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First Drive: 2013 Ford Shelby GT500

Is this the ultimate weapon in the Pony Car Wars?

by on Jun.18, 2012

The 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 does a 662-hp burnout.

Ever since Chevrolet brought back the Camaro, a few years back, the pony car wars have turned into a real firefight.  Anyone who thought that we’re long past the gold are of the American muscle car just has to spend a little time behind the wheel of one of the latest offerings from Chevy, Chrysler or Ford.

The latter maker pretty much had the class pony car segment all to itself for a number of years, but Mustang has had a tough time since Camaro’s return.  Who says competition isn’t a wonderful thing?  Both makers – and Chrysler, with the Challenger – have made some amazing improvements lately.  As we discovered getting behind the wheel of Ford’s latest spin on the Mustang, the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500.

Ford’s ties to Shelby go back nearly half a century, the first Shelby Mustang proving that the little coupe approved by Lee Iacocca and company was more than just a sexy little poseur.  In recent years, we’ve seen the Shelby imprimatur on a series of impressive Mustangs, including one now coming out of the late Carroll Shelby’s own tuner shop near Las Vegas.

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Don’t confuse that customized Mustang with the one Ford is rolling off its own assembly line.  The Shelby American version is a low-volume offering that, for nearly as much as you’d pay for a Ferrari will get you a mind-boggling 950 horsepower – a reported 1,100 in track trim.  By comparison, the Ford Shelby GT500 will “only” churn out 662 horsepower and 631 lb-ft of torque.

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New King in the Pony Car Wars

Camaro trounces Mustang for the first time since 1985.

by on Jan.05, 2011

The winner and new champion...

The automotive equivalent of the Hatfields versus the McCoys has been roundly resolved – at least for the moment, anyway.

For the first time since 1985, the Chevrolet Camaro has trounced its cross-town rival in the pony car wars, the Ford Mustang.

But who’ll take the crown this year is anything but certain.  Both clans are arming themselves for another shoot-out.  Chevrolet is readying the long-delayed Camaro Convertible, while Ford not only has the big Boss 302 on tap, but also a pair of new powertrains for both the base and Mustang GT models.

Competition, it’s often said, improves everyone’s game.  That assessment was questionable for many years.  While Ford firmed up its hold on the pony car segment, Chevy and now-abandoned Pontiac seemed to be just going through the motions for many years, finally calling it quits and pulling their Camaro and Firebird twins from the market, a decade ago.

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Ford Offering Free Track Day, Special TracKey With Mustang Boss

Don’t try this at home, maker warns.

by on Nov.11, 2010

Ford's TracKey transforms the Mustang Boss 302 into a serious race-capable pony car.

Looking for a little more excitement out of your new Ford Mustang Boss 302?  It’s as simple as switching keys, the automaker has revealed.

Owners of the 440-horsepower pony car will get two sets of keys, it turns out, the second being a special TracKey that does a few things you normally wouldn’t expect – resetting about 200 different parameters by activating a second engine control module.

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It’s a quick way to turn the Boss into a track-ready bruiser, says Jeff Seaman, Mustang’s powertrain engineer.  “From an engine management standpoint, we’ve done just about everything possible to give TracKey users a full race car experience.”

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First drive: Ford Mustang GT

The 5.0 is back and the original pony car has never been more fun.

by on Oct.29, 2010

The 2011 Ford Mustang GT in Grabber Blue turns a lot of heads.

The number 5.0 holds a hallowed place in Ford lore. For more 25 years, Ford’s 5.0-liter V-8 powered everything from Thunderbirds to F-150 pickups to Broncos. But most notably, they powered Mustangs.

Now, after 16 years in exile, the 5.0 is back. Ford retired the old 5.0, also known as the 302 for its displacement in cubic inches, in 1995, replacing its venerable V-8 with the decent 4.6-liter. But while the 4.6 did a decent job, it didn’t have that beloved number attached to its valvecovers.

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Don’t think for a moment that Ford’s decision to bring back the 5.0 isn’t partly driven by nostalgia. Automakers decide how big a new engine design will be based on a lot of factors such as the power characteristics it needs, fuel economy and smoothness. But they also make decisions based on what the marketers say will help sell cars.

With this new engine, there was one other important consideration: It had to produce horsepower comparable to the 6.2-liter V-8 in the Chevrolet Camaro SS.
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First Look: 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302

Maker promising the fastest pony car it has ever produced.

by on Aug.13, 2010

Ford has pulled the wraps off a track-ready version of the 2012 Mustang Boss 302.

The Boss is back…almost.

Ford lifted the covers on an all-new version of the Mustang Boss 302 during a preview at tony Pebble Beach, this morning, and promises to not only bring it to market for 2012, but to deliver, “the quickest, best-handling straight-production Mustang ever offered by Ford.”

As one would expect, the 2012 Boss 302 starts out with the solid underpinnings of the updated 2011 Ford Mustang.  But the maker has made moves to optimize the pony car in a variety of ways, among other things increasing horsepower, while reducing weight and aerodynamic drag.

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Meanwhile, the maker plans to offer a track-ready version, dubbed the Boss 302 Laguna Seca – for the challenging track on the Monterey Peninsula – which will delete the back seat for even more weight savings and get a new, race-ready suspension.

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First Look: 2011 DUB Edition Ford Mustang

Taking it to the street.

by on May.03, 2010

Ford teams with DUB magazine and Roush to come up with this hip-hop pony car.

For pony car fans, the first thing they might want to ask about the 2011 DUB Edition Ford Mustang is: “Where’s the pony?”

The familiar logo is nowhere to be found on the nose of the V6 coupe’s high-gloss black exterior, replaced by the DUB badge, itself a highly-recognized logo for the hip-hop generation.

The Dub Edition Mustang is a joint effort of Ford, DUB magazine and the Detroit-based tuner, Roush Industries, and together they’ve come up with a package which brings together some performance enhancements as well as distinctive appearance touches.

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“The Ford Mustang is the most customized vehicle in the world, and this collaboration pushes the boundaries even further,” said Fritz Wilke, Mustang brand manager.

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First Drive: 2011 Ford Mustang GT and Mustang V6

Shoot Out at the Pony Car Corral.

by on Mar.29, 2010

Like a rock? Ford weighs in for 2011 with rock-solid new engines for the Mustang and Mustang GT.

It’s easy being sherriff when you’re the only gunslinger in town.  But ever since the Camaro rolled back into town, last year, there’s been a real shoot-out in the pony car corral, and for the first time in nearly a quarter century, Mustang has been outgunned.

Chevrolet’s reborn muscle car has garnered all sorts of accolades for its styling, power and performance – and even won over skeptics with the sort of fuel economy you never used to associate with the pony car segment.  Add the appeal of being the new kid in town, and it shouldn’t be much of a surprise Ford is suddenly on the run. (See “Camaro Kicks Mustang’s Derriere Again,” by clicking here.)

But the Dearborn maker is armed and dangerous, and will show its willingness to duel when the 2011 Ford Mustang and Mustang GT gallop into showrooms later this year.  And this time, Ford is drawing both a six-shooter and an eight, delivering a pair of powertrains that could put it back in charge again.

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“Outselling Camaro is a huge motivation,” admits Amy Marentec, marketing director for the 2011 Ford Mustang.

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