Press release from Ford, at 3 PM Central today:
The following statement is attributable to Edsel B. Ford II, member of the Board of Directors of Ford Motor Company and great-grandson of Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company.
The spy pictures of the 2013 Shelby at the Nurburgring have been seen all over the net and are interesting to examine in detail. Focusing on the suspension, one publication claimed that the Shelby exhibited obvious negative camber in back, and concluded that Ford finally rolled out the IRS that it originally developed for the all-new S197 Mustangs.
We’re very sorry to report that it doesn’t have an IRS: we’re here today to shoot down the IRS notion. It pains us to do so, because the Mustang very badly needs an IRS to replace ye olde solid axle. Covered-wagon axles from the mid 1800s have no place on a modern Mustang. And as you’ve probably been reading, the Mustang also badly needs a transmission, but that’s another story.
Here’s the picture of the Shelby at the Nurburgring track in Germany. Look at the position of the brake caliper, and the size of the caliper. Same as all the other pedestrian Mustangs. Solid axle and stock brakes. Sorry, the IRS that was originally developed for the S197 stays on the shelf (picture below!).
First, here’s what the pedestrian solid rear axle and brakes look like: very very very crude.
Here, on the other hand, is what the rear end looked like on the planned and partially announced (magazine interview quotes) 2005 or 2006 Cobra: note the IRS (large center nut) and 4-piston Brembo calipers. This prototype was spotted several times driving around Dearborn.
Cobra, you say? Yes, a new generation SVT Mustang Cobra. However at the last minute SVT itself was all but eliminated due to quality disasters, the Cobra was cancelled, and the IRS was shelved due to financial cutbacks. Plans were dumbed down, the result was the Shelby Mustang with a solid axle, tiny rear brakes, 58.5% of it’s weight up front due to the substitution of an iron engine block, and multiples of poseur scoops and stripes and silly fanged worms. It’s gotten better since it first came out, but it still has faults inherent in the crude, tall, narrow, and top-heavy platform. And it will still hop, skip and jump if the pavement in the turns has any bumps whatsoever. Forget about back-roads drives.
And what of the IRS? We’ve got other articles covering it in this site, and Ford even said a year into the rollout of the 2005 Mustang that they would consider offering it as an option to stay competitive. Too bad it never happened, because the final production version was absolutely bullet proof (having gone thru three generations of development, the first being the Australian Falcon IRS). Here it is:
With a couple of brackets on the frame, it’s a simple bolt in. That’s a double a-arm design, with a massive but lightweight aluminum subframe. It’s total weight was lighter than the solid axle and of course it’s unsprung weight was considerably less. It uses an Explorer rear diff, and was designed to be more easily installed in the production line that the more clumsy SN95 IRS was from 1999-2004. The brakes are mounted to the rear, opposite that of the production single iron caliper on the solid axle. That makes it a dead giveaway to spot in spy picture now or back when the 2005 Mustang was being developed. You may well have spotted one then if you were driving around Dearborn with your eyes open… as several people did.
Quarter mile, winner takes all. And may the best car win:
A full year before production begins, Ford has introduced the 2008 Shelby GT500KR special edition. Only 1000 will be built, starting in the spring of 2008.
Ford press release follows…
The Shelby GT-H convertible is a follow-on to last year’s semi-successful coupe program. GT-H Convertible serial number 1 was auctioned last night in a Barret-Jackson auction that was broadcvast live on Speed TV.
The auction was assisted by Mark Fields of Ford, who very enthusiastically assisted by introducing ‘ole ‘Shel, staging the addition of a special Fender guitar half-way thru the bidding, and adding the shirt off his back in the latter half of the bidding. Nice guy. The bidding was slow, but was driven all the way up to $250,000.
