Even though he turned 88 in January, Carroll Shelby still thinks like a young man. He doesn't dwell on the past, instead preferring to look ahead to the future. In a Mustang Monthly interview three years ago, Carroll told us, "I never worry about what happened before. I'm interested in what we're going to build next." With Shelby American pumping out GT500 Super Snakes with up 725 hp, he went on to say that he was pushing for 1,000 hp.
Now he's got it.
Although still in the prototype stages, Shelby's twin-turbocharged GT500 Code Red generates nearly 900 hp at the rear wheels with "only" 16 pounds of boost, easily topping 1,000 hp at the flywheel. And there's more to be had. With a 5.4-liter engine built by Nelson's Racing Engines and a dual-feed fuel system that can blend in high-octane racing gas when needed, Code Red is ready to take on 25 to 28 pounds of boost.
"It's a concept so we're still working on it," Carroll says. "It's easy to do something wrong when you start fooling around with something like this, so we're doing some test work on it. Some people say you don't need over 1,000 hp but you don't need over 200 either."
According to Shelby VP of Operations Gary Patterson, the goal was to create the pinnacle of Shelby Mustangs. He compares it to Shelby's 427-powered '67 GT500 Super Snake and the Green Hornet, an experimental '68 Shelby hardtop used to test fuel injection and independent rear suspension. Code Red could become a very limited-edition Shelby in the future, or parts of it may be incorporated into future models or offered "ala carte" through Shelby Performance Parts.
The heart of Code Red is its specially-built 5.4-liter engine, which Patterson says has been "significantly changed." That's an understatement. Designed to handle the boost from the pair of 61mm Turbonetic turbochargers, Tom Nelson at Nelson's Racing Engines in Chatsworth, California, completely reengineered the engine with an O-ringed and magnafluxed block, specially machined crankshaft, Oliver billet connecting rods, and JE forged pistons with file-fit rings. In the valvetrain, everything from camshafts to valve springs was selected for a turbo application. Even the bearings and gaskets were chosen for their ability to withstand the pressure of high-boost turbocharging.
Key to Code Red's ability to safely make 1,000 hp is the fuel system, starting with the billet intake manifold. Specifically designed by Nelson's for Code Red, the CNC-machined intake incorporates individual runners, a 1,700-cfm throttle body, built-in fuel regulators, and 16 fuel injectors to accommodate the dual fuel system. Around town, Code Red runs on standard injectors with regular fuel from the Mustang fuel tank. But when the boost kicks in, a secondary set of 60-pound injectors blends higher octane fuel from a secondary fuel cell in the trunk.
Electronics play a huge role in Code Red's ability to produce such high horsepower numbers, not only for the elaborate dual fuel system but also to help put all that power to the ground. Shelby American is working with AMS to develop an electronic, speed sensitive boost controller for Code Red. Patterson explains, "If you only have so much grip, say with street tires, you may be able to use only six pounds of boost at 60 mph. But you could use 12 pounds at 80 mph and 25 at 150, so that will be programmable and adjustable. We haven't perfected it yet but it's something we continue to develop and finalize."
Turbochargers generate a lot of heat, so Code Red utilizes a Ron Davis radiator with dual electric fans and a water-to-air intercooler to remove heat from the incoming air before it reaches the intake. Even the hood is designed to assist cooling, with NASA-style scoops up front, similar to '69-'70 Shelbys, to cool the turbochargers and extractors at the rear to pull heat out of the engine compartment. Patterson says he's been stuck in Los Angeles traffic on a hot day, yet Code Red kept its cool while idling for over an hour.
As you might expect, the drivetrain has been totally reworked. The original transmission has been replaced by a Transzilla six-speed, which is capable of withstanding up to 1,200 hp according to its manufacturer, Rockland Standard Gear. A four-inch, one-piece aluminum driveshaft sends the monstrous power to a Currie 9-inch rearend with 3:50 gears, Air Locker differential, and 35-spline axles. The locking rear can be switched off and on. "If you're running around town, you wouldn't run the locker so the car goes around corners nice and easy," says Patterson. "Flip a switch and the posi kicks in. If you accidentally leave it on, it slips the inside wheel when you go around a corner. For some people it's annoying; for me, it's entertaining."