2010 Ford Shelby GT500 Preview

FAST FACTS
  • Adopts exterior and interior updates from
  • More powerful, now with 540 horsepower
  • More torque, now with 510 lb.-ft.
  • Reduced aerodynamic drag; 2 mpg better highway fuel economy
  • Functional hood extractor for improved underhood cooling
  • "Gurney Flap" rear spoiler to tune for downforce
  • Stability control includes track-driving mode with greater handling thresholds
  • Built in Flat Rock, Mich.
  • On sale in spring of 2009

Introduction

Shelby-badged Mustangs date to 1965, when a WWII war veteran, former flight instructor, 1950s auto racer, exotic car builder, and zesty chili chef from Texas named Carroll Shelby partnered up with Ford to create more powerful, better handling versions of the successful pony car. Though Shelby and Ford collaborated only until 1969, his name and performance-tuned Mustangs are synonymous to car enthusiasts. Shelby and Ford didn't work together again until the 2004 Ford Shelby Cobra Concept and Ford Shelby GR-1 Concept, debuts that foretold the arrival of Shelby-badged vehicles that people could actually buy.

The Shelby GT500 arrived for 2007, a significantly more powerful version of the Mustang available in coupe or convertible format. Ford's Special Vehicle Team (SVT) took Shelby's guidance and advice while creating the car. Now, with the imminent arrival of a restyled and re-engineered Mustang, a similarly updated Shelby GT500 arrives with more power, more torque, and even better highway fuel economy.

Hardware

Shelby says Ford built "on what we learned to create the Shelby GT500KR," referring to the King of the Road edition of his high-performance Mustang that was sold in limited numbers. The 2010 Ford Shelby GT500 is equipped with a supercharged and intercooled 5.4-liter V-8 engine, massaged to generate 540 hp and 510 lb.-ft. of torque. That's 40 more ponies and 30 lb.-ft. more twist than the 2009 model.

Power flows to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission with an improved twin-disc clutch. Jamal Hameedi, chief nameplate engineer for SVT, said: "We wanted to make sure we had a nice, crisp, short-throw shifter that was easy to go from gear to gear," so the copper-and-fiberglass clutch discs are thicker for 2010. A new 3.55 final drive ratio results in faster acceleration in gears 1 through 4 and, in combination with gearing changes for 5th and 6th gears, better fuel economy on the highway, according to the company.

For 2010, SVT has also made suspension modifications for better driving dynamics. Ford says the 2010 Ford Shelby GT500's springs and dampers are optimized to deliver better roll control for more confident braking, turning and accelerating. The steering shaft is also stiffer, and the car rides on upgraded 19-inch Goodyear F1 Supercar tires mounted to forged aluminum wheels that deliver better grip, handling, and NVH properties on the GT500 Coupe (the Convertible has different rubber and 18-inch wheels). Hameedi says "all our changes were about making the car respond as fast and as predictable as possible."

Design

It won't be hard to spot the 2010 Ford Shelby GT500. The wide racing stripes running front to rear are a dead giveaway, and fans will note that the stripes are now available on the convertible as well as the coupe. Beyond that, the GT500 has a unique front end, a flush-fit aluminum hood with a functional air extractor, special forged aluminum wheels (18-inchers on convertible; 19-inchers on coupe), a "Gurney Flap" rear spoiler that can be tuned to deliver additional downforce, and cobra badges on the grille, front fenders and rear.

A cobra badge adorns the steering wheel, too. Other interior modifications include full leather seats with Alcantara inserts, Alcantara steering-wheel trim, dimpled aluminum dash trim with "GT500" inscribed on the passenger dash panel, Satin Liquid Chrome accents, and a classic white shift knob.

Ford worked to reduce the Shelby GT500's noise, vibration and harshness levels-but without modifying the car's signature supercharger whine and exhaust note, the company says. The result, according to Ford, is a more refined sound making its way into the cabin. Ford also quieted the interior a bit through aerodynamic improvements that also result in an extra 2 mpg when cruising on the highway. To achieve this, Ford paid close attention to the design of the GT500's special front fascia and grilles, redesigned the front splitter, sealed a selection of underbody components to smooth air flow under the car, and added a lower drag rear spoiler.

Safety and Technology

Designed primarily to serve as a prime example of the modern American muscle car, the 2010 Ford Shelby GT500 isn't packed with much whiz-bang technology. Bluetooth-enabled cell phones can be paired to the GT500's standard voice-activated Sync system, which also offers hands-free operation of compatible digital media players. Sync also provides 911 Assist, which can automatically contact an emergency operator in the event of an air bag deployment as long as a compatible cell phone is actively paired to the system.

Speaking of air bags, the Shelby GT500 has four: dual front and dual side-impact air bags for the front passengers. The GT500 also comes standard with Ford's AdvanceTrac stability and traction control system. In the Shelby, the system offers three modes: On, Sport and Off. In Sport mode, the system allows additional wheelspin and vehicle sliding so that the driver can explore greater handling limits without complete loss of AdvanceTrac's safety net, the company explains.

Available as an option is a voice-activated navigation system with Sirius Travel Link. This service provides real-time traffic data, current weather data and 5-day forecasts, fuel prices at more than 120,000 gas stations nationwide, sports scores, movie schedules, and other features.