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2010 Ford Mustang GT500 Preview

2010 Ford Mustang GT500

2010 Ford Mustang GT500

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Mustang fans, fret no more. Hot on the heels of the L.A. Auto Show introduction of the 2010 Mustang and Mustang GT, Ford has just announced the production of the 2010 Ford Shelby GT500 in coupe and convertible body styles.

As the afterglow of the 2010 model's introduction waned, the Mustang faithful were stung by the GT's dearth of power compared to the 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T and the upcoming 2010 Chevrolet Camaro. With a standard 315 horsepower, the Mustang GT gets walloped by the R/T's 372 ponies. Even worse, the base Camaro with a 3.6-liter V-6 produces 300 horsepower. Ouch! The muscle car game is often played by numbers, and Ford was coming up shy with the 2010 Mustang.

Now, Ford has announced what we all knew was coming: the high-performance 2010 Shelby GT500. It will debut at the Detroit Auto Show. With 540 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 510 lb-ft torque at 4,500 rpm, all is right again in the Mustang corral.

The new Shelby gets its power from a supercharged 5.4-liter overhead cam V-8 with an iron block and aluminum heads. Compared to the 2009 GT500, the 2010 model is up 40 horsepower from 2009, and matches that of the limited-production GT500KR, but at a fraction of the price. Ford estimates the 2010 Shelby GT500 to run 0-60 mph in about 4.1 seconds, through the quarter mile in 12.1 seconds, and top out at an electronically-limited 155 mph.

Power gains come (in part) from less restrictive exhaust and intake systems. In back, the new exhaust is finished with four-inch round polished tips. Up front, a totally new intake funnels colder air into the manifold. This change necessitated that the Cobra logo move from the driver's side of the grill to the passenger side because that's where the air intake is positioned. The six-speed manual gearbox is a re-cogged T56 that has taller gears in 5th and 6th for better highway cruising. Initial acceleration should be quicker because of the move from a 3.31:1 rear axle ratio to a shorter 3.55. EPA mpg numbers aren't yet available, but highway fuel economy may increase by a couple, coming in somewhere around 22 mpg, or about what the less powerful Mustang GT achieved in 2009.

Suspension components are retuned to deal with the GT500's extra power. The new bracing that yielded a much-improved ride on the 2010 Mustang GT should help the GT500 handle even better than the outgoing model. As expected for the ultimate steed, brakes are by Brembo, and the calipers up front sport four pistons apiece.

The new Ford Shelby GT500 carries over the lines of the re-drawn 2010 Mustang … mostly. The hood and grill are simplified and in our eyes, beefed up. Functional air extractors are visible on the hood's leading edge. A special front air dam with an operative splitter reduces aerodynamic drag and lift. The Shelby also gets unique forged and CNC-milled 19-inch wheels on the coupe (18-inchers on the convertible). It's bold stripes can't be missed, even from the inside. The rear spoiler incorporates a Gurney Flap that helps improve downforce at speed.

Exterior colors gets matched to specific versions of the upgraded 2010 Mustang's interior. The exterior stripes carry through the center sections of the leather-covered front and rear seats. Even the ball topping the short-throw shifter is striped. The door sill plate includes an SVT (Special Vehicle Team) logo that glows when the ambient lighting is operational.

In terms of equipment, the 2010 Ford Shelby GT500 carries the best of what can be found on the Mustang line. Standards include the requisite tilt steering wheel, cruise control, air conditioning, high-powered audio system, and power windows. The GT500 also includes the SYNC infotainment interface and ambient lighting (offering 125 different available interior lighting combinations … ohhhh, ahhhh). Sirius NAV system with Travel Link is optional.

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