says Phil Martens, Ford group vice president, Product Creation. "Its chassis was engineered from the beginning to be the basis of a high-performance, world-class sports car from SVT, and the Shelby Cobra GT500 is it."

Carroll Shelby lends his support to SVT, adapting his earlier role as a senior advisor on the "Dream Team" that was assembled to develop and build the 2005 Ford GT. "I've worked with the SVT guys for several years now, and I know they have the guts, the talent and the passion to deliver the best performance Mustangs ever," says Shelby.

A production version of the GT500 will go on sale in 2006, continuing the high-performance lineage of the SVT Mustang Cobra model line. It will be followed by a steady stream of performance products developed by SVT, including Ford Sport Trac Adrenalin, the industry's first performance sport-utility truck, in 2007.

Shelby Cobra GT500's supercharged 5.4-liter DOHC V-8 produces over 450-plus horsepower
Just as the original Shelby GT500 was the "step up" to big-block power from the GT350, the new Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 steps up to Ford's 5.4-liter "MOD" V-8. The result? The GT500 is the most powerful factory Mustang ever. Its supercharged 5.4-liter, 32-valve V-8 evolves from SVT's experience with supercharging the "MOD" engine to deliver more than 450 horsepower and 450 foot pounds of torque.

The cast-iron-block, four-valve engine is force-fed an air-and-fuel mixture via a screw-type supercharger at 8.5 pounds per square inch of boost. Aluminum cylinder heads, piston rings and bearings sourced from the Ford GT program bring a high level of proven durability to the drivetrain, while upgraded cooling components promise longevity. "Powered by SVT" camshaft covers are the finishing touch to the engine.

The engine has been further tuned from its first application in a Mustang, the 2000 SVT Mustang Cobra R, a limited edition model of 300 units.

Helping to put the power of the GT500's supercharged V-8 to the pavement is a T-56 six-speed manual gearbox.

Great power requires great control
The great Shelby Mustangs of the 1960s were anything but one-trick ponies. They earned their stripes on twisty roads and race tracks across America and Europe. The Shelby Cobra GT500 show car continues that legacy of all-around performance.

The GT500 starts with the solid 2005 Mustang underpinnings. The all-new Mustang's platform was designed from the beginning with performance derivatives in mind, providing an exceptionally rigid, well-engineered starting point for SVT chassis engineers.

Using real-world experience gained during more than 12 years of building great-handling SVT Mustang Cobras, SVT engineers retune and upgrade key chassis components. Improvements such as revised shocks, spring rates and upgraded stabilizer bars help the GT500 stop and turn with the same authority as it goes.

The GT500 features a MacPherson strut independent front suspension with "Reverse L" lower control arms, and a solid-axle, three-link rear suspension with coil springs and a Panhard rod for precise control of the rear axle.

To match this power and handling ability, SVT fitted some of the biggest brakes in the business to the GT500. Fourteen-inch cross-drilled Brembo rotors up front and 13-inch discs in the rear continue SVT's legacy of great-braking Mustangs. Secure footing is provided by 19-inch wheels wrapped in high-performance tires.

The snake is back - Legendary looks with SVT function
The Shelby Cobra GT500 combines the dramatic design genes of the all-new Mustang with Carroll Shelby's legendary performance image to create an SVT Mustang that broadens the power brand's design approach and appeal.

The 2005 Mustang design team drew inspiration from classic 1968 Mustangs, the models that transformed the mild-mannered pony car into a muscle car with attitude. Envisioning an SVT model, the team tested GT500 design cues on the Mustang GT coupe concept that was unveiled at the 2003 North American International Auto Show. In 2004, designers further developed the GT500 look on the Mustang GT-R, a race-bred concept with the dual purpose of foreshadowing SVT's Mustang design direction and Ford Racing's plans to return Mustang to road racing.

The GT500 now comes into full light, punctuated by the classic Le Mans-style white stripes that race along the top of the show car's "SVT Red" paint from nose to tail. The stripes recall the Shelby Mustangs that marked another important 1960's Mustang transition when Ford put it on the track to becoming a racing legend. The GT500 nomenclature is prominent in the lower bodyside racing stripe, another cue from the classic Shelby Mustangs.

