Autoblog Drives the Ford Mustang GT500KR

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, May 2, 2008.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I have to admit, the Shelby GT500 was somewhat of a letdown. I have no complaints about the 500 horsepower or the muscular lines, but at nearly 4,000 pounds, it's got a serious weight problem. The iron block, 5.4-liter V8 and the addition of a supercharger puts much the weight in the worst possible place -- the front -- so the GT500 feels unmotivated around the corners compared to a regular Mustang GT. Other complaints include a suspension that doesn't seem up to snuff to handle the prodigious power, as well as a vague and rubbery shifter. Despite its shortcomings, the GT500 is one of the world's best performance bargains. Never before has such a powerful car been available for so little cash (although the Ford dealers did a pretty good job of ruining its value with markups). Still, one couldn't help but think that the GT500 could have been better.

    Enter the GT500KR. It's the next step above the standard GT500, and the first Shelby Mustang to declare itself 'King of the Road' since 1968. A quick walk-around shows the upgrades applied at the Shelby facility in Las Vegas. Carbon fiber is used in several places, including a new heat-extracting hood, the front splitter, and on the mirror covers. The 18-inch aluminum wheels look strangely small compared to the 20-inchers on the concept, but they are handsome nonetheless, wrapped with Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires. Out back is a revised spoiler lip that cleverly mimics the diffuser design below, and there's also a new exhaust system developed just for the KR. Inside, it's pretty much standard GT500, except for the plaque on the dash, KR stitching in the headrests, and a new short throw shifter with a white ball knob. Under the hood, the KR gets a new open element intake system that, along with revised programming and the new exhaust system, is good for another forty horsepower. The suspension has been modified as well. The car sits lower than before and has slightly more aggressive settings. SVT engineers claim that the GT500KR will consistently maintain 1.0g of lateral acceleration. We'll have to see about that.

    The keys are handed over and we're on our way. There's good news already. The new shifter that replaced the one in the standard GT500 is infinitely more satisfying. It provides clean, short shifts and moves directly into the next gear without any hesitation. That alone makes the car better to drive. Despite the firmer suspension, the KR has a pretty compliant ride and would be a suitable as a daily driver if it was asked.

    After getting through some traffic lights, we head up into the mountains above Salt Lake City and start getting into some curves. Once again, we're pleasantly surprised at the changes SVT and Shelby have made. The KR feels lighter on its feet than the normal GT500, even with two additional photographers stuffed in the back seat. It feels more planted and handles tight turns with far less drama. The additional horsepower doesn't seem too noticeable, although the two extra bodies, camera and video equipment in the trunk probably offset that gain. It would probably be a different story if there were only one a driver in the car.

    After forty-five minutes of driving the KR, we're left wondering why Ford didn't build the GT500 this way in the first place. Truthfully, it probably wouldn't have been that much more difficult. Yes, the carbon fiber hood probably wouldn't be a feasible production item from Ford (it's a company first), but the shifter, suspension tuning, and extra power would have been relatively simple. It's too bad these cars will be probably be going for around six-figures after dealer markups. And don't even think about building your own – Ford and Shelby have agreed that they won't produce any of the other parts except for replacements on existing KRs.

    While we loved driving the KR on public roads, Ford is giving us the opportunity to test it out on the track. Tomorrow we'll be headed to Motor Millersports Park to see how the GT500KR drives on the track.

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    Upon arriving at the track, we discovered a sort of Mustang paradise. A host of Challenge and driving school Mustangs were joined by the full Mustang lineup, including the V6, GT, Bullitt, Shelby GT, and GT500. We were able to sample the Bullitt and Shelby GT to acquaint ourselves with the 10-turn, 2.2-mile west course of Miller Motorsports Park. After a few laps in each it was time to get into the KR.

