The 2011 Shelby GT500 only gets minor exterior tweaks, but underneath the hood it chucks the heavy iron block truck engine for an all-aluminum 5.4-liter supercharged V8 for 102 lbs less weight and a smokin' 550HP.
102 lbs lighter. The new aluminum engine is 102 lbs lighter than the outgoing iron block engine — for a combine full-car reduction on the coupe of 120 lbs. There are plenty of other spec upgrades on the new Shelby GT500 that we'll get to in a moment, but the one that's got our jaw slackened is the weight reduction provided by this new engine. It's almost like taking an entire passenger out of the cabin and yeah, it'll probably have an impact on steering feel, track performance and overall balance in the notoriously nose-heavy GT500.
But, just because we're quite pleased with the weight reduction doesn't mean the increase in power isn't noteworthy. The lighter 5.4-liter dual overhead cam supercharged V8 makes another 10 HP over the outgoing model, with 550 HP and 510 lb-ft of torque (same as current) with 80 percent delivered between 1,750 and 6,250 rpm. It's also made the change to electronic power steering to reduce accessory belt drag and completely does away with iron cylinder liners, using a patented Plasma Transferred Wire Arc liner system to apply a 150-micron composite coating for friction reduction. These efforts have come together to make not only improve horsepower but improve fuel economy, with Ford expecting the car to move off the gas guzzler tax roles, with projected economy of 23 MPG highway and 15 MPG city (remember, that's with 550 HP!)
The rest of the car has undergone some noteworthy tweaking as well. Since the front end has been significantly lightened, the tuning up front has been adjusted to provide appropriate grip and the front struts get a coat of red paint because, um, why not? The cars now get the option of the glass roof currently on the lower level cars, standard HID headlights, MyKey (which will come in really handy when tossing the keys to Junior), and fold down rear headrests to comply with new visibility standards.
Finally, the SVT Performance Package, designed for the track-day fiend who wants to eke out more performance from the Shelby GT500. The package includes Goodyear Eagle® F1 SuperCar G:2 tires designed specifically for the Shelby, lighter wheels, stiffer springs, a higher rear axle ratio and all are available on both convertible and hardtop. We're told the package reduces track time by an average of 3 seconds on a 2.3 mile track. So, basically, the Shelby GT500 is lighter, more powerful, gets better fuel economy and is faster around the track. Yes, we're happy about this upgrade.