The unique rear fascia features strakes inspired by the Ford GT's integrated rear airflow diffuser, and a rear spoiler reminiscent of a classic GT500. To mark the collaboration of two Mustang performance icons, the GT500 features Shelby and SVT badging.

Continuing the snake logo tradition of past-generation SVT Mustang Cobras, as well as late-model Shelby Mustangs, the fenders each feature an updated design of the Cobra. For the first time on any SVT Mustang, the front grille features an off-center snake in place of the standard running horse. "GT500" is emblazoned inside the side rocker stripes, and the name "SHELBY" is prominently featured across the rear deck. The SVT logo can be seen on the wheel center caps, a signature SVT location, as well as on the doorsill plates. To top if off, the "gas cap" medallion between the taillights reads "Shelby GT500" centered on the Cobra image.

The interior is completely wrapped in ebony black leather, including the top of the dash, door panels and center arm rest. Also wrapped in ebony leather are the shift lever, shift boot and parking-brake handle. SVT Red leather seating surfaces and door panel inserts provide a marked contrast to the rest of the leather-trimmed cabin, surrounding the performance enthusiast with luxury and comfort. Snake logos embroidered into the seat backs finish the package.

The Shelby GT500 script and Cobra image are repeated on the steering wheel cap. Behind the wheel are titanium-faced gauges swapped in location so that the tachometer is dominant visually for the driver. The chrome accessories inside the cabin have been replaced with a satin aluminum finish, including the aluminum shift lever knob that is nicely positioned for quick, positive shifts of the six-speed transmission.







 

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Discussion Starter #3
Showstopper: Ford launches the Shelby Cobra GT500, its baddest Mustang yet

WES RAYNAL/AUTOWEEK



2006 FORD SHELBY COBRA GT500
ON SALE: June 2006
BASE PRICE: $39,000 (est.)
POWERTRAIN: 5.4-liter, 450-plus-hp, 450-plus-lb-ft supercharged V8; rwd, six-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 3600 lbs (est.)
0 to 60 MPH: 4.5 seconds (est.)

Ford celebrated the Mustang’s 40th birthday last year by whipping up one of the wildest Mustangs ever, the GT-R concept displayed at New York 2004. At the time, we said we hoped the history-obsessed automaker wouldn’t morph the GT-R into some sort of catastrophic new-age Mustang II Ghia with a landau vinyl half-roof. No such worries: Hank’s car company is following up the GT-R with the Shelby Cobra GT500.

While the GT-R was a showcase for Ford’s performance parts biz, this 2005 New York show car is about 90 percent of what we will see when the Shelby goes on sale next summer, replacing the SVT Cobra. On paper, the GT500—in development for more than a year and officially approved two months ago—has enough power and flair to put Chevrolet’s base Corvette C6 smack on the trailer.



Blasphemous? Consider: SVT boss Hau Thai-Tang has stuffed the extraordinary 5.4-liter, dohc, 32-valve supercharged V8 from the Ford GT sports car under the Mustang’s hood. Final horsepower figures are not firm, but Thai-Tang hints it will be “well over 450 hp, closer to 500.” Look for 450-plus lb-ft of torque too. Whatever the final numbers, Ford says this will be the most powerful production Mustang ever. Engineer Thai-Tang, who did a stint at Newman-Haas Racing, sums up the powertrain succinctly: “It’s gonna be a monster.”

The engine mates to a Tremec T56 six-speed manual transmission beefed up to handle the power and torque. Underneath, it turns out those rumors of a live rear axle in the next-generation Cobra were true: The car will have basically carryover Mustang GT suspension, with MacPherson struts in front and the live axle in back, tuned for the 500 with revised shock valving and higher-rate springs.

