In a surprise reveal at an off-site event during Detroit’s 2018 North American International Auto Show, Ford teased the 2019 Mustang Shelby GT500 with this video clip:
Aside from the big news that the 2019 GT500 will be the first production Mustang with more than 700 horsepower, what can we glean from this quick teaser? Unfortunately, not a whole lot. The Cobra emblem will reside in the center rear of the car and it will use a decklid-mounted wing, neither of which are surprising. It does appear that the headlights resemble those from the GT350 or pre-facelift Mustang GT.
As for how Ford is going to land at 700-plus horsepower, we’re free to speculate, so we will.
We expect a big supercharger to live in the valley between some great-flowing heads in a 5.2-liter, cross-plane V-8 engine. Ford has been gung-ho about EcoBoost twin-turbo engines, but the packaging efficiency of a supercharged V-8 is likely too tempting to ignore. The recently unveiled Corvette ZR1 is the first factory application of supercharger manufacturer Eaton’s TVS 2650 rotors (and considering Chevrolet and Ford both used Eaton’s TVS 2300 rotors in other 600-plus-hp V-8s) it seems that Ford would look that direction for its new, larger supercharger while looking to breach the 700-hp mark.
The aftermarket for the current Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter engine proves that the Coyote V-8’s cylinder heads can handle boost and, more importantly for boosted power production, flow well on the exhaust side. The GT350’s CNC-ported heads will likely be the benchmark for whatever heads the GT500 ends up using, potentially in a stronger alloy. As for the crank, we expect a traditional cross-plane design, as the boosted V-8 won’t require the high engine speeds that make a flat-plane crank worthwhile.
Can Ford really offer a 700-hp 5.2-liter engine? We think so. When Chevrolet and Dodge first developed their supercharged 6.2-liter V-8s (for the C6-generation Corvette ZR1 and Hellcat, respectively), each company had larger-bore V-8s in production and chose to leave a little more material in place for thicker cylinder walls to better withstand the increased cylinder pressure and ensure proper ring sealing.
When Ford developed the previous-generation GT500, it used a different approach, casting an all-aluminum cylinder wall and using the Plasma Transfer Wire Arc process to spray in the bore liner. First used by Ford on the 2011 GT500, the plasma transfer process is similar to MIG welding and uses a high-voltage arc along with high-pressure gas to turn the bore coating material from a wire to a plasma, spraying it onto the bore surface at less that .01-inch thick. Ford applied the same technique to the GT350’s 5.2-liter V-8 and all 5.0-liter V-8s in Mustang GT and F-150 applications, showing that it is confident the bores are durable and can take a pounding. That process may allow Ford to maintain the 5.2-liter V-8’s big bores that, in conjunction with the excellent cylinder heads, help the engine breathe so well. And with nearly 20-percent less displacement than its 700-hp Detroit rivals, every little bit will help.
The GT500 is among the most anticipated new cars for 2019, and we’re eager for more information. Even more so, we can’t wait to experience the most powerful of Ford’s pony cars now that the current-generation chassis (with its independent rear suspension) has made the latest Mustang a more responsive and sophisticated driver’s car—the outgoing GT500 was a handful, and not in a good way. With the Demon, Camaro ZL1, and GT500 in production simultaneously next year, the horsepower war between Detroit’s Big Three has never been more fierce.