It may be a brand icon, but it’s easy to dismiss the Ford Mustang as the sort of muscle car your neighbor kid is likely to drive when he can’t afford a serious piece of performance machinery.
Anyone who makes that mistake is likely to be left idling when the stoplight turns green if the kid in the next lane is driving the Ford Shelby GT500. The 2010 edition was the fastest street-legal Mustang spin-off ever, but the man in the black hat is back in town, and working with Carroll Shelby, Ford has come up with an all-new version of the snake charmer that is expected to do an even better job smoking tires.
The 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 features a new 5.4-liter all-aluminum V-8 that is “heavily derived” from the Mustang GT’s new five-oh V-8. And, it turns out, the automaker really means it when it says, “all-aluminum.” Gone are the traditional iron cylinder liners. In their place, the maker has used a novel technique to bathe the cylinder walls with a plasma-coated liner that significantly reduces friction, improves cooling, and should boost durability.
Other powertrain changes for 2010 include a larger intercooler, which improves efficiency by 40%, and a revised supercharger.
The new powertrain in the 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 is a full 102 pounds lighter than the engine in the ’10. It also makes about 10 more ponies, boosting the figure to a full 500 horsepower. Torque stays put at 510 pound-feet, but it comes on sooner, 80% by 1750 RPMs, and holds almost all the way up to redline. Power is delivered to the tires through a 6-speed short-throw manual gearbox, a holdover from the 2010 GT500.