The new Snake will deliver the most power and refinement ever for a Ford SVT-tuned performance Mustang – and a few surprises, too. We here at TMN will be taking the new 2010 GT-500 for a week-long road trip across America from Shelby Automobiles factory in Las Vegas to Birmingham, AL for the MCA 45th Anniversary in about two weeks and will bring you full coverage and test drive reports. But until then, Ford has released a full expose on the new Snake.
“The new Shelby GT500 demonstrates Ford’s continuing commitment to high-performance vehicles,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “In addition to the numerous performance and refinement improvements inside and out, it’s also two miles per gallon more fuel efficient on the highway.”
“We’re proud of the many enhancements jointly developed by the Ford and Shelby Automobiles team that we’ve incorporated into the new model,” said Carroll Shelby, founder of Shelby Automobiles. “Building on what we learned to create the Shelby GT500KR, this new car offers a great combination of power, handling and braking. It is truly a special car that is a great deal of fun to drive.”
Ford’s Special Vehicle Team used the gains made on the Shelby GT500KR “King of the Road” Mustang as the performance starting point and built from there. The design team, with a nod to the original Shelby Cobra from the 1960s, takes those design cues even further with nuanced improvements in both the coupe and convertible, each of which boasts a more-refined interior.
“Working together on the KR, the Ford and Shelby teams developed new systems to continually improve the iconic Mustang,” stated Amy Boylan, president of Shelby Automobiles. “Those lessons learned are incorporated into the 2010 Shelby GT500. This approach will help maintain Mustang’s leadership position and make the ownership experience even more enjoyable.”
“The muscle car segment is becoming even more competitive,” said Jamal Hameedi, chief nameplate engineer for SVT. “We need to uphold the Mustang badge with honor, the Shelby badge with honor and most importantly the Ford badge with honor. This is the car that will do all of that.”
The 2010 Shelby GT500 is powered by the same supercharged and intercooled 5.4-liter dual overhead cam V-8 engine that has been in the 2007-2009 models, but now produces 540 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 510 ft.-lb. of torque at 4,500 rpm.
The Shelby’s open-element air induction system features a conical air filter instead of a flat-panel closed system to reduce air restriction. This approach allows more air to be pumped through the engine, producing more power and increasing the engine’s efficiency. A cold-air intake feeds the coolest air possible directly into the air box, helping further increase horsepower. The intake necessitated moving the Cobra snake badge to the other side of the grille to enable maximum airflow.
The twin-disc clutch on the six-speed manual transmission has been significantly upgraded, improving drivability. The discs on the 2010 Shelby GT500 are larger – 250 mm in diameter compared with 215 mm in diameter on the outgoing model – and made of copper and fiberglass to make them more robust. A unique component of the twin-disc system is the control of the intermediate disc. Rather than floating, it instead has six straps that control the engagement of the clutch, improving drivability.
The 2010 Shelby GT500 offers customers improved straight-line acceleration, plus fuel savings when cruising on the highway in the top gears. Gears 1-4 remain the same, but fifth gear changes from .80 to .74 while sixth gear goes from .63 to .50, meaning that the 2010 Shelby GT500 will turn lower engine RPMs in those gears and deliver improved fuel efficiency. The new final drive ratio, moving from 3.31 to 3.55, enables the improved acceleration in lower gears while complementing the revised fifth and sixth gear ratios.
The Shelby’s distinct sounds will be apparent as always, though with new refinements, thanks to the work of the Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) team. A patented resonator placed between the air filter and engine throttle body helps keep unwanted noise in check.
“You still hear the supercharger but not so that it’s intrusive,” said Kerry Baldori, chief functional engineer for SVT. “It’s the same with the exhaust. You want people to know you’re driving something special, but you don’t want an exhaust note that overpowers the whole interior.
“We spent a lot of time getting the right sound quality out of the exhaust so you get that nice, crisp Shelby sound outside and a pleasant sound inside the cabin. It’s a nice balance; one isn’t overpowering the other,” said Baldori.
Driving dynamics also are improved, thanks to SVT’s signature chassis tuning as well as new 19-inch Goodyear F1 Supercar tires and forged aluminum wheels on the 2010 Shelby GT500 coupe and 18s on the convertible to keep the chassis jitters in check.
Springs and dampers have been optimized for better roll control, giving customers more confidence when braking, accelerating or turning. The new chassis tuning takes its philosophy from the KR program, with a greater emphasis placed on primary body control. The team also stiffened the steering shaft.
