Tuesday, March 22, 2005

NYIAS: Ford Shelby Cobra GT500

With files from Ford
NEW YORK, NY - The most powerful factory-built Ford Mustang in history will take to the street next year, following a unique collaboration between performance car legend Carroll Shelby and the Ford Special Vehicle Team (SVT).

Ford took the wraps off the 450-plus horsepower Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 show car at the New Year International Auto Show March 23. Designed in the unmistakable image of Shelby Mustangs of the 1960s, the Shelby Cobra GT500 melds SVT's modern engineering with the big-block performance that made the original GT500 the king of the road.

"The all-new 2005 Ford Mustang is one of the hottest cars in many years," says Phil Martens, Ford group vice president, Product Creation. "Its chassis was engineered from the beginning to be the basis of a high-performance, world-class sports car from SVT, and the Shelby Cobra GT500 is it."

Carroll Shelby lends his support to SVT, adapting his earlier role as a senior advisor on the "Dream Team" that was assembled to develop and build the 2005 Ford GT.

"I've worked with the SVT guys for several years now, and I know they have the guts, the talent and the passion to deliver the best performance Mustangs ever," says Shelby.

A production version of the GT500 will go on sale in 2006, continuing the high-performance lineage of the SVT Mustang Cobra model line. It will be followed by a steady stream of performance products developed by SVT, possibly including a version of the production-intent Sport Trac Adrenalin, the industry's first performance sport-utility truck.

"SVT led the modern-day factory performance trend with the Mustang Cobra and the industry's first high-performance truck, the F-150 Lightning," says Hau Thai-Tang, director, Ford Advanced Product Creation and SVT. "Today, we're building on that pioneering vision with vehicles like the Ford GT, Shelby Cobra GT500 and Sport Trac Adrenalin – great performance machines that connect with enthusiasts in a way no other companies or vehicles can match."

The production GT500 will be the first in a string of specialty Mustangs that SVT will help deliver. This will create Ford Motor Company's – and one of the industry's – broadest product portfolio, stretching from under $20,000 for the V-6 Mustang coupe to the 450-plus-horsepower GT500, each offering performance and value.

The GT500 and the production-intent Sport Trac Adrenalin teaser accelerate the wave of momentum at SVT since the launch of the 2005 Ford GT supercar. SVT also now will develop non-SVT branded Ford Division performance vehicles – including heritage-based performance Mustangs in the spirit of the 2001 Bullitt GT and 2003 Mach 1 – as it becomes more directly integrated into Ford's mainstream product development process.

Just as the original Shelby GT500 was the "step up" to big-block power from the GT350, the new Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 steps up to Ford's 5.4-liter "MOD" V-8. The result? The GT500 is the most powerful factory Mustang ever. Its supercharged 5.4-liter, 32-valve V-8 evolves from SVT's experience with supercharging the "MOD" engine to deliver more than 450 horsepower and 450 foot-pounds of torque.

Under the striped, powerdome hood lurks the most powerful factory Mustang engine ever with more than 450 hp, 450 lb.-ft. of torque.

The cast-iron-block, four-valve engine is force-fed an air-and-fuel mixture via a screw-type supercharger at 8.5 pounds per square inch of boost. Aluminum cylinder heads, piston rings and bearings sourced from the Ford GT program bring a high level of proven durability to the drivetrain, while upgraded cooling components promise longevity. "Powered by SVT" camshaft covers are the finishing touch to the engine.

"This version of the 5.4-liter V-8 has a higher horsepower rating than any other factory Mustang in history," says Jay O'Connell, SVT chief vehicle engineer. "It really delivers on the essence of two great names in Ford performance – a mix of SVT's modern-day experience with supercharging and the Shelby GT500's heritage of big-block power."

The engine has been further tuned from its first application in a Mustang, the 2000 SVT Mustang Cobra R, a limited edition model of 300 units.

