The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 will be a barnstormer. It will deliver more than 700 hp from a supercharged 5.2-liter V8. Its 0-60 time will be in the mid-3-second range. It will get a dual-clutch transmission that will feature shifts measured in milliseconds. It goes on sale this summer.
We got a few new tidbits today, the most newsworthy of which is that the new GT500's top speed will be limited to 180 mph. People seem to care about that. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First let’s dispense with the news.
Obviously the new GT500 needs a ton of cooling, downforce and braking, so Ford brought it down to the wind tunnel at the Ford Performance technical center in North Carolina. It also used its 3D prototyping systems at the Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Michigan. Did we mention that also keeps costs lower?
“We created and studied designs among the engineering teams and proved out different strategies long before we built our first prototype cars,” said Matt Titus, Ford Performance vehicle engineer. “Not only did this improve the effectiveness of the designs, it dramatically reduced the time it took to develop the GT500 – and the costs associated with that.”
The cooling system needs to extract 230 kilowatts of heat from the engine at wide-open throttle. The brakes make an additional 100 kilowatts by themselves. Those simulations worked through cooling systems, front fascia and splitter designs, brake ducting, rear spoiler designs and the louvered hood vent. Ford printed and tested 10 front splitter designs, all sent out for testing. Airflow is up 50 percent over the GT350.
The GT500 with the available Carbon Fiber Track Package will get the GT4 Mustang wing making 550 pounds of downforce at max speed. The base Shelby comes with hybrid spoiler/wing also using advanced prototyping. That, “with the available Handling Package and Gurney flap” will deliver 379 pounds of downforce.
It also comes with a Shelby-specific rear diffuser, a new auxiliary radiator, electric fan motor and two new race-style oil and transmission coolers.
Now, back to that top speed question.
I like speed. Big numbers and world records are undoubtedly impressive. We might see 300 mph on a street-legal car before the end of this decade. I try to spend as much of my summer as possible at or near a track day, in addition to the events I attend for Autoweek. I have an upgraded ’14 Mustang GT with the track pack. The only time I’ve hit the speed limiter is on an oval, and that was going flat-out around turn 4 at Michigan International Speedway -- and it still wasn’t easy. I’ve been to a handful of road courses with it and never got close again. So, what does that number really mean, if you’re not at an airport runway or a half-mile drag strip or the United Arab Emirates? Nothing.
If you need to go faster than 180 mph, you’re going to have to buy a more expensive car -- or possibly a race car. I drove the last GT500, which Ford spent a bunch of time working up to a 200-plus-mph top speed. That car was a typewriter stone tablet in a computerized world. In the rain, it was damn near undrivable. So, do you want a car that can hit the double century mark, that you can tell your friends about but never actually see, or do you want a sports car that can lay down a hot lap, take a corner flat and not beat you up on public roads? I say the latter, and I'm glad the new GT500 is leaning in that direction.