“All our changes were about making the car respond as fast and as predictable as possible,” Hameedi said. “The 2010 Shelby GT500 conveys an athletic, confident feel. The shifter, clutch pedal, brake-pedal efforts and overall steering efforts are easier now. We wanted to make sure we had a nice, crisp short-throw shifter that was easy to go from gear to gear.”
The 2010 Shelby GT500 features for the first time in a Mustang Ford’s AdvanceTrac stability control system. It has several options for performance driving to lolling along. The default “on” mode accommodates every-day driving, and a Sport mode delivers for those wanting to put the Shelby GT500 through its paces on the track. The system also can be turned completely off, although the anti-lock brake system and other active safety systems remain in place. Standard safety equipment includes dual stage front air bags, side-impact air bags.
Numerous aerodynamic upgrades, including a redesigned splitter, were made to the front end of the 2010 Shelby GT500. The team worked hard to get as much downforce with as little drag as possible, said Baldori. They worked to seal off the air that comes in the front so it can’t go under the car. A lot of time also was spent sealing components such as the radiator and intercooler to get rid of all leak paths. The result is an increased downforce, reduced drag and improved overall efficiency of the vehicle.
Directing the air so it’s used most efficiently was a painstaking process that ultimately will be rewarding to customers. The design of the front fascia and the car’s “flush” hood helps focus air flow. The top grille focuses air into the radiator, with a rubber flap inside the engine compartment helping to seal the system. The lower grille helps cool the intercooler.
SVT engineers also went as far to block off specific diamonds in the front of the 2010 Shelby GT500’s distinctive grille to help maintain the correct cooling and aerodynamic balance.
Another obvious difference for the Shelby is the addition of racing stripes, which also will now be available on the convertible. “Racing stripes made their mark on 1960s-era Ford performance vehicles,” Hameedi noted. “That’s something we feel is a key part of the Shelby performance DNA – maybe more so than some of our competition.”
Rounding out the Shelby’s exterior modifications are the unique signature coiled Cobra badges on the front grille and front fenders, a more aggressive front splitter and lower-drag rear spoiler, which added to improved aerodynamic features. The spoiler is raked back aggressively to minimize drag, while an integrated Gurney Flap provides the downforce.
The base 2010 Mustang received a powerful new interior design. For the GT500, the interior design team members challenged themselves to raise the bar even higher to create the ultimate Shelby Mustang interior.
Using genuine materials such as real leather in all seats, real aluminum on the instrument panel and Alcantara suede inserts on the seats and steering wheel gave the appearance a precisely crafted, jewel-like yet functional feel. Customers can select racing stripes on the seats that match the exterior stripes.
The genuine aluminum finish panels have a unique-to-GT500 three-dimensional dimpled texture pattern inspired by racing clutch plates, braided hoses and cross-drilled racing brake rotors.
The pattern has been painstakingly tuned to compensate for the compound curvature of the instrument panels. In addition, the “GT500” logo has been discretely engraved into the aluminum in front of the passenger as a nod to classic Shelby Mustangs of the 1960s.
This unique aluminum finish panel is fully encapsulated by an exquisite soft touch seamless instrument panel with a shape that resonates with Mustang’s powerful heritage. The center stack flows into the console and features a sub-flush shifter trim ring, flush cup holder door and lockable console stowage featuring the word “SHELBY” engraved in its Satin Liquid Chrome release button.
All 2010 Mustangs and Shelbys feature bright 360-degree rings surrounding the gauge cluster, uninterrupted by the steering column. These rings will come in chrome for the Mustang and a Satin Liquid Chrome finish for the GT500. This finish is featured throughout the interior. An intricate cobra is etched into the center of the aluminum steering wheel badge. The Shelby Cobra appears at startup on the navigation screen, and the familiar red “SVT” logo utilizes new ambient lighting to illuminate the door scuffplate.
“When customers drive this car, they’re not only going to be impressed by the performance and the Shelby heritage, but they’re going to see all these carefully designed details and know they’ve bought a well-crafted car,” Saridakis said.
Even the classic white shift knob – an icon of Shelby Mustang DNA from years past – received special attention. First, it had to be the traditional white. It also had to be specific to the Shelby. The answer was to combine the racing-stripes theme with the traditional “H” pattern found on shifters to create a one-of-a-kind knob. Like the exterior, the racing stripes wrap from end to end, encircling the knob.
This combination of outstanding performance coupled with a fresh, exciting, well-crafted interior intensely focused on improving the entire experience will make the 2010 Shelby GT500 even more sought after, and a fitting addition to a long and proud history.
The 2010 Shelby GT500 will be in dealer showrooms in spring. The cars will be built at the Auto Alliance International Plant in Flat Rock, Mich.