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2013 Ford Shelby GT500 Overview
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Line ‘em up, Camaro and Corvette, the Cobra is looking to spit in a few faces. Not satisfied with merely seeing the bet, Ford has recognized the 550-hp offering from Chevrolet’s 6.2-liter V8 and answered back with the most powerful production V8 in the world—a 5.8-liter volcano spewing out 650 horses and a full 600 lb-ft of torque.
And the power bump is just a start. Ford made adjustments all over the 2013 Shelby GT500 in order to handle that extra dose of umph, including cooling, braking and aero enhancements. But let’s be honest—you want to hear about the engine.
Besides boring out the old aluminum block from 5.4 to 5.8 liters, Ford updated the heads to improve cooling. They improved fuel delivery by adding piston squirters and higher-flow injectors and changed the cam profiles for a flatter power delivery. All of this would have been an impressive upgrade for the old snake. But in a seeming attempt to get Chevy to outright fold the hand, they also changed out the old supercharger for a 2.3-liter TVS unit. Besides being more compact, it offers 15 psi as opposed to the old unit’s 9 psi, the major factor in its stifling 100-hp/90-lb-ft boost.
With all that violence under the hood, there was a distinct need for better thermal dissipation, so the 5.8-liter V8 has been fitted with a larger fan in a shroud with pressure-relief doors for extra cooling at speed. Plus, the intercooler got a volume increase of 36 percent and was treated to a higher-flow pump so as not to feel left out.
And since all the power in the world won‘t help if you can‘t get it to the asphalt, the dual-clutch 6-speed manual received upgraded gears and bearings as well as a beefier housing, and the clutch had its torque and rpm capacity increased. Final drive ratio is now 3.31:1, and with the revised gearing for the transmission, Ford says the GT500 won’t suffer from the gas-guzzler tax. The rear axle was strengthened as well, and power is delivered to the rear wheels through a carbon-fiber driveshaft to handle the higher speeds and increased load.
If this isn’t enough to satisfy the atavistic aspect of your nature, there are options. A Performance Package will get you electronically adjustable SVT-designed Bilstein shocks, a Torsen limited-slip differential and Recaro sport seats, and for those who know their own abusive tendencies, a Track Package adds supplemental cooling for the engine oil, transmission and differential.
Of course, anything that sports power figures in excess of 600 coupled with a 3,900-pound curb weight needs to have some serious stopping power. Thankfully, the 2013 Shelby GT500 is fitted with a new Brembo brake system with larger rotors front and rear, as well as 6-piston calipers up front and new performance brake pads. Two sets of new forged aluminum wheels are available in 19-inch front and 20-inch rear sizes, wrapped in Goodyear Eagle 1 Supercar tires.
Why such serious rubber? A 200+-mph top speed, that’s why. While the convertible version has been wisely limited to 155 mph, the coupe can crest triple digits twice and say goodbye to anything Chevrolet has to offer. The front fascia was redesigned and a new front splitter was employed to handle all the wild aerodynamics of 200 mph, and the result is a reported 33 percent increase in downforce at 160 mph as compared to the 2011 Mustang.
Strangely, Ford wants to emphasize that the GT500 isn’t a track-only offering. Especially when fitted with the optional Bilsteins with the selectable suspension setups, they claim it’ll work just fine as a daily driver. That seems a dubious claim at best, considering it has 230 more horses than a 458 Italia.
On the road or a racetrack, the GT500 is shaping up to be the muscle car king, so fire up the popcorn and get ready for the comparison tests. As is, exotics offer the only competition for this new fire-breathing Cobra.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.