Helping to put the power of the GT500's supercharged V-8 to the pavement is a T-56 six-speed manual gearbox. The evenly spaced gears mean less stirring is needed to find the "sweet spot" in keeping the revs "on cam" for power to pass, while at the same time making the most of the engine's broad torque curve. The heavy-duty transmission has proven itself a willing companion to V-8 power in Mustangs in both road and track environments, including the 2000 SVT Mustang Cobra R, 2004 SVT Mustang Cobra and the new race-winning Ford Racing Mustang FR500C.

Great power requires great control

The great Shelby Mustangs of the 1960s were anything but one-trick ponies. They earned their stripes on twisty roads and race tracks across America and Europe. The Shelby Cobra GT500 show car continues that legacy of all-around performance.

The GT500 starts with the solid 2005 Mustang underpinnings. The all-new Mustang's platform was designed from the beginning with performance derivatives in mind, providing an exceptionally rigid, well-engineered starting point for SVT chassis engineers.

Using real-world experience gained during more than 12 years of building great-handling SVT Mustang Cobras, SVT engineers retune and upgrade key chassis components. Improvements such as revised shocks, spring rates and upgraded stabilizer bars help the GT500 stop and turn with the same authority as it goes.

The GT500 features a MacPherson strut independent front suspension with "Reverse L" lower control arms, and a solid-axle, three-link rear suspension with coil springs and a Panhard rod for precise control of the rear axle.

This rear suspension design has been validated on the track by Ford Racing. The race-prepared Ford Racing Mustang FR500C was purpose-built from the base 2005 Mustang body structure and suspension geometry to run in the Grand-Am Cup series, a class of road racing for production-based cars. Competing against the best from Germany and Japan, a Mustang FR500C competed in and won its first ever race in the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway in February 2005.

"SVT and Ford Racing will be working closer than ever as we go forward on future projects, especially Mustangs," says Thai-Tang, a Ford Racing alumnus who served as the race engineer for the Newman-Haas Racing team in 1993. "The Mustang FR500C racing program is an exact demonstration of the capability we engineered into the mainstream Mustang to be capable of. Now, we have both a Daytona victory and the return of the Shelby Cobra GT500 to showcase Mustang performance possibilities."

To match this power and handling ability, SVT fitted some of the biggest brakes in the business to the GT500. Fourteen-inch cross-drilled Brembo rotors up front and 13-inch discs in the rear continue SVT's legacy of great-braking Mustangs. Secure footing is provided by 19-inch wheels wrapped in high-performance tires.

The Shelby Cobra GT500 combines the dramatic design genes of the all-new Mustang with Carroll Shelby's legendary performance image to create an SVT Mustang that broadens the power brand's design approach and appeal.
1968 Shelby GT500 was one of many Mustangs that served as the design inspiration for the new Shelby Cobra GT500.

"The restrained, performance-oriented SVT design theme has become instantly recognizable to enthusiasts without brash styling cues," says Doug Gaffka, design director, Ford SVT vehicles. "The GT500 takes a huge leap forward by combining the modern Mustang muscle car with the classic Shelby performance look to expand SVT's reach to a much bigger audience."

The 2005 Mustang design team drew inspiration from classic Shelby Mustangs, the models that transformed the mild-mannered pony car into a muscle car with attitude. Envisioning an SVT model, the team tested GT500 design cues on the Mustang GT coupe concept that was unveiled at the 2003 North American International Auto Show. In 2004, designers further developed the GT500 look on the Mustang GT-R, a race-bred concept with the dual purpose of foreshadowing SVT's Mustang design direction and Ford Racing's plans to return Mustang to road racing.

The GT500 now comes into full light, punctuated by the classic LeMans-style white stripes that race along the top of the show car's "SVT Red" paint from nose to tail. The stripes recall the Shelby Mustangs that marked another important 1960's Mustang transition when Ford put it on the track to becoming a racing legend. The GT500 nomenclature is prominent in the lower bodyside racing stripe, another cue from the classic Shelby Mustangs.

"The new Mustang has classic design cues from some of the best-looking Mustangs of all-time, including the Shelbys," says Keith Rogman, Mustang senior designer. "The design of the GT500 has been at the forefront of our minds since the outset of the entire Mustang program."

