Mustang MonthlyCar Reviews
2008 Shelby GT500KR - The Real Deal
With 540 HP, The New '08 1/2 Shelby GT500KR Is A Genuine King Of The Road-Just Like The Original '68 1/2
The original KR hood utilized a pair of intake scoops at the leading edge of the hood and a pair of openings at the rear to evacuate hot air. The underside of the hood incorporated a round housing that mated to a rubber housing surrounding the air cleaner lid. In keeping with this theme, Ford SVT and Shelby have taken the concept of a fiberglass hood with scoops for airflow to an exotic level. Somewhere around 100 pieces in the "carbon layup" form the inner panels.
Ford began experimenting with ducted hoods for the rear clamshell of its mid-engine Ford GT supercar a few years ago. Inspired by this effort, the company created an intricate ducted hood for the KR. Fresh air comes into the front inlet and drops into the backside of the cold-air intake. At the same time, a separate chamber draws hot air out of the engine bay through extractors located in a low-pressure zone.
This lightweight hood is a trick piece and part of the KR's overall aero setup. But for enthusiasts thinking of upgrading their standard Mustang to a KR version, Shelby Vice President of Marketing Jim Owens says the hoods are strictly for KR owners. Even if a KR owner needs a new hood, he'll have to return the old one to get a replacement. Ford and Shelby are maintaining an exclusivity factor with the KR. They even protect the special exhausts and other trick parts.
A new front splitter adds downforce and works in conjunction with the hood. The rear spoiler creates lower drag in order to move the center of aero pressure forward.
The chassis is unique to the KR. SVT has added new rate springs, dampers, sway bars, and tires. Its mission is to take the GT500, which is a balance of comfort and handling, and turn it into a KR with all-out handling.
Jamie said, "We were prepared to give up quite a bit of comfort for the handling." However, he believes they made the big handling jump without a huge trade-off in ride comfort. Working with Shelby, SVT lowered the car 20 mm (about 3/4 inch) in the front and 15 mm (slightly over 1/2 inch) in the rear.
Another big deal on the GT500KR is specific low back-pressure exhausts featuring an H-pipe with an added baffle. Shelby also went from mufflers in the GT500 to round resonators in the KR that emit a low-pitched Boy Racer vroom.
Behind The Wheel
An initial street drive merely familiarized me with the new KR. A '60s Mustang with more than 500 hp would be a beast. The KR's clutch pedal is slightly stiffer than a standard GT's. Otherwise, the vehicle is easy to drive in the city. While short-throw shifters can be a handful in the sense of magnifying any imprecision, I moved the shifter through the six-speed Tremec with ease.
Ford had plenty of Mustangs for testing at Miller Motorsports Raceway. I started with a stock GT, moved up to a GT500, then to the King Of The Road. This way, I could feel the suspension changes as I moved up the scale.
Tossing the KR into turns is intimidating at first. The vehicle weighs close to 3,900 pounds, but no matter how out of shape I got with it, I could catch the vehicle after diving too far into a corner and breaking the front tires loose.
I went back on the track with race car driver Gene Martindale, who is also an engineer for SVT. He has driven in the Koni Challenge (with the Mustang FR500C) and American Le Mans series. He dove even further into the corners and at higher speeds that, I believe, would spin out virtually any other car on the road. I was amazed by his ability to avoid spinning out. He "caught" the spin and got the KR back on track.