by Patrick Rall
The Ford Mustang GT500 has been the king of the hill in the American muscle car segment since returning in 2007, but when the Camaro ZL1 hits the market later this year, the Shelby Mustang will have a much tougher fight on its hands – unless the rumors of a new engine with over 600 horsepower prove to be true. Over the past few months, sources such as Car & Driver have reported that the 2013 Shelby GT500 could see anywhere from 600 to 620 horsepower, up from the 550 offered in the 2012 GT500.
This power increase for the 2013 Shelby GT500 could come by means of the current 5.4L engine being enlarged to 5.8L and the Eaton M112 blower would be replaced by a similar Eaton TVS supercharger, similar to the one used on the Camaro ZL1. That engine setup would yield between 600 and 620 horsepower according to these rumors, but what if Ford decided to better utilize the new 5.0L V8 from the Mustang GT?
Ford is currently selling a supercharger package for the 2011 and 2012 Mustang GT that ramps the power up from 412 to a whopping 624 horsepower. This package does void your engine warranty but it must be reliable enough for the company to trust it; as they wouldn’t be selling supercharger packages that are going to blow up engines. If Ford can reliably make 624hp in an aftermarket package, you would think that they would be able to market a production version that they are comfortable selling on the showroom floor with a warranty…but if they go the route of the 5.8L V8, it would leave more potential to squeeze out more power in the aftermarket.
600-620 horsepower would definitely help the Shelby GT500 to stay out ahead of the new Camaro ZL1 in the quarter mile, but what about on the road course? The ZL1 will feature the advanced selective magnetic ride control suspension system from the Corvette ZR1, so we can expect the 550+ horsepower super-Camaro to comfortably out handle the Camaro SS. The GT500 in its current state handles far better than the standard Mustang GT, but this suspension setup may receive some tuning efforts and possibly some new components to allow it to keep up (if not beat) the Camaro ZL1 on tracks with turns. Perhaps Ford will launch their own active suspension system similar to what is currently used by GM and by Chrysler in the 2012 Charger SRT8 to help it stay atop the high end muscle car segment with help from something like new tires specifically designed for the GT500.
Other possibilities for the improvement of the next Shelby GT500 could come in the way or weight reduction through the use of lightweight interior components and body panels, but that is just speculation. The current GT500 is an incredible machine, so it won’t be easy for Ford to improve on it without a major overhaul, but a refined suspension setup and 620 horsepower would certainly help to keep Camaro ZL1 owners at bay.