• Nov 10, 2010
A Motor City Summer Romance

2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible - Click above for high-res image gallery

When you grow up in Detroit, the Ford Mustang is so much more than just another performance car. It's arguably the most iconic automobile born within these city limits, and anyone who's called the area home can't help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride while driving the Blue Oval's pony through the Motor City. It's like eating a hot dog at the ballpark – you can't explain why, but it just tastes better.

At the tippy top of the Mustang hierarchy sits the Shelby GT500 with its supercharged 5.4-liter V8, 550 horsepower and an exhaust note that will wake the neighbors. Our love for the GT500 has run deep since its debut in 2006, though most of that affection was never given to the convertible. The droptop Ford suffers from substantially more handling and rigidity issues than the coupe, and when you consider the added price that Ford charges to lob off the roof ($5,000, in this case), it can seem like a puzzling proposition.

For 2011, Ford has tweaked the GT500's core, not to mention stiffening individual components of both the front and rear suspension setups. That, combined with a new electric power assist steering system, means this should be the most driver-focused GT500 yet. Thus, we put the top back and basked in the warm Michigan sun to rekindle our love with Detroit's most powerful pony car. This, friends, is our kind of end-of-summer lovin'.

Continue reading...


2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible

Photos copyright ©2010 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

One of the hardest things for an automaker to do is turn a coupe into a convertible without ruining its design. The Porsche 911, Infiniti G37 and BMW 3 Series come to mind – droptop versions that, while still attractive, just don't look as good as their coupe kin. Unfortunately, Ford falls victim to this with all of its Mustangs, especially from the top-down side profile. You really get a sense of just how large the new Mustang is when viewed from this angle (188.2 inches long), and because the body lacks any sort of defining character lines (save the modest crease that runs along at door handle level), there isn't a whole lot of visual interest to keep your eye moving from front to back. Adding the $3,495 SVT Performance Pack helps a bit, as the 19-inch front wheels and 20-inchers out back (wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires) add contrast.

Good thing, then, that both the front and rear look so damned delectable. We're extremely fond of the GT500 treatment to the Mustang's front end, specifically the more pronounced grille and the larger lower fascia with foglamps flanking it on either side. Around back, the Shelby ducktail spoiler is still in place, though it works well on the new-for-2010 Mustang body. The whole package looks fresh and modern while still having plenty of retro-inspired cues – this latest Mustang is at once an homage to the muscular Mustangs of the 1960s while still being a proper evolution of the mid-2000s design that rekindled our love for the badge and the breed.

2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible side view2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible front view2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible rear view

The same retro-modern theme is immediately noticeable inside the cockpit. All Mustangs received a brand-new interior as part of 2010's major refresh, and the use of higher-quality materials has gone a long way to make Ford's performance car feel remarkably more upscale than its rivals.

Even with the soft top in place, the GT500 Convertible's interior is spacious and comfortable, though it should be when you consider the car's overall size. The low-slung driving position feels appropriate behind the large, snake-stamped steering wheel, and the large, analog gauges in the instrument cluster are easy to read while still being stylish, especially when you have the ability to change the color of the illumination. (We recommend red – it's sinister and it fits.) Of course, the Shelby can be had with Ford's lovely Sync system, and the large touchscreen display is intuitive and attractive. Expensive, too – optioning up for the navigation package and display will set you back $2,340. Putting the top down is easy as pie – unlatch the two handles above the sun visors and hold the button on the console between them. Hello, sunshine.

2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible interior2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible seat2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible tachometer2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible logo

But while the Mustang's interior refinement will impress in the reasonably priced V6 model, it doesn't receive any substantial upgrades in the GT or GT500 models. Our decked-out convertible test car retails for $60,330, and when you're spending that much on any vehicle, you're right to expect comfortable, nicely crafted appointments. This isn't to say that the Shelby disappoints, it's more to put the standard 2011 Mustang's interior into perspective. It's a huge sales driver for the base models, but when you exceed the $50K mark, the value proposition just isn't as clear.