The Shelby GT-H is a Mustang GT with the California Special body package. It comes solely with an automatic transmission (saving a lot of money on replacing clutches) and 17″ tires (all the better to prevent tire sidewall damage from lousy drivers). Also added are off-the-shelf Ford perfromance add-ons for the suspension and engine, yielding another 19 emissions-certified horsepower – and requiring premium fuel (something which in my experience Hertz rarely bothers to use). Also added are an ugly fiberglass hood and a equally-ugly chrome-bar grill. And a roll hoop that has zero structural significance and which would probably end up wrapped around the necks of the occupants in the event of a rollover (I’ve said it before – these are stupid and pointless).
Now lets get real about this Shelby.
The GT-H is literally a Mustang GT. Your dealer can add the identical performance and handling parts for Ford for a thousand or so dollars.
So what are you getting – technically – from a Shelby GT-H? Nothing unique whatsoever.
And what are you getting otherwise from a Shelby GT-H?
A great poseur ride:
- The Shelby GT-H all about looks – there is nothing serious technically here. A crude stone-age suspension, stiff ride, with only incrementally raised dynamics. This is a rolling palace of “look at me – I’m a big deal“.
- All the attention-getting stripes you could hope for
- Fake scoops on the hood and side. They do nothing, zero, nada. Thankfully, the Shelby GT-H doesn’t get the 64 fake scoops that Saleen would have done (collectors take note: going to 128 fake scoops in the upcoming 2010 Saleen – if there is a Saleen after the firings that were made as a result of the numerous Ford GT glitches, as well as the recent winnowing of the overblown staff).
- Ole ‘Shels name signed on the dashboard – something he’ll gladly do at any car show you can find him at for a small donation to one of his charities. Don’t get me wrong – he has very good charities… but the signature isn’t anything unique. He’ll sign anything for a donation.
Speaking of the charity donation:
- How much of the $250K will actually end up at the charity? Charitable foundations are notorious for deducting expenses.
- My tax accountant tells me that the $250k figure paid can be partially taken off the buyersd taxes, although he will need to make a special deal with the IRS to sign off the amount above the actual value of the car. Hmmm… this presents a problem. The value of the car is about $35k – not counting whatever can be made of the association with “Shelby”. The value might be $250k - if you can believe this will be worth anything one day. If you understand that this is purely a Mustang GT, then the value of the car remains at $35k and you have a $215k donation to charity. The buyer will no doubt need a tax lawyer to represent him to the IRS.
- Ole Shel himself can claim some revenue from representing his charitable organization. Amount unknown, but he is probably paid very well.
- What is Mark Fields time worth to Ford Motor Company? What did the car cost Ford Motor Company? All of that is deductible as well. Same for the special transporter used to get the car to the auction and later to deliver the car to the buyer.
- All-in-all, this evening looks like a deduction-haven for both Ole Shel and Ford Motor Company. There may be a million dollars of deduction total.
An unlikely future collectible:
- Does anybody actually believe that the new Mustang market will yield collectibles like the original market in the ’60s? The original Shelbys – for a very short period of time – had a unique engine and suspension modifications. Never mind thart the original 306-HP 289 would be rated at about 250-260 horses on today’s scale. It was unique to Shelby. Same for the suspension, with it’s specially relocated lower control mounting points. These types of changes yielded a unique Shelby, once that was indeeed functionally better than stock. This was done in 1965 and 1966… afterwards the changes were abandoned and the car was brought onto Ford’s assembly line as a trim option. Compare this to the new Shelbys – the GT and GT-H are “built” in Las Vegas (time peices are added, Ford off-the-shelf performance packs added) and the Shelby GT500/500KR is simply a Ford product. All the Shelbys are built in larger numbers than the originals, in only 2 years of Shelby availablility the total production has eclipsed that of the ’60s models.
- The original ’65 and ’66 Shelbys were very usable as race cars – and had some success in competition to prove it. The new Shelbys? Totally hopeless there.
