C/D Preview - 2007 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jun 15, 2005.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Retro on fast forward. Very fast.

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    BY TONY SWAN
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY AARON KILEY
    July 2005

    They say those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, but Ford's Special Vehicle Team has very carefully studied the Mustang's history—specifically, the chapter on the 1967-70 Mustang Shelby GT500—and is gleefully set to repeat it, in spades, with no less an authority than Carroll Shelby himself adding his blessing and the use of his name. And when it comes to Mustangs, who in today's car biz has more historical cachet? It was Shelby who raised the image of the original Mustang from an engaging all-American sporty car to a turnkey factory racer with the 1965 GT350 fastback. Then he followed up with the GT500, propelled by a big-block (7.0 liter) Ford 428 V-8 generating enough torque (420 pound-feet at 3200 rpm) to pull the skin of the earth measurably tighter when the driver tramped on the gas.

    Fast forward to now, and at a glance Ford is reviving that same formula: a stronger engine in a Mustang fastback, delivering more power, more torque, better handling, and more visual intimidation. A little bit of history repeating, right? Well, yes. But that's at a glance. Technology hasn't exactly stood still since the last GT500 rolled out of a showroom in 1970 (see sidebar), and even though this revival preserves a good old live-axle rear suspension—a mechanical tradition that has all but disappeared in current passenger cars—its mechanical credentials are fully contemporary. Not to mention seriously potent.

    We brought you a preview of this new super-'Stang in May, a quick thumbnail of the red prototype that was one of the stars of this year's New York auto show. And having sat in and lusted after that show car, we immediately began pestering the Special Vehicle Team development crew, led by Hau Thai-Tang and chief vehicle engineer Jay O'Connell, for an early drive in one of the development cars.

    That led to a rendezvous at Ford's proving ground in Romeo, Michigan, on a day in late April that ranged from damp to deluge. Not the right setting for getting acquainted with a muscle car on summer tires, but when you're signed up for an exclusive first drive in the hottest production Mustang ever, you don't quibble.

    So what should you expect when this car rolls into showrooms next June?

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    Certainly, some traits are predictable. Tops on that list is hustle. With output of its supercharged engine forecast by the development team to be "over 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque," the GT500 will be one quick pony. O'Connell predicts 0-to-60-mph times in the low-four-second range. Similarly, it's not too surprising that this car responds to steering inputs a wink quicker than the Mustang GT and delivers considerably more grip and major-league stopping power.

    What is surprising is the level of civility that goes with all of this. The GT500 is by definition a muscle car, but it's not one of those remorseless brass bushing brutes that make their owners pay for visceral gratification with a relentless assault on their hearing and skeletal integrity. The 2001 SVT Mustang Cobra R comes to mind. In contrast, the GT500 should deliver enough compliance to make everyday driving a pleasure rather than a punishment, and we anticipate that interior noise levels may actually be lower than they are in a stock Mustang GT coupe.

    Let's talk power. The heart of the GT500 is a supercharged 5.4-liter DOHC 32-valve V-8. If those specs sound familiar, it's because they're interchangeable with the description for the mid-engined Ford GT. But there are important distinctions. The GT V-8 is all aluminum with a dry-sump lubrication system, whereas the GT500 has an iron block and a wet sump. The GT engine is force-fed by a Lysholm screw-type supercharger; the GT500 will use an Eaton R122 Roots-type blower and an air-to-liquid intercooler, adding 10 psi to the intake system at peak boost.

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    O'Connell says the switch was dictated by availability, rather than price.

    "The Lysholm unit is a little more expensive," he says, "but the big problem was supply. They can't make as many as we're going to need. There are performance differences, too. The Lysholm type gives you a little more top end, and the Roots type is a little fatter in the midrange. We think owners will be satisfied with this setup."

    Judging by our weather-limited experience at Romeo and our test-track results with the 2003 SVT Mustang Cobra [C/D, June 2002], we concur. Power will be abundant, although O'Connell and his crew were still being cagey about specifics. Pressed on this issue, O'Connell said "between 450 and 500 horsepower—how's that?" Our tech staff warmed up the calculators and figured a forecast of 475 horsepower at 6000 rpm. We may be low.