The Shelby design elements alone are enough to tell the GT500 story but are not the only visual cues that set this Mustang apart. The reworked front fascia features a functional air splitter and the unique hood has heat-extraction ducts, combining to provide improved airflow and aerodynamics. Revised headlamp insets offer a more aggressive look and result in symmetrical upper and lower grilles with large air openings, creating a visual connection to vintage Shelby Mustangs.

The unique rear fascia features strakes inspired by the Ford GT's integrated rear airflow diffuser, and a rear spoiler reminiscent of a classic GT500. To mark the collaboration of two Mustang performance icons, the GT500 features Shelby and SVT badging.

Continuing the snake logo tradition of past-generation SVT Mustang Cobras, as well as late-model Shelby Mustangs, the fenders each feature an updated design of the Cobra. For the first time on any SVT Mustang, the front grille features an off-center snake in place of the standard running horse. "GT500" is emblazoned inside the side rocker stripes, and the name "SHELBY" is prominently featured across the rear deck. The SVT logo can be seen on the wheel center caps, a signature SVT location, as well as on the doorsill plates. To top if off, the "gas cap" medallion between the taillights reads "Shelby GT500" centered on the Cobra image.

The interior is completely wrapped in ebony black leather, including the top of the dash, door panels and center arm rest. Also wrapped in ebony leather are the shift lever, shift boot and parking-brake handle. SVT Red leather seat and door panel inserts provide a marked contrast to the rest of the leather-trimmed cabin, surrounding the performance enthusiast with luxury and comfort. Snake logos embroidered into the seat backs finish the package.

"We've taken leather design trends to a new level by using it on almost every exposed surface in the GT500," says Rogman. "Leather has long been a performance fashion accessory for enthusiasts, from jackets to racing gloves, so it perfectly matches all the other driving oriented cues."

The Shelby GT500 script and Cobra image are repeated on the steering wheel cap. Behind the wheel are titanium-faced gauges swapped in location so that the tachometer is dominant visually for the driver. The chrome accessories inside the cabin have been replaced with a satin aluminum finish, including the aluminum shift lever knob that is nicely positioned for quick, positive shifts of the six-speed transmission.

With the look and legend one would expect from Carroll Shelby and the kind of power and performance enthusiasts have come to expect from SVT, the GT500 show car points to a brand new era in Ford Motor Company's performance future.

"Carroll Shelby is truly a living automotive legend, a Ford performance legend," says Martens. "It's a dream come true to be able to put the Shelby name on a Mustang again."

Monday, March 21, 2005

NYIAS: Ford Sport Trac Adrenalin Concept

Courtesy Ford Media
NEW YORK, NY – Ford jolts the performance world with a shot of Adrenalin – the Ford Sport Trac Adrenalin teaser is the world’s first high-performance sport-utility truck (SUT).

Adrenalin showcases Ford’s plans to produce in 2007 the first sport truck offering the combination of uncompromised utility, four-passenger capability and true performance.

Adrenalin marries the best attributes of two breakthrough Ford vehicles – Ford SVT F-150 Lightning and Ford Explorer Sport Trac – to answer enthusiast demands for performance and multi-functional utility. In addition, it offers class-leading technologies, including all-wheel drive, a six-speed automatic transmission and Ford’s industry-leading AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control.

With a supercharged, 390-horsepower V-8, the first six-speed automatic ever featured in an SVT vehicle and an SVT-tuned fully independent suspension, Adrenalin promises the acceleration, agility and utility that made the legendary Ford SVT F-150 Lightning the best-selling, longest-running performance truck ever.

Adrenalin also builds on the multi-functional personality of the original Explorer Sport Trac, which created the SUT market when it debuted in 2000. It offers four full-sized doors, four bolstered bucket seats, and a four-foot composite box with 30 percent more cargo capacity than the current Explorer Sport Trac.

“New SVT programs will draw heavily on our experiences developing the Ford GT, as well as from our racing experience,” says Martens. “By bringing SVT into the mainstream of product development, SVT products like the Adrenalin will benefit from parallel development with the conventional model plan.”