- Wouldn’t a Shelby GT GT500 (and the new GT500KR) be worth even more at auction? Oh, but wait, the Shelby GT500/GT500KR development didn’t include Shelby, being purely an in-house Ford product…. the left-over pieces once the intended SVT Cobra was gutted and finally cancelled.
- A technically obsolete 319-HP Mustang GT will be worth very little when a 400-HP Mustang GT debuts in 2009. 319-HP doesn’t look like very much at all in the year 2007… it will look like a whole lot less in 2009 in when Ford finally introduces a competitive and sorely-needed ”large” engine and is able to eliminate the horribly dated and obsolete 5.4 liter “modular” truck engine.
There is a sucker born every day, but the Shelbys will sell. In the end this is all that can be said of Shelby.
And I remain saddened that the Mustang as a whole has fallen to this low point. No serious sporting abilities, technically stone-age, larger than ever, and morbidly obese.
Ford press release follows.
Jason Plato quote: “It doesn’t handle very good”.
Of course, if you don’t know who Jason Plato is, then this IS the car for you.
Robert Farago hits a home run with a very well written counterpoint about the Shelby GT500. He obviously knows his stuff and is an enthusiastic and experienced driver.
The article starts with “a small bump in the road” – and that says it all. Don’t hit one if you know what is good (and safe) for you. Solid rear axles are an anachronism from the last century (and solid front axles – once commonplace, are now gone from everything but the oldest truck models). And then there is the engineering hangover all-too common in this century: a ponycar that weighs 4000 pounds (morbidly obese). Couple that with the classic SVT engineering “expertiese” (overheating Cobras and Ford GTs that can’t do a serious HPDE without blowing their cooling) and you have a real winner for car nuts who don’t have the experience to backup their (over-)enthusiasm.
Fortunately, SVT has been cancelled from the face of the earth (its engineers split amoungst development teams, the SVT name is that of a virtual organization and not a physical one). The Shelby is all that remains of 11 years of Cobra evolution. It’s intended engine (an all-aluminum 5.4) and IRS (developed and tested) were both cancelled. Then the SVT Cobra itself was cancelled in November 2004. Shelby inherited a few oddments and a cheaper version of the Cobra engine. It’s a shame. And there are just enough gullible people to sell 10k copies a year.
A few traces of SVTs original intentions remain… the Brembo brakes are a big improvement from the last generation, but the rear brakes are a hangover from the Mustang GT (the rear 2-piston Brembos were also cancelled – some Ford Press folks had old press materials and referred to them repeatedly in the first round of Shelby releases). The front splitter and rear aero mods would have been of some value for the cancelled Cobra, and are soley of poseur mods for the straight-line Shelby. The replacement for the infamous T-56 6-speed is a huge improvement… but of course in the Shelby’s new mission only the first 3 gears are ever used. An automatic would have been a better choice.
And more than a few things are missing.
As happens all too often with Ford, the seats appear to have been designed for a very wide and heavy fat guy. No lateral support at all. And this is strange, given the progress that had been made with the 2003/4 Cobra seats (a great example of seat design progress, now abandoned).
The steering wheel is enormous, although this is a feature we’re stuck with from the base car because of the terrible placement of the instruments. SVT coulnd’t have done anything there if they’d wanted to without a major redesign. And this is a shame, especially since the progress that was made in the last Cobra: thicker padding in a well-sized rim, and even thumb placement in some of the last models.
I could go on, but it becomes clear that the real problems are Ford’s budget disaster (starting years ago when the Cobra, er, Shelby was under development), the dominance of the straight-liners and apologists inside the former SVT organization (Hau Thai-Tang is the worst example of making up marketing BS to excuse their sorry work – he should be booted the hell out of there), and the base Mustang itself. It’s enormous, it’s long, it’s wide, it’s heavy, and it’s crude. All of these things conspire together to yield an enormous, long, wide, and crude product that has no sporting value other than poseur appearance.
