2011 Ford Mustang Review is one of those rare cars that runs on history and tradition – that’s what happens to cars when they’re instantly successful. And that’s certainly the case for this American icon, which saw almost a million units sold in the year following its launch at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.
But more important, perhaps, is that the supercharged truck engine stuffed under the GT500’s hood added weight to the front end of a car that was already nose heavy. The last Shelby we tested was more than 300 pounds heavier than a GT, and almost all of those extra pounds were over the front axle. Much as we enjoyed the 2007 to 2010 Shelbys, we didn’t like the way they overworked their brakes or understeered. They liked entering corners about as much as a pig enjoys being measured for an open pit. Plus, their engines suffered from heat soak during track work and wouldn’t produce full power during lapping sessions.
At first glance, the news in the engine bay isn't all that promising. It's still a 5.4-liter supercharged and intercooled V8 backed by a six-speed manual transmission. Peak power climbs just 10 hp from 540 to 550 thanks mostly to a increase in exhaust-pipe diameter from 2.5 inches to 2.75 (The larger pipes reduce back pressure). Torque remains at 510 lb-ft, but it occurs 250 rpm lower, at 4250. A larger intercooler has also been added, for more consistent performance.
Likely the most significant option change for the GT500 is the SVT Performance Package, giving the GT500 a track-ready performance pack from the factory. This package includes specially developed Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G: 2 tires, a higher rear axle ratio, stiffer springs, lighter wheels and cosmetic changes for both the coupe and convertible. Ford attributes a 3.0-second lap time savings over the outgoing coupe on the 2.3-mile test track.
Ford has also lowered the GT500 by 11 millimeters up front, and 8 millimeters out back for improved handling. SVT says it added slotted brake dust shields to help improve brake cooling and handling, as well as a new pedal box with is aimed at improving clutch and pedal efforts.