2007 Ford Shelby GT500

Ford says the 2007 Shelby Cobra GT500 Mustang (this is not the 2006 Shelby GT500 Cobra Mustang) will be the most powerful factory-built Mustang in history, more powerful than the 1969 Mach 1 428 Super Cobra Jet or even the legendary 1969 Boss 429.

Think about that for a second. Let it sink in. Take a knee if you have to, but the reality is this: When this car hits the streets during the summer of 2006, it’ll have 450-plus horsepower, making it the most powerful Mustang ever.

Shelby Approves
Ford is calling the car a unique collaboration between the legend Carroll Shelby and the Ford Special Vehicle Team (SVT). “I’ve worked with the SVT guys for several years now,” says Shelby. “And I know they have the guts, the talent and the passion to deliver the best performance Mustangs ever.”

Shelby, who built the legendary Shelby Mustangs and Shelby Cobras in the 1960s, served as a senior advisor to the “Dream Team” that was assembled inside the Ford Motor Company to develop and build the 2005 Ford GT supercar.

“Carroll Shelby is truly a living automotive legend, a Ford performance legend,” says Phil Martens, Ford group vice president of Product Creation. “It’s a dream come true to be able to put the Shelby name on a Mustang again.”

Supercharged 5.4-Liter
The Shelby’s supercharged 5.4-liter, 32-valve V8 is similar to the engine in the GT. Ford started with the cast-iron 5.4-liter Triton V8 truck engine and added aluminum heads from the GT, specially calibrated camshafts, a Roots-type supercharger making 8.5 pounds of boost, and a water-to-air intercooler.

Under that blower is an all-new low-profile intake manifold, which allows the engine to fit under the GT500’s special air-extraction hood. Fuel comes from a dual-bore electronic throttle body borrowed from Ford’s 6.8-liter truck engine program, however, the larger radiator, increased-capacity cooling system and the exhaust manifolds are unique to this application.

The engine is also dressed with special “Powered by SVT” finned cam covers which are reminiscent of the “Cobra Powered By Ford” covers used by Shelby five decades ago, and it’s backed by the same T-56 six-speed that appeared in the supercharged 2003 SVT Mustang Cobra.

Solid Rear Axle
The GT500 chassis development started during the 2005 Mustang program. “We spent a lot of time at the track developing the new Mustang and ensuring it was capable of handling future performance derivatives,” says Hau Thai-Tang, director of Ford Advanced Product Creation and SVT.

The result, according to Ford, will be SVT’s signature chassis tuning with a balanced, performance-tuned ride that still maintains the compliance required for everyday driving. And Ford says it will accomplish these goals, with the GT500’s MacPherson-strut front suspension and three-link rear suspension, which locates a solid rear axle.

Although conventional wisdom says the antiquated rear-end design is in conflict with building a state-of-the-art performance car, Thai-Tang says it isn’t a problem. “In terms of performance, the Mustang’s solid-rear-axle setup in the GT500 has been proven in race competition this year with a Mustang FR500C taking the checkered flag at the season-opening Grand-Am Cup race at Daytona,” he points out.

The GT500’s suspension is lower than a Mustang GT’s, and uses recalibrated front and rear shocks, upgraded front and rear stabilizer bars and revised spring rates. The key to the GT500’s three-link architecture, according to Ford, is the Panhard rod that provides precise control over the rear axle. It’s centrally located and fastened to the upper front end of the differential, while trailing arms are located near each end of the axle.

It all rolls on 19-by-9.5-inch wheels wrapped in massive tires measuring 255/45ZR19. And the brakes are equally impressive. The Brembo front rotors are 14 inches in diameter, cross-drilled and clamped by four-piston aluminum calipers. In back, Thai-Tang and his crew chose 13-inch rotors and four-piston calipers.

The boys at Ford’s SVT reunited with Carroll Shelby to create this super Mustang, and if you think it bears more than a passing resemblance to the 1968 GT500KR, you’re right (which we feel is a good thing, by the way). But unlike the original GT500 nameplate (a random number that came from counting off steps in Shelby’s 1960s-era workshop), this Mustang’s moniker has a basis in fact. Yup, the 5.4-liter V8 under that vented hood makes an honest 500 horsepower, along with 480 pound-feet of torque.

There’s a little Ford GT in every GT500 we build
Those figures aren’t too surprising when you consider that much of the GT500’s engine comes straight out of the Ford GT parts bin. The GT used an aluminum block with a dry-sump oil system and an Eaton “screw-type” supercharger creating 13.5 psi of boost. For the GT500, supplier and cost concerns required the use of a wet sump, cast-iron block and “Roots-type” supercharger with 9 psi of boost. But the Ford GT’s four-valve aluminum heads transferred over unchanged, as did many smaller items, such as the piston rings and bearings.

Directing that power is a Tremec six-speed manual transmission featuring dual 215mm cerametallic clutch plates. The cerametallic coating can withstand extremely high temperatures, and the dual-disc design increases the clutch engagement surface area without requiring free-weight leg training to operate smoothly. This is exactly the same unit Ford used in the 2005 Grand Am Mustang — the car that won last year’s championship its first year out — so they figure it’s been adequately stress-tested for the GT500’s street duty.

