2011 Ford Shelby GT500: Up Close

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The Ford Shelby GT500’s most significant change — an all-new engine — mirrors the upgrades Ford has made across the Mustang lineup for 2011. We like 550 horsepower as much as the next muscle-car enthusiast, which is how much power the GT500’s aluminum supercharged V-8 generates, but it’s nice to see Ford understands that many performance-car owners like to pop the hood and just look at their car’s engine. The hand-built V-8 is something to see, what with its beautiful blue cam covers.

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The V-8 pairs with a Tremec six-speed manual transmission and a shifter that’s topped by a white cue ball. In an era where manual transmissions are becoming slicker-shifting, the GT500’s manual is something of a throwback; it takes a heavy hand to nudge the shifter from gear to gear, though the throws are appreciably short. The rest of the cabin carries over much the same, though one of my favorite Mustang options — the panoramic glass roof — is available for the first time in the GT500.

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Ford has been busy updating the powertrains in the 2011 Mustang, and the new V-8 in the GT500 is just the latest installment in this effort. For the diehard Mustang performance enthusiast it promises to be a formidable beast.

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Mike Hanley has more than 20 years of experience reporting on the auto industry. His primary focus is new vehicles, and he's currently a Senior Road Test Editor overseeing expert car reviews and comparison tests. He previously managed Editorial content in the Research section. Email Mike Hanley

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