The Shelby nameplate is one that has helped the Mustang become a household better than anything else. At first the Shelby Mustangs were meant for racing. Then they turned more Grand Touring. These days, though, it started out with the GT500 in 2007 being too much name and not enough sports car to back it up. That all changed with the redesigned 2010 Mustang and GT500 models. The GT500 focused less on being a straight line dog, and more on carving turns like a true German precision sports car.
Now with the 2011 GT500, there have been more upgrades to make it go even faster and better around turns.
Many people, including myself, had said that the GT500 was just too damn heavy. At almost 3,924lbs for the coupe and 4,022lbs for the convertible, it was evident it enjoyed the buffet lines at Golden Corral a bit too much. Now, though, Ford has dropped 104 pounds for the coupe and 53 pounds for the convertible. That’s 3,820lbs and 3,969lbs respectively. Not too shabby for a car that adds 10 horsepower. But with the SVT Performance Package, the full weight gain is 120 pounds…
Ford has achieved this overall savings by adding an all-new aluminum block, supercharged V8 engine, saving 102 pounds over the old iron block engine. Horsepower is up from 540 to 550 and torque remains the same at 510lb-ft peaking at 4,500 rpm.
Another area where most people said the Shelby needed work were its tires and brakes. You see, when you have over 500hp, it’s hard for a tire to really cope with that kind of force without shredding to bits or smoking right off. SVT has answered this call by giving the new GT500 a special Performance Package, which adds Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G: 2 tires, new lightweight alloy 19 and 20 inch rims front and rear, upgraded suspension and aerodynamics, thinner racing stripes, and a few other things.
The new 19″ front and 20″ rear wheels alone save 4.7 pounds up front and 2.8 pounds in the rear, while the Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G: 2 tires are made specifically for the new GT500. Talk about Ford going the distance. As well as the extras for the tires and the wheels, SVT also added the 3.73 rear axle ratio that was Standard on the 2008-09 Bullitt and the 2008-09 GT500 KR.
The chassis has been tuned to be more race car like, along with the front and rear shocks. The front and rear springs have both been stiffened, with the fronts being 20.5% stiffer, but the rears only being 9.5% stiffer. The rears aren’t quite as stiff so that there is better traction when accelerating. SVT also went ahead and lowered the front by 11 millimeters and the rear by 8, and added to both the standard and Performance Pack Shelbys, a high-temperature dry shaft center bearing and shifter bushings to ensure that the GT500 will not suffer from the fate of past models…when it got hot out, the car stopped performing to its full potential.
The new 2011 GT500 Shelby will make its official debut at the Chicago Auto Show in just a couple of weeks.
I have posted the full press release about the new SVT Performance Package below, so that you could read the quotes and full information.
NEW SVT PERFORMANCE PACKAGE READIES 2011 FORD SHELBY GT500 FOR THE TRACK
* An optional SVT Performance Package highlights the new 2011 Ford Shelby GT500®, available on both coupe and convertible models, making it racetrack ready
* The optional package features the all-new next-generation Goodyear Eagle® F1 SuperCar G: 2 tires only available on the 2011 Shelby GT500, offering incredible dry traction and precise handling, complete with a race-inspired ultra-high-performance tread compound
* All-new lightweight 19-inch forged-aluminum wheels in the front complement all-new tires, with new 20-inch forged-aluminum wheels at the rear
DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 8, 2010 – The new 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 has a surprise in store for true performance enthusiasts – an optional SVT Performance Package. One lap around the racetrack, and drivers will feel the difference.
Data show the 2011 coupe with the SVT Performance Package is 3.0 seconds faster per lap than the 2010 Shelby GT500 on a 2.3-mile test track. Cars with the optional package will be able to pull 1.0 lateral g, with stopping distances improved by 7 percent versus the base 2011 Shelby.
“More and more enthusiasts are putting their cars on the track to have some fun,” said Carroll Shelby, founder of Shelby American. “It’s a great way to enjoy the performance of your car in a safe environment. No one likes to run at the back of the field, so a track-oriented package is a smart option for the serious Shelby GT500 owner.”
Tires make the difference
The SVT Performance Package features the first application of the all-new Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G: 2, a tire that offers superb dry traction and precise handling, complete with a high-performance tread compound with more grip. SVT engineers worked directly with Goodyear to develop the new compound, and it’s only available on the 2011 Shelby GT500. The tire is unidirectional, corner-specific – meaning the directional tread must match its specific location.
“We wanted to couple the improved weight distribution and the improved handling of the vehicle with the new tire, and with that offer the customer one of the most advanced summer tires from a manufacturer,” said Jamal Hameedi, SVT chief nameplate engineer. “That led us down a road to the new tire. It’s instantly recognizable with an all-new tread pattern and construction.”
The new ultra-high-performance compound is made of a proprietary blend of race-derived carbon black and high-stiffness polymers and resins that help deliver enhanced wet and dry handling performance on both the road and track. Asymmetrical, directional tread designs with massive tread blocks on the outboard side of the tire help enhance dry cornering grip. Sweeping Aquachannel™ grooves on the inboard side of the tread help move water. An innovative multi-radius mold shape offers precise handling and smooth, even wear.
“These tires are as close as you can get to a race car tire,” said Eric Zinkosky, SVT technical specialist. “We have a tire that’s way more capable, with better grip, is firmer and more race-oriented. From there, we tuned the chassis around it. The tires told us what we had to do.
“We took some lessons from the Shelby KR program and applied them to these tires,” he added. “That was our first attempt at a similar compound, and we learned a lot and rolled those lessons into the new Shelby to provide an even better tire.”
Nineteen-inch forged-aluminum wheels in the front, which are 4.7 pounds lighter than the base Shelby GT500’s, complement the all-new wider 265/40R-19 front tires. New 20-inch forged-aluminum wheels at the rear are 2.8 pounds lighter than the standard 19-inch wheel, and the new 3.73 rear axle ratio takes advantage of the new larger rear wheels and tires.
Little things add up
As a result of the increased tire performance, the chassis was tuned to respond more like a race car. The front and rear shocks were also tuned, adding control to work better with the chassis and tire. The front springs are 20.5 percent stiffer than the base, and the rear springs are 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.
A lowered ride height of 11 millimeters in front and 8 millimeters at the rear improves handling and gives the car an even sportier attitude. High-temperature dry shaft center bearing bushing and shifter bushings – which are also on the base Shelby – ensure that no matter how hot the conditions get, the car will still perform at its best.
“This car is track-ready. We really took the Shelby GT500 to the next level and went through every detail,” said Kerry Baldori, SVT global performance vehicle chief functional engineer. “It offers great cornering and racetrack performance and proven durability, and that’s something we want our customers to appreciate.”
A unique rear spoiler Gurney Flap was developed for increased rear downforce and improves handling balance in high-speed corners. Introduced by racing legend Dan Gurney nearly 40 years ago, the flap is essentially a tunable element on a low-drag spoiler. Front downforce has been increased 25 percent through improved cooling pack sealing and a new front underbody closeout panel. Grippy bushing stabilizer bars provide improved roll stiffness.
Even with the stiffer springs, lower ride heights and increased damping, the ride remains very compliant, and the car can be easily driven on everyday roads due to SVT’s chassis tuning philosophy.
Design cues are added to set the package apart from the base Shelby GT500. The over-the-top stripes are narrower, and the stripes on the shift knob were removed. The performance shocks also are painted red to further differentiate the package. “This car has great handling and dramatically improved performance, and that should come out in better lap times and improved braking,” said Zinkosky.