Things were going so well for General Motors. The Camaro had been consistently out-selling the Mustang, and the announcement of a track focused, 580-horsepower, take-no-prisoners Camaro ZL1 meant that it would soon be game over for Ford. While Chevy was busy wind tunnel testing the ZL1, however, Ford’s engineers spent a few sleepless nights tweaking the new Shelby GT500. The result is the 650-horsepower 2013 Shelby GT500, and we’re back to advantage, Ford.
Unlike other websites, we’re not ready to crown the Shelby GT500 as the king of the pony cars just yet. Sure, it’s got more horsepower (OK, a lot more horsepower), it’s likely to be a few hundred pounds lighter than the baby-got-back Camaro ZL1 and it even comes with more track focused options than the car it replaces. Still, the outgoing GT500 wasn’t exactly the ideal car for track days, since driving it fast meant beating the snot out of it. The old Shelby responded to brute force, not finesse, making it a difficult car to lap consistently in. Worse, it wasn’t particularly amusing on a racetrack, even if it was relatively fast.
Ford says the new Shelby GT500 has received upgraded brakes, gearing and suspension, in addition to the horsepower boost. There’s a bigger radiator, a larger intercooler (for this year’s bigger blower), aero enhancements that actually add downforce and available Performance and Track packages.
Opt for the Performance Package, and you’ll get electronically adjustable Bilstein dampers and a Torsen limited-slip differential. Add the Track Package, and you’ll get an external oil cooler, a rear differential cooler and a transmission cooler, to ensure that high speed running doesn’t cause problems.
As for that high speed, the new Shelby GT500 may well be capable of 200 miles per hour, and Ford is quick to point out that the aerodynamic changes for 2013 give the car 33 percent more effective aero loading at 160 miles per hour. In other words, the new Shelby GT500 is more than just an image car, designed to run primarily from stoplight to stoplight.
There’s no doubt that it will give the Camaro ZL1 a run for its money, but we’ll hold off on crowning a new king until we’ve had a chance to drive both cars back to back. Preferably on a race track, where the limits of each can safely be tested.