The new Ford Shelby GT500 convertible made its debut at the Chicago Auto Show, serving as the celebratory vehicle of the 20th anniversary of Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT).
The newest Shelby GT500 convertible with the optional performance package is nearly 3.5-seconds faster than the outgoing model at Sebring International Raceway, according to a press release. The 5.8-liter supercharged V-8 offers 650 hp, and other upgrades include Bilstein electronic adjustable dampers and a new Brembo brake system.
SVT has produced more than 210,000 cars and trucks during its 20-year history, with more than seven different nameplates that include the Ford GT, Mustang Cobra R, SVT F-150 Lightning, F-150 SVT Raptor, Shelby GT500KR and the soon-to-be-launched Focus ST, the release noted.
In honor of SVT’s anniversary, a commemorative lighted sill plate will be used in the 2013 Shelby GT500 to celebrate the many years of performance vehicles.
“The Shelby GT500 convertible is every bit the performer that the coupe is,” said Kerry Baldori, SVT Global Performance Vehicles chief engineer. “All of the significant changes we made in the program were instrumental in delivering a convertible that could really shine on the track, but can still be driven on a daily basis.”
Offering a track-tested top speed of more than 200 mph, the 5.8-liter supercharged V-8 aluminum-block engine produces 650 hp and 600 foot-pounds of torque, making it the most powerful production V-8 in the world, according to the release.
Nearly every part of the powertrain has been optimized for producing additional horsepower, including a new supercharger, new cross-drilled block and heads, updated camshaft profiles, a new carbon fiber driveshaft and upgraded clutch, transmission and axle, the company noted.
And nearly every gear on the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 has been revised to manage the torque and use more of the power in a way that makes it more driver-friendly.
The 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 will be built at AutoAlliance International Plant in Flat Rock, Mich.
More on SVT
The official launch of SVT came during the 1992 Chicago Auto Show, with the unveiling of the 1993 SVT Mustang Cobra and SVT F-150 Lightning.
Each SVT vehicle produced since 1993 has been designed and developed with the four SVT attributes in mind: performance, substance, exclusivity and value, the release noted. The hallmarks still guide the brand’s vehicle development today.
“In the past 20 years, SVT has engineered world-class mid-engine supercars, front-wheel drive performance cars, rear-wheel drive muscle cars and high-performance on-road and off-road pickup trucks,” said Jamal Hameedi, SVT chief engineer. “There is no other performance house in the world that can match that diverse resume.”
SVT has joined with Team RS in Europe to form the Performance Vehicles Group to devise a strategy for all future global performance Ford cars.
“The resulting Focus ST is Ford’s first truly global performance car, giving drivers around the world the opportunity to share the exhilarating performance, excellent handling, addictive sound and sporty design Ford’s ST badge represents,” the company stated. “The Ford Fiesta ST Concept also signals the next step in Ford’s global performance vehicle strategy and hints at how a future Fiesta ST model might look when it joins the Focus ST in the global small car portfolio.”