    Big power isn't much good unless it gets to the ground without excessive wheelspin, which is why the production GT500 will have a lot more rear tire than the New York show car, which hunkered over a set of 19-inch wheels wearing 255/45 tires. The initial production run of GT500s will roll on 9.5-by-18-inch wheels with sticky Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires—255/45 front, 285/40 rear.

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    "We just couldn't get the 255s to hook up," says O'Connell. "Almost every run was going up in smoke."

    A pronounced forward weight bias—about 57/43, according to O'Connell—didn't help, either.
    Part of this is due to increased mass. The supercharged iron-block 5.4 weighs about 175 more pounds than the naturally aspirated 4.6 SOHC 24-valve aluminum V-8 in the Mustang GT. That factor, plus a bigger front-brake package, bigger wheels and tires, and other GT500 package elements, add up to a curb weight projected in the 3850-pound range versus 3575 pounds for the last Mustang GT we tested.

    But with the fatter Goodyears managing power delivered by a Tremec six-speed manual transmission and limited-slip rear end, O'Connell is confident the GT500 will sprint to 60 mph in "less than 4.5 seconds," even with its tallish 3.31:1 rear-axle ratio. We expect that when we put the spurs to a test car early next year, a 0-to-60 number will come up in four seconds flat, and the quarter-mile will be 12.5 seconds at 116 mph. For perspective, those runs would be representative times for a C6 Corvette.

    Other predictions: O'Connell forecasts a skidpad number of "0.91 or 0.92 g." We think that's a little conservative. Our last two C6 Corvette coupes [C/D, September and December 2004] produced identical 0.98 skidpad numbers. The GT500 will weigh in considerably higher, but it matches the Vette's rear rubber and has even more contact patch up front. Accordingly, we expect to see at least 0.94 g.

    Braking: The GT500's 18-inch wheels will shelter huge 14.0-inch vented front rotors with four-piston calipers applying squeeze and 11.8-inch vented rear rotors. (The Mustang GT has 12.4-inch front rotors and 11.8-inch rears, all vented.) Given its Brembo braking system, bigger footprints, and stickier tires, we expect stops from 70 mph in less than 170 feet, which is, once again, Corvette territory. The front rotors on the GT500 show car were cross-drilled and vented. The production car's brakes will lack cross drilling, which looks sexy but tends to produce cracks in hard use.

    Handling: The GT500 has hefty front and rear anti-roll bars—a tubular 1.4-inch bar up front and a solid 0.9-inch rear bar—and the spring rates and damping profiles have been adjusted to complement the massive power. There's more roll stiffness, but it's remarkable how supple the suspension manages to be, particularly with a live axle at the rear.

    The only negative dynamic comment in our notebook at the end of this brief time behind the wheel had to do with the power rack-and-pinion steering, which was quick (2.6 turns lock-to-lock) and accurate but felt a little light at high speeds. This was magnified by the absence of the production front air dam on our test mule. Unlike the early Mustangs, the GT500 is getting a lot of wind-tunnel time as part of its development, and O'Connell is intent on hitting the right balance between downforce and aerodynamic drag.

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    The test mule's responses were colored by mild understeer
    —not too surprising, given the weight distribution and big disparity between the front and rear contact patches. And not unwelcome, since it makes the car's responses predictable. Which is just what the SVT guys want.

    "What we want is a little bit of steady-state understeer," says Tom Chapman, SVT's vehicle dynamics supervisor. "We don't want to overdo it on agility, but we still want it to be fun to drive. Besides, we figure the driver can correct for understeer with his right foot any time he wants."

    Amen to that.


    What else would you like to know? Price, perhaps? So would we. Like the matter of engine output, SVT will only offer a range of potential price points, from $36,000 to $40,000. The last SVT Mustang Cobra, with a mere 390 horsepower, cost $35,485. Our guess for this one is $39,000. Like the Mustang GT, that would be a tough-to-top performance buy, judging by our acceleration, braking, and skidpad forecasts. We'll be waiting for your letters.