As those engine numbers suggest, the GT500 moves out with exotic-carlike verve when you boot the throttle. Its deep well of torque, combined with a low-frequency exhaust wail and high-pitched supercharger whine, make you want to access those 500 ponies again and again. The triple synchros in 1st and 2nd gear give the transmission a positive, crisp feel when swapping gears, and the overall driving experience manages to be both civilized and brutal, depending on where you position the accelerator pedal. Ford expects the car to pull zero to 60 in the mid-4-second range, a number that jibes with our internal accelerometers.

Heavy metal, capable cornering
If there’s a downside to this drivetrain, it’s poundage. Ford lists the GT500’s curb weight at 3,920 pounds in coupe form and 4,040 pounds for the convertible. That’s about 400 pounds more than the equivalent Mustang GT. Much of that bulk comes from the drivetrain, which is about 350 pounds heavier than the GT’s. This also means the weight gain is largely on the front half of the car, suggesting front-end flabbiness compared to the base Mustang’s nimble character. Yet we’re happy to report that Ford didn’t sacrifice the GT500’s cornering capabilities for the sake of straight-line acceleration.

The independent MacPherson strut front suspension is reworked with stiffer shocks, higher spring rates and an upgraded stabilizer bar. The solid-axle rear suspension uses upgraded springs as well, along with a Panhard rod to control wheel movement. Suspension settings on the GT500 convertible were left a bit softer to reduce chassis flex, but happily both Shelby models (as well as all 2007 and later base Mustangs) benefit from chassis upgrades in the firewall, transmission tunnel and frame rails.

Our seat time in the GT500 included public road motoring as well as racetrack flogging, and it was at the track where we confirmed the Shelby’s agile and willing demeanor. The confident and quick rack and pinion steering system, along with a liberal traction control system, effectively masked the car’s 2-ton curb weight while allowing for a healthy bit of “slideways” action (think C6 Corvette’s “Competition Mode”). Slowing the car was similarly worry-free, with Brembo four-piston calipers squeezing 14-inch vented rotors up front and 11.8-inch vented discs — clamped by two-piston calibers — in back (still more donor parts from the Ford GT program).

Mr. Shelby says, “Make it so”
A specific upgrade directed by Carroll Shelby himself had to do with the GT500’s tire size. After driving a prototype, the Texas chicken farmer insisted on larger rolling stock to better manage the car’s power and handling capabilities. One look at the car’s 18-by-9.5-inch aluminum wheels and Goodyear F1 rubber suggests he got his way. The 255/40 front tires contrast against the larger 285/40 rear tires to give the GT500 both functional and visual appeal.

Pimp my pony
Other bits of eye candy include the Shelby Mustang’s larger front air intakes, wide Le Mans-style body stripes and requisite Cobra and GT500 emblems. Inside the cabin, buyers can stick with the basic charcoal black treatment or add red inserts to the seats and doors. All models feature a black leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter with contrasting red stitching, but an optional Performance Interior Trim Package will further dress up the instrument panel, center console and door armrests with leather inserts. This package also comes with an electrochromic, auto-dimming rearview mirror and aluminum pedal covers. Considering the $40,930 starting price for a GT500 coupe ($45,755 for the convertible) we’d expect higher-grade materials on the door panels and dash, but at least buyers will have the option to somewhat upgrade the interior’s look and feel with this package (for an added cost).

Forty-three grand may seem a bit steep for a Mustang, but remember: This car’s performance pedigree suggests it will easily challenge Corvettes and M3s, both of which cost substantially more. Of course, if you’re still not convinced, you could always let yet another Shelby Mustang pass you by.

Vehicle Type

Model Year: 2007
Make: Ford
Model: Mustang
Style GT500
Base Price: $39,000 (est.)
Drive Type: RWD
Transmission Type: T-56 6-speed manual
Displacement (liters): 5.4
Engine Type: Supercharged V8
Bore x Stroke: 3.552 x 4.165 inches / 90.22 x 105.8 mm
Valvetrain: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Induction: Cast aluminum screw-type supercharger with air-to-water intercooler
Horsepower: 450+
Torque: 450+
Braking System: Front: Brembo 14-inch cross-drilled disc w/ four-piston calipers; Rear: Brembo 13-inch cross-drilled disc w/ two-piston calipers
Steering System: Power rack and pinion
Body Construction: Unitized welded steel body; aluminum hood
Suspension Type (front): Reverse-L independent MacPherson strut, 34-mm tubular stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Three-link solid axle with coil springs, Panhard rod, 24-mm solid stabilizer bar.
Tire Size: P255/45ZR19
Wheel Size: 19×9.5 in. machined aluminum
Curb Weight (lbs): 3,600 (est.)
Recommended Fuel: Premimum Unleaded
Specifications

Ford Mustang SVT Cobra
Length, in. 188.0
Width, in. 73.9
Height, in. 55.7
Wheelbase, in. 107.1
Legroom (front): 42.7
Legroom (rear): 30.3
Headroom (front): 38.8
Headroom (rear): 36.3
Maximum Seating Capacity: 4
Cargo Volume 9.7 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Volume
(rear seats down):
9.7 cu. ft.

Safety Information

Front Airbags: Standard
Side Airbags: N/A
Head Airbags: N/A
Antilock Brakes: Standard
Electronic Brake Enhancements: Standard
Traction Control: Standard
Stability Control: N/A
Rollover Protection:
N/A
Emergency Assistance System: N/A
Scribbled on March 24th 2009 in Ford, Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
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