    Our initial impressions of the KR on the road were further reinforced at the track. Its suspension is better balanced and makes the car feel lighter on its feet – not as much as the trimmer Shelby GT or Bullitt, but more so than the standard GT500. The chassis is predictable and is relatively easy to control even when the tires start to lose traction. That didn't happen too often, though, because of the incredible amount of grip that the KR generates. We didn't necessarily notice this on public roads, but the Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires absolutely shone at the track. Their compound is unique to the KR and is close to being an R-compound. That said, they still maintain a relatively robust tire wear rating. You would think that breaking loose the tires with 540 horsepower and all that torque would be relatively easy, but not so with the KR. Much more throttle can be used coming out of apexes compared to the standard GT500, and corners can generally be taken at higher speeds. Ford claims the KR can consistently maintain 1.0g and we're inclined to believe that.

    The increased grip also helps to improve the KR's braking capability. The ABS has been recalibrated to work with the stickier tires and stopping distances from 60-0 mph are cut by six feet compared to the stock GT500. Each KR also comes with a functional brake duct kit that feeds cool air to the brakes via NACA-style ducts in the lower front fascia. Despite several hours of non-stop driving at the track, the 14-inch Brembo brakes had no problems with fading.

    The GT500KR is and will most likely remain the highest-performing Mustang ever offered by Ford. It blends the power, looks, and heritage that aficionados cherish, but now it adds a level of handling to make it the ultimate Mustang. The only downside is that so few will be made and that so few owners will experience the hard work and development Ford put into the car. With only 1,571 examples set for production throughout 2008 and 2009, a majority of KRs will most likely be purchased as investments by collectors and turn into 'King of the Garage'. Still, that doesn't take away what Ford, SVT, and Shelby have accomplished here. They could have simply added some bolt-ons, made a few cosmetic changes, slapped on the KR badges and called it a day. This is actually what we thought they did when we first saw the GT500KR at the 2007 New York Auto Show. People would still have paid thousands over MSRP just to have one if that were the case. Instead, Ford made sure that the car lives up to its name. Is the KR still the King of the Road? You bet.

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  2. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    FORD SHELBY GT500KR: WORLD-CLASS PERFORMANCE FROM THE MOST POWERFUL PRODUCTION MUSTANG EVER

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    The 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR is the new "King of the Road" – the most powerful production Mustang ever produced, thanks to a 540-hp supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 with 510 lb.-ft. of torque.

    The 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR is the new "King of the Road" – the most powerful production Mustang ever produced, thanks to a 540-hp supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 with 510 lb.-ft. of torque.

    New GT500KR blends performance engineering expertise of Ford SVT, trackside learnings from Ford Racing Technology and ingenuity of Shelby Automobiles to deliver world-class handling and performance. The Ford Shelby GT500KR arrives at select Ford dealerships in late May.

    Long live the King! The 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR, "King of the Road" assumes the throne, taking its rightful place as the ultimate American muscle car.

    The GT500KR builds on the already impressive stats of the Shelby GT500, with 40 more horsepower, an additional 30 foot-pounds of torque and an array of chassis, aero and weight-reduction measures to offer world-class performance. Engineered by Ford SVT with final assembly by Shelby Automobiles, it blends track learnings from the Ford Racing Mustang FR500C and the ingenuity of Carroll Shelby to deliver the ultimate in Mustang performance.

    "Every new Shelby Mustang renews my energy and passion for performance," said Carroll Shelby, founder of Shelby Automobiles. "I'm just as excited about the 2008 KR as I was when I developed the first one. The team has done a great job with this car. It is this is truly the best Shelby Mustang we've ever built...so far."

    The Shelby GT500KR is the latest in a royal lineage that spans more than 40 years, beginning with the 1965 Shelby GT350 and including the original 1968 Shelby GT500KR that provided the inspiration. Carroll Shelby has played an active role in the development of every one.

    "When the names Mustang and Shelby come together, the results are never anything less than amazing," said Robert Parker, Ford Car Marketing manager. "Mustang has earned an endearing place in America's hearts, topping the sports car segment for 22 straight years. The GT500KR is sure to get those hearts pumping even faster."

    Delivering the Ultimate in Mustang Performance

    Just like its 1968 namesake, the 2008 Shelby GT500KR builds on the strong foundation of the Shelby GT500. Ford and Shelby designers collaborated to channel the classic KR design cues and finesse them into the iconic lines of the new Mustang. Most noticeable are the modern interpretation of the distinctive, sculpted KR hood and classic Le Mans-style striping.