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    1967-70 Shelby GT500 — The 'Adult' Sports Car

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    Carroll Shelby will always be remembered for his Cobra roadsters, but it was the GT350 and GT500 Mustangs that really filled Ol' Shel's chili pot during the late '60s—particularly the GT500. Although it was ponderous compared with the hard-edged GT350 of '65 and '66, the GT500 advanced an essential truth of the emerging U.S. sporty-car market: Americans liked speed, but not at the expense of comfort. This was the heyday of the big-inch V-8, when the U.S. industry was busily making torque junkies of us all, and that's precisely what the GT500 delivered—lots of low-end grunt from a low-tech Ford 428 V-8, which was almost $1000 cheaper than the more potent 427 made famous by the Cobra.

    Most GT500s came with an automatic transmission, and if they weren't pure sports cars, they were easy to live with. The GT500 made its debut for the 1967 model year with a price of $4195 and immediately outsold the $3995 GT350. Our road test in February 1967 characterized it as "an adult sports car," noting that compared with the early GT350 "all the viciousness had gone out of the car, without any lessening of its animal vitality." We quoted Shelby as calling it "the first car I'm really proud of." In the next couple of years, both models acquired more and more comfort and convenience features, including convertible versions, moving steadily closer to the passenger-car mainstream. The last Shelby Mustangs were built in 1969, although some were sold as 1970 models. In all, just over 6500 GT500 and GT500KR (for "King of the Road") cars were built. Recent GT500 auction prices, per Keith Martin's authoritative Sports Car Market, were more than $90,000. This pristine 1968 model is owned by John Gribbel III, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, when the weather is too severe back home in Melvin Village, New Hampshire.

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    2007 FORD SHELBY COBRA GT500

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    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe

    Estimated base price: $39,000

    Major standard accessories: power windows, driver seat, and locks; remote locking; A/C; cruise control; tilting steering wheel; rear defroster
    Sound system: Shaker 500 AM-FM radio/CD changer, 8 speakers

    ENGINE
    Type: supercharged and intercooled V-8, iron block and aluminum heads
    Bore x stroke: 3.55 x 4.17 in, 90.2 x 105.8mm
    Displacement: 330 cu in, 5409cc
    Compression ratio: 8.4:1
    Fuel-delivery system: port injection Supercharger Eaton R122, Roots type
    Maximum boost pressure: 10.0 psi
    Valve gear: chain-driven double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters
    Power (C/D est): 475 bhp @ 6000 rpm
    Torque (C/D est): 450 lb-ft @ 3750 rpm
    Redline: 6000 rpm


    DRIVETRAIN
    Transmission: 6-speed manual
    Final-drive ratio: 3.31:1, limited slip


    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 107.1 in
    Track, front/rear: 61.9/62.5 in
    Length/width/height: 188.0/73.9/55.7 in
    Ground clearance: 5.7 in
    Curb weight: 3850 lb
    Weight distribution, F/R: 57/43%

    Curb weight per horsepower: 8.1 lb
    Fuel capacity: 16.0 gal

    CHASSIS/BODY
    Type: unit construction
    Body material: welded steel and aluminum stampings

    INTERIOR
    SAE volume, front seat: 53 cu ft
    rear seat: 30 cu ft
    luggage: 13 cu ft
    Front-seat adjustments: fore-and-aft, seatback angle; driver only: front height, rear height, lumbar support
    Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts, driver and passenger front and side airbags
    rear: manual 3-point belts

    SUSPENSION
    Front: ind, strut located by a control arm, coil springs, anti-roll bar
    Rear: rigid axle located by 2 lower trailing links, 1 upper;trailing link, and a Panhard rod; coil springs; anti-roll bar

    STEERING
    Type: rack-and-pinion with hydraulic power assist
    Steering ratio: 15.7:1
    Turns lock-to-lock: 2.6
    Turning circle curb-to-curb: 39.0 ft

    BRAKES
    Type: hydraulic with vacuum power assist and anti-lock control
    Front: 14.0 x 1.3-in vented disc
    Rear: 11.8 x 0.8-in vented disc


    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Wheel size/type: 9.5 x 18 in/cast aluminum
    Tires: Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar; F: 255/45R-18, R: 285/40R-18


    PERFORMANCE (C/D est)
    Zero to 60 mph: 4.0 sec
    Standing 1/4-mile: 12.5 sec @ 116 mph
    Top speed (governor limited): 160 mph

    PROJECTED FUEL ECONOMY (C/D est)
    EPA city driving: 13 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 21 mpg

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  2. MrBonus

    MrBonus Et Tu, Brute?

