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New Shelby Cobra Sheds Iron Block Engine

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On: Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 11:38AM | By: John Welch


New Shelby Cobra Sheds Iron Block Engine

The Shelby GT500 has been interesting, if not odd and misconceived, since its debut in 2007. Five hundred horsepower, unique body cladding, and a mean-ass exhaust note set this car apart from run of the mill Mustangs. But there were problems. Ford has always told anyone who will listen that they saddle the Retro-Stang with a solid rear axle in the name of satisfying drag-racers. Okay, that's complete BS, but they were able to make this axle work so well it can almost be overlooked.

That sort of mercy doesn't get extended to the Shelby's iron-block 5.4 liter V8. An iron block? Really? Other automakers are able to churn out much more then 500 horsepower from aluminum blocks, the Gen three Chevy small-block comes to mind. Why would Ford go with an iron block at a time when iron was being phased out of every engine, even the trucks that this re-badged Triton came from. To save a few pennies? Really?

So, the automotive press bitched and moaned. Regardless, Ford still sold a respectable number of Shelbys. The iron block wasn't going to sink this vessel as the pundits so vehemently thought it would. Which was fine, until Ford realized that it could eliminate the Gas Guzzler Tax with better economy and less weight. And that is exactly what Ford dun did: tossed the iron in favor of aluminum, saving 120 pounds and a little MPG at the same time . . .

From the Ford Newsroom:

2011 Ford Shelby GT500: Ready to Hit the Racetrack
The Ford Shelby GT500 kicks performance up a few notches for 2011, with an all-new aluminum-block engine that produces 550 horsepower and 510 ft.-lb. of torque. Fuel economy also is improved due to a lighter engine and aerodynamic enhancements. The new GT500 offers better steering and handling precision, and an optional SVT Performance Package complete with Shelby GT500-exclusive tires, unique styling, lighter wheels, a higher rear axle ratio, and stiffer springs.

The 2011 Shelby GT500 is powered by an all-new aluminum-block 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 engine offering a weight savings of 102 pounds off of the outgoing cast-iron block. The weight reduction helps improve fuel economy, acceleration, handling and steering precision.

Advanced engine manufacturing techniques and refined tuning help produce 550 horsepower – 10 hp more than the 2010 model – and 510 ft.-lb. of torque. And, through engine improvements and aerodynamic refinements, the 2011 GT500 will be the first GT500 to achieve fuel economy numbers that will allow it to avoid Gas Guzzler Tax.

The lighter aluminum block is reinforced with structural webbing, unique bulkhead chillers, and strong six-bolt billet main bearing caps for high-performance durability in extreme conditions. Additional intercooler surface area helps drop intake air temperatures; the resulting cooler, denser intake air helps bump horsepower and torque for better performance.

The 5.4-liter aluminum-block engine uses a Ford-patented Plasma Transferred Wire Arc (PTWA) cylinder liner coating, a process that applies a 150-micron composite coating containing nanoparticles on the internal surfaces of engine cylinder bores, replacing the cast-iron liners typically used in aluminum engine blocks.

The PTWA process uses air and electricity to create a plasma jet of 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which melts a steel wire that is fed into a rotating spray gun. Using atomized air, the melted steel wire is blown onto the engine cylinder bores, which have been specially machined to receive the coating. In the process of melting and applying the metal to the surface, the steel wire oxidizes, creating a composite consisting of both iron and iron oxide.

PTWA coating offers improved overall performance and durability versus iron liners, along with functional benefits of reduced friction between piston rings and cylinder bores, improved heat transfer due to increased surface contact area, and a weight savings of 8.5 pounds versus a typical sleeved aluminum block.

Rad! I don't understand any of that, but it sounds RAD! It sounds mean, it sounds smart. I'm impressed with Ford and anxiously await more 2011 Shelby information . . .


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