    The development team spent countless hours designing a car that pays homage to the 1968 "King of the Road," but this thoroughbred is more than just a pretty face. The GT500KR is inspired by Ford Racing's experience on the race track and finessed with the trademark SVT engineering and Shelby Automobiles' proven delivery of balanced performance production for the street. Its chassis incorporates unique suspension components developed especially for the KR.

    The suspension's stiffness has been enhanced with wheel rates 17 percent higher in the front and 7 percent higher in the rear. Every other element of the chassis system – such as sway bars and shock absorbers – has been tuned especially to improve King of the Road's handling.

    The new suspension was tuned to work with the Goodyear high-performance, P255/45Z18 front and P285/40ZR18 rear tires, developed specifically for the KR, with a compound that is exclusive to North America. The stickier tires help the short 3.73:1 rear gear (compared to the GT500's 3.31:1 rear gear) send maximum horsepower to the road and are an important component in the overall handling balance.

    "The KR is much more than just a great straight-line performer. It's the complete package − handling, power and performance," said Jamal Hameedi, chief program engineer at Ford SVT. "The team put the GT500KR through rigorous testing and have witnessed slalom runs with sustained lateral acceleration of 1.0g on the skidpad. Those are world-class numbers."

    The GT500KR doesn't just go better, it stops better. The new tires work with a recalibrated anti-lock braking system (ABS) that results in improved stopping distances 6 feet shorter from 60 to 0 than the stock GT500. The ABS system has been tuned to be unobtrusive during spirited driving. Similar honing was undertaken with the vehicle's traction-control system to optimize acceleration

    The GT500KR's impeccable balance of handling and performance is the result of a holistic approach to the development, looking at the total vehicle with chassis and powertrain engineers working together to optimize all vehicle attributes.

    For example, a new front splitter and revised rear spoiler aid in aerodynamic improvements, adding downforce over the front axle and moving the center of aero pressure forward in the vehicle to improve high-speed balance and stable, predictable braking character. The ride height has been lowered to the optimum setting for on-the-limit handling, lowering the front by 20 mm and the rear by 15 mm.

    "The KR is more responsive and has more body control," said Gary Davis, vice president of production for Shelby Automobiles. "It delivers even more racing feel than a stock GT500. Yet it's still extremely comfortable and doesn't beat you up like some performance cars. We've been able to increase handling substantially without giving up a lot in ride comfort."

    GT500KR 5.4-liter V-8 Receives the Royal Treatment

    The 2008 "King of the Road" packs a walloping dose of Ford performance under a sculpted carbon fiber hood. The Ford SVT-engineered 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 is enhanced with a series of Ford Racing-inspired upgrades that boosts horsepower to an estimated 540 and torque to 510 lb.-ft.

    The added power is delivered courtesy of a revised ignition and throttle calibration and a cold air intake system that replaces the stock unit.

    The unique carbon fiber hood, secured by a pair of stainless steel, twist-down hood pins, serves to relieve high-speed underhood pressure, move air from the front intake and engine compartment to the rear extractors and channel supplemental fresh air into the new cold air intake that feeds KR's massive V-8.

    The Shelby GT500KR cold air intake seal was designed with the new hood to prevent hot engine compartment air from reaching the air intake. This channels ambient air to feed the supercharged intake for optimal combustion efficiency for horsepower and torque.

    Calibration modifications include advancing the ignition timing as well as re-mapping the electronic throttle settings to provide quicker throttle response for better off-line and mid-range acceleration. Increased throttle response is met with a sharper roar from the Ford Racing-inspired exhaust system.

    "Throttle response has been dramatically improved," said Hameedi. "The KR launches with authority and provides power on demand – throughout the entire power band."

    Power is delivered to the rear wheels through a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission. Gear selection is courtesy of an all-new Ford Racing short-throw shifter. Topped with a white ball, the new shifter throws are 25 percent shorter than the unit on the GT500 providing for crisper, quicker shifts.

