If you like a little extra velocity with your sun-in-the-face, wind-in-your hair convertible experience, here’s some good news: Ford is showing its Mustang Shelby GT500 ragtop at this week’s Chicago Auto Show. Like its hardtop sibling, the drop-top Shelby comes packing a blown 5.8-liter V-8, good for some 650 horsepower. To translate that into real-world performance, the new Shelby convertible can lap the legendary Sebring circuit nearly three-and-a-half seconds quicker than the model it replaces.
Like the coupe, the convertible is meant to pull double duty as a daily driver and weekend track car (although hot-lapping with most organizations will require a braced roll bar). Add the optional Performance Package, and you’ll get electronically adjustable Bilstein dampers that can be set to “Normal” for the daily grind, or to “Sport” for maximum performance at the cost of some ride comfort. Opt for the Track Package, and you’ll also get engine oil, rear differential and transmission coolers.
Ensuring that the new Shelby stops as well as it goes, Ford has upgraded the Brembo braking system on new Shelby models as well. Front calipers are now six-piston units, and both front and rear rotor diameter is increased. Ensuring that drivers get eye-popping deceleration, Ford has opted to use high-friction brake pads on Shelby models, too.
The only drawback we can see is that Ford is limiting the top speed of the Shelby convertible to 155 miles per hour, probably because the top can’t withstand higher speeds. That’s still plenty fast, but it’s not as fast as the claimed 200 mph top speed of the new Shelby GT500 coupe.