Chicago 2010: Lighter, Faster Shelby GT500 Debuts in Windy City

Colum Wood
by Colum Wood

Ford has just officially given the 2011 Shelby GT500 its ceremonial debut at the Chicago Auto Show. Significantly updated from last year, the 2011 model offers more power, a lower curb weight and improved handling. The new aluminum block weighs 102 lbs less than the old cast-iron unit and puts out 10-more horsepower for a total of 550-hp at 6200 rpm. Torque is rated at 510 ft-lbs, 80 percent of which is available from 1750 to 6250 rpm. Plus, a new two-row intercooler delivers 40 percent better cooling so this sports car will perform with optimum potential even on the hottest of track days.

The result of this drastic reduction in weight, especially over the front axle, will result in a much more neutral vehicle to drive, especially at the limit. The weight reduction will also work to improve acceleration and braking, and even has tangible fuel-economy benefits. While owners aren’t too likely to care that the EPA rating has gone from 14/22 mpg (city/highway) to 15/23 mpg, they will when they discover that this improvement means the 2011 GT500 is the first modern Shelby to avoid the gas guzzler tax.

Along with the weight loss, additional handling improvements come from Ford’s new EPAS electronic power steering, which the automaker says delivers a better feel and a more precise movement, while also enabling less effort during low speed maneuvers.

Also new for 2011 is an optional glass roof and standard HID headlights. Convertible models are now 12 percent stiffer. Oh, and lets not forget an all-new 2.75-inch exhaust system, with more volume when you want it and less droaning when you don’t.

Those seeking even more performance from their GT500 will want to opt for the SVT Performance Package with some aerodynamic changes, lighter wheels shod in new Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G2 tires, a higher rear axle ratio, a lower ride height and stiffer springs. Ford claims that on a 2.3-mile road course, the SVT package will net a 3 second per lap improvement!

GALLERY: 2011 Shelby GT500

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