Long live the King! The 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR, “King of the Road” assumes the throne, taking its rightful place as the ultimate American muscle car.
The GT500KR builds on the already impressive stats of the Shelby GT500, with 40 more horsepower, an additional 30 foot-pounds of torque and an array of chassis, aero and weight-reduction measures to offer world-class performance. Engineered by Ford SVT with final assembly by Shelby Automobiles, it blends track learnings from the Ford Racing Mustang FR500C and the ingenuity of Carroll Shelby to deliver the ultimate in Mustang performance.
“Every new Shelby Mustang renews my energy and passion for performance,” said Carroll Shelby, founder of Shelby Automobiles. “I’m just as excited about the 2008 KR as I was when I developed the first one. The team has done a great job with this car. It is this is truly the best Shelby Mustang we’ve ever built…so far.”
The Shelby GT500KR is the latest in a royal lineage that spans more than 40 years, beginning with the 1965 Shelby GT350 and including the original 1968 Shelby GT500KR that provided the inspiration. Carroll Shelby has played an active role in the development of every one.
“When the names Mustang and Shelby come together, the results are never anything less than amazing,” said Robert Parker, Ford Car Marketing manager. “Mustang has earned an endearing place in America’s hearts, topping the sports car segment for 22 straight years. The GT500KR is sure to get those hearts pumping even faster.”
Delivering the Ultimate in Mustang Performance
Just like its 1968 namesake, the 2008 Shelby GT500KR builds on the strong foundation of the Shelby GT500. Ford and Shelby designers collaborated to channel the classic KR design cues and finesse them into the iconic lines of the new Mustang. Most noticeable are the modern interpretation of the distinctive, sculpted KR hood and classic Le Mans-style striping.
The development team spent countless hours designing a car that pays homage to the 1968 “King of the Road,” but this thoroughbred is more than just a pretty face. The GT500KR is inspired by Ford Racing’s experience on the race track and finessed with the trademark SVT engineering and Shelby Automobiles’ proven delivery of balanced performance production for the street. Its chassis incorporates unique suspension components developed especially for the KR.
The suspension’s stiffness has been enhanced with wheel rates 17 percent higher in the front and 7 percent higher in the rear. Every other element of the chassis system – such as sway bars and shock absorbers – has been tuned especially to improve King of the Road’s handling.
The new suspension was tuned to work with the Goodyear high-performance, P255/45Z18 front and P285/40ZR18 rear tires, developed specifically for the KR, with a compound that is exclusive to North America. The stickier tires help the short 3.73:1 rear gear (compared to the GT500’s 3.31:1 rear gear) send maximum horsepower to the road and are an important component in the overall handling balance.
“The KR is much more than just a great straight-line performer. It’s the complete package − handling, power and performance,” said Jamal Hameedi, chief program engineer at Ford SVT. “The team put the GT500KR through rigorous testing and have witnessed slalom runs with sustained lateral acceleration of 1.0g on the skidpad. Those are world-class numbers.”
The GT500KR doesn’t just go better, it stops better. The new tires work with a recalibrated anti-lock braking system (ABS) that results in improved stopping distances 6 feet shorter from 60 to 0 than the stock GT500. The ABS system has been tuned to be unobtrusive during spirited driving. Similar honing was undertaken with the vehicle’s traction-control system to optimize acceleration
The GT500KR’s impeccable balance of handling and performance is the result of a holistic approach to the development, looking at the total vehicle with chassis and powertrain engineers working together to optimize all vehicle attributes.
For example, a new front splitter and revised rear spoiler aid in aerodynamic improvements, adding downforce over the front axle and moving the center of aero pressure forward in the vehicle to improve high-speed balance and stable, predictable braking character. The ride height has been lowered to the optimum setting for on-the-limit handling, lowering the front by 20 mm and the rear by 15 mm.
“The KR is more responsive and has more body control,” said Gary Davis, vice president of production for Shelby Automobiles. “It delivers even more racing feel than a stock GT500. Yet it’s still extremely comfortable and doesn’t beat you up like some performance cars. We’ve been able to increase handling substantially without giving up a lot in ride comfort.”
GT500KR 5.4-liter V-8 Receives the Royal Treatment
The 2008 “King of the Road” packs a walloping dose of Ford performance under a sculpted carbon fiber hood. The Ford SVT-engineered 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 is enhanced with a series of Ford Racing-inspired upgrades that boosts horsepower to an estimated 540 and torque to 510 lb.-ft.
The added power is delivered courtesy of a revised ignition and throttle calibration and a cold air intake system that replaces the stock unit.
The unique carbon fiber hood, secured by a pair of stainless steel, twist-down hood pins, serves to relieve high-speed underhood pressure, move air from the front intake and engine compartment to the rear extractors and channel supplemental fresh air into the new cold air intake that feeds KR’s massive V-8.
The Shelby GT500KR cold air intake seal was designed with the new hood to prevent hot engine compartment air from reaching the air intake. This channels ambient air to feed the supercharged intake for optimal combustion efficiency for horsepower and torque.
Calibration modifications include advancing the ignition timing as well as re-mapping the electronic throttle settings to provide quicker throttle response for better off-line and mid-range acceleration. Increased throttle response is met with a sharper roar from the Ford Racing-inspired exhaust system.
“Throttle response has been dramatically improved,” said Hameedi. “The KR launches with authority and provides power on demand – throughout the entire power band.”
Power is delivered to the rear wheels through a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission. Gear selection is courtesy of an all-new Ford Racing short-throw shifter. Topped with a white ball, the new shifter throws are 25 percent shorter than the unit on the GT500 providing for crisper, quicker shifts.
Inspired by Ford Racing Mustang FR500C motorsport experience, the Shelby GT500KR has been fitted with an elevated axle vent reservoir to prevent axle fluid expulsion during sustained periods of performance driving or track-day use.
A Legend in the Making
Each Shelby GT500KR begins life as a GT500, built at AutoAlliance International Inc., in Flat Rock, Mich. From there, the cars are shipped to Shelby Automobile’s facility in Las Vegas.
“We are so proud of the Ford and Shelby teams coming together and working tirelessly for the last year to bring you the Ford Shelby GT500KRs with the specially engineered chassis, powertrain and exhaust components along with the unique carbon-fiber hood and the new short-throw shifter,” said Amy Boylan, president of Shelby Automobiles, Inc. “Every GT500KR will be hand customized and delivered to each customer in an enclosed transporter, just like the Ford GT.”
Each 2008 GT500KR model is identified by a special 40th Anniversary badge on the fenders and grille, distinctive body colored mirror caps and Shelby lettering stretching across the front of the hood and along the rear portion of the deck lid. A special Shelby Automobiles, Inc., Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) tag is affixed inside each vehicle’s engine compartment.
Each new GT500KR also will be entered into the official Shelby Registry.
The all-leather interior features Carroll Shelby signature embroidered headrests and an official Shelby CSM 40th Anniversary GT500KR dash plate mounted at the top of the center stack.
Other standard equipment includes HID headlamps, an interior ambient lighting package, wrapped and stitched instrument panel, center console and armrests, as well as an electrochromic rearview mirror. Optional equipment includes a Shaker 1000 audio system, DVD navigation system and SIRIUS satellite radio.
The GT500KR or “King of the Road” Mustang is the fourth limited-edition Mustang that Shelby Automobiles and Ford have brought to market since resuming their collaboration in 2001. The public will get its first taste of the GT500KR in late May, when selected dealers will offer the latest Shelby Mustang in a limited edition of 1,000 units for 2008. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the Mustang GT500KR is $79,995, including destination and delivery charges.