The new Chevy Camaro ZL1 hasn’t even hit dealers yet and already Ford has strangled the Bowtie. You can now have your 2013 Mustang Shelby GT500 with 650hp, 600lb-ft of torque and a 200mph+ top speed. You read correctly: 200.Miles.An.Hour.
Think the muscle car wars were a thing of the past?
While Dodge has seen it fit to limit itself to road presence and natural aspiration for its high output HEMI SRT8 machines, Ford and Chevy are left to duke it out among each other for muscle car bragging rights. Only these cars now add “sports” to their resumes. First the Camaro ZL1.
With the Corvette ZR1 already out hunting Ferraris and Cadillac CTS-Vs running down Mercedes AMGs, it was only natural that the ridiculously powerful supercharged 6.2 LS9 V8 would be planted between the fenders of the Camaro (albeit in tamer form) for Mustang challenging duty. In its most powerful iteration, the LS9 produces 638hp and 604lb-ft of torque in the aforementioned ZR1, mostly thanks to the dry oil sump pan that allows more efficient cooling of the engine’s body parts thus enabling a higher boost pressure for the Eaton supercharger. In milder, 556hp/550lb-ft guise, the CTS-V becomes the de-facto American luxury sports sedan to challenge the luxury German marques on their own turf (with the infamous Nurburgring times to prove it). Back to the Camaro however. In SS form, the Camaro uses a normally aspirated 6.2 V9 with 426hp and 420lb-ft on tap, barely besting the Mustang GT’s 5.0 412hp V9 (the new 2013 model gets a power upgrade to 420hp even).
Anticipating the ZL1 challenge, no doubt Ford decided to put serious work into not only one-upping the Bowtie bruiser but flat out humiliate it with the 2013 edition of the GT500. The SVT engineers started off by boring out the all-aluminium V8 from 5.4 to 5.8 liters, equipped it with new heads, new camshaft profiles, a carbon fiber crankshaft and a larger more efficient Eaton supercharger (essentially the same unit Chevy bolts to the LS9). Larger, more efficient intercoolers, cooling fans and ducts were also added to keep the new engine’s temperature in check. Transmissions were also upgraded to handle the 5.8’s newfound torque. The exterior was also given a thorough aerodynamic revision in order to meet the 200 mph target and the Mustang now boasts a more stable and planted feel at speeds over 160 mph. You’d think that an engine this powerful would be subject to the dreaded gas guzzler tax that high-powered cars usually attract but, according to Ford, many transmission gearing selections were reviewed and the one chosen was the best at putting power down while limiting the fuel used.
No the archaic live rear axle hasn’t been chucked for the GT500, but that doesn’t mean Ford’s engineers didn’t tinker with it. Rather substantially at that. A new, optional Performance Pack upgrades the suspension bits with SVT-designed Bilstein shocks for two modes of driving, “Normal” or “Sport” while a Brembo brake package keeps all that speed and power in check.
The biggest advantage the GT500 has going for it (and something noted elsewhere in this blog) is the nearly 300lb weight difference between it and the heavier Camaro. Chevy has touted that the ZL1 was developed on the Nurburgring and boasts about the ZL1’s sophisticated magnetic suspension enhancing its track performance. With 580hp, the Camaro is indeed a formidable beast but with the new 2013 Mustang GT500, Ford may have just had the last laugh.
It’ll be interesting to see how Chevy responds.
Update: Ford’s beaten it’s own performance goals! The 2013 Shelby Mustang GT500 is now rated at 662hp and 631lb-ft of torque! Insane! Preliminary testing has 0-60 times averaging 3.5 seconds and within 11 seconds in the quarter mile! Check out first drive impressions here
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