First Drive: 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 car culture ford motorsports customization first drives
2013 Ford Shelby GT500. Click image to enlarge

First Drive: 2012 Ford Shelby GT500

Manufacturer’s web site
Ford Motor Company of Canada

Review and photos by Paul Williams

Photo Gallery:
2013 Ford Shelby GT500

Calabogie Motorsports Park (Ottawa), Ontario – The 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 debuted late last year at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show. It was a private affair, off-site, the night before the car’s official launch at the show.

It was not a quiet event. There was security, there were limousines, there were crowds milling around the entrance to what appeared to be a converted warehouse somewhere downtown. Inside, two floors of people mingled to thumping beats around a central stage. Beverages flowed, flashes from smartphone cameras illuminated the scene and killer outfits worn by beautiful people blended in a swirl of colour and activity. Sitting in the middle of this hubbub sat an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair, wearing a grin from ear to ear. The late Carroll Shelby was the star, and he was well pleased with the car—his car—displayed prominently on the dance floor.

Mr. Shelby passed away a few months after this event, but he leaves his name on a long list of notable cars, the latest of which is this 2013 Shelby GT500 that now makes 662 horsepower and 631 lb-ft of torque from its all-aluminum 5.8L supercharged V8 engine. Top speed is a stated 320 km/h if you can find anywhere to validate that (but I wouldn’t doubt it), and it is indeed the ultimate Ford Mustang.

First Drive: 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 car culture ford motorsports customization first drives
2013 Ford Shelby GT500. Click image to enlarge

Where to begin with such a car that is so extraordinary, not only because of its performance but also because of its price? After all, this is no six-digit exotic that only the wealthiest can afford. No, this car is reachable (or at least within the realm of possibility). At $61,699 it boasts the most powerful production V8 engine in the world, and for 2013 every system has been optimized, including the powertrain, brakes, gearing and suspension. However, this optimization equates to a steep increase over the 2012 model’s price of $53,439.

The supercharger, a new TVS Series 2300 that flows more air through the engine, creates 2.3 litres of displacement and is unique to the GT500. The cooling system features a larger cooling fan, fan shroud with high-speed pressure-relief doors, a more efficient charge air cooler, a higher-flow intercooler pump, and an intercooler heat exchanger with volume increased 36 percent. Each gear in the six-speed manual transmission (except fourth) has been revised to better manage the increased torque and power; the clutch likewise was revised and uses a dual-disk design.

“It might just seem like we’re putting a bigger engine into the car. But it’s been a balanced approach through and through,” says Jamal Hameedi, SVT chief engineer. “We’ve completely redone the car to be even more sophisticated in terms of handling and control than the prior model.”

First Drive: 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 car culture ford motorsports customization first drives
2013 Ford Shelby GT500. Click image to enlarge

Mr. Hameedi does not overstate. The 2013 Shelby GT500 is more aerodynamic, has greater downforce at speed, has better driving dynamics and handling, and key systems that manage suspension, steering, launch control, and stability control can be tailored to the driver’s needs.

Two new sets of forged-aluminum wheels are offered (19-inch at the front; 20-inch at the rear) wearing Goodyear SuperCar G2 tires. Perhaps surprisingly, a Performance Package is also offered, at $3000. It features adjustable Bilstein dampers and a Torsen limited-slip differential.

Driving the Shelby GT500 on the road is not as much of a challenge as you might think. The clutch has thankfully been lightened by 30 percent, and the now standard Recaro seats offer superb comfort and support. Still no telescoping steering wheel (next generation Mustang, we’re told), but there is tilt. If equipped with the Performance Package, the very firm suspension can be toggled to a more comfortable touring mode, which instantly transforms a busy and sometimes harsh ride into something that approximates the Mustang GT. It corners, as they say, as if on rails. Not bad, for a big car like this.

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