In a bid to move the Mustang from sporty car status to aspirational supercar, Ford at November's LA Auto Show rolled out the 2013 Shelby GT500 with what it says is the most powerful production V8 engine in the world and a claimed top speed of more than 200 mph (322 km/h).
The supercharged 5.8-L V8 engine produces 650 hp (485 kW) and 600 lb·ft (813 N·m) thanks to a new Eaton TVS 2300 supercharger, cross-drilled block and heads, updated cam profiles. That power is put safely to the road through a carbon-fiber driveshaft and upgraded dual-disc clutch, transmission, and axle.
Naturally, such prodigious power requires augmented cooling, so the new GT500 adds a larger cooling fan, a fan shroud with high-speed pressure relief doors, a more efficient intercooler, a higher-flow intercooler pump, and a 36% larger intercooler.
Gear ratios were juggled to match the ability to put power to the ground and the ability to reach, in a tip of the hat to Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs, “ludicrous speed.” After sifting through 35 possible gear combinations, engineers made the final selection for the transmission, whose gears, bearings, and housing are all strengthened to withstand the engine’s power.
Such incredible power and speed potential carries ramifications throughout the car, acknowledged SVT Chief Engineer Jamal Hameedi. “It might seem like we’re putting a bigger engine into the car,” he said. “But it’s been a balanced approach through and through. We’ve completely redone the car to be even more sophisticated in terms of handling and control than the prior model.”
Among the tweaks aimed at putting the power down are an optional Torsen limited-slip differential, a new launch-control system that lets the driver set launch rpm to suit temperature and street surface conditions, and Brembo brakes. The Brembos feature new six-piston front calipers with larger rotors all around and higher-friction pads for even higher-g deceleration.
To achieve 200 mph with any degree of safety requires aerodynamics optimized for stability, and the SVT team gave this ample attention. The front fascia and splitter were modified for the extreme loads of wind blast, with 33% more downforce than the 2011 model when measured at 160 mph (257 km/h).
The optional performance package (the 200 mph base car needs a performance package?) adds the aforementioned Torsen diff and a set of Bilstein electronic adjustable shock absorbers that are set with a touch of button on the GT500’s dash. In Sport mode the shocks are set for maximum performance, quickening the car’s track reflexes and minimizing body roll and pitch, while normal mode gives the car a more tolerable ride en route to the track.
All of the cars roll on Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G:2 tires wrapped around 19-in front and 20-in rear forged aluminum wheels.