2008 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR: New York Auto Show
The King of the Road Returns
Though not actually arriving in dealers until spring 2008, Ford used the 2007 New York auto show to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500KR, which was introduced at the 1967 New York auto show. And how best to commemorate the fabled first King of the Road? Build another, of course.
The 2008 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR will be the third high-performance result of the current relationship between Mustang and Shelby Automobiles, after the 2007 Shelby GT500 and the GT-H Hertz rental Mustangs, with the example on display in New York a near-production show-car version. Ford is going forward with offering a special edition each year, as 2007 saw the Shelby GT500 and 2008 will see the GT500KR and the Mustang Bullitt. This is easily the best-looking of the Mustang editions shown so far.
Back forty years ago, the 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500KR was the most powerful Mustang yet built, and the 2008 model carries the same distinction, with a 540HP 5.4L supercharged V8. Ford will only offer 1000 examples of the 2008 model, ensuring all will be accounted for before being built and making it more rare than the 1968 model, of which 1053 fastbacks and 517 convertibles were built. The 2008 example will only be offered as a coupe.
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Ford’s SVT group worked with Shelby Automobiles in melding past and present. The new GT500KR uses modern concepts and engineering. Instead of a fiberglass hood like the original, for example, today’s GT500KR sports a custom-designed carbon-composite hood with present-day version of the 1968’s all-important hood scoop and is held down with stainless-steel twist-down hood pins inspired from the original. It is, after all, often hood scoops that ensure everyone knows to expect a vehicle with plenty of horsepower. The chrome-trimmed front brake ducts cool fourteen-inch Brembo front brakes. The 2008 GT500KR’s side stripes use the same font as the first car, but the twenty-inch Shelby wheels on the show car will unfortunately be replaced by eighteen-inch versions in the same style for production.
Visual cues beyond the side stripes and hood scoops include 40th Anniversary KR badges on front fenders and grille, body-color mirror caps, Shelby lettering on the hood and rear decklid, and a Shelby VIN tag in the engine compartment. The leather interior sports signature embroidered headrests and a Shelby CSM 40th Anniversary GT500KR dash plate on the center stack.
The KR’s performance enhancements go beyond the extra 40HP it takes over the 2007 GT500. The Ford Racing Power Upgrade Pack uses revised ignition and throttle calibration, as well as a cold-air intake system, to boost the horsepower and increase torque to 510 lb-ft. The white ball topping the GT500KR’s shifter doesn’t just look good, the new shifter is twenty-five percent shorter than the GT500 unit. The rear axle is upgraded to a 3.73:1 axle ratio from the GT500’s 3.31:1 ratio. The suspension changes were developed between Ford SVT, Ford Racing, and Team Shelby, with initial testing done at Shelby’s facitilty at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Fine tuning from this point forward will be done by SVT engineers, to ensure the GT500KR is properly tuned. For this vehicle, that means tuned more all-out handling but still drivable on the street. Changes to create the GT500KR will include unique spring rates, dampers, stabilizer bars, and strut tower brace.
All in all, the 2008 Shelby GT500KR is a breathtaking way to honor the past as well as ensuring Ford has a Mustang relevant and desirable for today’s buyers.