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New Shelby GT500 Marks Anniversary of Ford SVT

February 13th, 2012

It sounds like the name of one of those new shows coming to a major TV network in the fall: Special Vehicle Team. Only this team doesn’t play one on TV – it’s a real, live unit at Ford, responsible for engineering high-performance supercars since 1993! And how do you fest such a division’s 20th anniversary? With yet another performance car, of course: the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 convertible.

SVT met the public at the 1992 Chicago Auto Show with the 1993 SVT Mustang Cobra and SVT F-150 Lightning, so it’s fitting that the new GT500 will be front and center at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, which opens February 10.

About that new GT500: It’s fast, but then you probably saw that coming. When equipped with the optional Performance Package, it is quicker at the track than the outgoing model, to the tune of 3.5 seconds off its lap time at Sebring International Raceway. Way to go, new 650-horsepower/600 lb.-ft. of torque 5.8-liter supercharged V8! Want to wax nostalgic? The 1993 SVT Mustang Cobra had a 235-horsepower V8. Remember when that was whopping?

That impressive track run was also due to SVT-designed Bilstein electronic adjustable dampers available on the Performance Package and all-new chassis tuning. The upgraded dampers allowed SVT engineers to tune the convertible more aggressively for the track, while still being able to maintain desirable on-road manners. There’s also a new Brembo brake system coupled with new six-piston calipers in front, along with larger front and rear rotors and more aggressive brake pads. Nearly every part of the powertrain has been optimized for producing the additional horsepower, including a new cross-drilled block and heads, updated camshaft profiles, a new carbon fiber driveshaft and upgraded clutch, transmission and axle. The Performance Package can be taken up a notch with the Track Package, complete with an external engine oil cooler, rear differential cooler and transmission cooler for further durability.

But the car wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the big 2-0: There’s a commemorative lighted sill plate.

Since its launch in 1993, SVT has produced more than 210,000 vehicles and upward of seven different SVT vehicles, such as the F-150 SVT Raptor, SVT Focus, SVT Contour sports sedan and SVT Mustang Cobra R.

SVT has joined with Team RS in Europe to form the Performance Vehicles Group to devise a strategy for all future global performance Ford cars. The Ford Fiesta ST Concept also signals the next step in Ford’s global performance vehicle strategy and hints at how a future Fiesta ST model might look when it joins the Focus ST in the global small car portfolio.


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