    Inspired by Ford Racing Mustang FR500C motorsport experience, the Shelby GT500KR has been fitted with an elevated axle vent reservoir to prevent axle fluid expulsion during sustained periods of performance driving or track-day use.

    A Legend in the Making

    Each Shelby GT500KR begins life as a GT500, built at AutoAlliance International Inc., in Flat Rock, Mich. From there, the cars are shipped to Shelby Automobile's facility in Las Vegas.

    "We are so proud of the Ford and Shelby teams coming together and working tirelessly for the last year to bring you the Ford Shelby GT500KRs with the specially engineered chassis, powertrain and exhaust components along with the unique carbon-fiber hood and the new short-throw shifter," said Amy Boylan, president of Shelby Automobiles, Inc. "Every GT500KR will be hand customized and delivered to each customer in an enclosed transporter, just like the Ford GT."

    Each 2008 GT500KR model is identified by a special 40th Anniversary badge on the fenders and grille, distinctive body colored mirror caps and Shelby lettering stretching across the front of the hood and along the rear portion of the deck lid. A special Shelby Automobiles, Inc., Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) tag is affixed inside each vehicle's engine compartment.

    Each new GT500KR also will be entered into the official Shelby Registry.

    The all-leather interior features Carroll Shelby signature embroidered headrests and an official Shelby CSM 40th Anniversary GT500KR dash plate mounted at the top of the center stack.

    Other standard equipment includes HID headlamps, an interior ambient lighting package, wrapped and stitched instrument panel, center console and armrests, as well as an electrochromic rearview mirror. Optional equipment includes a Shaker 1000 audio system, DVD navigation system and SIRIUS satellite radio.

    The GT500KR or "King of the Road" Mustang is the fourth limited-edition Mustang that Shelby Automobiles and Ford have brought to market since resuming their collaboration in 2001. The public will get its first taste of the GT500KR in late May, when selected dealers will offer the latest Shelby Mustang in a limited edition of 1,000 units for 2008. The manufacturer's suggested retail price of the Mustang GT500KR is $79,995, including destination and delivery charges.

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  3. Smelly-Kitten

    Smelly-Kitten Dept. of Redundancy Department *Side Pipes

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    You get what you expect with this car. Does it fall short when comparing it to cars like the Z06 or similar cars in the price range? Absolutely. But this was never advertised as the super car of the 21st century, it's a heritage muscle car, and it lives up to that name for better and worse.
     
  4. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Exactly, it is the most powerful, best performing and likely one of the most collectible Mustangs ever made. It's a rare investment for well-heeled collectors.
     
  5. PanzerAce

    PanzerAce Active Member

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    I didn't think 40k+ worth of badging was possible :bowdown:
     
  6. lol I was gonna say it needs more shelby logo's/badging
     
  7. ZACKMORRIS

    ZACKMORRIS Active Member

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    I hate the fact that the idea of it being an investment is going to drive the initial price up. Not to mention, dealerships are going to put a big fat markup on these as well.
     
  8. insomnia

    insomnia New Member

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    fucking awesome car, but 80 fucking grand? :rofl: :ugh:
     
  9. Mr.Right

    Mr.Right N2O

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    ugly wheels.
     
  10. torchC5

    torchC5 New Member

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    Well said!
     
  11. Snafu

    Snafu more than meets the eye

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2008
  12. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The blue one has halogens and the others have HIDs.
     
  13. CJPA

    CJPA New Member

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    I wish they would have kept the 20s, they were fucking gorgeous. Thankfully they are available through Shelby aftermarket parts. :bowdown:

    I think I laid out the pricing in another thread, but you're essentially looking at $25K of "exclusivity pricing" (not including any ADM) when factoring in the cost of the additional parts :ugh2:

    And yet, there are 1500+ retards that will gladly shell out that 80K+ADM & tax for one of these :uh:
     
  14. vudoodoodoo

    vudoodoodoo New Member

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    WTF $80K.
     
  15. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    :bowdown:
     
  16. Mitchj

    Mitchj OT Supporter

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    i thought the KR was the knight rider one.
     
  17. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    This model plays KITT in Knight Rider but the KR stands for King of the Road.
     

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