Thai-Tang and his team aimed for a better-controlled ride than the GT, particularly at low and medium speeds, with better body control (included in Thai-Tang’s stable of test cars is a Pontiac GTO—the 400-hp version, as well as a C6 Corvette and a BMW M3). Front brakes are 14-inch cross-drilled rotors with 13s in the rear. The car should weigh about 3600 pounds, 200 more than a GT, Thai-Tang says.



By the way, Thai-Tang has a message for those of us bummed out about the live rear axle: “Drive the car first,” he says, “and you’ll see it’s a nonissue, because the chassis is dialed in so well.”

“I didn’t know what to expect before I drove the car,” said Carroll Shelby. “I knew the car looked good. Then I drove it. Wow. It’s everything I hoped it would be.”

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Like a proud papa, SVT chief designer Doug Gaffka had a gleam in his eye when he gave us a walk-around of the GT. “We looked most to the ’68 GT500 for our inspiration when we started on the car more than a year ago,” Gaffka told AutoWeek. “In fact, the new GT500 design was at the forefront of our minds since we started the whole Mustang program.”

It shows. To the GT’s long hood and short rear deck, Gaffka and team added a sinister-looking new front fascia with a one-inch-bigger grille opening to force more air to the engine. There are also new headlamps, a one-inch-higher hood (to accommodate the supercharger), and new rear fascia, spoiler and diffuser. That spoiler isn’t just for show—it provides 80 pounds of downforce at 120 mph. Wind tunnel testing will continue.

The concept squats on 19-inch wheels; in production the GT500 will use 18-inch Goodyears.



The interior looks like the Mustang GT’s but with the quality bar raised: Instead of waves of hard, shiny, cheap-looking plastic, the 500’s dash, door panels and center console are trimmed in leather. There will also be a new, thicker three-spoke steering wheel and slightly stiffer seat bolsters, as well as the SVT logo on the kick plates. The leather upgrades will be offered across the Mustang range in 2007.

Final prices are not set but the last SVT Cobra cost $35,000. Ford officials say the goal is to keep this car priced less than $40,000. “You won’t be able to touch this performance for the money,” Thai-Tang says. GT500s will be built at the Ford/Mazda joint-venture plant in Flat Rock alongside Mustang and Mustang GT. Ford won’t commit to a production number, but says it will build all the 500s drivers demand.

Drivers? Count us in. And bring on the next 40 years.











 

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Discussion Starter #4
Mustang Cobra will hit 450 hp

By Amy Wilson
Automotive News



DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. will ratchet up both the horsepower and the 1960s vibe of the redesigned Mustang when it brings out its next Cobra model in 2006.

The 2007 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 will go on sale next summer. Engineered by Ford's Special Vehicle Team, it is powered by a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 producing at least 450 hp. That horsepower number may be tweaked upward as the GT500 approaches launch, Ford product chief Phil Martens said.

The new Mustang will mark the return of SVT products to the market after a two-year absence. Ford last sold an SVT Cobra during the 2004 model year.

"We've never abandoned our spirit of SVT," said Martens, Ford group vice president of product creation. "And we've got something now built on the backbone of Mustang."

Ford unveiled the Shelby Cobra GT500 last week at the New York auto show.

Though the next Cobra will carry SVT badges on the car, Ford is dropping SVT from its official name. Instead, the automaker will pay homage to the redesigned Mustang's 1960s styling by reviving the Shelby name. Ford sold 14,559 high-performance Shelby Mustangs during the car's early days before ending production in 1970.

Ford has sold around 7,500 Cobras annually in recent years. Officials expect volume of the Shelby Cobra GT500 to remain near that level. Pricing will be around $40,000, Martens said. He said the SVT Mustangs deliver a significant profit margin to Ford.

Unlike recent SVT Cobras boasting independent rear suspensions, the 2007 Shelby Cobra GT500 retains the solid rear axle of the base Mustang. Martens said independent rear suspension would have weighed the car down with an extra 180 pounds.

The GT500 will be the first in a series of specialty Mustangs to be engineered by SVT. Subsequent special editions are likely to use other Mustang heritage names such as Bullitt and Mach.
 
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