Test Drive: 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Coupe

Special optional SVT Performance Package makes this ride track ready

Though the iconic Ford Mustang has long been referred to as a ?Pony-car?, the 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 SVT-equipped Coupe is no mere ?Pony-Car? folks ? it?s the real deal — a bonafide, high spirited racing stallion, that?s ready to hit the track running.?

What makes this SVT Shelby ride so special over, say the regular GT500? Well for starters, what?s under the hood is definitely special ? an all-new 5.4-liter all-aluminum engine that weighs in at 102 pounds less than the previous cast-iron engine. According to Carroll Shelby, founder of Shelby American ?Cutting weight to improve performance is a tradition among hot rodders. It might not be as sexy as adding more horsepower or bigger brakes, but shaving pounds off of a car is the single smartest move you can make.? The new SVT Performance Package mill makes 550 horsepower at 6,200 rpm while delivering 510 pound feet of torque at 4,250 rpm. It?s one HOT Mustang.

The supercharged V8 engine is a DOHC, 32-valve setup, utilizing Ford?s patented plasma-coating technology, with electronic fuel injection. It is an evolution of the iconic Ford GT?s engine, with improved block structure through the use of a unique bulkhead chilled process and six-bolt billet main bearing caps. This new advanced engine will exceed Ford GT performance with its traditional supercharger technology. The engine resides up front in a North/South orientation and mates to a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission that meters power to the rear- drive wheels.?

Other features that place the SVT Shelby GT500 coupe with its Performance Package option on a higher plane than other Mustangs include: unique exterior styling; lighter forged aluminum wheels; a higher rear axle ratio and stiffer springs; a new exhaust for 2011, that roar with an even more authoritative sound than last year, with 2.75-inch dual exhaust tips and all-new tuning that helps to deliver the additional 10 horsepower. There?s also added convenience content in the form of the optional glass roof; Standard HID (high-intensity discharge) headlamps; MyKey? programmable vehicle key; integrated spotter mirror; and Fold-down rear headrests.

The Shelby GT500 rides on all-new Goodyear Eagle? F1 SuperCar G: 2 tires that SVT engineers worked directly with Goodyear to develop, rendering the car?ready to race. The tires are unidirectional and corner specific. As a result of the increased tire performance, the chassis was tuned to respond more like a racecar.?

As a result of the increased tire performance, the chassis was tuned to respond more like a racecar. Front and rear shocks were also tuned, adding control to work better with the chassis and tire, with front springs 20.5 percent stiffer than the base, and the rear springs 9.5 percent stiffer, continuing an SVT performance tuning direction of adding more stiffness in the front and keeping the rear softer to aid acceleration traction. Roll stiffness also helps control cornering while on the track.

Ride height has been lowered 11 millimeters in front and 8 millimeters at the rear, which improves handling, giving the car an even sportier attitude. High-temperature dry shaft center bearing bushing and shifter bushings ensure that no matter how hot conditions get, the car will continue to perform at its peak.?? ? ? ? ? ??

In terms of its aesthetic appeal, the 2011 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Coupe, sits low in a decidedly aggressive stance, with extended fascias and rockers, functionally scooped Shaker hood, specific Cobra badging, oversized dual exhaust tips and decklid spoiler. Its look literally screams FAST, even when it?s sitting still.

My test GT500 Coupe wore an exterior finish of Performance White, accented by double Red Race stripes running from nose to tail over the top. The interior was executed in Black with Race Red stripes and highlighted by machined metal trim accents. The lightweight, 8-?Y? – spoke 19 x 9.5-inch forged aluminum alloy graphite painted wheels with SVT center caps were shod with Goodyear Eagle F1 P255/40Z19 rubber up front, and P285/35ZR20 tires in the rear. The base price was set at $48,645. While the final sticker tallied up to $55,330, after adding in: the Electronics Package; SVT Performance Package with staggered Performance tires, Shelby rear decklid spoiler, 3.73 ratio limited slip axle, Shelby side tape stripe, Shelby over-the-top dual racing stripes, 19-inch alloy front wheels, 20-inch alloy rear wheels; and Destination and Delivery charges.?

SUMMARY: It is not inappropriate to think of the Shelby GT500 SVT Mustang as a beast in terms of its performance. Turn the ignition key and light up the engine ? chances are your eyes will light up right along with the engine, and a very broad smile is likely to spread across the entire width of your face as well.?

The exhaust note is exactly what you want it to be, reflecting sheer, ground-pounding power. The engine and exhaust deliver sweet soul music in the form of good ol? fashioned American V8 rumble.?

Slide the round, white, short-throw shift knob forward into first gear, tickle the throttle, revving the engine to a healthy level, dump the clutch while accelerating fully and hang onto the wheel with a firm grip, ready to make instantaneous directional corrections as needed — shift to second gear, nail the throttle again and prepare to get a little sideways. The car is both predictable and unpredictable at the same time with all of the raw horsepower and torque at one?s immediate disposal. As already stated, it is truly a beast, but a tamable one. One thing is certain though, you don?t want to go for the gusto when going onto a turn, or it?s ?Drift City? . Actually, the car is a prime candidate for drifting competition if you?re really on your game. Unfortunately, I had no legal, safe place to exercise this option.?

This latest SVT hot rod is capable of delivering top track performance, but at the same tome, is capable of cruising your favorite boulevard in comfort, posing, and showing off your wares. If you require something hotter, there?s an all-out race version, non-street legal Mustang that may be ordered at your Ford dealer?s Parts counter, but be prepared to cough up more than twice the amount required to acquire the Shelby GT500 SVT.?

Suzanne Sommers could have had more fun in the SVT Shelby GT500 than in her Daddy?s T-Bird in the ?American Graffiti? film. At any rate this car for sure deserves to be called Wild Stallion rather than Pony Car.

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