If there were any reason to call the GT500 a value, it's the ludicrous powerplant shoehorned under the hood: a fire-breathing 5.4-liter supercharged V8 packing 550 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. Talk about horses-per-dollar. Not only that, but by switching to an aluminum block for 2011, Ford has managed to shave 102 pounds from the GT500's front end and the weight reduction is immediately noticeable on the road. The car's fore and aft weight distribution feels more balanced than the 2010 model, especially with the added weight of the convertible mechanism out back. In fact, the drop-top's 55:45 front-to-rear weight distribution is slightly better than the coupe (56:44).

2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible engine

In a straight line, the GT500 Convertible is an absolute thrill, able to rip off 0-60 runs in under four and a half seconds, accompanied by an exhaust note that can only be described through guttural man-noises. For the most part, we like the shorter throws of the six-speed manual in the GT500, but we still find ourselves doing the occasional hunt-and-peck to ensure we're in the proper gear (we mistook fourth for sixth and third for fifth on more than one occasion). Luckily, the expansive powerband and tall gearing softens the blow of picking the wrong gear, but it's less than ideal, especially when heads-up. Still, when you find an open stretch of pavement, put the top back and let 'er rip, it's sensational.

But then you hit a corner, and you're forced to rely on the GT500 Convertible's handling characteristics to keep things in line. This is where the problems arise.

2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible headlight2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible logo2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible faux gas cap2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible exhaust system

The GT500 has never been graced with beautiful, sports car-like handling, and that's partially due to the fact that the old hydraulic steering setup and live rear axle don't allow for the sort of road-hugging grip that you want to confidently blast through corners. Ford has ditched the old steering system and fitted a new rack with electric assist, which improves things greatly. We applaud the higher levels of feedback found at the helm, and we always have a solid idea of what all four wheels are doing at any given time. Yes, the 2011 GT500 Convertible is better than what we drove in 2010, but it still isn't where it should be – the body is still too flexible and we would never consider anything but the coupe if we were tasked with driving a Shelby along a California canyon road or out on a track. We love convertibles, but we also love stiffness and sharpness with our performance cars.

Back home in Detroit, though, you'll barely notice. The key ingredients that make a Shelby a Shelby – the gut-wrenching acceleration, the equally impressive brakes and the aural soundtrack – are even more phenomenal when the roof is removed. The live rear axle will act up over stretches of broken pavement, but a few quick correction flicks will have things back in order in no time.

2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible rear 3/4 view

Like all summer romances, our love for the GT500 Convertible faded the more we pondered the idea of what it would be like to live with. We'd have a hard time agreeing to a full-on relationship with the drop-top Shelby, and that's a shame, because it really is something sweet. That amount of power on tap is hard to deny, especially when the supercharged V8 is singing at fortissimo, but we'd prefer it in a more poised package. Moreover, our time with the Shelby suggests that the smart money is on the Mustang GT – it's all we'd ever need in terms of performance, and the value proposition really seals the deal. The GT500 Convertible is a wonderful summer fling, but the GT is a car we can commit to.


2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible

Photos copyright ©2010 Steven J. Ewing / AOL


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 53 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Mbinni's need glasses and needs to have his keys taken away. With eye sight like yours you need to be off the road, to even come up with something like it looks like F150. You really must be blind and looking through coke bottle glasses. No hope for you especially when it comes to taste.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Really? And you're saying you have good taste because you like a Mustang?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ford has started trouble for themselves with the GT 5.0. It can no longer justify the Shelby GT500. Yeah, I know the GT500 has more potential but the chassis really doesn't allow the driver to utilize it, so what's the use?
      I can see the GT500 going away, or it becoming a totally different car. Realistically, I can see it being turned into a limited production, halo car at some point in the near future. Maybe AWD, and independent suspension all around? Or how about a redesigned, cheaper version of the Ford GT?
      And as far as the gripes about the convertible being far less solid than the coupe, I have to say, who cares? I mean I defy anyone to tell me why you need more capability than this car offers, unless you're on a race track. I mean really folks, everyone is getting carried away with this crap.
      • 4 Years Ago
      You had to mention "summer lovin" didn't you?! Now that insufferably vapid Olivia Newton John & John Travolta duet from Grease is stuck in my head!
      Curse you Autoblog!!!!

