The regular series production 2010 Mustang and 2010 Mustang GT were unveiled last November at the 2008 LA Auto Show only a few short months before the Shelby, but their development went hand in hand over the course of 3 years. Ford has literally been in the stink for a while now, and to task its engineers and designers with creating a new Mustang halo car without giving them a new chassis to work with proved to be difficult, but as evidenced, was entirely possible.
SVT engineers did their part, by making the 2010 Mustang Shelby GT500 virtually invisible once you hit the go pedal. With 540 HP and 510 lb-ft of torque, the Shelby envelops itself in enough white tire smoke to make your eyes water; or are those tears? Don't be ashamed, this is the type of power that'll make a grown man weak in the knees; make him forget about his wife and kids; possibly even kill. Trust us, we've seen it happen.
We had the chance to sit down for a few minutes with SVT elitists; Jamal Hameedl, Chief Nameplate Engineer and Kerry Baldori, Chief Vehicle Engineer; while we were at the Detroit Show. They walked us through some of the engineering challenges that arose when trying to squeeze an additional 40 horsepower and 30 lb-ft of torque from the existing supercharged and intercooled 5.4-liter dual overhead cam V-8 engine while aiming for an additional 2 miles per gallon. The biggest and most enhancing addition was through the use of a cold air induction system that relocated the Shelby Cobra emblem to the left side of the front grille.
They also told me about the suspension tuning that they performed on the car, lessening its skateboard like ride, replacing it with a more seated, controlled ride. This was helped with the addition of Goodyear F1 Supercar 19-inch tires (18-inch on the 'vert) and re-tuned spring and damper settings that have been optimized for better roll control, giving the driver more confidence when doing anything but sitting there and looking pretty.
When it is sitting there looking pretty, it's doing it with reason, history and passion. Just ask Rob Jensen, 2010 Mustang Shelby GT500 Lead Designer. His job, and the other legions of designers that worked on the car, was the biggest challenge and one that Ford has been asking its designers to tackle on a number of recent programs. We mentioned before that Ford was in the stink, meaning one thing when it comes to new vehicle development; cut costs. The biggest cost cutting measure; one that likely has the Mustang faithful cheering, but the rest of us sulking; is the re-use of the existing chassis. This limits the designers greatly by predetermining most, if not all, hard points in the design. This sort of re-use strategy happens all the time in the auto industry; look at the 2010 Taurus, it looks great but would you know by looking at it that it's based on the old Ford 500 that debuted in 2005? They did a great job with the Taurus, but it was no visceral muscle car that Ford needed in order to compete with the upcoming 2010 Chevy Camaro and 2009 Dodge Challenger. It was no Mustang.
We tip our hat to you Mr. Jensen, for taking the Mustang to heart and truly giving us something that fits within the rehashed retro pony car wars as well as aiming its sights at the new 2009 Nissan 370Z and 2009 Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Jensen took an equal blend of retro, high-tech and badass and put in the Blendtec blender to ask the question, "Will it blend?" Hell yeah, it'll blend. One look at the 2010 Shelby GT500 and you know something is different, yet eerily similar. Take a closer look and you'll start to see the little nuances that separate the new car from the old, the Shelby from the GT and the GT from the base model. It's lost weight in all the right places, it's gained a hint of GNC-induced muscle mass and it just doesn't look as clumsily large as the other two domestic ponies.
As with any design; vehicle, product or otherwise; it all starts with a sketch. Whether it be with a pencil or pen; napkin or paper; stylus, tablet and computer; it has to be translated from the designer's head into a language that all can understand and read. Below is an assortment of Rob Jensen's sketches and renderings that eventually led to the development of 3D math models that live entirely in the tube, scale and full size clay models used for styling validation and then to the final tooling for the car that we'll eventually see tearing up the streets and causing massive headaches for the Mopar and Bowtie boys. This definitely isn't the same old Mustang and we've just proved it.