2011 Ford SVT Shelby GT-500

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2011 SVT Shelby Cobra GT500After seeing the dramatic improvements in the Mustang and Mustang GT, it should come as no surprise that the 2011 Ford SVT Shelby GT500 would receive similar improvements.  Lighter, faster, stronger is a key concept in any sports car and the 2011 SVT Shelby GT500 is no exception.

The big news is again in the engine.  An all-aluminum 5.4L DOHC engine heavily derived from the Ford GT now sits between the strut towers. The new engine utilizes a plasma-arc spray bore technology that enables the block to be run without cast iron cylinder liners.  The process involves heating a steel rod to over 35,000 degrees and then spraying the mist onto the block's cylinder walls to form a coating that is 150 microns thick.  The result is a cylinder wall that produces less friction and wear and has greater cooling capacity without the need for a thermally disparate iron cylinder sleeve.

 

2011 SVT Shelby Cobra 5.4L Aluminum BlockThe switch to all-aluminum construction yields a 102-pound reduction in engine weight over the 2010 SVT Shelby GT500 engine.  Less weight is a good thing and overall weight is down to 3,820 pounds when compared to the 2010 SVT Shelby GT500 at 3,924 pounds.

Ford's Electronic Power Assist Steering (EPAS) has also found its way to the GT500.  The EPAS system is dramatically more tunable than previous generation power steering systems that relied on a belt-driven pump.  With EPAS steering feel can be directly controlled via software to generate high boost for low speed and parking maneuvers and reduced assist for at speed duty.  This also helps to eliminate a power-robbing device from the engine's accessory belt.

Another area of improvement can be found in the heat exchanger for the aftercooler which is now larger and yields a 40% boost in thermal efficiency.  This will be particularly important for those who utilize maximum power for sustained periods of time.

With these improvements comes an increase in horsepower to 550 BHP @ 6,200 RPM, while torque remains the same at 510 ft-lb @ 4,500 RPM.  Reduced weight and more horsepower translates to a drop in zero to sixty and quarter mile times.  According to Jamal Hameedi, SVT Chief Nameplate Engineer, the 2011 SVT Shelby GT500 equipped with the SVT Performance Pack is 0.1 seconds faster 0-60 and 0.2 seconds faster through the quarter mile.

2011 SVT Shelby Cobra GT500Braking is also improved and a 7% reduction in braking distance from 60 to 0 and 100 to 0 is thanks in part to a revised dust shield and undertray enhancements.  The new dust shields generate and additional 50% more air flow than the 2010 model and the revised undertray helps direct air to the brakes accordingly.

While the car is fantastic as produced, many people find that too much horsepower is just enough.  Those who like to up the ante should be happy with the new aluminum block.  According to Kerry Baldori, SVT Chief Functional Engineer, "Anything that has been done in the past to the cast iron engine, this engine should have no difficulty in meeting or beating that same level."  The block has been strengthened for high-RPM use and larger oil drain back passages have been cast in to improve oil management.

Revised undertray configuration and a slightly lower stance yields improvements in aerodynamics, brake cooling and handling as well as an increase in fuel economy.  The new ratings for the 2011 SVT Shelby GT500 are 15 MPG city and 23 MPG highway an improvement of 1 MPG over the 2010 model year.

2011 SVT Shelby Cobra GT500 with SVT Performance Package SuspensionNew for 2011 is the SVT Performance Package that will be available for both the coupe and convertible, latter of which has 30% more torsional rigidity than its predecessor.  The 2011 SVT Shelby GT500 performance package is designed around an all new Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G: 2 tire, with a unique compound developed by SVT and Goodyear.  The SVT Performance Package Front tires increase in size to 265/45R-19 while rears are 285/35R-20.  The tires are wrapped around unique performance package only 19" front wheels and 20" rear wheels which are respectively 4.7 and 2.8 pounds lighter than the base GT500 wheels.

The new SVT Performance Package includes a change in shocks, struts, springs and the largest anti-sway bars that would fit in the chassis.  The rear axle ratio for the performance package gets rid of the stock 3.55:1 and changes to a 3.73:1 limited slip rear.  This combination of parts lowers the car 11mm in the front and 8mm in the rear, helping to improve aerodynamics.  The springs are stiffer by 20.5% for the front and 9.5% in the rear when compared to their base GT500 counterparts.

A unique rear spoiler Gurney Flap increases rear downforce and while the SVT Performance Package creates 2% more drag, it increases overall downforce by 25%.  Together all of these changes create a car that will create 1.0G around the skid pad, the highest of any Mustang to date.  Around a 2.3 mile road course SVT engineers were able to reduce lap times by a full 3-seconds over the 2010 model.

Evolution is a fantastic thing when it comes to cars.  Watching the SVT Shelby GT500 evolve from a 500 horsepower machine to one that makes 50 horsepower more in just a few short years has been a tremendous pleasure.  We can't wait to finally get behind the wheel of the 2011 SVT Shelby GT500 to really put one through its paces.

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