2013 Ford Shelby GT500 Brings New Looks, Apocalyptic Power
As the 1960s drew to a close, the American muscle car arms race reached its apogee. Engine displacement grew, quarter-mile times dropped, and the performance cars from the Big Three (and AMC) got altogether more raucous. It was truly the golden age of muscle cars…
Or at least, it was the golden age until the segment’s current halcyon days began. The current boulevard bruisers from Ford, GM and Chrysler are not only faster in a straight line and more powerful than their Nixonian Age ancestors, but also handle better, stop shorter, run smoother, require less maintenance, produce barely a fraction of the pollution, use less gas and are much nicer to drive and ride in. And yes, there’s another horsepower war going on, and Ford has just dropped a nuke on the hapless heads of the General and Ma Mopar.
The 2013 Shelby GT500 might not look a whole lot different from the current model, but the gearhead geeks in Dearborn’s SVT skunkworks have given the Blue Oval’s most muscular pony a makeover. The front fascia has been massaged to improve cooling while reducing drag and increasing downforce. The rear end features LED taillights shared with lesser Mustangs (which have also been updated for 2013) and quad tailpipes. Inside, the same interior upgrades and revisions found on other ’13 Mustangs are present and accounted for, plus a set of body-hugging Recaro bucket seats up front.
But people don’t buy the GT500 based on looks or creature comforts; they buy it for its face-flattening performance. And for 2013, it’ll go one step further and cave your face in. How? Let’s start with the new engine. It’s still a DOHC, 32-valve aluminum V8 belonging to Ford’s Modular family, and it’s still topped by an Eaton TVS supercharger. However, displacement has been increased by 0.4L to 5.8L (Longtime Ford nuts will squeal with delight upon learning that that translates to about 351 cubic inches.), the camshaft profiles have been revised, and the cooling system is even more robust. The result is a staggering 650hp and 600 lb.-ft of torque, increases of 100 and 90, respectively, over the 2012 model. One can’t help but assume that Chevrolet, who just a few days ago announced the Camaro ZL1 will make 580hp and 556 lb.-ft, is feeling mighty hollow right now, and that’s before factoring in the GT500’s performance figures which have not yet been released. However, Ford did let slip that the top speed is over 200 mph. Like, zoinks, Scoob.
Of course, going fast in a straight line is one thing, but turning is a big deal too. Thankfully, the SVT folks thought of that too, as the optional Performance Package features electronically adjustable Bilstein dampers and a Torsen limited slip differential. If your GT500 will be seeing plenty of track time, you can also order the Track Package, which adds external coolers for the engine oil, rear differential, and the 6-speed manual transmission.
No word on price of admission for partaking in this lunacy, but we’re guessing it will stay in the low- to mid-$50,000s, based on the MSRPs for the current GT500 and the ZL1. For that kind of money, more than a few people should be able to afford to party like it’s 1970 because, as our dad often points out, it pretty much is as far as performance cars are concerned. Enjoy these tire-vaporizing V8s while you can, folks.