Ford’s new Mustang Shelby GT is first 200-mph muscle car

By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY

In what is likely a first for a mainstream production muscle-car, Ford will announce today that the next version of its top dog Mustang will be able to top 200 miles per hour.

The 2013 Shelby GT500 Mustang will what Ford claims will be the most powerful production V-8 engine in the world: a 650-horsepower brute that’s a full 100 hp. more than the one it replaces.

Engineers say it will just top 200 mph, but will be street legal — and tame enough in traffic to be your daily driver, as well as weekend racer. It not only gains speed not only from the new engine, but also styling tweaks refreshing all Mustang models for 2013 as Ford tries to regain the pony car sales lead from archrival Chevrolet Camaro. All the new Mustangs are being formally unveiled Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show (and Drive On will be there).

The current Shelby GT500 is electronically limited to 155 mph. The new one is not limited.

Ford has made 200 mph cars before, including the GT supercar a few years ago. Ands others also offer exotics — with sky-high prices to match — that go 200 mph-plus. There’s also a Corvette version rated in excess of 200 mph. And Chevy is introducing a new ZL1 version of the Camaro with a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 rated at 580 hp. that it vows will have “blinding acceleration.”

The new Shelby will arrive in showrooms next summer, slightly behind the other new redone Mustangs, at a price Ford hasn’t set yet. The current Shelby costs $49,605.

The goal was to “put the Shelby back on top of the Mustang pyramid,” said Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer of Ford’s performance vehicles division. “We saw we could take a major leap (by) changing the gearing around and tweaking the horsepower” to achieve new levels of speed.

It happened as engineers made improvements to present-day Mustangs and then track-tested them. Hameedi says the cars started to routinely hit the 155 mph speed limiter — leading to the decision to remove it.

But he says the car is safe as well, with advanced Brembo brakes and a limited-slip differential for better traction.

Still, is it too fast for an average driver? “Years ago, that may have been a concern,” Hameedi says. “But now with all the technology in these cars … they are extremely safe to drive.”

The new Shelby was created in Ford’s own special vehicles team and not to be confused with the aftermarket performance versions modified by Shelby American, the specialty company of automotive racing icon Carroll Shelby.

Ford is not saying what it expects the gas mileage rating to be, but says it will be good enough to avoid a government “gas guzzler tax.”

What the Shelby will share with all the refreshed 2013 Mustangs:

They’ll have a redesigned grille, new hood and special lighting, including high-intensity discharge headlights. And even the regular Mustang V-8 gets a horsepower boost, to 420 hp.

And the new six-speed automatic transmission will have a true manual mode — press a button on the shifter and stirring the gears is all on you.

This refresh is not the full redesign that’s expected — but not for at least another year, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary.

After initially besting the Camaro in sales, Mustang fell behind and has stayed there. The two also face off against the Dodge Challenger, another muscle car that’s been a steady performer for Chrysler.

Camaro handily outsold Mustang last month, as it has during the year, according to Autodata. For the first 10 months of the year, Chevrolet sold 76,368 Camaros; Ford, 61,516 Mustangs; and Dodge, 33,254 Challengers.


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