      nice car though..
      Mlane1029
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think the look is ok,but does anyone else see a happy face As you look at the front of the car? Or is it me lol?
      • 4 Years Ago
      What an absolutely gorgeous piece of American brilliance.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Came in here to say the exact same thing.
        Beat me to it..
        And on the first comment, too. nice
      • 4 Years Ago
      $60,000?

      Seriously?

        • 4 Years Ago
        Ya but look how awesome those stripes look!!!


        I almost managed to write that without laughing.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Crazy, huh? Why do you think you rarely see one?
        • 4 Years Ago
        It is a nice car, but I wouldn't pay 60k for it, or any car for that matter, PERIOD!!

        But, if you've gotta have it, you can always wait 10 to 15 years down the road and find a decent one in the 7 to 12k range. Then, you can have a sweet ride with some nostalgia behind it. lol

        You can crank up the Nickelback and reminisce about the "good ole days" while you shift through the gears to the tone of the rumbling exhaust and 5.0.
      • 4 Years Ago
      My nieghbor has a 2011 GT Premium and he just had a supercharger installed on it. He is in it for around $40k. I love his car. This car I dont get, especially in the convertible version. For $60k, there are simply better options out there.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Funny posts up there about a Lexus SC and Lincon LS leaving this car in the dust. I needed a laugh this evening.

      RE: the article lamenting the lack of stiffness of the convertible... it's a convertible based on a coupe chassis, so that's to be expected. Just sounds like a complaint for the sake of complaining to me.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I test drove a M3 convertible and a GT500 convertible a month ago. No I am not in the market for either one.

      The GT500 was raw power and I can barely say anything abt the handling as i was on the streets. That equation changed with the M3 on the same streets. Very Very high quality interior and refined and poised. For some reason it felt like it was much more composed.

      Now I absolutely love the GT500. But the M3 won this time.

      The were both priced within 2 grand of each.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually the GT has equal track times to an M3 and the GT500 is faster around VIR than an R8 V10. Just sayin'...

        Yes the GT is a better value IMO but the GT500 still has better track performance.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You really can't compare the M3 to the Shelby as they are aimed at totally different demographics. One is more of a daily driver with a balance of refinement and performance while the other is a toy for those just wanting raw power and badass looks.

        They are both nice cars, but completely different.
      CJ
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looks like a Mustang...NEXT!!!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's funny, I like the new convertibles better than the old ones, but like the old coupes better than the 2010 -11.

      That is one nice looking Shelby though. Kudos to Ford and Shelby!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Get the GT, drop 8K on the factory supercharger, and have 90% of the Shelby for ~60% of the cost. Way better bang/buck ratio.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Considering it's a no-brainer to get the Brembo Brake option on the GT, you've pretty much got the Shelby Brakes (if not better), and some of the other parts, how much better is the Shelby's suspension/brakes? Not much.

        http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2010/07/2011-ford-mustang-gt-optional-brembo-package-selling-like-hotcakes.html

        "With the 2011 GT you also get the 2010 Track Pack for free, which includes parts from the 2010 Ford Mustang Shelby GT-500 and the 2008 Mustang Bullitt. This means upgraded lower rear control arms, thicker front and rear anti-sway bars, revised shocks/struts, stiffer springs and more aggressive front and rear brake pads."

        • 4 Years Ago
        @Purplewon

        ...And that's a bad thing why?

        • 4 Years Ago
        Yup, Just add power (cause 400hp isn't enough) with no changes to brakes and suspension....It's the American way
    • Load More Comments