The Straight and Narrow
To finish our evaluation, we headed to Bradenton Motorsports Park in Bradenton, Florida, for quarter-mile action. We arrived early to give the engine and supercharger ample time to cool before we rolled up to the line. This was necessary considering the 95-degree temperature, 70-plus-percent humidity, and crappy 28.9 barometer, which equated to a corrected altitude approaching 4,000 feet. (We tested the '10 GT500 in near sea level conditions, which would equal about a three tenths difference in quarter-mile e.t.'s.)
After a mild Second-gear burnout, Editor Evan Smith inched the GT500 to the starting line, staging ever so shallow. When the light turned green, Smith traded pedals, and the Goodyears tried to hang on for dear life. Unfortunately, the 510 lb-ft of torque was too much for the Eagle F1s to handle, resulting in a first pass of 14.03 at 111 mph.
We knew launching the GT500 on street tires would prove to be difficult, but the potential was there for some low numbers. Smith was also the first driver down the track and despite the poor performance, we knew we couldn't do much worse.
From here it became a matter of getting the engine cool in the pathetic conditions and finding the limit of what the tires could handle. After numerous attempts and lots of wheel spin (mostly during gear changes), Smith got a grip on the starting line and power-shifted his way into the 12s with a 12.60-second pass at 116 mph.
As the night went on, the mid-90-degree Florida air began to settle into the 80s, and the e.t.'s kept dropping. Smith wheeled his way to a 12.51, then a 12.25, followed by a 12.05 at a very healthy 118 mph. Back in the pits, we used ice and fans to remove heat from the 5.4L, and each time we cooled it to below normal operating temperature, Smith headed to the line for another pass.
After a smokey show to clean off the Goodyear Eagle F1s, he launched hard and was quickly away from the starting line. The MM&FF staff watched from the starting point as Smith grabbed Second and Third with a bark from the rear hides vocalizing at each gear change. The run was smooth and straight, and as Smith shifted into Fourth, we knew this would be one of the quickest passes of the night. The scoreboard lit up with 12.02 at almost 119 mph! We were excited to be so close to breaking the 12-second barrier on the stock tires, but unfortunately, the next runs did not yield better times.
Ultimately, we came away with a 12.0, not an 11, but we can say with confidence that the '11 GT500 is quicker than the outgoing machine. It's 120 pounds lighter, has 3.73s and stickier tires, and under equal conditions, would be two-to-three tenths quicker in quarter-mile acceleration.
With enhanced efficiency, technology, safety, handling, and near-11-second quarter-mile performance off the showroom floor, the '11 Shelby is an amazing piece of automotive machinery. With power and comfort levels this high, it's hard to imagine Ford Motor Company being able to improve on the '11 GT500-but it does so almost every year. We can't wait to see what 2012 brings!
Be sure to check out www.musclemustangfastfords.com for exclusive on-track and dyno videos from our tests.
New For 2011
The outgoing GT500 was undoubtedly an awesome car. Here's why the '11 is better!
- New aluminum block
- PTWA cylinder liners
- Reduced weight (120 pounds)
- No gas-guzzler tax
- Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS)
- Lowered suspension (11mm front, 8mm rear)
- Stiffer shocks and struts (20.5-percent front, 9.5-percent rear)
- SVT Performance Pack
- Increased cooling (25 percent)
- Increased front downforce
- Gurney flap (rear spoiler)
- Enhanced structural rigidity (convertible)
- Voice-activated navigation
- Less interior road noise
- Integrated spotter mirrors
- Fold-down rear headrests
- Standard HID headlamps