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    Definitely a cool car. Too heavy for my tastes though.
     
  3. dsvtec

    dsvtec I have an LS3 AND an amazingly supple and flowing

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    :werd: I'm definitely thinking a C6 will be my next ride.
     
  4. MrBonus

    MrBonus Et Tu, Brute?

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    Buy my 997S instead.
     
  5. Bobby Ballsack

    Bobby Ballsack I could be a friend to you

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    Cool car, although I like the previous Cobra better.

    And I'd probably get a C6 instead.
     
  6. dmora

    dmora Guest

    agreed. Why the hell do cars need to weigh ~3500lbs these days :(
    It is possible to make them light weight. Fuck if they made it 2700-2900lbs it'd be so choice.
     
  7. dsvtec

    dsvtec I have an LS3 AND an amazingly supple and flowing

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    Tempting....
     
  8. Bobby Ballsack

    Bobby Ballsack I could be a friend to you

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    I don't care what name they slap on it. It's a successor to the SVT Cobra.
     
  9. Bolicious

    Bolicious Handleobraese

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    But that's not the production model. It's supposed to get different (and smaller) wheels, suspension, chin and removal of the S H E L B Y lettering on the back that I know for sure among a host of other changes.

    The review is just on a prototype. :dunno:
     
  10. LOtown

    LOtown Active Member

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    The GT500 will be 500hp. You can quote me on that.
     
  11. Bobby Ballsack

    Bobby Ballsack I could be a friend to you

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    I think it's about time that Ford ditches the old CB antenna and starts painting the fucking side view mirrrors. Enough.
     
  12. Bernout

    Bernout OT Supporter

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    Hopefully the weight doesn't make it a complete boat.
     
  13. Bolicious

    Bolicious Handleobraese

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    My Celica is 2500 and there are a lot of corners cut to get it that light. Plastic sunroof glass that shows age, hard, but light plastics, vibrations due to the lack of insulation, road noise for the same reason, etc. Now add another 4 cylinders and a rear end and the weight just adds up.

    For a track only car, that's one thing. For a regular driver, I would rather add a couple hundred pounds for the quality that I expect in a car that costs 40k.
     
  14. MrBonus

    MrBonus Et Tu, Brute?

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    Modern insurance and safety requirements coupled with a rapidly growing demand for the latest electronics are weighing down cars. Tire and suspension technology seems to keep the weight in check to some degree.
     
  15. TriangleMan

    TriangleMan What doesn't kill you is going to die

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    Muscle cars are back with a vengance :coold:
     
  16. chrislehr

    chrislehr * from home

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    Estimated base price: $39,000

    Thats actually pretty reasonable.
     
  17. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Very unrealistic, and prices would be higher to use lighter materials. Personally, I like my rides substantial instead of skittish, over 3,500lbs is cool with me.

    Muscle cars are supposed to be heavy, American heavy metal. :cool:
     
  18. Rip The Jacker

    Rip The Jacker New Member

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    3800 fucking pounds?!! jesus christ :ugh:
     
  19. rem177

    rem177 OT Supporter

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    fuck yes.
    :bowdown:

    that > new Z06
     
  20. Inti

    Inti OT Supporter

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    it's still a ford
     
  21. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Will old school Shelby owners bitch about the lack of hood scoops? :coolugh:
     
  22. Rip The Jacker

    Rip The Jacker New Member

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    yes by about 700 lbs :rofl:
     
  23. MrBonus

    MrBonus Et Tu, Brute?

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    You're just full of stupid comments today; aren't you?
     
  24. Melvin_91GT

    Melvin_91GT New Member

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    Great googly moogly. :drool:
     
  25. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    :rofl:
     

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