NYIAS: Chevrolet Malibu SS / Malibu Maxx SS

Courtesy GM Media
NEW YORK, NY – Chevrolet announced production plans for the 2006 Malibu SS and Malibu Maxx SS, vehicles that deliver a strong combination of performance and value in the midsize segment. Product highlights include the 240-horsepower 3900 V-6 with VVT (variable valve timing), segment-largest 18-inch flangeless wheels, and sport-tuned suspension, as well SS-specific exterior and interior appointments.

Both vehicles build on the strengths of the solid Malibu sedan and Malibu Maxx extended sedan platforms, which are based on a rigid, European-designed structure that serves as the foundation for responsive and smooth suspensions, as well as exceptional quietness. The Malibu Maxx features a 6-inch-longer wheelbase yet is slightly shorter overall than the Malibu sedan, creating a unique package of expanded rear-seat room and cargo versatility.

The SS models retain the sedans’ virtues and include the following enhancements:
• New 3900 V-6 with VVT delivers 240 hp and 245 lb.-ft. of torque
• Hydra-Matic 4T65-E four-speed transmission with manual shift mode and adaptive shift control
• SS-specific front and rear fascias, with blacked-out cross-hatch grille pattern, larger grille openings, projector beam fog lamps, rear spoiler and dual chrome-tipped 3.5-inch exhaust outlets
• Monochromatic exterior moldings and trim
• Segment-largest 18-inch flangeless wheels
• Sport-tuned suspension
• SS-specific ebony interior with “gun metal” trim accents
• New sport seats with larger bolsters, new three-spoke leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and leather-covered shifter knob

NYIAS - 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer SS

Courtesy GM Media
NEW YORK, NY – Chevrolet announced the 2006 TrailBlazer SS, the first SUV to wear the legendary SS badge and offering sports car performance combined with the functionality expected of a utility vehicle.

The TrailBlazer SS has unique exterior styling and specific interior appointments, including prominent 20-inch flangeless wheels. Power is delivered by the Corvette-derived LS2 6.0L V-8, enabling a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds. A performance suspension with lowered ride height also is part of the package and was tuned by GM’s Performance Division at several racetracks, including Germany’s legendary Nürburgring – a challenging road course that features more than 12.5 miles of turns and drastic elevation changes. The TrailBlazer SS is available in two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations.

As the first truck developed by GM’s Performance Division, TrailBlazer SS’s performance look and feel is complemented by strong SUV functionality. The towing capacity is up to 6,700 pounds with the two-wheel drive model and up to 6,500 pounds with the available all-wheel drive model. Cargo volume is 41 cubic feet (1,161 liters) behind the rear seat and 80 cubic feet (2,265 liters) with the rear seat folded.

Additional specifics include:
• Clean, aggressive monochromatic exterior styling, including blacked-out mesh grille, specific front and rear fascias and bright exhaust outlet
• Interior with monochromatic ebony and elegant flat satin color scheme, performance-oriented gauges with prominent tachometer, front bucket seats with pronounced side bolsters, available leather seating, SS embroidery on the seat backs, T-shape shifter with aluminum insert, and chrome accents throughout
• LS2 6.0L V-8 rated at 391 hp (291 kw) and 395 lb-ft of torque (535 Nm)
• New Hydra-Matic 4L70-E electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission
• Available all-wheel drive designed for on-road performance
• Suspension tuned on the racetrack and including StabiliTrak electronic stability control
• Standard 9.5-inch heavy duty axle with limited slip axle (400-pound pre-load)
• Twenty-inch flangeless, six-spoke polished aluminum wheels and 255/50R20 V-rated performance tires
• Four-wheel disc brakes with large, 12.8-inch (325 mm) front rotors and twin-piston calipers
• Available accessory front brake cooling package for optimized track performance
• Ride height reduced by approximately 1 inch (25 mm in front, 45 mm in rear)
• Rear air-leveling suspension with onboard air compressor

These features create a vehicle that John Heinracy, director of GM High Performance Vehicle Operations, believes surpasses the original TrailBlazer SS concept first shown at the 2002 SEMA show.

“The production TrailBlazer SS improves on the concept by delivering driving satisfaction through strong acceleration, superior handling and enhanced braking capability, along with driver-focused enhancements,” he said.