Unbelievable (or maybe not?): according to this report the engine on the GT500 is already failing – this time with a broken crank snout!
It looks like the wonderful SVE/SVT engineering has already started an all-too-typical string of failures.
Fortunately, this will be the last time this will happen because the SVE engineering team has been broken up and dispersed back into the regular product groups (and therefore subject to the established testing processes and requirements). SVT is now simply a brand – nothing more than an “XLS” logo on the trunklid (or in the case of this brand, on the little plastic wheel caps).
This latest failure comes on the heals of the Ford press release of last week that promoted all of the endurance testing Ford engines are alledgedly subject to. Which apparently somebody was finally doing to this engine – with only 3 months to go before production. That’s wonderful tinming, and so typical of Ford. Every SVT product to date has suffered from poor testing, delayed schedules, and post-delivery issues. Even the “base” Mustang GT 4.6 3V engine has had issues (quickly fixed) at launch. And then there was the 1-yr++ delay of the new 3.5 engine for unspecified reasons… which given the need in the Five Hundred and Fusion must have been severe.
And why is the GT500 engine problem happening at all? The crank issues have been known about for years – they were first identified almost ten years ago during extreme durability testing exercises (eventually written up in an SAE paper, which makes for an interesting read). They were suppossedly solved for the Ford GT engine – but that engine and this engine are two very different pieces with no commonality whatsoever except the cylinder head (and that engine has had it’s own major issues, including the “fix” of a Speedisleeve “diaper” and the lack of cooling “agility” – it’s already a bust in open track events).
Interesting, too, that the crankshaft damper weighs 26 pounds. Yes, you read that right – twenty-six pounds. Incredible. This is going to be one heck of a slow-revving pig. Which may be ok for it’s mission – which is to push a two-ton morbidly obese Mustang.. With only 475 horses for those two tons it won’t be much faster than the much lighter ’03/4 Cobra was. And with 58.5% of it’s weight over the front wheels, it won’t handle well either.
What kind of an enthusiast car is this? It isn’t.
+350 pds, 57% weight on the front Turns out we were right (and the cavemen on SVTPerformance.com refused to believe it). According to Ford’s own figures, the GT500 will gain 350 pounds, all up front, and have a 57% front 43% rear weight balance. That’s absolutely lousy. Of course, this is heresy. The first person who pointed this out in the public forums got tossed off. The rest of us added it up bit-by-bit and discovered the weight gain a long time ago. Car & Drivers loaded test car was 3523 pds, that makes a Shelby 3873. This is progress??? It’s now becoming clear that SVT has foresaken handling and balance and fallen backwards into simple straight-line acceleration. What a shame that twelve years of progress has been abandoned, just when breakthrus could have been acheived.
So much for a lightweight car… so much for the inherently good weight balance of the base 4.6 liter Mustang. So much for braking – despite the better binders the weight balance will work against it.
255s on 18×9.5″ wheels. Skinny wheelwells. Not much traction there, even if the windup of the higher profile tires contributes to leaving the line. Plus numerically lower gears and the same ratios in the T-56. Not much multiplication there, but there is little point with the torque.
40 grand minimum, gas guzzler fee, & dealer ripoff on top of that. Nets up to a car that is is only incrementally faster than an ’03/04 Cobra.
Turns out we were right (and the cavemen on SVTPerformance.com refused to believe it). According to Ford’s own figures, the GT500 will gain 350 pounds, all up front, and have a 57% front 43% rear weight balance. That’s absolutely lousy.
Of course, this is heresy. The first person who pointed this out in the public forums got tossed off. The rest of us added it up bit-by-bit and discovered the weight gain a long time ago. Car & Drivers loaded test car was 3523 pds, that makes a Shelby 3873. This is progress???
It’s now becoming clear that SVT has foresaken handling and balance and fallen backwards into simple straight-line acceleration. What a shame that twelve years of progress has been abandoned, just when breakthrus could have been acheived.