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Shelby Cobra GT500 Chassis
Shelby Cobra GT500

Much like its design inspiration, the 450-plus-horsepower Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 show car embodies the performance reputation of the 1960s Shelby Mustangs in a thoroughly modern sports car intended to compete with the world's best. Ford's Special Vehicle Team (SVT) is engineering the GT500 as a standard for balanced driving dynamics - great straight-line performance, precise handling and a comfortable ride - just as vintage Shelbys set the bar in their time.

"The Shelby Cobra GT500 will take SVT-tuned Mustangs to a new level," says Phil Martens, Ford group vice president, Product Creation. "We are combining SVT's modern engineering expertise with Carroll Shelby's enduring Mustang legacy to create what we think will be an instant classic just like the 2005 Mustang."

The GT500 chassis development started during the 2005 Mustang program, when the basic vehicle geometry of the chassis structure was tested and validated on a number of racetracks. The result is a solid chassis that has won acclaim from media and customers alike. Beginning with this rigid platform, SVT chassis engineers are honing the GT500's handling to a razor's edge.

Track tested and race-proven chassis
Prior to his assignment as director, Advanced Product Creation and SVT, Hau Thai-Tang served as chief engineer for the 2005 Mustang.

"We spent a lot of time at the track developing the new Mustang and ensuring it was capable of handling future performance derivatives," says Thai-Tang. "Media and customer reactions have been extremely positive in terms of chassis dynamics."

The race-prepared Ford Racing Mustang FR500C is another example of the platform's prowess as it was built ground-up from the base Mustang body structure and suspension geometry to run in the production class form of road racing, the Grand-Am Cup series.

"In terms of performance, the Mustang's solid rear axle setup in the GT500 has been proven in race competition this year with a Mustang FR500C taking the checkered flag at the season-opening Grand-Am Cup race at Daytona," says Thai-Tang. "First race, first win; not bad against the best from Germany and Japan."

"SVT and Ford Racing will be working closer than ever as we go forward on future projects, especially Mustangs" continues Thai-Tang. "The FR500C racing program demonstrates the capability that we engineered into this car, and now we have both a Daytona victory and the return of the GT500 to showcase the performance possibilities of the Mustang."

SVT chassis engineers tune for precise, balanced handling
The 2005 Ford Mustang has already won rave reviews for its competent handling, thanks to intelligent re-engineering of its suspension designs: a revised MacPherson strut independent front suspension with "Reverse L" lower control arms and a solid-axle, three-link rear suspension with coil springs and a Panhard rod.

To create the Shelby Cobra GT500, SVT engineers are using real-world experience gained during more than 12 years of building great-handling SVT Mustang Cobras. The result will be SVT's signature chassis tuning with a balanced, performance-tuned ride that still maintains the compliance required for everyday driving.

SVT engineers are recalibrating the front and rear shocks and upgrading the front and rear stabilizer bars and revising spring rates. To dial-in even crisper steering response into an already rigid chassis, SVT is adding special shock-tower bracing and an additional structural "K-Member" for track-capable performance. Ride height is being lowered both front and rear.

Key to the GT500's three-link rear architecture is the Panhard rod that provides precise control over the rear axle. A central torque control arm is fastened to the upper front end of the differential, while trailing arms are located near each end of the axle. The lightweight, tubular Panhard rod runs parallel to the axle and attaches at one end to the body and at the other to the axle. SVT is tuning the rod bushings to handle the extra torque of the GT500 powertrain and firmly control the axle during hard cornering.

Constant-rate coil springs and outboard shocks are also specially tuned for a controlled yet compliant ride. The shocks are located on the outside of the rear structural rails, near the wheels, reducing the lever effect of the axle and allowing a more precise and slightly softer tuning of the shock valves. The GT500 incorporates a separate upsized rear stabilizer bar to reduce body lean, adding to the sophisticated handling precision and performance.

19-inch tires and 14-inch cross-drilled brakes complete the GT500 chassis

To put a stop on the GT500's power and handle its high-performance capability, SVT has employed some of the biggest brakes in the business. Continuing SVT's legacy of great-braking Mustangs, the GT500 features 14-inch cross-drilled Brembo brake rotors up front, clamped by four-piston aluminum calipers. The rear features 13 inchers with two-piston calipers. Unique 19- x 9.5-inch aluminum split-five-spoke wheels are wrapped in P255/45ZR19 high-performance rubber to help secure the GT500 to the road.

Source: Ford Motor Company