2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Coupe Road Test Review

Arv Voss - CAP staff
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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 the regular GT500? Well for starters, what's under the hood is definitely special – an all-new 5.4-litre 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.

The supercharged V8 engine is a DOHC, 32-valve setup, utilizing Ford's patented plasma-coating technology. It is an evolution of the iconic Ford GT 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 exceeds Ford GT performance with its traditional supercharger technology. The engine mates to a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission that meters power to the rear 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; and a new exhaust system that roars 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 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. 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 tradition 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. A high-temperature, dry shaft centre 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 standing still.

My test GT500 Coupe wore an exterior finish of Performance White, accented by double Race Red 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 forged aluminum alloy wheels were shod with Goodyear Eagle F1 255/40Z19 rubber up front, and 285/35ZR20 tires in the rear. The base price was set at $48,645, while the final sticker tallied $55,330, after adding options.

The Shelby GT500 SVT Mustang is 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 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 shift knob forward into first gear, rev the engine to a healthy level, dump the clutch while accelerating fully, hang onto the wheel with a firm grip, 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 your disposal. As already stated, it is truly a beast, but a tamable one.

This latest SVT hot rod is capable of delivering top track performance, but at the same time, is capable of cruising your favourite 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.

The Shelby GT500 SVT is the epitome of American muscle. At any rate this car for sure deserves to be called Wild Stallion instead of Pony Car.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Ford, 2011, Mustang, Shelby GT500, $40,000 - $49,999, $50,000 - $74,999,

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