Carroll Shelby’s Aluminum-Engined Thoroughbred


In preparation for next Saturday’s trip to the 31st International Mustang Meet in Red Deer, AB, let us take a peek at the the car we’ll be taking down: the 2011 Shelby Mustang GT500. The crowning jewel of the GT500 is a new aluminum engine that saves 102 lbs of mass and produces 550 supercharger-aided horsepower. Just to put that power figure in perspective, that is as much horsepower as the Pagani Zonda C12 S (with 7.0L AMG engine), Valentino Balboni’s RWD Gallardo, the Cadillac CTS-V, Lexus LFA, Cayenne Turbo S, and the Bentley Continental GT. And at 510 pound-feet of torque, the elite group of company shrinks further still.

A Shelby Mustang is differentiated from lesser members of the breed by the engine (obvs.), racing stripes running the length of the body, Cobra badges, and a smattering of SHELBY stickers wherever the engineers and designers could find an empty space. Ok, but who is “SHELBY” and why is his name so well-advertised?

A glance at the trunklid of the GT500 reveals that name again: SHELBY. This is the surname of the 1959 24 Heures du Mans winner, Carroll Shelby; a man whose name has been synonymous with souped-up ‘Stangs since 1965, when the GT350 hit the unsuspecting streets of America. Carroll and his team of tuners took delivery of stock Mustangs from Ford’s San Jose plant and fiddled with them enough to warrant their own special VINs. In 1967, the GT500 was added to the roster when Carroll replaced the 350’s 289 c.i. (4.7L) with a 428 c.i. (7.0L) Police Interceptor powerplant. The brief association between Shelby and Ford would cease in 1970, leaving a 37-year void until 2007 when the GT500 would rise like a Phoenix again.

Richard Hammond will now do his best to explain what makes Shelby Mustangs so special.

We’ll see you on Saturday, September 4, at the Capri Hotel and Convention Centre in Red Deer, AB, for the 31st International Mustang Meet.

[Photo credits: classicfordz/Flikr, author, Flikr]

[Video credit: YouTube]