DEARBORN, Mich., March 30 – Ford and Shelby Automobiles are at it again, this time in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500KR. To be unveiled at the 2007 New York International Auto Show, the 2008 Shelby GT500KR-the most powerful Mustang to date-will once again mark Mustang as ‘King of the Road.’
”I’m proud to once again be a part of an historical moment, bringing back the ‘King of the Road’ Mustang, and collaborating with Ford SVT and Ford Racing” said Carroll Shelby.
Forty years ago, at the 1967 New York Auto Show, Ford introduced the most powerful Shelby Mustang ever. Like every Mustang that bore the name ‘Shelby,’ the GT500KR carries with it its own unique story.
The 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500KR was a mid-year introduction, based on the 1968 Shelby GT500. Ford added ‘Cobra’ to the Shelby’s moniker to help usher in the beginning of a new performance era at the company. The Cobra name referred to the new 428 Cobra Jet V-8 that was planted under the KR’s custom fiberglass hood. It was the engine that would once again vault the Mustang to the head of the pack.
Just like its 1968 namesake, the 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR builds on the strong foundation of the Shelby GT500. Packing 40 more horses under its custom-designed carbon composite hood, the GT500KR is the most powerful production Ford Mustang ever produced.
The Shelby GT500KR will be produced in an exclusive run of 1000 units and will begin arriving in Ford dealers in the spring of 2008.
Crowning the New “King of the Road”
Doug Gaffka, Ford SVT chief designer, and his team worked closely with Carroll Shelby and the Shelby team to make certain the new KR was crafted in the spirit of the original Shelby muscle car.
Gary Davis, vice president of production and product development for Shelby Automobiles, played a key role in defining the look of the custom designed carbon composite hood for the GT500KR. His knowledge of the original GT500KR helped sculpt a modern interpretation of the original’s bulging hood scoop, a visual indication of the extra horsepower packed beneath it. The hood is secured by a pair of stainless steel, twist-down hood pins. The composite front valance houses a pair of chrome-trimmed, functional brake ducts to cool the large 14-inch, vented Brembo front brakes.
Side stripes are true to the original KR right down to the font used for the ‘GT500KR’ lettering, while the classic LeMans-style striping that races down the center of the car has been deleted between the leading forward edge of the hood scoops and the front of the hood, accenting the scoops and giving the KR its distinctive face. ”That was Shelby’s idea,” said Gaffka. “It’s a special touch that adds some down-the-road differentiation. There will be no doubt that it’s a ‘King of the Road’ Mustang that’s filling up your rearview mirrors.”
The show car wears exclusive, Shelby-designed 20-inch, forged, polished aluminum wheels with special custom center caps, mounted on Pirelli rubber. Production models will arrive with an 18-inch version of the design.
Each KR model is identified by special 40th Anniversary KR badges on the fenders and grille, distinctive body colored mirror caps and Shelby lettering stretching across the front of the hood and along the rear portion of the deck lid. A special Shelby VIN tag is affixed to each vehicle, mounted in the engine compartment.
The all-leather interior features Carroll Shelby signature embroidered headrests and an official Shelby CSM 40th Anniversary GT500KR dash plate mounted at the top of the center stack.
The KR’s 5.4-liter V-8 Gets the Royal Treatment
Just like its namesake, the 2008 ‘King of the Road’ packs a walloping dose of Ford performance power under its massive composite hood scoops. The Ford SVT-engineered 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 is treated to a Ford Racing Power Upgrade Pack that boosts horsepower to an estimated 540 and torque to 510 ft.-lbs., thanks to revised ignition and throttle calibration and a cold air intake system that replaces the stock unit.
Calibration modifications include advancing the ignition timing as well as re-mapping of the electronic throttle settings to provide quicker throttle response for better off-line and mid-range acceleration. Increased throttle response will be met with a sharper roar from the Ford Racing-inspired exhaust system.
Power is delivered to the rear wheels through a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission and 3.73:1 rear axle ratio, upgraded from the standard GT500’s 3.31:1. Gear selection is courtesy of an all-new Ford Racing short-throw shifter making its debut on the KR. Topped with a white ball, the new shifter is 25 percent shorter than the unit on the GT500 providing for crisper, sharper shifts.
Ford SVT, Ford Racing and Team Shelby worked together to develop the KR’s suspension tuning. Based on initial work by Ford Racing and the team at Shelby, often at Shelby’s own facility on the grounds of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Ford SVT chassis engineers will apply fine tuning techniques to prepare it for the streets.
Chassis engineers worked closely with the engine department in a holistic approach to the development of the KR, tuning the suspension to best optimize the engine enhancements.
The GT500KR will feature unique spring rates, dampers, stabilizer bars, and strut tower brace, all designed specifically for the KR, to deliver the precision handling package.
This Shelby GT500 KR was purchased new by the Andrews’ from Don Davis Ford in 2008, and it has been wonderfully preserved and maintained in their collection ever since. The car looks absolutely sinister, with its Black finish and matte black racing stripes, 18-inch forged aluminum wheels, and a black interior, and its imposing stance proclaims that this Mustang is not to be trifled with.
The car’s Shelby window sticker notes that over $35,000 in additional upgrades over the standard GT500 were poured into this particular car. The GT500 KR’s suspension boasts revised springs in the front and rear, performance-tuned front struts, and rear shocks with stiffer sway bars all around, and the front brakes received a Ford Racing front brake duct cooling kit. The engine boasts a new cold-air intake, upgraded software calibration, and performance mufflers with a unique H-pipe exhaust, and the transmission was fitted with a short-throw shifter. Cosmetically, the car received a new carbon fiber hood, a carbon fiber front splitter, and carbon fiber mirrors to match. The modifications did not just include the exterior of the car, as the seats received custom embroidered headrests with Carroll Shelby’s signature and custom Shelby floor mats were added.