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©2012 U.S. Auto Scene®
FEBRUARY 27, 2012
2013 Ford Shelby GT500
Will Be Built in Flat Rock
by Ken Brown,
Special Writer
 CHICAGO – The Ford Mustang is one of a small group of automobiles any mention of which will, for many “car folks,” immediately evoke passionate interest and launch a flow of imaginative juices.  
 There is even a story that when a young boy growing up in Vietnam many years ago saw his first photograph of a Mustang, he exclaimed, “I want to work for the company that makes that car!”
 That wish came true. The young boy in Vietnam was Hau Thai-Thang who, as Ford’s Executive Director of Global Product Programs, unveiled for a media audience at the Chicago Auto Show earlier last month the latest addition to the Mustang “extended family”:  the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 convertible, which also served as the celebratory vehicle of the 20th anniversary of Ford’s performance-oriented Special Vehicle Teams (SVT).
 And, having already served during his Ford career as chief engineer for the Ford Mustang and as director of Advanced Product Creation and SVT, Thai-Tang could hardly have been better suited to the task.
 The new Shelby GT500 convertible shares virtually all of its technical specification upgrades with the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 coupe model, which debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November.  
 The primary focus is the new aluminum-block 5.8-liter supercharged V8 engine that produces 650 horsepower and 600 lb.-ft. of torque (up from the 5.4-liter V8 with 550 horsepower and 510 lb.-ft. of torque used in the 2012 models) and is described by Ford as the “most powerful production V8 in the world.”  
 To help produce the additional horsepower, this new engine features new cross-drilled cylinder block and heads and updated camshaft profiles, and it uses a new high-capacity, more fuel-efficient TVS series 2300 supercharger.
 In addition to the engine itself, Ford said that numerous other 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 powertrain and powertrain-related components and systems have been optimized for dealing with the massive horsepower and torque outputs.  
 The driveline includes a new carbon fiber driveshaft, the clutch has increased torque and rpm capacity and uses a dual-disc design, and the six-speed manual transmission offers upgraded gears, bearings and housing, with revised ratios on nearly every gear to manage the torque and use more of the power in a driver-friendly way.  
 Similarly, the final drive ratio, which was 3.73:1 on 2012 Ford Shelby GT500 models, is now 3.31:1 for optimized overall vehicle gearing to complement the massive torque.
 The cooling system has been updated for the new 5.8-liter engine and now includes a larger fan, a fan shroud with high-speed pressure-relief doors, a higher-flow intercooler pump and an intercooler heat exchanger with 36 percent higher volume.
 A new Brembo braking system provides enhanced stopping power and driver control in both road and track conditions.  New six-piston calipers in front along with larger front and rear rotors help improve brake fade, while more aggressive brake pads help achieve high deceleration and further robustness and stability.
 Meanwhile, as with the coupe version, the 2013 Shelby GT500 convertible is available with an optional Performance Package that includes SVT-designed Bilstein electronic adjustable suspension.  
 Using a dash-mounted button, drivers can choose “normal” mode for a comfortable ride or “sport” for faster response on the track, less body roll while cornering and reduced pitch under braking.  Ford added that the 2013 Shelby GT500 convertible with the optional Performance Package reduced its lap time at the Sebring International Raceway by almost 3.5 seconds compared with the 2011 and 2012 models.
 The 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 will be built at the AutoAlliance International Plant in Flat Rock, Mich. and is expected to go on sale later this year.
 Some Ford footnotes:
 The Mustang-inspired dream that Hau Thai-Tang is living continues to expand.  On the day after he introduced the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 at the Chicago Auto Show, Ford Motor Company announced that, effective April 1, Thai-Tang had been elected a company officer and appointed as Vice President, Engineering, Global Product Development, succeeding Raj Nair when Nair succeeds Derrick Kuzak who has elected to retire from his role as Group Vice President, Global Product Development.
 The Chicago Automobile Trade Association last week announced that in the Chicago Auto Show’s “Best of Show” balloting, consumers had chosen the Ford Shelby GT500 as “Best All-New Production Vehicle” and also as “Vehicle I’d most like to have in my driveway.”
Hau Thai-Thang
The 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 convertible, introduced in Chicago, also served as the celebratory vehicle of the 20th anniversary of Ford’s performance-oriented Special Vehicle Teams (SVT).
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